You can ride a bike with just about any shoes. But if you’re an avid cyclist, you know that you can benefit from mountain bike shoes. They have a fairly stiff sole and rigid uppers to provide more efficient energy transfer as you pedal.
Usually, mountain bike shoes are fitted with clips that you snap right into a compatible pedal. They are called clipless shoes. Flat pedal shoes, on the other hand, have flat soles to maximize contact.
Although not preferred by every cyclist, clipless cycling shoes offer a number of safety and performance advantages. It may seem awkward at first, but with a little practice, you’ll appreciate the improvements in fitness and riding power. Since your feet won’t slip, your focus will be on alignment and power generation, not on keeping your feet in place as you pedal.
Here are some of the best mountain bike shoes for 2018.
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Shimano AM7 MTB Shoes
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Simplicity is the name of the game here. Shimano AM7 has a simple, low-top design with an asymmetrically raised padded ankle for added protection. The sole is stiff enough for long climbs, but is also slightly flexible to allow you to walk. The Vibram sole allows you to micro-adjust your foot on the pedal while riding.
Shimano AM7 flat pedal shoes have brilliant features and fit, but they do struggle for grip, especially when wet. The upper shrugs off water, but is not entirely waterproof. Overall, the shoes provide optimal protection, rider comfort, and pedal connectivity.
Giro Rumble VR
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Giro Rumble VR is one of the best shoes for flat pedals in its price range on the market. It is compatible with pedals that are flat, clipless and toe clips with straps. If you’re in search of a casual shoe that you can also clip for leisurely rides, this is a great option for you.
The outsole is made from Vibram rubber, which offers great grip and the perfect amount of stiffness for power transfer. The shoe itself is constructed of breathable mesh and microfibre, making it flexible and supple.
Overall, Giro Rumble VR is a versatile pair of cycling shoes that is great for use on light trails or for commuting on dry days.
Shimano ME7 MTB Shoes
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The ME7 is Shimano’s top-of-the-line trail/enduro shoe. It was designed with all-mountain and enduro riders in mind. Features include grippy rubber outsole that provides enough traction for tromping over unrideable sections of trail. Protection for the rider’s feet is well provided by a solid toe bumper, coupled with a neoprene ankle cuffee. The Torbal sole offers plenty of stiffness around the cleat for efficient pedaling, but also allows for torsional twist, which aids the feel through the shoe.
Durable, comfortable, tough, and grippy, Shimano ME7 meets the needs of mountain bikers who are looking for high performing, aggressive mountain bike shoes.
Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit
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The X-Alp Summit is billed as a comfortable performance MTB shoe. It is a technical shoe that is designed to deliver superior durability and comfort for aggressive all-mountain riding.
Featuring a Vibram compund outsole and stiff nylon shanks, the shoe provides maximum pedaling stiffness, longevity, and grip. The advanced 3-layer seamless upper eliminates instep pressure and reduces hot areas.
X-Alp Summit provides hours of comfort on or off the bike. It is far from what you’d expect from a walking shoe, but is comfortable nonetheless.
Specialized 2FO Cliplite Mountain Bike Shoes
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2FO Cliplite is the ultra-light version of the popular 2FO clip. Designed for pushing the limits of trail riding and enduro racing, the 2FO Cliplite is packed with features and performance that nearly every rider will appreciate. It has unmatched versatility and excel in all types of riding.
The shoe is versatile, comfortable, durable, and lightweight. It features a stiff nylon shank, but the forefoot is moderately flexible. Grippy full coverage rubber soles enhance traction. A single velcro snap keeps it secured, with almost perfect tension across the top of the foot.
Five Ten Freerider Contact Flat Shoes
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Five Ten Freerider is a flat pedal shoe that seeks to offer outstanding grip, but in a lighter, sleeker package. It is an update on the Freerider VXI model.
The Mi6 sticky rubber soles seek to offer what Five Ten is famous for – outstanding grip. The sole is stiff enough for all day adventures, but also has enough flex to allow you to walk if necessary. The Freerider Contact strikes an incredible balance between durability, weight, and maneurability.
This is a great all-around shoe that will stay comfortable on long rides. Plus, it has a casual look, so you won’t look out of place in a pub after your ride.
Scott MTB Team BOA Bike Shoes
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Whether you’re crossing the finish line of a local event or you’re completing your first century ride, Scott MTB Team BOA will be a great choice for you. The shoes provide a combination of comfort and stiff performance. Nylon and fiberglass sole is pretty stiff. Low-profile outsole construction maximizes your power output and minimizes the distance to the pedal. Lower anatomic strap fine-tunes the fit. Close-fitting synthetic leather uppers are comfortable, supportive, and free of pressure points.
Overall, Scott MTB Team BOA offers excellent response and slipper-like comfort for expert mountain bikers.
What to look for in mountain bike shoes
There are some things to consider when buying mountain bike shoes. Fit, price, needs, and the kind of riding style you do are just some of them.
Comfort is crucial when buying cycling shoes. When shoe shopping, it is always best to try before you buy. Some shoes are wider than the others. You also want to make sure that it fits perfectly. Cycling shoes aren’t supposed to fit like street shoes. For mountain biking, the shoes should be snug with just enough room to wiggle your toes. You want glove-like fit.
It is important to find cycling shoes specific to your riding goals. If you’re a casual rider who just love to ride country trails, a pair of flat shoes that is also great for walking would serve you well. But if you’re a serious competitor in DH or XC, clipless shoes are your best option.
A decent amount of sole stiffness is good as it enables you to transfer power to the pedal and provides extra support to your feet on long rides.