Finding the right mountain bike shoe is a tricky exercise, so we've done the hard work for you and compiled a list of the best mountain bike shoes you can currently buy. Shoes are more than just a style element, providing an important contact point with the pedal system. The best mountain bike shoes will offer comfort and control, and communicate your inputs as well as provide feedback on what is happening under your wheels.
Along with the saddle and handlebars, the shoe/pedal interface represents one of the three contact points with the bike. As such, it is crucial that you choose a comfortable shoe that offers you support and allows you to transmit power through the pedals.
For beginners and riders learning vital skills and perfecting the trade, a flat pedal is a good place to start. Flat pedal shoes are usually the choice for downhill or enduro mountain biking or freeriders and they often utilise soft rubber soles originally designed for climbing shoes. The alternative to flats is clipless shoes. Clipless shoes come in all shapes and sizes ranging from super stiff carbon-soled XC disco slippers to the skate style kicks and everything in between. This option will physically attach your feet to the pedals. Clipless pedals were designed to improve security when descending and most of all pedalling efficiency.
To choose a cycling shoe that meets your riding needs you might even have to consider how much flex and compliance there is in the sole for walking. Trying to "hike a bike" with the stiffest pair of cross-country mountain biking shoes will be both a hazard and uncomfortable. Yes, there's a lot to take in!
We have separated the shoes into two categories; flats and clipless. Scroll down to jump straight to the shoe that takes your interest or keep scrolling to learn the answers to some of the most common questions about the best mountain bike shoes.
Best mountain bike shoes - Flats
The Giro Latch shoes are solid, well-designed, aesthetically pleasing, lightweight and of good build quality. They resemble casual trainer-like shoes with a low profile, much like the Five Ten Freerider Pro.
Comfort-wise, the Giro Latch provides a good level of support from the sole when on the pedals, but is balanced with a tough build that still flexes to deform with your foot's movement. This is a welcomed feature especially for walking or pushing up the side of a trail. Staying with the sole, there is plenty of grip on offer no matter the weather conditions. Giro's own Tack Rubber compound deforms and grapples hold of the pedal pins to give riders that locked-in feel.
These shoes are comfortable both on and off the bike, providing fantastic pedal adhesion in all conditions. Despite showing some slight signs of wear on the soft sole, they've retained their build integrity well.
Justifying a rather high price of £140, the Ride Concepts Powerline shoe comes built with an impressive array of features in order to ensure they hit the holy trinity of mountain bike shoes, comfort, grip and protection.
The welded micro-fibre upper is both abrasion and weather-resistant, and there’s an asymmetrical medial collar with D3O impact protection built in to keep those ankles from your bike cranks. Actually, D3O is placed all over the shoe; it's even found in the insole with the aim of providing impact absorption to reduce fatigue. These kicks are definitely not isn't lightest, but considering the protection that's built-in, it's understandable. It’s handy to have a protective shoe; after all, your feet are what’s closest to the ground and most susceptible to some painful knocks and they’re perfectly middle of the road in terms of weather protection and breathability.
The DBX 2.0 Flat shoes use a synthetic leather upper and suede toe box, with Leatt’s own RideGrip rubber compound at the sole. In terms of protection, the toe and heel boxes are reinforced, and the heel is shaped to hug the top of the ankle to avoid unwanted slip as you pedal.
Possibly due to a mix of the DBX 2.0’s medium/stiff waffle sole and that well-designed tread, it’s a really nice shoe to walk in. I’ve probably walked in these shoes as often as I’ve ridden in them, and they're pleasant and predictably grippy.
This tread pattern takes a little time to get used to and you need to wiggle your foot into place to mesh the pins nicely into the sole. The DBX 2.0 creates a very locked-in feel with that waffle pattern offering an impressive and consistent level of grip, especially on noticeably concave pedals. Further boosting the pedal grip is that medium-soft shank. It allows the shoe to conform to the pedal easily, just not the most efficient when you get on the power.
Best mountain bike shoes - Clipless
The Giro Ventana Fastlace is a clipless off-road shoe that works excellently whether you're a gravel rider or a light trail smasher. While it makes for a comfortable, cool summer choice that’s easy to get on and off.
The Ventana Fastlace is without a doubt an incredibly comfortable shoe. The fit offers useful wriggle room in the toe box while staying perfectly snug enough everywhere else. Even on longer rides, no problems arose. The one-piece 'Synchwire' upper gets rubber-reinforced heel and toe sections to shrug off the hits.
The tread just isn’t the most grippy as it’s not deep or aggressive enough for the days in the loose and wet. So unless it’s bone dry underfoot, you’ll be slipping about the place. Combing this, and the good ventilation thanks to the airy bonded mess panels positions this as a summer-only shoe.
Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes
The Specialized 2FO Clip uses the brand's Body Geometry sole and footbed, which it says is shaped to keep your feet, knees and hips correctly aligned. It takes some getting used to because it's so heavily contoured. However, weight distribution is evenly spread and it becomes more natural-feeling after a ride or two.
The whole interior of the shoe is nicely padded with a roomy toe box and a protected heel. The inside ankle is relatively high to give a bit of protection against crank strikes. Where the perforated panels are located, there’s lighter padding to encourage airflow and help the shoe to dry more quickly.
Speaking of quick drying, the 2FO Clip holds up pretty well in the weather protection department despite not being a truly dedicated winter shoe. They strike a very happy medium between comfort, cooling, protection, and weather resistance making these a pleasant home to place your feet.
The Shimano ME7 shoes have had a little facelift and get a wider sealed cleat area. The Michelin sole gets a bit of a redesign, with a dual-density rubber outsole for greater durability and slip-resistance. The sole gets a decent tread pattern that grips well in the mud and doesn't slide on rocks. Comfy for both pedalling and walking, these shoes feel light. Talking of pedalling, the ME7 has a large cleat box for a wide range of positions.
Shimano gives the ME7 a stiffness rating of '8', Which translates to a stiff shoe that pedals efficiently though, and you still get a small amount of flex – especially at the toes – so you aren't struggling to walk when you swing your legs off the bike.
Water-resistant, light without being flimsy, breathable, efficient and stealthy, the latest version of the ME7 ticks a lot of boxes. They need to as well – at £170 these aren't cheap. It's a proven design, though, and one that should continue to work well for years.
Shimano has designed the AM7 as an all-weather shoe with a mesh and TPU upper that absorbs less water and dries quickly. Around the back of your heel, there’s a neoprene cuff to keep flying crud out.
For a gravity-oriented shoe, there’s not an awful lot of padding, and it would be nice to see some ankle protection. On the upside, this keeps weight down and keeps the overall profile usefully slim, while the lack of bulk also keeps the shoe cool. Despite that it's very well sealed for wet weather – a couple of side panels and the tongue allow for some airflow without funnelling in gallons of water too. Above the tongue is a regular lace-up closure, plus a Velcro strap at the top.
The Shimano AM7 has many of the features found on the AM9, but there’s more of an emphasis on airflow and keeping the weight down. It's secure slim, light and well suited to the best part of the British year and should be good for years to come thanks to the excellent build and quality.
Out the box, the clean look and smooth material give a modern aesthetic, though the all-black colour is a bit basic and functional. Secured with a velcro strap and a Boa L6 tensioner, the ME5s are super easy to put on and take off, with easily-adjusted comfort and fit.
Riding in the ME5 is a good experience, with the shape being pretty standard and the fit feeling stable and secure in all riding conditions. Walking in the ME5s is comfortable, and Shimano uses its own rubber compound that works as well on wet rock as anything we've used. The cleats are recessed enough to allow the sole to do its work, yet clipping in remains a doddle. The low-profile sole on the ME5 is not one for deep, slippery mud, but works well on firmer ground. They never feel heavy either, whether you're pedalling or walking.
The ME5s sit a little above mid-level, and they're good enough to warrant the price tag. They're a good trail shoe, offering toe protection, effective lacing and a sole that balances efficient pedalling with comfortable walking and decent grip.
The Scott MTB Comp Boa Reflective shoes are a new version of Scott’s well-priced MTB Comp Boa shoes, helping you be seen in the dark whilst not looking out of place on daytime rides.
With a stiffness rating of six, these shoes sit at the lower end of the stiffness range. That said, the shoe is aimed at trail, cross-country or gravel riders that want a sleek, efficient shoe that doesn't weigh too much either.
Available for both men and women, the shoes represent good value The reflective version isn't any more expensive than the regular coloured version. Reflective shoes are a great idea to catch road users' attention when illuminated. A worthy contender if you tend to go out on longer escapades that involve some road work.
Built around the brand's Body Geometry footbed, the Recon 1.0 uses a nylon outsole with a TPU-injected forefoot, which allows for some flex at the toe - something that makes off-the-bike antics easier. Even with a bendy toe area, the shoe sits at 6.0 on Specialized's stiffness index so about midway and is perfect for general trail tomfoolery while the shoe is perfectly comfortable, even after long stints. I have absolutely no complaints about the Recon either on or off the bike.
The aggressively-shaped tread uses Specialized's SlipNot rubber compound, and it’s impressively grippy. I’ve been perfectly happy walking on most surfaces, even when steep. If your riding is gravity-orientated, you might find the Recon a little lacking in protection and rearward cleat adjustment, but for all-round trail and gravel use, it's spot-on.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, do-it-all shoe for summer use, the Specialized Recon 1.0 certainly fits the bill. It’s comfy, grippy and stiff enough for trail riding. And if you’re not a fan of the Velcro closure, fear not; the more expensive Recon 2.0 from Specialized comes with a Boa retention system.
Keeping dry and warm is a challenge during winter, but Fizik's Terra Artica X2 shoe does an excellent job of keeping your toes toasty. Fizik uses an eVent waterproof/breathable membrane to fend off water and there are no vents to ensure they're totally sealed. The zipper on the neoprene upper is also waterproof.
To aid comfort Fizik gave this shoe a rubber sole with a reasonable amount of flex. No, you don't get the hyper-efficient power transfer of an XC carbon race slipper, but it's extremely comfortable on long rides. It's also comfortable when milling around the car park, diving into the cafe for coffee and cake, or the pedestrian bits of commuting.
The Terra Artica X2 is great for keeping your feet warm and dry, or at least significantly warmer and drier than regular shoes. It isn't completely impervious in the heaviest sustained downpours, but it stays warm when wet, is very comfortable, and has a sole stiffness that's balanced perfectly between pedalling and walking.
The Bontrager Rally is designed for gravity riding and loaded with protective features. These include an abrasion-resistant coating around the heel and toe caps. There’s even an EVA midsole to absorb shock from harsh landings and to quieten down any nasty chatter. The features here place the shoe firmly in the mid-high section of the price spectrum.
It looks like a skate shoe and off of the bike it feels like one, too. The soles aren't built with a terribly aggressive tread and because of that, it can get a little slippery when it's loose underfoot. On the bike, clipping in is as easy as it gets thanks to the shoe's lengthy cleat channels. It doesn't have the most rearward cleat positioning on the market.
There’s something of a lack of perforations and cooling around the shoe but regardless, the Rally has kept my feet reasonably warm when they need to be, only getting temperate on properly hot days. The lack of perforations means the shoe is missing airflow. The lack thereof makes it rather good at keeping the wet stuff out.
The Gaerne Hurricane MTB Clipless shoe is for riders wanting less weight, with a balance of pedalling efficiency whilst allowing for short periods of walking. It's definitely more leaning toward a race shoe than a casual-style trail shoe. A modern-looking shape, with nearly a single piece of material building the upper of the shoe. The toe box is tough and a good size.
These shoes are comfortable for longer rides and the sole flex was welcome for times when you walked. There are two threaded holes to add mud spikes for some extra bite. Cleats were easy to position with good marks in the sole to get them placed exactly. The shoe has a good balance of flex in the uppers, meaning the foot feels well-cradled and comfortable.
If you are hunting for stouter shoes for more walking or even carrying your bike, you may be better off looking at other options, as the Gaerne Hurricanes are definitely more of a lighter race-orientated shoe rather than technical trail riding.
2021 Fizik Versor Flat and Clip shoes -6.jpg, by Rachael Wight
The Fizik Gravita Versor Clip mountain bike shoe is a quirky-looking number. But don't judge too soon. They are good for pedalling in and relatively light, too, these are a pair of trail shoes that are sure to tick a lot of boxes for most riders.
Perhaps the 'shoe for every occasion, Fizik says these shoes are designed to be suitable for a mix of downhill mountain biking and trail riding. The shoes are pretty versatile. As quirky as the offset lace might be, the otherwise plain shoe doesn't look out of place whether I'm riding any type of mountain bike.
All-in-all, the Fizik Gravita Versor clip shoes are lightweight trail shoe that works very well with large surface clipless pedals. They are both supportive and comfy and are a great all-around shoe, whatever your riding style.
The Shimano AM5 is a perfect case of less is more. It’s constructed with a synthetic upper, simple meshed padding for the toe, tongue and ankle combined perforated panels at the sides for great airflow. They are not marketed as winter shoes; the AM5s are surprisingly comfortable in the wet and they shrug off any spray and even the odd downpour really well. They fasten with simple laces and if fluoro is not your bag, a more subtle option is included in the box.
The AM5s don’t give a bag load of protection, but for this money that’s understandable. What you do get is reinforced heels and soles that rise at the toe, the latter giving you some level of protection if you're going to be clumsy.
The Shimano AM5 SPD shoes offer good value. What they lack in stiffness and impact protection they make up for in comfort, slim looks and respectable weather protection. They’re a very solid choice if you’re looking for some dependable comfort with your first SPD shoe.
How to choose the best mountain bike shoes
Choosing the best mountain bike shoes could be seen as a complete minefield but this section has been curated to answer all your questions and some you might not have considered yet, helping you find the perfect match for your riding style and budget.
Ultimately the best MTB new shoes will come down to personal preference. What type of riding you do and the amount of support from the pedal platform will be deciding factors in how stiff the shoe sole will need to be. Typically, less pedal support means increased shoe rigidity. Pairing the pedals that best match your riding style and preference is crucial. The cost of the best mountain bike shoes doesn't need to be high, as some of the best shoes start at £80. But depending on the design features and materials used could see that price rise to almost double that amount.
For the best possible fit, we recommend that you try the shoes on for size and comfort before you buy them. We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions below along with answers that will help you to understand the differences and explain some of the features found on the best mountain bike shoes.
This section will be useful for choosing what would best suit your needs before you decide on your purchase.
Should I get flat or clipless shoes?
You first need to make up your mind if you will want flat or clipless pedals for mountain biking. Flat pedals allow a rider to take their foot off easily in steep sections and are a great option for novice riders.
Clipless pedals attach you to your bike and hold your foot in place. This boosts rider control in the roughest sections of the trail and will improve pedalling efficiency when you look to lay down some serious power.
Which retention/closure system is best?
Various retention systems provide a secure and comfortable fit. You will find everything from laces, Velcro, ratchet and Boa dials. In some cases, two of these systems can be combined to perfect the fit.
At the premium end of the shoe market, you will find a ratchet or Boa-style closure. These are the choice for cross-country riders. The majority of trail and gravity riders there is a tendency to use traditional laces.
How important is sole stiffness?
The mountain bike shoe is available with different sole materials. They can be made from carbon fibre for the stiffest cross-country shoe. Nylon is often the middle of the road perfect for cheaper models and trail shoes that don't need the best power transfer but instead opt for more comfort and durability. Rubber offers the most compliance and the best grip for flat pedal pins and feedback. Each type of material will offer a differing level of performance and brands tailor the material of the sole to best suit the intended application of the shoe.
How much do mountain bike shoes weigh?
The weight of a mountain bike shoe will depend upon the materials used and its design. Lighter isn’t necessarily better for every application and genre of the sport.
Lighter shoes will be designed more for cross-country mountain biking. Much like a road cycling shoe, there is a demand for the ultimate power and pedalling efficiency. This stiffness will come at the cost of walking and long ride comfort with the more exotic materials hitting your wallet hardest. For the majority of riders, a more durable and comfortable shoe offering the most versatility would be more important than super lightweight racing kicks.
Is a carbon sole the best?
The sole of a cycling shoe and the material used will dictate how the whole shoe feels and performs. Each genre will want something different from its footwear. The stiffer shoe for ultimate power transfer and also a stable platform to stand on with the lightest and smallest clipless pedals.
Shoe brands will tailor the material to suit the price and desired application of the shoe use. Carbon fibre for the most expensive race slippers and nylon or plastic for the more affordable options, which offer an increase in weight but more flex to aid walking.
How important is fit?
Whatever type of mountain bike you do and whichever pedal type you ride on you will want to be as comfortable as possible for the whole duration of your ride.
We strongly recommend that you try as many shoes in a variety of sizes before you drop your hard-earned on a new pair of shoes. There are variations between different shoe manufacturers as no two riders' feet will be the same.
You want them tight enough that they don't rub and slip off when you try to stomp on the pedals and not so tight that they cause hot spots or bunching of the shoe's upper material. This could dig into your foot and spell the end of a ride pretty quickly. You want to look for some space to move your toes and the heel cup needs to grip your heel for the best power transfer and pull on the upstroke of the pedal.