Best Shoes For Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is a sport that requires a lot of gear. From helmets to shoes, you will need to invest in some quality equipment if you want to be safe on the trails.
The best mountain bike shoes can make a big difference in your comfort and performance on the trail. So what makes the best mountain bike shoe? Here are some important factors to consider when choosing your next pair:
Grip: Your shoes need to have good grip on wet or dry surfaces so they don’t slip out from under you while riding. This is especially important if you’re riding in wet conditions or if you’re riding downhill!
Durability: You want your shoes to last as long as possible so it’s worth investing in quality materials and construction.
Fit: Mountain bike shoes come in various sizes and shapes to fit every type of foot, but they should still feel comfortable while also providing enough support for your feet and ankles.
Protection: Mountain biking can be dangerous, especially when going downhill at high speeds! Make sure that your shoes provide enough protection for your feet so that they don’t get injured or bruised during your ride.
Best Shoes For Mountain Biking
When looking for the best mountain bike shoes, there are numerous options. To figure out which pair is right for you, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to go with flat-pedal or clipless-pedal shoes.
Our in-depth buyer’s guide will help you choose, as well as provide some information on the foundations of a good mountain bike shoe.
You’ll find all the best mountain bike shoe reviews on this page, and whether you ride cross-country, trail, enduro or downhill on flat or clipless pedals, we’ve ridden and rated the best mountain bike shoes on the market.
Best mountain bikes shoes for trail and enduro riding
Trail and enduro shoes tend to have solid, robust designs that can withstand a battering. The soles are stiff, but not so stiff you can’t take part in a bit of hike-a-bike. Many look like flat-sole mountain bike shoes, but others are more similar to typical clipless XC shoes.
All the shoes here take cleats for clipless pedals. Keep scrolling for our selection of the best flat MTB shoes.
The Shimano ME7 is a thoroughly accomplished trail shoe.
- £179 / $200 as tested
- Impressively versatile
- Protective and resilient
Shimano’s ME7s are some of our favourite trail shoes, having scored a full five stars in recent testing.
We found them to provide the perfect foot position for pedalling and descending, and although there’s enough stiffness to make the most of skinny XC pedals, they also flex enough for hike-a-bike escapades.
The outer flap and neoprene ankle gaiter combine to make them and their lace closure resistant to the ingress of mud, grit and stones.
We also found they’ll keep your feet comfortable in all but the coldest of conditions.
The Mallet shoes are designed to be used for downhill riding and racing.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
- £180 / AU$330 / €200 as tested
- Comfortable with plenty of cleat adjustment
- Boa system costs more than speed-lace version
Designed for enduro and downhill riding, the Crankbrothers Mallet BOA shoes are a well-designed set of kicks that feel incredibly comfy.
They have enough feel and flex from the sole, ensuring you get a good level of feedback, without ever feeling droopy around the pedal. There’s plenty of cleat adjustment and the shoes shed mud easily too.
The shoes close with a Boa dial, which makes for quick opening and closing, but it does make these shoes £30 more expensive than their speed-lace equivalents.
It might be worth trying the shoes on before you buy, as we found the sizing a little generous in testing.
Giro’s Chamber II offers plenty of cleat adjustment.
- £130 as tested
- Plenty of adjustment
- Good off-bike grip
Giro’s Chamber II shoes are standout performers that are easy for clipping in and out of the pedals, and have lots of cleat adjustment.
A thin sole gives enough feel while remaining efficiently rigid for sprints and climbs
Two Boa dials is something usually seen on cross-country kicks.
- £160 / $180 / €180 as tested
- Double Boa dial retention
- Tough, weather-resistant
These Scott trail kicks use two Boa dials per shoe, which is a design feature more commonly found on cross-country footwear. This makes them a doddle to cinch down to the perfect fit.
These are a tough, terrain- and weather-resistant option and great to pedal in.
The fit can be a little spacious for some, but is easily dialled in with the Boas. These don’t breathe as well as others though, so those in hotter climates might want to look elsewhere.
The latest in Leatt’s growing shoe range, the 6.0 features some nifty details.
Russell Burton / Our Media
- Sturdy construction
- Features an ATOP dial rather than BOA
- £130 / €149 as tested
Leatt’s 6.0 Clip V22 is comprised of a single-woven piece upper with various abrasion and impact-resistant panels. The brand uses cat’s-tongue material on the inside of the heel to reduce heel lift.
The well-considered fit and breathable upper impressed, as did the ventilated mesh weave. The mesh holds very little water and if they do happen to let a little in, they’ll dry fast. We didn’t find any fault with the ATOP dial, with the clicks defined in feel and noise when tightening.
Specialized has a shoe for every occasion, and the 2FO Roost Clip is its park-lap, chilled trail-riding pair of kicks.
Russell Burton / Our Media
- Relaxed fit
- Excellent pedalling performance
- £110 / $130 / AU$220 / €130 as tested
Specialized’s 2FO Roost Clip may have a casual appearance and a relaxed yet comfortable fit, but it is still a top-performing shoe on the trails. There is less toe protection as the upper is quite thin, which contributes to a low weight, although this could be ideal for longer rides.
Laces are the closure system of choice and the brand’s tried-and-tested Body Geometry insoles deliver ample arch support. The only real negative is the eyelets for the laces aren’t the smoothest running, so getting the shoe on and off is a longer affair.
The Bontrager Foray fits snugly, with no hot spots, thanks to the excellent Boa-and-strap combo.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
- £120 / $150 / AU$200 / €140 as tested
- Old-school looks
- Secure, comfortable Boa and strap closure
Don’t let the cross-country look of Bontrager’s Forays fool you – this is a versatile choice that excels at trail riding or for long days out in the hills.
The sole is surprisingly flexible for comfortable walking and there’s plenty of grip even without using the bolt-in studs at the front of the shoe.
The Boa dial and strap combo makes for a great fit without hot spots. These are hard-wearing, efficient yet comfortable shoes for trail riding.
Mountain bike shoe buyer’s guide
Mountain bikers have two options when it comes to footwear: clipless shoes or flats.
What shoes you choose is up to you and will depend on your choice of the best mountain bike pedals. Both types have their benefits, but picking the right option is important because different styles work better in different situations.
Which mountain bike shoes are best for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s well worth considering what type of riding you’ll mostly be doing – XC (cross-country), trails or gravity-orientated – because this will influence your decision.
Flat-pedal shoes tend to be orientated towards trail, enduro and downhill riders, where feel and grip on the pedals, as well as protection, are important. Some flat-pedal shoes have soles that are stiffer than others, but none are as stiff as a dedicated cross-country shoe.
Clipless-pedal shoes come in a wider variety of forms, catering to virtually every sort of rider. They range from XC shoes, which are much like road shoes but with a little bit of tread on the soles, all the way to DH shoes that resemble their flat-pedal counterparts, save for cleat mounts.
So, what do you need to look out for?
No matter what style of shoe you choose, if they don’t fit correctly they’ll be uncomfortable and won’t perform as well as they should.
We recommend you try before you buy because everyone’s feet are different and manufacturers use different lasts to build their shoes.
Ensure there’s enough wiggle room for your toes and a decent hold on your heel for comfort and power transfer.
You should also make sure there are no hot spots or parts that dig in because these will become painful on longer days in the saddle.
The retention system is what keeps the shoes on your feet. Laces are the traditional option, but there are alternatives.
Laces give you great control over a shoe’s feel and fit but can’t be adjusted on the fly and can get claggy with mud – unless they’re protected by a lace flap.
Boa systems use a ratchet dial and a wire that’s looped through the shoe’s opening for quick, easy and accurate closure and adjustment. They’re found on pricier shoes and tend to be specced to help save weight.
Velcro straps and ratchet buckles are more common and pretty rugged but weigh a bit more. They tend to come on cheaper and mid-price shoes.
The sole is key in defining how the shoe performs. XC riders will want a stiff sole that transfers every watt of power to the pedals. A stiff sole also helps when the shoe is perched on a small clipless pedal.
Pricier shoes will benefit from a light and stiff carbon sole, while cheaper ones use plastic, which is heavier and more flexible.
Trail and enduro riders tend to go one of two ways: either an XC-style shoe with more protection and a more aggressive tread or a gravity-orientated shoe with a more flexible, comfortable sole and a construction that performs better with clipless pedals that have a platform.
Generally speaking, weight and sole stiffness are of no concern to gravity-orientated riders, so they tend to go for shoes that offer plenty of pedal feel and foot protection.
Tread pattern is also important. Some shoes offer a lightweight minimal tread, which is great for racing but will come up short if you need to run or walk anywhere while out on the trail. Others offer more grip and protection but weigh a little more as a result.