Quick to slip on and easy to adjust are the basic requirements for the best mountain bike shoes. By far the easiest and most effective way to achieve this is the Boa Fit System, an innovation that took the cycling world by storm decades ago. The simple, easy-to-dial closure system offers superior stabilisation for your mid-foot, locks in the heel securely and as a result, can offer huge performance gains.
So forget about fiddling with laces or Velcro straps to secure your cycling shoes - let’s have a look at how Boa works.
What is the Boa Fit System?
Having stiff and perfectly fitting shoes is essential for your mountain biking comfort and performance, but as important is the shoe closure. Adjusting your shoes easily on the go, depending on the demands of your ride, is essential. And that is what the Boa fit system was born to revolutionise.
Boa was born in the snow sports sphere where it transformed the way snowboarders could dial in their boots. The groundbreaking technology was quickly adopted by Boa’s original two partner brands – K2 and Vans – who launched the first Boa-powered snowboard boots to consumers in 2001. Five years later, Boa was already working with industry-leading Specialized and Pearl Izumi, introducing Boa to the cycling world - and taking it by storm.
Now, more than two decades of constant innovation later, Boa Fit Systems are found well beyond just snowboarding - they recently appeared in Ariat cowboy boots. They’re also found on Trailrunning, Golf, Workwear and Skitouring footwear (to name a few) - and even on medical devices. More than 300 different manufacturers now trust in Boa’s technology when it comes to ensuring the most effective fit and closure system.
Boa is now a brand well-known for cyclists from all disciplines, and for a good reason. The Pearl Izumi “Viper” was launched as the first MTB shoe powered by the Boa Fit System - and today there are over 30 cross-country, downhill and gravel shoe brands that utilise the innovative solution. From Nino Schurter to Kate Courtney and Loana Lecomte, the world’s best mountain bike riders are seen riding in shoes featuring the Boa Fit System at nearly every race.
“For me, the biggest advantage of Boa is the micro-adjustable precision fit. Depending on the intensity of the ride I can wear my shoes with a tighter or looser fit, accommodating my feet’s needs. Currently, I wear the SCOTT MTB RC SL with a dual Boa Li2 configuration for zonal fit adjustment. “This shoe is very lightweight while providing a high stiffness for a great power transfer,” Olympic Champion and nine-time World Champion Nino Schurter from the SCOTT MTB Racing Team said.
The biggest and best cycling teams are really embracing the performance benefits Boa offers. Boa is now sponsoring two MTB teams - Scott SRAM MTB Racing and Canyon CLLCTV XC - and several downhill mountain biking pro teams.
The Boa Fit System - L6 and Li2 Platform
Instead of laces or other closure methods, Boa features a simple dial that allows cyclists to fine-tune their shoes to the right fit. The whole system consists of three parts: a dial (or a knob), super lightweight laces and a low-friction lace guide. The dial, or sometimes two on the cycling shoe will tighten the stainless-steel wires that are laced over the tongue of the shoe. Using the Boa Fit System is simple; first, you lift the dial up, which loosens the lacing; then you slide your foot into the shoe, push the dial back down and twist it until you’re happy with the fit.
The most modern of Boa Fit Systems, the Li2 platform allows you to then fine-tune the tightness by also turning the dial to loosen the laces in very small increments, allowing for that best mountain bike cycling shoe comfort - and performance.
The Li2 platform first entered the market in late 2020, offering a sleek, lightweight, low-profile design while maintaining the precise, incremental micro-adjustability Boa is known for.
121321_Boa-Cycling_Kohlman_AZ_2169-1-3500x2625-28fcb785-4a8e-4f9f-810b-f685af8c92b5.jpg, by Suvi Loponen
The Li2 platform’s multidirectional tightening and loosening help to accommodate foot swelling on long cycles, and a more secure fit helps on steep climbs and sprints. And in terms of longevity, the dial offers unprecedented durability against impact, abrasion, and contaminants such as dirt and debris, while providing an ultra-reliable grip in all weather conditions.
Boa’s Li2 and L6 platforms, which are common in mountain bike shoes, feature an easy-to-install cartridge assembly that improves impact resistance and increases the ease of replacement.
On severe impact, Boa’s cartridge system is designed to release from the bayonet. If this happens, the user can insert the cartridge back into the bayonet. While it will continue to function properly throughout the remainder of the activity, it is important to now order a replacement kit - more of this below.
The Boa Guarantee
121321_Boa-Cycling_Kohlman_AZ_8361-2100x1575-529e3fbe-62ff-40db-bce2-17a86b7dba3c.jpg, by Suvi Loponen
In line with Boa’s company-wide drive to improve sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint, the Boa Fit System has been designed to reuse and reduce material waste. This has resulted in a system that is easy to repair, and Boa Guarantee. The Boa Guarantee ensures that each of the individual Boa Fit System components can be replaced rather than a whole new shoe being required - and you simply need to fill in what’s happened to your Boa dial on their website. It is more likely that your actual shoe will wear out before the Boa System will be in an unrepairable condition!
As part of the Boa Guarantee, you can claim a free repair kit for your specific Boa Fit System - delivered straight to your home, with no bike shop or any middlemen required. Boa also has a whole host of system-specific repair guides and instructional videos so that you’re not lost with the spare parts when they arrive.
The Boa Fit System isn’t just about World Cup performance, on-tap comfort, fit and performance; it’s also about long-term footwear reassurance and security, too. Having Boa simplifies your cycling and saves you from stopping at the trailside to fiddle with your laces, velcros or whatever other closure systems your mountain bike shoes could have.
If you’re ready to invest in some high-quality Boa shoes yourself, let’s look at some of the most exciting Boa mountain bike shoes on the market.
Ride Concepts Tallac / Ride Concepts Flume (women’s version) Clip BOA
Available with or without cleats, the all-new Tallac, and Flume Clip Boa combine advanced off-road footwear technology with bike-specific performance to offer trail flat shoes that are designed to outlast the biggest epics. Both Tallac and Flume feature the Boa Fit System Li2 combined with strong, flexible, and low-friction textile laces for incremental micro-adjustability with multidirectional tightening and loosening.
The Cordura upper is breathable and lightweight, but also trail-tough and protective with a stitch-free and fully welded construction. The new adaptable outsole, with a supportive pedal contact area featuring a clip grip rubber, transfers power when charging the terrain ahead. A long cleat runway provides easy integration with the pedal.
Price: £ 199.95
Weight: 570 g
Size range Tallac Clip Boa (men’s): EU 39.5–47 (also in half sizes)
Size range Flume Clip Boa (women’s): EU 35–41.5 (also in half sizes)
The 2FO ClipLite puts precision fit at your toe tips, providing unparalleled pedal input for on-trail control. The micro-adjustable Boa Li2 dials combined with a welded upper provide zonal adjustment for an all-time precision fit.
Built on a cushioned EVA foam midsole and relaxed fit last, the 2FO ClipLite keeps feet locked in and cooled down for all-day riding without sacrificing off-the-bike comfort and style. The shoe rides on our SlipNot FG rubber sole delivering best-in-class pedal grip and connection when hitting full send. The 2FO ClipLite is perfectly adjusted for all-out trail speed.
Size range: EU 36–49
The Crankbrothers Mallet E Boa clip-in shoe excels for enduro races or all-day adventures. Featuring a carbon-injected nylon shank, the Mallet E Boa shoe offers pedalling efficiency without compromising on the shoe-to-pedal interface.
The Boa Fit System utilises a micro-adjustment L6 dial, a strong, lightweight lace and a low-friction lace guide to deliver a fast, effortless, precision fit. The innovative Match System optimises engagement for any MTB clip-in system, whether that’s Crankbrothers or SPD. It comes with Match shim and Crankbrothers cleat pre-installed in a neutral position, so they are ready to ride with Crankbrothers pedals right out of the box.
Weight: 439g (size 42)
Size range: EU 37–48 (38–47 also in half sizes)
The Rascal Select Boa is ION's top-notch trail and race-oriented clipless bike shoe. Its construction combines stiffness in the longitudinal axis, with flexibility in the lateral axis and the upper. This torsional construction principle helps to prevent the foot from tilting on the pedal.
Special dedicated climbing and pedal zones on the tread ensure traction both on and off the pedal. The Boa Fit system L6 platform integrated on the upper instep ensures a fast, effortless and precise fit. It enables agility and speed through a seamless connection between equipment and the body. Since the Rascal Select is made for downhill-oriented riding, ION placed the cleat further back compared to all-mountain-oriented shoes. The cushioned EVA midsole absorbs impact while the rubberised heel and reinforced toe cap absorb and dissipate forces when the foot hits a rock or roots, protecting both the shoe and its rider.
Weight: 912 g (Size 42)
Size range: EU 37–47
Designed for top athletes and performance-oriented riders, the Scott MTB RC SL is one of the lightest and stiffest shoes on the market. It has an HMX carbon sole with a Corecell foam core for even more weight savings and ultimate power transfer. These race-ready shoes, worn by reigning World Champion Nino Schurter, feature Boa’s premium, low-profile Li2 dial platform. Two dials provide a zonal fit, and a multi-directional user interface that allows you to loosen and tighten on the fly for micro-adjustability at every kilometre, ensuring you can transfer all your energy to the pedals.
Weight: 424 g
Size range: EU 38–48 (41 to 45 also in half sizes)
2022 Rapha-Explore-Powerweave-Gravel-Mens-Black.jpg, by Suvi Loponen
Designed for powerful performance in rugged terrain, the Rapha Explore Powerweave brings innovation to off-road riding. Tested over tens of thousands of kilometres on bikepacking expeditions and ultra-endurance races, the Explore Powerweave combines a high-traction, durable carbon sole with a reinforced version of Rapha’s proprietary Powerweave fabric, and the unrivalled Boa Fit System, for a fit that’s dialled in for dirt.
The shoe features the Li2 dial platform in a dual dial configuration for a customised, micro-adjustable fit. The Boa-powered upper is designed to improve the connection to Rapha’s carbon footplate, offering more freedom in the toe box, and providing a fast, effortless, precision fit.
Weight: 348g (size 43)
Size range: EU 36–47 (40 to 46 also in half sizes)
Whether you’re riding on the course or off the beaten track, the Giro Sector mountain bike shoe is ready to power up for adventures. The Sector combines a supple, breathable Synchwire™ upper with two Boa L6 dials which provide zonal micro-adjustability for a fast, effortless, precision fit. The combination of the dial, lace, and guides reduces the weight and offers finer adjustment compared to traditional buckles, and it offers an instant release function, too.
The sole comes with a stout carbon-composite plate and an aggressive, dual-injected rubber outsole for excellent traction that won't de-laminate or break down. A supportive 3D-moulded footbed with Aegis anti-microbial treatment enhances comfort and fit. The Sector is a great choice for riders looking for inspired performance.
Weight: 342g (size 42)
Size range: EU 39–50 (42 to 46 also in half sizes)
Worn by Canyon CLLCTV XC pro rider Loana Lecomte, who just won the XC World Cup in Leogang and the French National Championship in XCO, the Vento Ferox Carbon proves as the perfect choice when high performance, foot stability, and long-lasting comfort are needed most – whether it’s a World Cup race, a technical XC trail, a speedy cyclocross race, or an all-day gravel event.
A premium Li2 Boa Fit System is located at the forefoot, ensuring an incremental micro-adjustability with multidirectional tightening, and loosening for a fast, effortless, precision fit. At the instep, Powerstrap provides an exceptional foot containment at high cadence, particularly common when pedalling off-road, while, at the same time, providing a crash-proof system that will take you safely to every finish line. With a high stiffness-to-weight ratio, the carbon plate efficiently transfers the power generated from the shoe to the bike. The outsole is now equipped with generous studs and a rubber coating that covers the entire surface, including the midfoot, delivering improved traction for those off-the-bike moments.
Size range: EU 36–48 (37 to 47 also in half sizes)
The Boa-powered G.SNX sets a benchmark for innovation, ultimate race performance and comfort. For infinite adjustment and a fast, effortless, precision fit, the G.SNX is powered by the Boa Fit System Li2 featuring eight fixing zones.
The upper is made of one piece of microfiber with laser drilling to provide heat dispersion and a perfect climate. The anatomic heel cup 1.0 with its revised shape and internal non-slip treatment allow improved stability and the best foot control. Combined with the tarsal support system 1.0 which surrounds the heel and shapes the shoe's upper to the rider's foot profile, these two technologies work together for unmatched power transmission and control. The EPS Light Weight Carbon Fibre MTB sole made of carbon and Michelin rubber tread provides a balanced mix of performance, durability and strength.
Price: £ 339.90
Weight: 332 g (size 43)
Size range: EU 39–47 (41 to 46 also in half sizes)
The 5.10 Trailcross Pro Clip-In meets the growing need for riding performance on the bike and hiking off the bike, using the latest Boa platform Li2. This offers cyclists a fast, effortless, precision fit in every situation during an on- and off-bike adventure – from a looser fit for walking around, to a tighter fit for steep climbs. To wrap the foot with precision, articulated panels on the shoe upper are activated by Boa. This locked-in effect provides better heel hold while still enabling freedom in the toes for improved circulation and dexterity.
The breathable upper, made with at least 50% recycled materials, keeps feet cool and dry, while neoprene at the cuff seals out dust and debris. Combined with a non-marking Stealth MarathonTM rubber outsole for maximum grip on all types of surfaces, clip-in compatibility with a balanced flex and lightweight cushioning for rail-runner-like comfort, the 5.10 Trailcross Pro Clip-In utilises all technologies needed for unique hike-and-bike moments and exploring on foot. A truly versatile shoe created for adventure riding from singletrack to gravel roads and beyond.
Weight: 433 g
Size Range: EU 38–48, 49 1/3, 50 2/3