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Top 10 Best Mountain Bike Shoes

In this article, we will explore an integral part of any mountain biker’s equipment and gear—mountain bike shoes. Due to the rough terrain being ridden over, mountain bikers often use specially designed mountain bikes, gear, and equipment and specifically, special shoes which are made to enhance performance and durability. As part of the special accessories needed to comfortably and safely take part in mountain biking, the choice of mountain bike shoes is critical.
We were able to compile a list of 10 of the best mountain bike shoes.

In this review, we tell you the important details about each shoe before you decide to buy it. For example, what is the retention system of a particular mountain bike shoe? How about the price? In addition, are the shoes good for both summer and winter, or only fit for particular weather conditions? By the end of this article, you will be armed with the knowledge required when shopping for the best mountain bike shoes.

Product FAQ

1. What Is a Mountain Bike Shoe?

These are shoes which have soles with a gripping quality that closely resembles that of hiking boots.

2. What Does a Mountain Bike Shoe Do?

A good mountain bike shoe facilitates stability and comfort while scrambling over rough terrain—while offering protection to the feet.

3. How Does a Mountain Bike Shoe Work?

Due to special features which are incorporated during manufacture, mountain bike shoes differ largely in their safety features from the normal smooth-bottomed shoes which are used in road cycling. The most distinguishing feature is the sole which can either be clipless or flat.
Clipless mountain bike shoes provide the ability to lock in to the bicycle’s pedals by using cleats for extra grip while the flat types have a smoother sole without cleats.
 

4. Where Can You Buy Mountain Bike Shoes?

To guarantee genuine quality and optimum performance, all purchases should be made through verified and accredited stores. These could either be the regular brick-and-mortar stores or it could be online stores.

Buying from online platforms such as Amazon enables one to browse through a wider selection and make comparisons in pricing, quality, and user reviews from the comfort of one’s home. Furthermore, you can order directly and get the shoes shipped and delivered to your location.

5. How Important Is the Right Mountain Bike Shoe?

Due to the varied terrain in mountain biking, having the right mountain bike shoes could be the difference between an enjoyable, successful cycling trip and a serious, possibly fatal, injury.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters: Features, Pros & Cons, Price, Where to Buy, and Retention System.

Overall Price Range of This Product

The average price range for mountain bike shoes is approximately $50 to $400 depending on the features and brand. The higher priced models have additional features which may not be present in the lower priced versions.

These include upper material made from microfiber or other special materials for better breathing and comfort, carbon based soles for durable and adjustable gripping, heel retention devices, specialized ankle support and retention systems that focus on accurate closure and adjustment .

What We Reviewed

  • Shimano ME7 
  • Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes
  • Shimano S-Phyre XC9
  • Giro Men’s Privateer R
  • Scott MTB Pro
  • Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit
  • Northwave Extreme XC
  • Sidi Dominator 7
  • Shimano AM9
  • Five Ten Impact High

Shimano ME7

Features

Key features of this product include a Torbal sole which gives excellent and effective power transfer without feeling stiff and uncomfortable. Its main strap is a ratchet which is aided further by a ‘quick-draw’ elastic loop and toggle closure located underneath the mud flap—there’s a ‘quick-draw’ elastic loop and tog.
This shoe has a Michelin tread, which works well towards guiding the wearer into the pedal mechanism with a firm grip. The Shimano ME7 also has an easily identifiable and locatable cleat channel for even the most novice cyclist.

Pros  

  • Grippy rubber soles
  • Good foot protection
  • Comfortable
  • Great power transfer

Cons  

  • Potential durability issues
  • Clunky look/design
  • Not waterproof

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $170.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-ME7-MTB-Shoe/dp/B01L06T8JQ

Retention System

The Shimano ME7 mountain biking shoes have a retention system consisting of speed laces, Velcro, and a reverse mounting buckle.

Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes

Features

Key features of this product include adjustable pins to facilitate maneuverability on different terrain, a rubber contact sole for added grip, and an abrasion resistant textile & synthetic upper cover.

This shoe is considered a flat pedal shoe as it does not have cleats and employs laces as its only retention system. These features make this product among the best mountain bike shoes you should have in your list of biking gear.

Pros  

  • Stiff soles
  • Protected toe cap/box for walking
  • Light and breathable cover material

Cons  

  • Not waterproof
  • Poor grip on muddy terrain
  • Only has one retention system—laces

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $75.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Five-Ten-Mens-Freerider-Shoes/dp/B01JLYZG8G

Retention System

Laces.

Shimano S-Phyre XC9

Features

Key features of this high end mountain bike shoe include a stiff sole and very lightweight feel for high efficiency. This shoe is made for all weather conditions which makes it extremely versatile.

Pros  

  • Very stiff
  • Comfortable
  • Good grip

Cons  

  • Very expensive
  • Prone to heel lift unless worn tight
  • Dimples are hard to clean

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for approximately $400.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-SH-XC9-S-PHYRE-Bicycle-Shoe/dp/B079BY6Y2Q

Retention System

Dual BOA IP1 dials.

Giro Men’s Privateer R

Features

Key Features of this product include a durable and breathable upper material which allows for a wide range of activities such as commuting and trail riding. A reinforced toe box offer protection and also adds durability while its n-1 ratchet buckle allows for precise and snug adjustment.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Grippier rubber outsole

Cons  

  • Not the stiffest outer sole
  • Provides minimal foot protection for more rugged terrain
  • Has a narrow fit

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $55.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Giro-7068347-Mens-Privateer-R/dp/B01NAX6XGP

Retention System

This shoe has an n-1 ratcheting buckle closure and n-2 strap which is replaceable.

Scott MTB Pro

Features

Key features of this product include pliable microfiber panels and a nylon mesh outer cover for a secure fit, a slim fit that’s built for speed and a conforming microfiber upper that features a wrap canopy with ratchet buckle closure as well as two direct mount anatomic fit straps that can articulate to adapt to the shape of the foot.

Pros  

  • Built for comfort
  • Has an ergo-logic insole
  • Adjustable arch support
  • Metatarsal button
  • Affordable

Cons  

  • Lightweight
  • Bulky buckle

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $102.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Scott-MTB-Pro-Shoe-Matte/dp/B01M1RJ9MO

Retention System

A ratchet buckle wrap canopy as well as two lower anatomic fit straps.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit

Features

Key Features of this product include a casual look which makes for a mountain bike shoe that is perfect for everyday wear, hiking and commuting. These shoes have a midsole that offers vibration damping and helps to take the sting out of hard landings.

The sole is made of synthetic material for good grip while walking and this shoe falls under the flat pedal category.

Pros  

  • Comfortable          
  • Affordable
  • Durable

Cons  

  • Not stiff enough for peddling on rougher terrain
  • Retention system of laces cannot be easily adjusted while riding
  • Not waterproof

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $60.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Pearl-iZUMi-X-ALP-Summit-Cycling/dp/B072M1XTGN

Retention System

1:1 Anatomic Buckle Closure System.

Northwave Extreme XC

Features

Key Features of this mountain bike shoe include a 100% carbon sole for maximum power transference and a focus on comfort and performance oriented features such as a heavily armored exterior for foot protection and stiffness.

Pros  

  • Appealing design with neon colors and sleek look
  • Low weight
  • Suitable for all weather conditions
  • Durable and offers protection in very rough terrain

Cons  

  • Complicated retention system for novices
  • Expensive
  • Stiff sole may not provide comfort for long hikes

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for approximately $220.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Northwave-Extreme-Shoes-Black-42-5/dp/B01LXGK3Y4/ref=asc_df_B01LXGK3Y4/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309849426425&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=11444995940252264725&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031886&hvtargid=aud-464807596776:pla-569946962768&psc=1

Retention System

Two SLW2 (Speed Lace Winch) and strap.

Sidi Dominator 7

Features

Key Features of this product include a stiff sole with plastic tread blocks, a water-repellent synthetic leather upper which is manufactured for scuff-resistance, and a micro-adjustment system to dial in fit.

A key feature of this mountain biking shoe is that the sizing takes into account foot width—definitely one of the reasons why it is among the best mountain bike shoes. Most shoe brands only account for length but often miss out on catering for wearers who may have wide feet.

Pros  

  • Durable            
  • Good grip
  • Design provides good protection against trail debris and rocky terrain
  • Different width sizes offer a wide range of choice and comfort

Cons  

  • The retention system is a little too complicated and takes getting used to
  • The inner sole is a bit too thin and provides poor cushioning underfoot
  • Stiff tongue which needs a bit of time to be broken in so it can follow the proper foot contours

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for approximately $200.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Sidi-Dominator-7-MTB/dp/B01NAWC0MY

Retention System

Ratcheting buckle at top with two Velcro panels below.

Shimano AM9

Features

Key Features of this product include a big lace flap designed to keep puddle splashes out, a Velcro  strap to help with cinching things down to prevent any movement during cycling.

These mountain biking shoes also have a raised, heavily padded inside ankle to prevent those eye-watering knocks when scrabbling to clip back in.

Pros  

  • Comfortable
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Good grip for walking

Cons  

  • Not very durable especially around the stitched toe guard
  • Not stiff enough for rougher terrain
  • Not made for use in all weather conditions/ not waterproof
  • Bulky look/design

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $140.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-SHAM9-AllMountain-Shoe-Mountain/dp/B01B6B9ULG

Retention System

Laces covered by a lace shield with Velcro attachment.

Five Ten Impact High

Features

Key Features of this product include a supportive high top leather design for comfort and protection and a stealth S1 rubber outsole for sticky pedal contact and maximum grip while walking. The shoe is made of leather and has a stitched and reinforced toe cap for protection.

Pros  

  • Casual yet stylish design            
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Affordable
  • Great ankle support
  • The design provides great warmth for cycling in cold areas

Cons  

  • Not stiff enough for rockier terrain
  • The high top design and lace retention system provides risk of tangling in the bike chains
  • The sole is glued in at the edges and is prone to falling off

Price

This product can be found on Amazon for around $120.

Where to Buy

https://www.amazon.com/Five-Ten-Mens-Impact-High/dp/B01IJ4SP0A

Retention System

Laces in a high top design.

The Verdict: The Best Mountain Bike Shoes

Since mountain biking is categorized according to both the terrain and the experience level of the users, the best mountain bike shoes would definitely be those that can serve either purpose without compromising performance or comfort for the wearer.

After consideration of several factors, we went with the Five Ten Freerider Contact mountain bike shoes because they satisfied several requirements. The shoes are very stylish yet fit into the look of a normal day-to-day shoe. That means that they can be used by even those who choose to commute or hike or wear them all day. At prices below $200, this is an affordable, yet versatile shoe to have.

Despite being a flat pedal shoe, the Five Ten Freerider Contact has long pins which offer the same feel as a clipless shoe when connecting.  These pins are also easy to work with to maximize on maneuverability. With a very easy to operate retention of laces, this shoe is convenient for even cycling beginners who may not know how to operate more complicated types of retention mechanisms. This is the best mountain bike shoe purely for its versatility and affordable price.

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