Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Welcome to our big MTB shoe test 2021. Here we present all the MTB shoes we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best MTB shoes for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy MTB shoes.




Summary

  • The choice of your MTB shoe should be adapted to your riding style. Downhill or steep trails - what do you love more?
  • Fit always comes before design! The most beautiful shoe will not bring you joy if it causes you pain.
  • Incorrectly adjusted cleats can cause long-term problems. Therefore, take a close look at the video about cleats!

The best MTB Shoes: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying MTB shoes

What are the characteristics of MTB shoes and when are they necessary?

MTB shoes are shoes specially designed for mountain bikers, which differ from road bike shoes by their additional rubber sole.

MTB shoes are optimally suited for going longer distances and are therefore especially suitable for downhill riding. (Image source: unsplash.com / Christian Erfurt)

MTB shoes are available in two variants:

  • MTB shoes for flat pedal bikes
  • MTB shoes for Klickies

MTB shoes have a two-slot cleat mounting system like other click shoes, but have a soft outsole. Mostly, the said sole is covered by nylon or Vibram. The rider is thus able to walk longer distances without any problems.

If you decide to buy a mountain bike and use it regularly, you should get MTB shoes.

Most MTB shoes have the option of attaching a screw-in spike in the toe area. This provides better traction on muddy and steep trails. The upper material is usually made of a breathable and water-repellent material. This means you are prepared for all weather conditions. The cleats on the bike create a direct connection between the MTB shoe and the pedals. They ensure a round, healthy step and actively support your pedalling mechanism when pulling up. If you regularly get on your bike, it is advisable to invest in MTB shoes. Using conventional trainers, the soft sole can lead to foot pain.

What should you look for when buying MTB shoes?

In order to enjoy the full riding pleasure after buying a mountain bike, you also need the right shoes. But what should you look out for? First and foremost, it is important what kind of trails you prefer to ride. Freeriders mainly use flat pedal MTBs, while downhill riders prefer the Klickie model.

Flat pedals are ideal for dirt tracks. So if you like mountain biking on steep and difficult terrain, you should get flat pedals. (Image source unsplash.com / Erick Sandstorm)

Besides superficial preferences such as colour, look or brand, your primary focus should also be on your technical abilities.

The MTB shoe should primarily serve the individual purpose. If you are someone who tends to ride on challenging MTB trails and steep terrain, you should go for a platform pedal, the so-called bear paw.

The advantage of an MTB shoe in combination with a flat pedal is the wide footprint, which gives you the necessary grip even on the steepest terrain. If you are more of a long and downhill combination rider, you should choose an MTB shoe with a click system. This shoe is particularly suitable for covering long distances as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What size should your MTB shoe be?

To ensure good wearing comfort in your new MTB shoe, you need the right size. You can find this out by measuring your feet. Cycling shoes are constructed differently from trainers. Due to the narrower cut and the narrow toe, the sizes are completely different. If you want to buy cycling shoes over the internet, you unfortunately don't have the chance to try on the MTB shoe in a straightforward and direct way to find the right size. But you can help yourself in just three simple steps. All you need is a white sheet of paper, a pencil and a conventional measuring tape.

Here's how it's done: First you need to measure the length of your foot. You place your foot on the white paper and draw an outline on the sheet with the pencil. Then measure the length of your foot from the heel to the longest toe. Since the foot can swell after prolonged wear, there should be enough space in the shoe. Therefore, add 0.5 to 1 cm. Both feet should be measured, as it can happen that one foot is longer than the other. If this is the case, choose the longer foot. Then measure the circumference of the foot. To do this, place the tape measure on the widest part of your foot. It is important to distribute the body weight as evenly as possible on the foot. The width of the foot is divided into three categories:

  • Narrow
  • Average
  • Wide

The toes should be able to move freely in the MTB shoe, but not so loosely that the foot can move back and forth too much. Finally, the MTB shoe just needs to be selected. The size of the MTB shoes can vary depending on the brand. Therefore, also check the corresponding size chart. Inserts can be ordered for extra stability and comfort.

How much do MTB shoes cost?

As different as the models of MTB shoes are, so are their prices. The price range starts at 50 euros and goes up to 300 euros. MTB shoes with a click system are usually more expensive than flat pedal shoes. The reason for this is the complex click system. The selection of models is enormous. The range includes, for example, clickies with Boa closure, clickies with Velcro closure or ankle-high MTB shoes.

Type of shoe Price range
MTB shoes with click system approx. 50 to 300 euros
MTB shoes for flat pedals approx. 50 to 150 euros

What are the alternatives to MTB shoes?

If you don't have or don't want to buy MTB shoes, you can use road cycling shoes as well as touring and trekking shoes in addition to conventional trainers. However, the soft sole of trainers will cause pain on the soles of your feet after a while. The risk of injury from trainers is considerably higher because they are not equipped with a click system or spikes and thus cannot prevent slipping off the pedals. The road cycling shoe shines with features such as lightness, equipment, design and effective energy transfer. However, it is not suitable for covering longer distances on foot, as the click system of road cycling shoes is not supported by an additional rubber sole. The touring and trekking shoe is better because it has a coarse sole that provides grip. They are also very comfortable to walk long distances in.

However, the energy transfer is worse than with an MTB shoe and a touring or trekking shoe is much heavier.

Decision: What types of MTB shoes are there and which is the right one for you?

When you decide to buy a mountain bike shoe, there are two types to choose from:

  • MTB shoes with click system
  • MTB shoe with flat pedal sole

There are also several closure systems:

  • Boa closure
  • Velcro closure
  • Classic laces

Each type of MTB shoe has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of use and preferences. In the following section, we would like to make your purchase decision easier.

What distinguishes MTB shoes for flat pedals and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Flat pedal shoes are ideal for dirt tracks or steep off-road tours. Since flat pedal shoes do not have a fixed binding by clicking in, the risk of not getting off the bike in time in case of a fall is reduced. Even though flat pedals do not have a traditional click system, there is still sufficient grip. The rubber sole of the shoe bites perfectly into the pins of the flat pedal platform (bear paw). This ensures sufficient protection and stability even with flat pedals. Another advantage of flat pedal shoes is that the body tension is passively trained. The bike must be consciously guided to prevent the pedals from slipping.

Advantages
  • Flexibility
  • Good grip
  • Body tension
Disadvantages
  • Risk of slipping
  • No pedalling mechanism
  • No perfect stance

One of the disadvantages of flat pedal shoes is the risk of slipping off the pedals and injuring yourself on the pins. As there is no fixed connection, there is no efficient pedalling force with flat pedals, as you can only step into the pedals but not pull on them. Another disadvantage is that the perfect stance has to be found again and again.

What distinguishes MTB shoes for clipless pedals and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Klickies offer a secure stance due to their firm connection to the pedal. Cadence and power transmission are maximally efficient with clickies. You not only pedal, but also actively pull upwards. Another advantage is that MTB shoes with a click system are not dependent on weather conditions. The click system ensures sufficient protection against the pedals slipping off in rain and bad weather.

Advantages
  • Power transmission
  • firm stand
  • weather-independent
Disadvantages
  • Clicking in and out
  • Risk of falling
  • Price

One of the disadvantages of click system shoes is the constant clicking in and out. If you do fall off your bike, you often end up supporting yourself along with the mountain bike, because the connection to the pedal is still there and often cannot be released in time. In terms of price, MTB shoes with a click system are usually more expensive than other MTB shoes. In addition to the shoe, you also have to buy the right pedals.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a Boa closure for MTB shoes?

The Boa closure, which was introduced to the winter sports market in 2001, has now also successfully established itself in cycling. The Boa closure system allows riders to adjust their MTB shoes down to the last millimetre. This is done without much effort. All you have to do is turn the wheel to get the foot into the perfect fit. In addition, the Boa system is designed so that the cords are evenly distributed over the entire shoe, so that no unpleasant pressure points can occur. If the laces do break, that's no problem. The manufacturer will provide a replacement free of charge.

Advantages
  • Adjustment accurate to the millimetre
  • Good pressure distribution
  • Replacement cords are free of charge
Disadvantages
  • Cords are not stretchable
  • Retighten for longer distances
  • Ratchets need regular maintenance

The cord on the Boa closure is not stretchable. So it may not be able to withstand the resistance and break.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate MTB shoes

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the many possible MTB shoes. The criteria you can use to compare MTB shoes include:

  • Intended use
  • Fit
  • Sole
  • Closure
  • Upper

Intended use

If you are more the type for demanding MTB trails and dirt tracks, you should opt for the wide footprint of flat pedal shoes. You'll be able to do the bunny hop with ease.

However, if you want to cover longer distances and pedal as efficiently as possible, MTB shoes with a click system are just right for you. As already mentioned in the guide, this decision should therefore be made before buying MTB shoes.

Fit

An equally important purchase criterion is the optimal fit. No matter how expensive the shoe is, if it doesn't fit, the riding fun is quickly over. You should make sure you choose the right size and width. We have already explained how to find the perfect fit in our guide.

Sole

In recent years, the trend in the cycling industry has moved away from hard carbon soles towards a much lighter version. Most MTB riders use soles made of Vibram or nylon, with Vibram having the slightly harder sole. The new rubber soles have the advantage that they are softer than carbon and thus offer a comfortable running surface. In cycling it is said: "The firmer the sole, the better the power transmission". Therefore, a sole that is firm should be used. However, running must still be comfortable.

Closure

Boa and Velcro fasteners are probably the safest option for MTB shoes. They make it much easier to put on and take off. This feature plays an important role in triathlon, for example. Boa closures enable precise tightening down to the last millimetre. Pressure points are almost impossible. With classic laces, there is a risk of them coming loose. This can lead to accidents if they get caught in the chain.

Upper material

The upper material of MTB shoes is available in different variants. Besides textile and synthetic, leather is used. Most materials are breathable and water-repellent.

Upper material Waterproof Breathable
Synthetic/textile Yes Yes
Leather Yes No
Synthetic Yes No
Nylon No Yes

To avoid uncomfortable pressure points and blisters, you should choose a comfortable, flexible, breathable upper.

Facts worth knowing about MTB shoes

How do I adjust the pedals and cleats correctly?

In order to achieve efficient power transmission, the cleats must first be adjusted correctly.

The cleats must be adjusted so that the centre of gravity of the foot is on the pedals. (Image source: unsplash.com / Santiago Pazos Bordon)

Step 1: Where is the ball of the foot? To determine the position of the balls of your feet, put on your cycling shoes and feel the inner and outer balls of your feet. Then mark the respective points with a dot. Step 2: Attach cleats Now screw the shoe onto the cleats - the pedals. However, do not tighten them too much so that the shoes can still move. Use a ruler to connect the marked points. The cleats should all be under the ruler.

Step 3: Adjust the angle of inclination To prevent knee problems, the tilt angle must be adjusted correctly. To find out, jump up a few times and watch how you land. Either bend slightly to the left or right and adjust the cleats accordingly.

What can I do about pain in the foot area?

Sooner or later every cyclist is affected: the monotonous position of the foot while cycling often leads to pain in the foot. The following recommendation helps to counteract this:

  • Walk barefoot more often Use barefoot shoes
  • Regular ball massage
  • Fitting insoles
  • A professional bike fitting

If you follow these tips, you should be able to cycle pain-free.

How do you clean and care for MTB shoes?

To be able to use your cycling shoes for as long as possible, they need regular care.

For MTB shoes with a Boa closure, first clean the ratchet and the cords with a small brush and clean water.

If the ratchet of the Boa closure can no longer be turned properly, it is possible that it is also dirty from the inside. If this is the case, open the cog with the key provided and remove the dirt. For maintenance, you can use a silicone spray or alternatively Ballistol universal oil to make the cables and inlets of the spool shine again.

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