How to choose the right mountain biking shoes

How to choose the right mountain biking shoes

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Fashion, Published On
October 21, 2021
Last modified on March 2nd, 2023

Cycling, especially mountain biking, is a popular sport in Australia. The sheer volume of choices there is in mountain biking gear can overwhelm you while trying to pick the right pair of mtb shoes. Read on to know how to narrow down your choices to the ultimate pair.

How to choose the right mountain biking shoes

The shoe is the most integral point of contact between you and your pedal. So it is befitting to determine what shoe suits you by first defining what sort of a rider you are. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s your expertise level? Do you ride casually, or do you hit the trails often? Are you an enduro rider?
  • What pedals do you use? Do you use conventional flat pedals, or are you using clipless pedals? The latter will need shoes with specialised soles.
  • Do you like the feel of the pedal at your feet, or are you looking for shoes that enhance power transmission? While shoes that facilitate the former tend to be slightly more flexible, shoes designed for power efficiency are stiff. You can count on stiff soles to help you go the extra mile, especially if you are a cross country racer.

There are mountain biking shoes in different styles and designs for different riders

Casual Rider:

Biking shoes for casual mountain bikers are quite similar to running shoes but with improved functionality specific to cycling. You can use these shoes regularly and don’t have to worry about shelling a lot of money for a pair of shoes you would only get to use on a bike.

If you are a casual rider, you’re most likely working with a flat pedal. Opt for shoes with a flat surface that maximises contact with the pedal. Also, the rubber used on biking shoes is designed to offer more grip and is stickier than regular soles. It will also be slightly stiffer to allow for better power transfer from your legs to the pedal.

Biking shoes for the casual rider may have laces, elastic or even Velcro fastenings. Some have the option of changing between laces and elastics, which is quite convenient.

Trail Rider:

Shoes meant for trail biking are similar to shoes for hiking – with the important exception that they have a recess for attaching the pedal cleat. The soles have excellent grips to trudge along the muddy terrain with your bike in tow. More experienced riders prefer shoes with a dual compound sole by Michellin. Most importantly, you need to look for sports shoes or trekking shoes that are 100% waterproof, and can absorb shocks. Here, you can think of buying from a well-known US brand like “Loom Footwear” that sells high-quality waterproof hiking shoes or specially made endurance bike riding footwear that are designed to withstand extreme pressure, are made slip-resistant, absorb humidity and minimize shocks.

Ideally, the top of the shoe must be able to withstand muck and dirt. It should also have several vents to prevent moisture from accumulating within the shoe during long rides. Some shoes even come in high-top variants to prevent rain from damping your ride. Additionally, look for shoes with reinforced protection for your toes and ankles.

If you are a serious cross country rider, look for shoes with very stiff soles, such as ones made of carbon. They ensure 18% greater power transmission than polymer soles. It gives you great mileage when you’re on long, tedious races.

Enduro Biking:

If you are all about enduro racing and often find yourself downhill, you will need shoes that offer all-around protection. The upper is made of reinforced material, the lace is minutely adjustable, and some shoes offer a flap over the lacing system to prevent any snags. The sole is made of dual rubber and has a great grip to help you conquer the slopes on and off the bike.

There are shoes catering to gravity riders (who only ride downhill) who prefer to use flat pedals as well. The soles are tailor-made for flat pedals and don’t have a similar off-bike grip as the shoes meant for trail riding. The uppers have features like the enduro shoes – they protect the toes and ankles, prevent mud from entering the insides, and have lacing systems that do not snag.

Choosing the right pair of mtb shoes need not have to be a daunting task. Contact your local biking gear retailer to get a clear picture of the shoes they offer and which ones suit your needs. Once you have them, lace up, hop onto your bike and enjoy the slopes!

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