If you are a mountain bike rider, you must be familiar with the countless choices that the cycling world presents to you when it comes to shoes. Whether you are looking for mountain bike shoes for bike-packing or trail riding, you need to make an informed decision.
While picking a shoe that fits all your needs, you need to overview all the key performance metrics before purchasing. You need to keep in mind a plethora of factors when you go shoe-shopping, and what you need these shoes for should be clear.
Wearing the right equipment for a sport as strenuous as mountain biking is crucial. We have come up with the best flat mountain bike shoes for your biking endeavors. Our top five list contains shoes from the best overall to the best in terms of value. There is an ideal pair of shoes for everyone, and this article will help you figure out which one of them is the best for you.
Best Overall Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Five Ten Freerider Pro
Weight Per Shoe: 14.11 ounces
Type of Rubber: Stealth S1
Tread Pattern: Full dot
- Excellent pedal grip
- Great durability
- Sticky stealth rubber shoes
- Solid power transfer
- Lies on the expensive end of the spectrum
- Stealth rubber wears off more quickly
As a benchmark of flat mountain bike shoes, Five Ten Freerider Pro is the ultimate pair of shoes that wins in all aspects of the key performance metrics for this category. These versatile shoes are the ones against which the rest of their competitors are judged.
When it comes to grip, Five Ten Freerider Pro takes the lead and is heralded as the best in this aspect. The reason behind this exceptional grip is their Stealth Rubber and full-dot tread pattern.
These shoes have an excellent transfer of power to the pedal owing to the stiff midsole, which will prevent your feet from quick fatigue. The three-layered reinforced toe box adds impact resistance to the shoes.
The shoes are not only comfortable but are a perfect fit for a wide range of foot shapes. As far as protection is concerned, these shoes offer good protection without being on the heavy or bulky end of the spectrum. They don’t weigh too much that the feet get fatigued carrying them around, nor do they compromise on the protective functions.
The synthetic uppers are tough and can withstand significant pressure due to their abrasion-resistant properties. While the synthetic uppers are durable, their breathability is average at most.
Best Budget Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Ride Concepts Livewire
Weight Per Shoe: 16.97 ounces
Type of Rubber: DST 4.0 MAX GRIP
Tread Pattern: Hexagon dot
- Great pedal grip
- Sturdy construction
- Offers great protection
- Versatile design
- It can get hot and clammy
- Transfer of power is not great
If you are looking for shoes that are reasonably priced and have great functionality, Ride Concepts Livewire is the right pick for you. These shoes pack all the features in their model while not compromising on the quality. The construction of the shoe is based on the grippy Rubber Kinetics DST 6.0 HIGH GRIP outsole that has a tendency to gain a firm grip on the pedal and has improved control.
The shoes offer custom molded toe and heel guards. There is a mesh lining with anti-abrasion properties. Another line of protection is the incorporated D30 High Impact Zone Insole Technology. The EVA midsole offers shock absorption and support to the feet. The synthetic rubber uppers discourage the intake of dirt and debris, which allows you to ride longer.
Due to its well-balanced sole stiffness, Ride Concepts Livewire offers a good transfer of power, but high rigidity often gets in the way of power transfer. The shoes have a good pedal feel and walkability. The best part about these shoes is that they do not compromise comfort over functionality. They have a comfortable medium volume fit that supports most foot shapes.
Best Hiking Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Five Ten TrailCross LT
Weight Per Shoe: 14.15 ounces
Type of Rubber: Stealth Phantom
Tread Pattern: ¾ dot
- Versatile design
- Excellent grip on the bike
- Good breathability
- Good walkability
- An ideal blend of hiking and flat-pedal shoe
- Less sole support
- Slightly higher ride height
The Five Ten TrailCross LT is a versatile pair of shoes that is a combination of a hiking shoe and a flat pedal shoe. If you are not a fan of just singletrack shedding and also want to explore remote areas by hiking, this might be a great pick for you.
It provides excellent on-bike performance as well as good hiking/walking capabilities. The construction of the shoes stems from high-quality Stealth Phantom rubber and offers a phenomenal pedal grip. The ventilation of the shoes is remarkable due to its light and airy mesh upper lining. It has a tendency to dry out quickly if you step on something dump.
The sole stiffness and power transfer are also uncompromised. However, the mesh linen while light and soft comes at the expense of support.
Best Comfortable Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Weight Per Shoe: 14.60 ounces
Type of Rubber: Michelin
Tread Pattern: Full tread
- Super comfortable
- All-rounder performance
- Good for hiking
- Impressive construction quality
- Polarizing looks
The Shimano SH-GR7 shoes are a versatile trail and all-mountain flat pedal shoe. By the looks of it, it is uniquely styled with a polarizing impression and futuristic appearance. It delivers all-rounder performance on the bike ride, and all other aspects such as transfer of power and walkability are respectable.
As far as comfort is concerned, the shoes fit most foot shapes and remain true to their size. A unique neoprene ankle collar keeps the dirt and debris out and allows you to ride for longer periods of time.
The pedal grip is the most important performance metric, and Shimano SH-GR7 excels at it owing to the Michelin rubber sole and unique tread design in the form of a full tread pattern. If you prioritize comfort over all the other metrics, this one is a solid pick for you.
Best Functional Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Giro Jacket II
Weight Per Shoe: 13.81 ounces
Type of Rubber: Vibram Ecostep
Tread Pattern: Triangles underfoot, dots toe and heel
- Affordable price
- Skate shoe style
- Clumsy fit
- Flimsy sole
- Lacks grip
While the Giro Jacket II is a relatively basic pair of shoes, it is great in terms of functionality. This pocket-friendly model is distinctively different from all the other models of this category.
In terms of comfort, this model is not only durable but also has a nice feel to it. The microfiber upper is water-resistant with good breathability. The shoes are a perfect fit for most people, especially if you have higher-volume feet.
It offers impressive fit adjustment using laces with the lightest closure system available in the market. The pedal grip is exceptionally great due to the Vibram Ecostep soles that allow you to gain a decent grip on the pedals.
One of the major drawbacks of Giro Jacket II is the lack of power transfer. Since the soles are less rigid, the transfer of power is severely compromised. Although, it has the advantage of foot mobility.
Key Considerations For Buying Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
Stiffness and Power Transfer
The degree of stiffness of the underfoot is the defining feature of mountain bike shoes. What is power transfer? Power transfer is the metric that allows you to put the power down the pedals. Different models have different degrees of power transfer.
For example, an all-rounder like Five Ten Freerider Pro exhibits an impressive power transfer, but at the same time, it is incredibly rigid and difficult to walk in.
On the other hand, a trail model like Giro Jacket II is flexible enough to use in everyday wear.
Outsole and Grip
When buying flat pedal shoes, the most important feature to consider is the outsole grip. Outsole grip is what keeps you in contact with the bike when you are moving downhill or trailing upwards.
In the biking world, the Five Ten Freerider Pro is a benchmark when it comes to outsole grip. The use of Stealth S1 rubber and full dot tread pattern makes this model stand out among the rest.
Others like Giro Jacket II and Shimano SH-GR7 incorporates Vibram and Michelin in their construction, respectively. Both of these offer good grip but fall short in comparison with the former.
Flat mountain bike shoes come with a wide range of closure systems such as laces, velcro, boa, and ratchet. We have included shoes with all kinds of closure systems in this article. Giro Jacket II has a simple lace-up design that makes it look rather casual. Other shoes like Specialized S-Works Recon include a velcro strap or double boa closures.
In flat pedal shoes, laces are the most common closure system, but you need to be careful about stowing them away to avoid contact with moving parts. For faster closure systems, a boa dial system or ratchet design is a great pick.
The weight of the shoes is important to consider if you usually go on long bike rides or hike along with mountain biking. A lightweight mountain bike shoe such as Giro Jacket II has multiple advantages like strengthening power transfer.
By cutting down on the ounces, the amount of effort required to put the power down is also reduced. This helps prevent fatigue during long bike rides and allows your feet to be comfortable. On the other hand, heavyweight shoes like Ride Concepts Livewire have hefty soles that offer better protection and cushioning in the event of a crash or abrasion.
Foot and Toe Protection
Since mountain biking is a rough activity, it is important to keep protection in mind when purchasing mountain bike shoes. When you are riding over rough trails, your footwear should be appropriately padded to prevent frequent bruises. Toe protection differs according to different shoe categories such as downhill, trail, and XC.
Trail shoes require cushioning for taking falls, XC shoes prefer power transfer and outsole grip overprotection, and downhill shoes have the most cushioning. Protection underfoot in the form of thick mid and outsoles can offer shock absorption. It keeps your feet isolated and safe.
Wet Weather Protection
If you live or ride in a wet climate, wet and muddy trails will be a part of your life. Most of the XC, downhill, and trail shoes offer solid synthetic or leather uppers that are treated with DWR to keep the moisture at bay.
The Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment applied to these shoes reduces the surface tension of the uppers so that the water simply rolls off and does not accumulate in the shoes. It allows you to go mountain biking in dump and clammy places.
As far as the price range is concerned, you will find shoes of all budgets and price ranges in this article. If you want a basic functional pair of shoes that doesn’t cost you more than 100 bucks then you should go for Giro Jacket II.
On the other hand, if you are a mountain biking enthusiast and only want the best, then an all-rounder like Five Ten Freerider Pro or Shimano GR7 is your ideal pick. You get the best of both worlds with Ride Concepts Livewire.
With the key considerations in mind, you will find countless options on the market when you start looking for mountain bike shoes. If you are riding on flat pedals, you need to make sure you get shoes that are not only good in the transfer of power but also have an excellent outsole grip.
Be sure to know your purpose behind purchasing these shoes, whether you are going to use them for trail riding, downhill riding, or XC biking. A good pair of mountain bike shoes should be durable, comfortable, and have a good protection system.
While there is a world of options available to you, you will find a pair of shoes that fit your needs by the end of this article.