How to Choose Shoes for Mountain Biking

mtb shoes

Mountain biking is an adventurous sport. But what makes the whole experience even better is a pair of quality shoes specifically designed for it. It’s not easy to ascertain the perfect mountain bike shoes, given the numerous brands and models in the market today. You can find one for the casual cyclist, the cross-country competitors, the sports hiker, the free-rider, and the like. mtb shoes with an integrated heel system containing 3D mesh inserts allow for great thermoregulation of the foot. Every pair of such shoes has its own specific characteristics. If you’re planning to purchase one for yourself, pay due attention to its various aspects below. 

Flat Pedal Shoes

A great benefit of flat pedals is that you don’t require any particular type of shoes for riding. But a mountain bike specific flat pedal shoe will obviously function much better than usual ones. 

Flat pedal mountain bike shoes consist of a flat sole. It enhances the area of contact with the pedal. Its rubber is also much stickier. Other factors to consider are support and padding. According to the riding you do, some downhill specific (DH) shoes can seem too heavy. 

Clipless Pedal Shoes

Clipless pedal mountain bike shoes are utilised for various activities, from cross-country racing to downhill. If you regularly involve yourself in these kinds of sports, note that you’ll find a variety of designs in clipless pedal mountain bike shoes according to your purpose. But what you should remember is that such shoes should have highly stiff soles, stiffer than their flat pedal shoe counterparts. They also have an area to mount the needed cleat. 

Entry-level shoes make use of nylon shanks to impart stiffness. But various high-end ones use carbon fibre. If you intensely engage in cross-country biking, then you should definitely pick those shoes that have high stiffness. The mtb shoes with a stiffness index of 12.20 are perfect. Clipless downhill shoes have less tread as compared to cross-country and trail shoes. They also have aggressive lugs on their soles.

Closure Mechanism

Many medium to high-end mountain bike shoes have a specific combination of Velcro and ratchet closure. More recently, dial-type lacing systems are being increasingly utilised on competitive mountain biking shoes. Many flat pedals, freestyle shoes use a combination of laces with Velcro straps for more power. Some major factors to take into account are anatomically shaped straps, on-the-go adjustment, and shoes well-placed to remove the likelihood of rubbing.

Water Proofs

Some mountain biking shoes feature waterproofness. Others come with a capacity to drain. Here it’s important to remember that water-proof materials don’t breathe properly, which causes sweat and moisture build-up within the shoe. It increases the probability for blisters to occur and microorganisms to thrive. If you regularly take your bike over mud puddles, stream crossings, and the like, it’s wise to pick those shoes that come with the ability to drain.

Weather Conditions

Weather affects the type of shoes that will function best for you. In colder weather, a usual cross-country clipless pedal show can make you end up with cold toes. Cross country and trail shoes are thus vented heavily to prevent the feet from turning too sweaty during the hotter season. However, in winter, these vents allow the cold air to enter. Flat pedal shoes have fewer vents and their sturdy rubber sole aids in keeping your feet warm. It’s wise to invest in cycling shoes made specifically for winter for either clipless or flat pedals.

It’s important for mountain bikers to choose shoes wisely. The more careful you are while purchasing, the more comfortable your ride will be. Keep in mind the factors explained above for investing in a solid and sturdy pair of mountain biking shoes.


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