The Best Mountain Bike Shoes For All Disciplines

During a trip with your mountain bike, the shoes are undoubtedly the item of clothing that will suffer the most and that also have one of the most important functions. Regardless of the weather conditions and of the type of terrain you ride on, the mountain bike shoes must protect your feet from all possible dangers. If you want to jump directly to our top mountain bike shoes selection, click on the links in the table below.

For this reason, the mountain bike shoes must be carefully chosen and before buying them you should take the time to understand what is the best type of shoes for mountain bike cycling, what characteristics they should have and why you need to wear special footwear when cycling on trails.

Many passionate cyclists know that the discipline of mountain biking evolves constantly, and each improvement or a new version of this sport is associated with new products. Manufacturers need to adapt to the changing demands of the cyclists and while bikes continue to evolve and change their geometries, the clothing also undergoes constant improvement and modifications.

Mountain bike shoes also adapt to this trend and their shape and characteristics change every year, therefore choosing the right pair is a more than complex matter.

To help you make a decision, we put together a top of the best mountain bike shoes available on the market, but before that, let’s see how to choose the right cycling shoes.

First Step: Choose The Type Of Pedals

The choice of the mountain bike shoes starts with choosing the types of pedals on your bike. On the market, there are three types of mountain bike pedals, PSD, flat and a hybrid between the two.

The SPD pedals also referred to as Quick Release System, allows the cyclist to hook his foot to the pedal, improving the pedaling performance and avoiding the feet to slip in wet or humid conditions.

Flat pedals, on the other hand, don’t have a hooking system except for the presence of a few pins or bolts designed to adhere to the shoe and keep the foot in place.

Choosing between these types of pedals is a question of personal preferences and discipline practiced. For instance, if you practice Cross Country, you will probably find it easier to pedal with SPD pedals, while for those who practice Gravity disciplines, flat pedals are more indicated.

On the other hand, if you practice mountain biking only for leisure purposes than you will certainly choose the pedals based on your personal preferences.

If by now you are wondering why the choice of the pedals matter, the answer is simple. SPD pedals require the use of specially designed shoes that can bear a platform that will be hooked to the pedal. Without this platform you will not be able to hook your feet to the pedals and investing in SPD is pretty much useless.​

However, the shoes designed for SPD pedals are usually more rigid compared to the flat mountain bike shoes, therefore if you have flat pedals and are typically using your bike for uphill and downhill cycling, you might struggle more while pedaling. 

Nevertheless, we consider that choosing a pair of shoes designed specifically for SPD is more appropriate for mountain biking, as you will anyway be able to remove the hooking platform and use the shoes with any types of pedals.

Mountain Bike Shoes Characteristics

By now you have probably decided what types of pedals you need, but even if you need flat pedals, you will still not be able to go mountain biking with regular sneakers. Mountain bike shoes need to have certain features that ensure stability, safety, comfort, and performance.

  • Rigidity
    Without a doubt, the main feature mountain bike shoes must have is rigidity. A rigid sole allows the cyclist to transmit a greater power to the pedals, it helps to maintain the foot stable and it improves the pedaling efficiency. However, rigidity has a downside as well. In fact, a rigid sole is less comfortable and those cyclists who love spending hours on their bikes will end up with sore feet. Finding the right balance between comfort and rigidity is tricky, but this is a purpose that can certainly be achieved.
  • Adherence
    When riding downhill and wet conditions it is essential to have a good grip on the pedal, but especially on the ground when you are forced to put your feet off the pedals. The best mountain bike shoes must, therefore, have soles coated with adherent materials that prevent them from slipping.
  • Comfort
    As we already mentioned, finding the right balance between rigidity and comfort is sometimes hard. Nevertheless, mountain bike shoes must still be comfortable. Remember that you will have to wear them for long periods of time, therefore you must choose a shoe that is flexible enough to protect your feet from sore. On the other hand, if you practice mountain biking for leisure and also plan to make short walks while wearing the cycling shoes, remember to choose lightweight shoes with soles made of EVA and that can easily absorb shocks.
  • Firmness
    Mountain bike shoes should also have the ability to stay well-anchored to the foot and for this purpose, they must have high-quality closures. There are many alternatives that include laces, Velcro closures, or Velcro associated with laces which are probably the most practical type.
  • Breathable and Waterproof
    Often these two characteristics are in conflict and it is difficult to find materials that are breathable yet impermeable. Nevertheless, the feet need both characteristics to stay dry and a material that combines both qualities with success is GORETEX. The downside of this material is that it comes at a really expensive price.
  • Reflective inserts
    If you will ever get caught cycling in low light or no light conditions, wearing shoes with a reflective insert might save your life. Together with the other compulsory signaling elements of the bike, the reflective shoes will make you visible to vehicles.

With this in mind, let’s see which are the best mountain bike shoes available on the market.

Best Mountain Bike Shoes Reviews

1. Gavin Mountain Sneaker Style Cycling Shoe

Perfect for professional cyclists and amateurs alike, these sneaker style mountain cycling shoes from Gavin are certainly some of the bests on the market. The lace up shoes are perfect for a multitude of activities, including cycling on trails or on roads, for the daily commute or even to go to the gym.

The shoes are made of synthetic micro fiber leather and breathable mesh, while the soles are stiff yet flexible enough to ensure both comfort and pedaling power. Furthermore, the special sole is compatible with all mountain bike pedals, including SPD, SPD-R and SPD-SL cleats.

Gavin Mountain MTB Sneaker Style Cycling Shoe

Thanks to these characteristics, the shoes are lightweight and comfortable to wear and will keep your feet dry in most conditions.

Things We Liked
  • Comfortable: these shoes are extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear, while the sole is stiff enough to ensure pedaling power yet flexible enough to provide great comfort when walking.
  • Compatible with a wide range of cleats: if you have SPD pedals, it will be easy to use these shoes with almost all types of cleats, as they are compatible with SPD, SPD-R and SPD-SL cleats.
  • Reflective inserts: the shoes have reflective inserts above the heel and on the lateral sides, therefore they are suitable to use in low light conditions.
  • Breathable: thanks to the breathable mesh and synthetic leather the shoes are breathable and will keep your feet dry and ventilated.
Things We Didn't Like
  • Unfortunately, these shoes are not waterproof, therefore your feet will get wet if you are using them in wet or humid conditions.

2. Diamondback Overdrive Clipless Mountain Cycling Shoe

Diamondback Men's Overdrive Clipless Mountain Cycling Shoe

A pair of mountain bike shoes with excellent characteristics if the Diamondback Overdrive Clipless Mountain Cycling Shoe. These mountain bike shoes are made of synthetic leather and breathable mesh uppers and a nylon and fiberglass composite outsole that provides an excellent pedaling efficiency.

Apart from this, the outsole is extremely durable and provides an excellent grip and traction on all types of terrains, including the slippery and muddy areas.

Regarding the closure, the shoes adhere well to the feet thanks to the 3-strap Velcro closure that not only ensure a comfortable fit but also an easy put on and take off.

Furthermore, the perforated EVA insole and spandex lining improve the overall feeling of comfort. The insole is washable.

Things We Liked
  • Reinforced toe cap and heel cup: these shoes will certainly keep your feet protected regardless of the trail you decide to ride on.
  • SPD compatible: the outsole is compatible with SPD cleats even though the shoes have excellent performances with flat pedals too.
  • Washable insole: the perforated EVA insole provides an excellent comfort, keeping your feet dry at all times.
  • Easy to put on and take off: thanks to the Velcro closure, the shoes are really easy to put on and take off.
Things We Didn't Like
  • The shoes don't have any type of reflective insert. This is not essential for mountain biking but it is a nice addition to have.

3. Venzo Mountain Bike SPD Shoes & Multi-Use Pedals

If you are looking for a great bargain, then a combo to consider is the Venzo mountain bike shoes that are compatible with all SPD pedals and actually come with a pair of multi-use pedals.

The shoes are impressive. The uppers are made of breathable mesh and synthetic leather, while the soles are perfect for several types of activities, including cycling on the trails, walking or even running.

Venzo Mountain Bike Bicycle Cycling Shimano SPD Shoes + Multi-Use Pedals

Easy to put on and take off, the shoes are provided with three Velcro straps as closure, that secures them to the feet pretty tightly.

On the other hand, the pedals are of really high quality and are manufactured in Taiwan by the same manufacturer that produces the Shimano pedals. These hybrid pedals have a flat side and an SPD side, being perfect for a wide range of cycling styles.

Things We Liked
  • Complete package: these mountain bike shoes come with hybrid pedals and cleats, allowing you to have a complete mountain bike starter kit.
  • Attractive design: the shoes are attractive and are suitable to be used for other leisure purposes as well, as they are comfortable when walking.
  • Easy to put on and take off: thanks to the Velcro closures, the shoes are easy to put on and take off.
  • Breathable: the upper mesh and synthetic leather are both breathable materials that will keep your feet dry.
Things We Didn't Like
  • Although the combo is fantastic, the shoes might not be as durable as similar models.

4. Shimano 2017 Men’s XC Off-Road Sport Cycling Shoes – SH-XC31L

Shimano SH-XC31L

Designed by Shimano specifically to be used with the manufacturer’s SPD pedals, these shoes provide excellent pedaling force and are built to last.

As one would expect, the shoes are compatible with all SPD pedal models while the outsole provides an excellent stability when used unclipped. The outsole is made of polyurethane and boasts an excellent adherence and traction.

Furthermore, the sole made of fiberglass reinforced nylon will provide you the perfect balance between stiffness and comfort, a balance that is really hard to find on other mountain bike shoes.

For a perfect fit, Shimano equipped these shoes with a cross-x Velcro strap and the synthetic leather uppers are lightweight and durable, keeping your feet dry at all times.

Things We Liked
  • Adaptable insole: to be comfortable and accommodate all foot shapes, the shoes come with an adaptable cup insole.
  • Lightweight: the shoes are lightweight yet rigid, providing a perfect balance between stiffness and comfort.
  • Compatible with all SPD pedals: designed by Shimano, these shoes can be paired with any type of SPD pedals and even with flat pedals.
  • Polyurethane outsole: providing mud shedding and an arch pad for improved stability, these shoes are really suitable for all types of trail cycling.
Things We Didn't Like
  • The shoes are of high quality but the screws that secure the SPD cleats can come off quite easily.

5. Zol Predator Mountain Bike and Indoor Cycling Shoes

If you are looking for a pair of cycling shoes to use both on the trails and when cycling indoors, the Zol Predator cycling shoes are probably the ones you are looking for.

These shoes are compatible with all SPD types of pedals, including Crank Brothers and are characterized by fiberglass injected nylon soles that make the shoes rigid enough to provide a superior pedaling power and great comfort during the long rides.

Zol Predator MTB Mountain Bike and Indoor Cycling Shoes

On the other hand, the uppers are made of synthetic leather and mesh, two breathable materials that will keep your feet dry at all times.

Things We Liked
  • Carbon fiber closures: to secure the shoes of the feet, the manufacturer provided the shoes with three carbon fiber Velcro straps.
  • Heel cup: for improved stability, the shoes are also equipped with a comfortable heel cup.
  • Lightweight: the shoes are really lightweight thanks to the synthetic materials used both for the uppers and for the soles.
  • Perforated insoles: in addition to the features mentioned above, these shoes also have perforated insoles that provide further comfort to the feet.
Things We Didn't Like
  • The sizes are sometimes untrue to the chart, therefore getting the right sizes can be tricky.

Conclusion & Final Pick

In our opinion, the best mountain bike shoes available on the market are the Gavin Mountain Sneaker Style Cycling Shoes.

Not only these shoes are compatible with all SPD pedal types, they are lightweight, well-made and suitable to use with flat pedals too.

The uppers will keep your feet dry most of the times thanks to the breathable design, and even if these shoes are not waterproof, their quality is impressive.

Apart from that, the convenient closure will help you put the shoes on and take them off with incredible ease while the flexible sole will make you feel comfortable throughout the ride. The shoes also come at an affordable price, therefore we believe they are worth trying.

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