Top Shoes for Mountain Bikes – Guide & Comparison
If you’re looking for the best mountain bike shoes but you’re just not certain that you can make the most informed choice, then you’re in the right place. We know that the thought of you swimming in mountain bike shoes reviews is not a pleasant one, and that’s why we did the research so you don’t have to. There are lots of shoes on the market, all with their own specs as well as Pros and Cons, but if we were to pick a model that’s suited for many styles of riding, that would be the Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes. These come with a solid construction, suede and mesh uppers for durability as well as enhanced breathability, they have grippy rubber outsoles so you don’t lose traction when things get tough, and let’s not forget, these are Five Ten mountain bike shoes we’re talking about. If these are not in stock or you’re actually looking for a clipless model, we have a second recommendation: the Sidi Dominator 7 SR Cycling Shoe.
These shoes are tailored for freeriders and people who enjoy getting off the paved road. They come with suede and mesh uppers for maximum strength and breathability, yet they sport a design that’s bound to please the eye.
These shoes come with laces and there’s no protection over them so you might want to be careful not to snag them in bushes and tree branches.
If you’re looking for a trusty pair of shoes that are perfectly suited to freeriding, these are an amazing choice. They’re also made by a legendary brand and with quality materials and a grippy Stealth S1 rubber outsole.
These come with a modern appearance and are made of strong materials and synthetic mesh. The RS17 sole has aggressive treads and accepts toe spikes. The Velcro straps and Adjustable Soft Instep Closure ensure a tight fit.
Their high price might put off some, while the breathable design makes them not exactly ideal for riding in thick mud or when the weather is cold or rainy.
These clipless shoes are ideal for mountain biking and especially for disciplines such as XC. Their high-end design makes them great even for competitions, and the breathable materials ensure that your feet stay dry.
The Freerider Contact Men's might appeal to many riders, especially those looking for comfortable and lightweight shoes. The upper is made of textiles and synthetics while the outsole of grippy rubber.
These shoes are not meant for hardcore use and abuse. Their lightweight construction means that some compromises had to be made.
This model is light and breathable so you can keep your feet cool and dry during long summer rides. The Stealth Mi6 rubber outsoles are there to ensure the proper traction and grip both on and off the pedals.
10 Best Mountain Bike Shoes (Updated Reviews) in 2020
Finding the right mountain bike shoes is never easy, especially considering the wide range of models coming from both large and small companies. The good thing is that you have us to count on, as we’ve browsed the market and looked for models that have the features and the right price to be excellent choices. So here’s what we’ve found.
- 1. Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes
- 2. Sidi Dominator 7 SR Cycling Shoe
- 3. Five Ten Freerider Contact Men’s MTB Shoes
- 4. Gavin Elite MTB Cycling Shoe SPD
- 5. Five Ten Danny MacAskill Men’s Mountain Bike Shoes
- 6. Sidi Dominator 5 Cycling Shoe
- 7. Gavin Pro MTB Shoe Quick Lace SPD
- 8. Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes
- 9. Scott MTB Comp Boa Reflective Cycling Shoe
- 10. Sidi Tiger MTB Shoe
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Five Ten Men’s Freerider MTB Bike Shoes
Whether you’re into freeriding or just love heading out into the woods to ride some trails, this pair of Five Ten Men’s shoes are just what you need. They have a sturdy design that includes a mix of suede and mesh for the upper. This results in a shoe that’s rugged and able to take some abuse while also being breathable so your feet won’t stay soaking wet all day.
Thanks to the Stealth S1 rubber outsole with Dotty treads (a well-kept secret of Five Ten), these shoes give you an unparalleled grip on many types of surfaces (dirt, mud) but also on many types of pedals. However, you might want to avoid plastic pedals and get at least aluminum ones for maximum effect.
This model comes with laces so you can tighten the shoes according to your needs. You might want to put some tape over them if you’re constantly snagging them.
These shoes aren’t just sturdy, but also stylish – who says you aren’t allowed to look good when riding?
The upper is made of suede and mesh, so you get to benefit from durability as well as breathability and avoid overheating and sweating ‘till the socks are soaking wet.
The Stealth S1 rubber outsole offers the right grip on many types of pedals as well as traction on dirt roads, especially thanks to the Dotty tread pattern.
These shoes come from a well-known brand that seasoned riders have come to appreciate and trust for its quality products. They’re an excellent choice for both beginner and veteran freeriders.
The shoes come with laces which don’t have any cover or protection, so you might run the risk of snagging them, especially when riding in thick forests.
They may not be the proper choice for aggressive riding, especially in terms of climbing steep hills.Click to see the price on Amazon!
2. Sidi Dominator 7 SR Cycling Shoe
These are not your average cycling shoes. Made by a brand that needs no introduction, these offer reliable pedaling while allowing you to crank up the power even on the steepest hills. You can mount your favorite SPD cleats and adjust them perfectly with little effort.
Thanks to the new RS17 sole, this model is lighter compared to previous models yet the more aggressive tread pattern allows you to handle difficult terrain. You can also mount your own toe spikes to maximize traction, which should help you even when you’re pushing your bike on very steep inclines. You can also replace the toe insert in case the older one gets worn out.
The Technomicro microfiber uppers allow for proper ventilation while the cooling mesh panels enhance breathability and ensure your feet won’t be soaking wet even when putting in a lot of effort. Besides the Velcro straps, these shoes also come with the Adjustable Soft Instep Closure System for easy and secure fitting.
Thanks to the Technomicro microfiber uppers and mesh panels, your feet will be able to breathe and won’t overheat and sweat excessively.
RS17 sole is lightweight yet comes with an aggressive tread pattern that’s ideal for off-road walking and push-biking. The possibility to add toe spikes further increases traction.
The padded tongue prevents pressure points from developing so you don’t get foot sores even after extensive riding.
While the Velcro straps do a good enough job keeping the shoes tightly on, you also get the Adjustable Soft Instep Closure System with incremental tightening for the perfect fit. This system also ensures that you can still use the shoes even if the Velcro on the straps gets worn out.
These aren’t exactly cheap, so be prepared to make quite the investment if you want top-quality.
While their breathable design makes them perfect for warm-weather riding, they’re certainly not a great choice when riding in thick mud or cold/rainy weather.Click to see the price on Amazon!
3. Five Ten Freerider Contact Men’s MTB Shoes
If you’re looking for shoes that you can rely on when on dirt roads or forest trails then the Contact Men’s model might be the right choice. These feature a 100 percent textile construction, which doesn’t just make the shoes breathable, but also a choice which may appeal to vegans and other people who are against animal exploitation.
This model comes with the Stealth Mi6 rubber outsole which is grippy enough for dirt and light mud and it also stays glued to all sorts of pedals. The sole has toe cap protection for enhanced durability. The compression-molded EVA midsole adds comfort while being stiff enough to ensure stability when you’re riding.
The uppers are made of textile & synthetic materials that are resistant to scratches and cuts so you shouldn’t worry about damaging the shoes during your forest adventures. The manufacturer boasts that these are the lightest freerider model in its offer.
These shoes feature the Stealth Mi6 rubber outsoles which are lightweight yet rugged and they ensure that your feet stay where they’re supposed to, whether we’re talking about keeping them on the pedals or climbing/descending on foot.
The 100 percent synthetic construction makes them a good choice for environmentally conscious people, but also allows them to offer proper ventilation so your feet don’t stay soaking wet.
The EVA midsole is compression-molded and quite stiff so it offers the right mix of stability and comfort so you won’t get uncomfortable even after an entire day riding.
While the fact that these are incredibly light is a positive thing, the compromises made to achieve that is not, as the outsole tends to get worn out faster than some riders would like.
The uppers may also not be able to handle lots of abuse in the long term.Buy from Amazon.com for ($148.64)
4. Gavin Elite MTB Cycling Shoe SPD
With a solid design and plenty of features, the Gavin Elite SPD model is one that might attract quite a bit of attention. But the best part is that the shoes don’t cost an arm and a leg, and are priced quite reasonable, especially considering that many pro shoes can go up to a couple of hundred bucks or more.
These come with adjustable hook-and-loop straps, but there’s also a Micro Adjustable buckle that allows for incremental tightening. This doesn’t just ensure a comfortable and secure fit, but also that you’ll be able to use these even if the other two straps wear out.
The outsole has some aggressive treads which help with off-bike pushing, and it is also compatible with toe spikes so you can add a pair and boost your traction on steep hills. The mesh panels take care of the ventilation so your feet don’t get wet as soon as you start pedaling. The insoles are perforated and made to dry fast.
For a more-than-decent price, you get a pair of shoes that are just perfect for mountain biking. These are compatible with a wide range of MTB SPD cleats from Shimano, Crank Brothers, and other brands.
The design is sleek and attractive while the slim shape allows riders to negotiate thick forests with ease.
You don’t just get two hook-and-loop straps, but also a Micro-adjustable buckle that ensures your shoes stay on tight even if the other two straps deteriorate.
The insoles are removable and the perforations allow for quick drying.
Since Gavin is a little-known brand, chances are some buyers might be reluctant to buy these shoes. However, the quality/price ratio might make them think twice before passing this offer.
If the mesh panels are perfect for keeping your feet dry in good weather, it’s the exact opposite in wet and rainy weather, as water can easily get inside the shoes.Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Five Ten Danny MacAskill Men’s Mountain Bike Shoes
There are few riders who have never heard of Danny MacAskill. These shoes bear the name of the legendary and beloved trialist/mountain biker who has been delighting the world with his superb riding and stunts, as well as his gentle nature and dedication to the sport. But then again, these shoes aren’t just about the name, but about mountain biking and they perfectly suit their role in helping you enjoy it.
Made by the renowned Five Ten, these may have a casual look, but the leather uppers and solid stitching make for remarkably resilient shoes. The suede leather is also easy to look after. It may get wet easily, but then again, you can treat it with some waterproofing spray.
If ventilation isn’t this model’s strong point, traction and grip are surely not its weakest. In fact, the Stealth S1 dotty rubber outsole gives you enough support and flexibility while staying glued to the pedals so you can ride aggressively or perform stunts in safety.
These shoes look great and they bear the name of one of the most popular riders in the world.
The suede upper is tough yet flexible and it gives better water resistance than other shoes that come with mesh panels.
The Stealth S1 dotty rubber outsole offers excellent grip both on and off the bike so you can rely on the shoes to deliver even when the riding gets rough.
The EVA midsole gives you all the support you need while also absorbing shocks and ensures a high level of comfort even after extensive riding.
The shoes have no mesh panels but just a few perforations in the front part of the upper. This means that they’re not highly breathable, so expect to sweat quite a bit.
The fact that these are so popular may cause some shortages when it comes to sizes, so make sure you check that you are getting the right size or that you wait until you are able to.Buy from Amazon.com for ($130)
6. Sidi Dominator 5 Cycling Shoe
If you want some SPD shoes for mountain biking and you’re looking for quality and willing to spend some money, then the Dominator 5 from SIDI are the right choice. These shoes may cost a pretty penny, but their design and construction mean that you’ll be able to rely on them in difficult conditions and keep on using them for quite some time.
The upper parts are made of Vented Lorica microfiber and they come with mesh inserts which ensure proper ventilation. The Ultra SL buckle can be tightened incrementally and it offers a secure fit. It’s also a backup in case the other two straps, which feature Velcro, get worn out.
The composite sole is tough and able to provide the right grip without wearing out easily. The model comes with toe protectors and you can also use the front screws to mount spikes if you’re looking for better traction off the bike.
Thanks to the vented microfiber upper and mesh inserts, this model will make sure that your feet stay cool and dry when riding in the summer heat so you can enjoy long days on the trail.
With the Soft Instep closure system and padded tongue, you won’t have to worry about pressure points and sore feet after a day of riding.
The Lorica fabric that the upper is made of has some water resistance, so unless it rains and water gets inside, especially through the mesh inserts, things should be ok.
The Ultra SL buckle and Velcro straps help adjust the shoes for a tight fit so you won’t risk any accidents even when riding aggressively.
While these shoes have many features to ensure they’re an appealing choice to quite a few riders, the high price might make them inaccessible to many.
These shoes are ideal for hot and sunny weather, but due to the perforations and mesh inserts, the same cannot be said about cold and rainy weather.Buy from Amazon.com for ($162.49)
7. Gavin Pro MTB Shoe Quick Lace SPD
These shoes are quite an attractive option for riders who want to enjoy aggressive and stable riding without spending a whole lot of money. The design is modern and good-looking and features a synthetic leather upper that’s lightweight yet strong. The mesh panel inserts facilitate ventilation so you won’t sweat too much even in hot weather, especially if you’re riding fast.
You get to enjoy a proper fit, thanks to the Quick-lace fastening system which allows you to tighten the laces. There’s also a hook-and-loop strap to ensure that these shoes stay on no matter what. You can mount many types of MTB cleats to maximize pedaling efficiency, especially when riding uphill.
The sole is made of nylon fiberglass which makes for a lightweight shoe that also offers adequate traction on the ground. The sole is also quite stiff so you can pedal without losing power due to flexing.
The fastening system allows you to make quick adjustments so you don’t have to fiddle too much to get the right fit.
These shoes look stylish and they can certainly help you make a statement. Fortunately, they’re not just about looks, as they are quite solidly built and can surely take a beating.
The mesh inserts help your feet stay cool and dry even after intense pedaling.
The sole is quite rigid so you can transfer power from your feet to the pedals quite effectively. The sole also allows you to mount two toe spikes for extra traction.
The quick-lace fastening system may not appeal to some and might break quite fast, especially considering the thin laces and plastic construction.
While the ventilation is certainly great, all those little perforations and all that mesh mean that water can get in quite fast so you shouldn’t wear these in inclement weather.Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.95)
8. Five Ten Men’s Freerider Pro Bike Shoes
The Freerider Pro is the model many have been waiting for. It has a simple yet stylish design, a rugged construction, and it offers the right mix of grip and flexibility to allow riders to enjoy their outings on their bikes. These shoes come with synthetic uppers which have perforations that allow for proper ventilation and dry feet even after a lot of pedaling.
The S1 outsole is not too flexible, not too stiff, and the best part is that it sticks to all sorts of pedals so you can take sharp corners and pedal uphill without losing traction. The compression-molded EVA midsole absorbs shocks while the Ortholite sock liner enhances comfort and can also be removed so you can clean it or allow the shoes to dry faster.
The toe box is impact-resistant and meant to protect your toes when falling (you won’t get away from that when you’re freeriding).
The synthetic construction makes this model sturdy enough as well as a great choice for environmentally-conscious people who would rather not use animal products.
The toe box is resistant to impacts and can protect your toes from the unfortunate falls that will be part of every determined rider’s routine.
The midsole is made of EVA that’s compression-molded, and what that means is that you get shock-absorption as well as enhanced comfort for your rides.
These shoes are lightweight and will ensure you feel great no matter if you’re pedaling or push-biking (well, maybe not that great when you’re push-biking).
The synthetic upper is treated with a waterproofing substance so you might be able to wear the shoes in light rain and get away with it.
The outsole might get worn out faster than expected, especially if you like to ride aggressively and climb on rocky terrain.
The price is not exactly beginner-friendly so some might think twice before purchasing these.Click to see the price on Amazon!
9. Scott MTB Comp Boa Reflective Cycling Shoe
The Scott MTB Comp Boa is a model that has all the right qualities to make it a rider’s favorite. And that’s not the best part – the price is more than reasonable so even enthusiasts should be able to afford them. The upper is made of microfiber so it has decent strength while being breathable. The mesh inserts help with ventilation even more so your feet won’t be wet all the time.
Thanks to the BOA system, you can easily and quickly tighten the shoes so you get the right fit in no time. There’s also an anatomical-fit strap that tightens even more with the help of the hook-and-loop system.
The ErgoLogic insole offers comfort and a soft feel and you can also remove it to let it dry and prevent your shoes from getting smelly fast. The sole has a stiffness index of 6 so you can pedal effectively and not waste energy even during those intense rides.
The microfiber uppers ensure the right combination of comfort and sturdiness so you can rely on these shoes to be your partners for many adventures.
Besides the breathable fabric, the upper also features mesh panel inserts as well as countless perforations so all that sweat can evaporate to the exterior and your foot stays dry.
The ErgoLogic removable insole is soft and comfortable and it can easily be removed for cleaning and drying.
The 6 stiffness index means that the soles are quite rigid so you don’t have to worry about all that energy going to waste when you’re pedaling.
The outsole is also quite grippy when you’re off the bike, and when you’re on it, you can mount any kind of MTB cleats.
The BOA quick-release system is surely not the sturdiest, and chances are you’ll eventually break it, which would imply spending extra bucks to get a repair kit.
These aren’t the best choice for muddy tracks and rainy weather.Buy from Amazon.com for ($89.99)
10. Sidi Tiger MTB Shoe
In case money is no object for you or you’re into competitive mountain biking, then you certainly can’t go wrong with the Tiger model from SIDI. These shoes come with an incredibly light yet super-sturdy construction which makes them great for long days, short days, and anything in between.
The double Techno 3 Push System has two quick-release wheels that are inserted into the same base, which makes for lightning-fast adjustments. This isn’t just a great advantage when you’re racing, but it also allows you to put the shoes on or take them off effortlessly. The heel retention device is there to ensure a customized fit so you stay comfortable all day long.
The Comfort Fit insole is there to boost comfort and prevent foot sores. The upper is made of microfibre TechPro and mesh for sturdiness and breathability. These shoes are also aerodynamic, and the stiff outsoles help you crank up the power when pedaling without wasting energy.
You can put these shoes on or take them off really fast thanks to the double Techno 3 Push System. This system also allows you to make adjustments on the fly so you can tighten any shoe even while you’re pedaling, which is an advantage in a race.
The heel retention device is adjustable and besides boosting comfort, it will also make sure your feet don’t slide out, especially when you’re sprinting.
The stiff outsole gives you more power and efficiency while also having enough traction so you can run on difficult terrain if you have to.
The Microfibre TechPro and mesh inserts on the upper allow for proper air ventilation so your feet won’t get wet and mushy after only a few hours of pedaling.
These MTB shoes are anything but cheap and unless you’re a professional rider or have the extra money to spend, you’d probably be inclined to look for more affordable alternatives.Buy from Amazon.com for ($369.95)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Whether you’re looking for Specialized mountain bike shoes, Giro mountain bike shoes or don’t really care about the brand as long as you get a pair that does its job, you’re bound to get frustrated with the huge market offer and lots of questions buzzing through your head.
Which one should you choose? Are you sacrificing anything if you’re going for cheap mountain bike shoes? Read on and get some answers (and some relief).
Flat vs. clipless shoes
There are two main types of cycling shoes: clipless mountain bike shoes and flat models. The latter is easier to explain: these shoes have flat outsoles so they look just like ordinary shoes. However, don’t be fooled by their appearance, as they are specially made for mountain biking.
These shoes, and especially the ones designed for freeriding or DH (downhill riding) feature a solid construction and relatively stiff (yet still flexible) outsoles. They’re supposed to offer the proper support for the feet while still gripping the pedals so that riders don’t risk sliding off the pedals and getting into more crashes than usual (yeah, crashes are an integral part of riding).
These shoes are also supposed to take a lot of abuse and have good traction on dirt roads or in the mud.
Now back to clipless shoes, these feature a special system that allows the special SPD cleat that’s attached with two bolts to the shoe to clip inside the recess of the special clipless pedal. The result is that you can also pull with the foot opposite to the one you’re pushing with, which leads to better power transfer and more efficient pedaling, which can help a ton when climbing steep inclines.
Clipless shoes also help with tight cornering, as well as with tricks such as bunnyhopping. The rub is that they are somewhat more difficult to unclip which can be an annoyance for some and even pose increased risks in some situations when you need to get your feet off the pedals fast.
Flat shoes do better at cornering, and they still offer a decent grip on the pedals, which may explain why most professional DH riders prefer them to clipless models.
Mountain bike shoes come in three main closure systems: laces, dials, and hook-and-loop. The laces are self-explanatory, and they’re most commonly found on flat shoes that are made for freeriding or DH.
Dials (or BOA in some brands) are usually found on higher-end shoes. They offer an excellent micro-adjustment capability and they’re super-easy and fast to tighten. The problem, besides the price point, is that this system is not known to be the sturdiest, and in many cases, you risk breaking the closure.
The good part is that these are relatively cheap to repair/replace and many companies offer free replacements as part of their warranty.
Hook-and-loop closures are found in shoes in all ranges, and they’re relatively easy to adjust. The problem is that this system (some may know it as Velcro) tends to lose efficiency over time, especially after getting the hooks and loops covered in lint or vegetable matter. That’s why some companies add a special buckle that’s stronger and can act as a backup.
Prices for mountain bike shoes vary widely, so you can expect to pay anywhere between 30 bucks to 300 dollars or more. If you’re thinking of affordable mountain bike shoes, between 70 and 100 dollars there’s the sweet spot, as these are made of sturdy materials, have adequate closure systems, and just get their jobs done without all the bells and whistles.
Don’t go for really cheap shoes as they can break down, cause sores, or get soaking wet and ruin your rides. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to get a pro-level pair unless you’re a professional rider yourself or at least you can afford them without putting a serious dent into your budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Flat vs. clipless – which mountain bike shoes should I choose?
Your choice should mainly be dictated by what your main purpose is. If you’re a casual rider, the flats would do just fine. If you’re into freeriding or DH, then flats all the way. These offer a decent grip while enabling you to take tight corners, perform all sorts of flips and other tricks, while also allowing you to take your feet off the pedals without getting into some serious accidents.
There’s a reason why most freerider and DH pros choose these. However, if you’re into cranking up the power uphill or love participating in cross-country races, then clipless shoes might be the better choice. They enable better power transfer and you can push and pull your feet alternatively and get that extra boost to conquer steep inclines.
These also offer more stability, but they can be an annoyance to unclip sometimes and may cause you to crash where a flat model would have allowed you to put one foot down and avoid it.
Q: Which mountain bike shoe size should I get?
First of all, you should know that various brands out there have widely different shoe sizes. So what might perfectly fit from one brand might be too large or too small from another. For example, if shoes from Cube might usually fit just right, those from Giro might require that you go at least one size up.
The best advice is to look for size charts of the specific brand you’re planning to purchase the shoes from and also read some user reviews and see whether there’s a general trend (shoes fit right or are too large/small). It’s also healthy to ensure that you can return the shoes at no extra cost in case they don’t fit.
When it comes to womens mountain bike shoes, things could be even more complicated, as women usually have narrower feet, so you might not have a shoe that’s too large, but also too wide. The advice above applies here as well.
Q: What are the best mountain bike shoe brands?
There are tons of good brands out there that offer more than decent shoes. However, if we are to name a few, you could be looking at Cube, for example. The brand offers some sturdy shoes that are in the lower price tier, and you can choose from a wide range of models. Many users are satisfied with these. Northwave is another reasonably-priced alternative.
Other good choices would be shoes from Giro. Just like Cube, the company offers shoes that range in price, although they’re generally more expensive than Cube ones. Specialized and Scott are other brands you might want to purchase your shoes from. Expect to pay a higher price, though, especially for high-end offers.
There are also SIDI and Gaerne that build great shoes, but especially if we’re talking about the former, chances are you’ll have to fork over at least a couple of hundred bucks, with some models costing five hundred or more.