Mountain bikes or MTBs are specialized bikes for narrow dirt trails and rough terrains. They are very different from road bikes that are designed for paved surfaces. MTBs provide enough traction while cycling because they have wide, fat tires with more rugged treads. They also have suspension that absorbs shock to reduce the impact of rugged paths.
Mountain biking is a very popular hobby that people do for an adventure. It is also a great way to exercise and explore nature through off-road trails. Also, you don’t have to deal with road traffic because you’re traveling on terrain. Thus, it is better for your health, and you can focus more on enjoying the trails you’re taking.
Wearing Proper MTB Shoes for Flat Pedals
When you’re cycling off-road, you should know how important it is to wear the right shoes. It is especially important because different types of bikes and pedals require different shoe features. Wearing the best MTB shoes ensures your safety and pleasant cycling experience.
Mountain bikes with flat pedals offer a wide, flat area so that you can easily move your feet around the pedal when necessary. This feature reduces the risk of injury and accidents because you can quickly put your foot down on the verge of losing balance.
While you may use ordinary shoes, it is better to use ones that are specifically designed for flat pedals. With optimized mountain biking shoes for flat pedals, you can expect a better fit, more toe and heel protection, and improved pedal contact. Here are the top 10 MTB shoes for flat pedals!
10 Best MTB Shoes for Flat Pedals
Five Ten Freerider Pro
✅ durable, weather-resistant synthetic upper
✅ medium-stiff soles with excellent pedal grip
✅ toe box reinforcement
✅ various design options
❌ limited breathability
❌ heavier weight
Overall, the Five Ten Freerider Pro is a comfortable but versatile flat pedal shoe brand. It offers strong performance with its long-term durability, excellent pedal grip, and sturdiness. In addition, the way it is padded and reinforced provides extra protection when cycling. It also has a weather-resistant synthetic upper and dries easily, so it’s very convenient to use.
Its advantages definitely outweigh its few disadvantages. It’s an all-rounder that can handle different cycling conditions while maximizing your efforts on the trails.
✅ water-resistant and abrasion-resistant
✅ excellent power transfer, shock-absorbent
✅ comfortable support and fit adjustment
✅ breathable microfiber upper
❌ heavier weight
❌ average pedal grip
❌ more expensive than other flat MTB shoes
Giro Riddance‘s value on pedaling efficiency is great, and it has an excellent EVA-foam midsole that dampens vibrations. The shoes’ power transfer and shock-absorbent qualities make them perfect for rough terrain. They’re designed for aggressive cycling but still offer comfort and breathability.
Its Megagrip ISR rubber offers an average pedal grip but compensates with great durability. With that being said, it still provides adequate traction necessary for mountain biking. It’s also a good transition from clipless mountain bike shoes or skates.
✅ weather-resistant synthetic leather upper
✅ lightweight and flexible
✅ sticky soles for pedal grip
✅ directional treads
✅ shock-absorbing EVA midsole
❌ overlength laces
❌ less traction
❌ tight fit but large sizing
The Bontrager Flatline provides the ideal pedal grip with its sticky soles. At the same time, you can freely move your feet around while cycling because of its lightweight and flexible construction. Also, its weather-resistant upper and shock-absorbent midsole are very suitable for cycling on sloped and damp areas.
While it has overlength laces, the elastic loop on its tongue secures these laces and prevents them from getting caught on the trails or your bike’s chainring. It also has a tight fit but has enough padding for comfort and protection from foot fatigue.
ION Scrub AMP
✅ breathable materials
✅ special-treaded soles for extra pedal grip
✅ low-cut design for increased mobility
✅ toe, heel, and ankle bone protection
❌ rigid soles
❌ not recommended for lower temperatures
ION Scrub AMP has the perfect combination of breathability and protection. The toe caps and ankle pads are very useful for preventing any possible injuries from loose rocks and scrapes from your bike’s crank. In addition, its EVA midsole is great for impact resistance. It’s also made of breathable materials but doesn’t sacrifice pedal grip and traction.
Its rigid soles are not recommended for walking but are still adequate for cycling. Thus, it is still a great pair of flat pedal shoes for rough terrain.
Ride Concepts Hellion
✅ durable, stiff soles
✅ good pedal grip
✅ excellent power transfer
✅ toe caps and D3O impact-protective insoles
✅ built-in laces
❌ limited breathability
❌ limited heel support
❌ heavier weight
With Ride Concepts Hellion, you get long-lasting flat pedal shoes for a competitive price. They offer good performance on different trails. They also have stiff soles with a good pedal grip and power transfer. These features ensure that you enjoy cycling despite the rugged path.
Although they have limited heel support and weigh heavier than other flat pedal shoes, they have toecaps and D3O impact-protective insoles. The shoes also have built-in laces to prevent them from getting caught in the chainring while cycling.
✅ durable with extra outsole stitching
✅ higher cut design
✅ lightweight and flexible
✅ Honey Rubber outsoles for pedal grip
✅ reinforced toe caps for protection
✅ interchangeable footbed
❌ not recommended for wet and muddy conditions
❌ small width sizing
O’Neal Pinned has a honeycomb outsole structure that offers a great pedal grip. It also has extra outsole stitching for improved durability. Moreover, its interchangeable footbed provides freedom of options, so you can replace the footbed with one that is more comfortable for you.
However, it is not recommended for wide feet because of its small width sizing. Nonetheless, it is not heavy on the feet and is flexible, so you can move freely. It also has toe cap reinforcement to protect your feet from impact. It’s not recommended for wet and muddy trails, but its high-cut design prevents sand and debris from getting in your shoes.
Crank Brothers Stamp Speed Lace
✅ quick-drying synthetic upper
✅ secure lace pocket and velcro strap
✅ true to size
❌ mud can lessen the pedal grip
Crank Brothers Stamp Speed Lace is specifically designed for the brand’s flat pedals. Thus, it can have a bit of a drawback when paired with other pedals, such as reduced pedal grip. Nonetheless, the shoes are durable, breathable, and adequately water-resistant. It is also true to size with a comfortable fit.
It has a good lacing system with a pocket and a velcro strap to secure the shoes on your feet. It is also shock-absorbent and protects your feet from any impact and vibrations.
✅ excellent durability
✅ full tread Michelin rubber for good pedal grip
✅ adequate weather-resistance
✅ stiff platform with impact resistance
✅ ankle collar for debris protection
❌ poor walking traction
❌ large sizing with wide heel space
❌ thick soles give a clunky feel
SHIMANO SH-GR701 can definitely keep you on track with its promising pedal grip and long-term durability. In addition, it is weather-resistant and has an ankle collar to prevent debris from getting in your shoes.
Although it has a wide heel space, it can still perform exceptionally well on trails. However, it is not fit for walking, and its thick soles give a clunky feel. Nevertheless, its stiff platform offers great impact resistance that supports you well enough when cycling on rugged paths.
Leatt 3.0 Flat
✅ durable with abrasion and weather resistance
✅ RideGrip compound with an optimized sole pattern for pedal grip
✅ inner ankle protection
✅ reinforced heel and toe area
✅ multiple color options
❌ average lace retention system
❌ heavier weight
Leatt 3.0 Flat MTB shoes are excellently durable. Its weather-resistant and puncture-resistant features ensure that the shoes will not wear easily. It also provides adequate pedal grip with its RideGrip compound.
What it lacks in lace retention system, it compensates with its heel, toe, and ankle protection. It also weighs heavier than other flat pedal shoes but offers ease of movement when cycling. Another good thing about it is its multiple color options, so you can pick whichever color you like best.
SANDUGO Cycling Shoes for Flat Pedals
✅ durable, wear-resistant rubber outsole
✅ superior pedal grip and stability
✅ comfortable and flexible
✅ dust and sand proof
❌ narrow design and opening
❌ heavier weight
SANDUGO Cycling Shoes for Flat Pedals are designed to withstand harsh trail conditions. They are very durable and wear-resistant, so worrying about them getting torn on rugged paths shouldn’t be your problem. In addition, their pedal grip is excellent, even on muddy soil. As a result, your shoes have a very slim likelihood of slipping from the pedals. The brand also uses breathable materials for good ventilation.
Even though it has a narrow opening that makes it quite difficult to put on, the design makes sure that the shoes stay dust and sand-proof. They also weigh quite heavily for some people, but they still offer enough comfort and flexibility. Additionally, they are impact-resistant and provide necessary support on the trails.
Based on the advantages and disadvantages of each pair of mountain bike shoes listed above, we’ve rounded up the winning brands depending on specific categories!
- BEST VALUE - O’Neal Pinned Flat Pedal Shoes
- BEST PEDAL GRIP - Five Ten Freerider Pro
- MOST COMFORTABLE ON AND OFF BIKE - ION Scrub AMP
- BEST PROTECTION - SANDUGO Cycling Shoes for Flat Pedals
- MOST COMPATIBLE FOR LONG RIDES - SHIMANO SH-GR701
How to Find the Right MTB Shoes
There are various mountain biking shoes, but they all vary in features and bike compatibility. Thus, whether you’re looking for the best flat mountain bike shoes or the best clipless mountain bike shoes, you should consider many different factors. Here is a simple buying guide to help you choose the most suitable MTB shoes for you and your bike.
Flats vs. Clipless
We’ve covered a bit about why you should wear proper MTB shoes for flat pedals at the beginning of this review. Thus, you now have an idea of why you should determine whether flats or clipless shoes are compatible with your mountain bike pedal system.
If you have flat pedals with a large platform for extra foot support, you need to maximize your shoes’ contact with the pedals’ platform. Thus, your shoes should have flat soles with adequate stiffness and padding support. Also, since you cannot clip them onto your bike’s pedals, they need to have adequate pedal grip for added traction and stability. Best of all, they are perfect for learning various pedaling techniques.
If you have clipless pedals with a recessed area for cycling-specific shoes, you must wear bike cleats. These clipless cleats have much stiffer soles for high durability while mounted on the clipless mountain bike pedals. However, the stiffness of these shoes makes them hard to use for walking and hiking.
Ensuring that your MTB shoes are tight enough around your feet is very important. Doing this gives you a comfortable fit and protection from cramps. A secured fastening interface also helps keep your shoes’ efficiency while cycling on steep slopes.
After testing out which one is best for you, you can choose from laces, Velcro, or boa systems. Velcro and boa systems are the best options for excellent and fast adjustability. It’s because they eliminate the need to stop cycling for lace adjustment. Meanwhile, laces offer more control in section fitting and are easier to replace when necessary.
Protection, Insulation, and Ventilation
Three of the most important things you should consider when picking the right MTB shoes are the protection, insulation, and ventilation they offer. These factors ensure your overall comfort throughout your ride. Lacking these essentials will inevitably result in a poor cycling experience.
Ideally, your shoes should provide utmost protection from impact, wet and muddy terrains, and weather conditions. They should especially offer good ventilation for hot, humid conditions and insulation for cold weather.
Fit and Comfort
Different brands vary in shoe sizing, including the shoe’s length, width, toe box, and heel space. There are even brands with narrow midfoot space that are not compatible with wide feet. Therefore, it is very important to determine the perfect size for you from the brand you choose.
Remember that your shoes’ fit greatly affects the comfort they provide and their efficiency on the trails. You will need to make frequent stops to adjust your shoes if they are too tight or too loose. Moreover, you will fail to maximize your effort in cycling through your chosen paths.
Taking Care of Your MTB Shoes
Keeping your bike shoes clean and well-maintained is very important so that they will last longer and continue to perform efficiently. We have listed down the greatest tips to maintain your beloved cycling shoes. Keep on reading!
How to Clean Your Bike Shoes
Wipe your cycling shoes with a damp cloth if they’re soiled after riding your bike. Baby wipes are effective for minor cleaning, too. You can use a soft brush to scrub them gently if they are crusted with mud or have stubborn dirt. Don’t forget to remove their insoles so you can wash them separately. Doing this will remove all the dirt and sweat on your insoles.
How to Dry Your Bike Shoes
After rinsing with cool water, dry your wet shoes with a cloth. Then, use newspaper as stuffing to help your shoes dry out overnight. The newspaper will absorb the moisture residue from your cycling shoes, so you may need to replace it with a fresh sheet after a few hours. You can also use a boot dryer, which provides warm air to help you dry your shoes.
How to Keep Your Bike Shoes Look Box Fresh
You can use a soft cloth to apply furniture polish on the plastic areas of your cycling shoes. Doing this helps you remove dirt from scratches. This also helps lessen the appearance of scrapes. You can also use fabric protection to improve your shoes’ water and dirt resistance.
Replacing laces with new ones can make your shoes look fresh out of the box. You can also clean the laces if they’re just dirty and not damaged.
How to Preserve Your Bike Shoes’ Cleanliness
Shoe covers are a great way to keep dirt from collecting on your shoes when you’re not using them. Keeping them covered is also a good way to avoid the need to clean them frequently and cause wear.
The tremendous benefits of mountain biking encourage many people to pick it up as a hobby. It is not only fun but also a healthy exercise. However, wearing proper shoes is crucial when engaging in the activity.
There are many different types of MTB shoes on the market, so there’s no way you can’t find the right ones for you. Thus, if you’re looking for the best mountain biking shoes that are most compatible with your flat pedal system, we hope that this review has helped you find them.
Just remember to weigh out the pros and cons of each brand we reviewed above and consider every essential factor for choosing the best flat pedal shoes for you. Then, once you find the pair that works well with your feet, pedal system, and preferences, don’t hesitate to purchase them right away!