Updated on August 18, 2022
There are numerous possibilities when it comes to finding the best mountain bike shoes.
To determine which pair is best for you, you must first decide whether you like flat-pedal or clipless-pedal shoes.
Our comprehensive buyer’s guide will assist you in making the right choice, as well as providing information on the fundamentals of a good mountain bike shoe.
This page contains all of the top mountain bike shoe reviews. Whether you ride cross-country, trail, enduro, or downhill on flat or clipless pedals, we’ve tested and rated the best mountain bike shoes on the market.
The following are the findings from our tests to determine the finest mountain bike shoes for 2021. Mountain bike shoes exist in a variety of styles and sizes, but they can be classified into two major categories: shoes for flat, BMX-style pedals and shoes with cleats for clip-in pedals. Below, we’ve highlighted the finest solutions for each type.
We have yet to come across a bicycle shoe priced under £100, flat or clip-in, that is worth your money. We’re still looking, and fortunately, many of the top shoes are currently on sale online, bringing them under the £100 mark.
The best bicycle flat pedal shoes resemble trainers/sneakers but include low-profile rubber soles. Whereas the best mountain bike clipless pedal shoes are often sturdier and include recessed bolt holes for pedal cleat attachment.
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Best Enduro Mountain Bike Shoes
780g | 5-13.5 | 10/10
Pros: The sole is the most grippy available. Mid-sole shock absorber.
Cons: Quite expensive. For certain riders, it may be overly sticky.
For the previous few years, the Freerider Pro has been our top-rated flat pedal shoe. It is more rigid than its small form implies.
To prevent it from being bounced off pedals, the sole has ample shoe flex and is also wider than others. The Stealth rubber is a cut above the rest and has a modest rebound, which gives you an overall sense of stability on the pedal, even in the rain.
The Freerider Pro is not the cheapest, lightest, or greatest off-bike shoe, but it provides exceptional impact absorption and is head and shoulders above the competition in terms of grip. If you ride flats, this should be your first choice.
Each year, we come dangerously close to succumbing to the hype around a new brand joining the flat pedal shoe market, touting unmatched grip courtesy of some exotic rubber combination.
Only for it to falter in comparison to the venerable Five Ten Freerider Pro in real-world testing. The bottom line is that if you prioritise maximum grip over flashy marketing, there is no better shoe for all-around flat pedal riding.
As much as we hate to sound repetitive, the Freerider Pro is the greatest shoe on the market, with only the new Specialized 2FO Roost (below) coming close in terms of ride feel and grip.
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793g | 39-45.5 | 10/10
Pros: Finally, a sole that can hold its own against Five Ten Freeriders.
Cons: Not as affordable as a Five Ten.
Previous Ride Concepts footwear has been a source of frustration. Everything about them has been remarkable — with the exception of the sole. Which, let’s face it, is the apex of flat pedal shoes.
Thus, hip hop hallelujah for the new Hellion Elite, which (finally!) features an underneath rubber composition that is a legitimate competitor for the Five Ten Freerider Pro’s omnipresent Stealth rubber.
Along with the softness of the DST 4.0 Max Grip rubber, the Hellion Elite’s sole offers a noticeable amount of flexibility in comparison to the stiff AF standard Hellion.
This flex improves the pedal’s grip, but does not appear to have an effect on pedal power.
Along with increased grip, the Elite Hellion features an anti-bacterial lining to help ward off the nasty ‘cat urine’ fragrance that frequently occurs on riding shoes following a season of proper use.
The heel and toe bumpers perform an excellent job of safeguarding the shoe’s overall integrity. Our test shoes remain immaculately clean even after months of riding.
It’s no doubt vexing for Ride Concepts that just as they catch up to Five Ten’s Stealth rubber, Five Ten releases their Phantom rubber (as seen on Trailcross Five Tens), which takes adhesion and vibration absorption to new heights. Having said that, the Hellion Elites are absolutely worth considering over Five Tens – particularly if you find the design of modern Adidas-era Five Tens to be a little too small fitting.
Runner-up by a hair’s breadth
828g | 36-49 | 10/10
Pros: A lightweight flat pedal shoe with an extremely sticky rubber sole and adequate shock absorption
Cons: They run small. Durability is unknown.
Specialized has persisted with its flat pedal shoe option, and we are really grateful for it. The original 2FO shoes were an admirable first effort, boasting a lightweight frame, superior comfort and shock absorption, as well as some intriguing features.
However, the sole was never nearly as secure as a Five Ten when combined with a flat pedal. And they were not less expensive than their competitors.
Specialized has nailed the rubber combination with its latest Roost iteration, with a sole that stays firmly planted in all situations.
Additionally, the new 2FO Roost shoes are lightweight, reasonably priced, and more akin to a conventional trainer than a Five Ten. The latter is frequently overlooked until one has experienced it.
Numerous brands have attempted, but none have been able to break Five Ten’s vice-like grip on flat pedal riders. And with reason: Five Ten’s Stealth rubber provided unparalleled grip and control. Specialized not only has the rubber to match, but it is also competitively priced with the Freerider Pro.
While some more adventurous and open-minded riders may switch brands, the majority will likely stick with what they know (Five Ten), but we believe that many riders should give Spesh sneaks a try at some point. They’re establishing themselves as the SRAM to Five Ten’s Shimano.
What to look for in the best bicycle shoes:
There are two types of bicycle pedals – clip-in and flat – and each requires a particular shoe to maximize performance. Due to the popularity of both pedal systems, this test includes both.
With newly launched shoes, we’re increasingly seeing a crossover, as designers create both clip-in and flat versions of the latest models.
However, certain firms, such as Adidas Five Ten, continue to specialize in a single model. Is this a sign that they’re becoming more adept at it? Not necessary, but based on prior experience, it appears to be easier to create a solid clip-in shoe than a flat pedal shoe.
Naturally, nothing prevents you from riding flats in a pair of trainers.
However, the shock-absorbing sole depletes energy, the rubber outsole is excessively rigid and slides across the platform, and the upper lacks sufficient support.
Thus, we believe that it is just as critical to utilize a specific mountain bike flat pedal shoe as it is to use a clip-in design. Increased grip gives you greater control of the bike and reduces the likelihood of your feet slipping off, which is obviously much safer.
With clip-in pedals, any SPD-compatible shoe will operate well because grip and security are provided via the pedal/cleat interface.
However, because a clip-in shoe is subjected to greater load during pedalling and disengagement, and is frequently supported by a smaller surface area of the pedal, it must have a more solid structure and frequently a reinforcing strap to reduce flex.
The best mountain bike footwear
Box with cleats
Pocket with cleats
This recess on the bottom of the sole should be deep enough that you do not feel the cleat when walking, yet shallow enough that the cleat connects with the mechanism smoothly.
It’s a delicate balance given the variety of pedal designs available, but you may adjust the cleat height using thin shims (spacers) that are frequently included with the pedals.
Straps and covers
A large strap across the top of the shoe not only increases stability, but also provides a more positive release when twisting the shoe free from the binding. Integrated coverings help keep muck out and prevent laces from getting in the pedal axle.
Hey, all I am Joe Marino I love to ride bikes and teach others how to ride them. Most of my articles are about which bike is best for others. I am passionate about cycling and it shows, whether I am writing about a $25 bicycle from any random website or a $5000 Santa Cruz.
I have always been the guy who gets calls from friends while at work asking which bike they should buy. I have written about the best city bike for commuting, the best folding bike for use on public transit, and even what to keep in mind when shopping for kids’ bikes.
You can follow my blog and read all of my other articles on my website.