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Mountain Bike Shoes Shopping Guide

Mountain bike shoes typically have stiff outsoles for better pedalling efficiency, and lugs to allow for better traction off-bike. Some also accommodate toe spikes to provide additional traction on muddy or loose terrain.

Uppers are often more rugged than those found on road bike shoes, because they're designed for protection against aggressive off-road conditions. They usually consist of some combination of synthetic fibers and rubber, and may have mesh panels to improve breathability.

What Kind Should I Be Looking At?

What kind of mountain shoes to buy depends on what kind of mountain biking you are looking to do. We have separated our mountain bike shoes into 4 categories as follows:

Cross country shoes are designed with performance as a top priority. As such, they are typically more lightweight than other moutain bike shoes, and have the stiffest outsoles, so that they can deliver the best pedalling performance. Ratchet and hook and loop closures are the most common, but rotary ratchet closures are also becoming more popular. 

Cyclocross shoes are very similar to cross country shoes, in that they prioritize performance. However, they will typically have more flexible outsoles to accomodate the amount of running common in cyclocross. Toe spikes can be very helpful for hike-a-bike sections to help gain more traction. sidi-drako-carbon-srs-black-right.jpg

Trail/Enduro shoes typically prioritize durability. More aggressive trail conditions require shoes that offer better foot protection (and sometimes more ankle protection). They are usually less stiff than cross country shoes to allow for better walkability. 

Downhill/BMX shoes are designed to give you the best protection from debris when speeding downhill. Like trail shoes, they also tend to provide more protection. However, downhill shoes do not always offer compatiblity with clipless pedal systems. Instead, they sometimes favor the use of platform pedals, and as such have higher traction outsoles. Laces combined with hook and loop closures are the most common for downhill/bmx shoes.

Do I Need to Buy Pedals Too?

shimano-sm-sh51-cleats.jpgWhether you are planning to buy shoes that are compatible with clipless pedal systems or platform pedals, buying pedals to go with the shoes can give you a serious performance boost. What kind of pedals to buy will depend on what shoe you plan on purchasing. On our site, pedals have been split up into the same categories that shoes have. For example, if you have decided that you are going to purchase the Shimano SH-XC90 shoes (listed in our specifications as a "Cross Country" and "Trail/Enduro" shoe), then you should select either "Cross Country" or "Trail/Enduro" as filter options when searching for a pedal.

When purchasing bike shoes and/or pedals, it is important to make sure that the items you are purchasing are compatible with each other. 
Mountain biking shoes are designed to support 2-bolt pedal systems (commonly referred to as SPD style). These systems offer great off-ro
ad performance, and have recessed cleats, allowing you the ability to walk easily and shed mud.

What are Cleats and Should I Buy Them?

Cleats are the components of a clipless pedal system that get attached to the bottom of the shoe, and actually "clip-in" to the pedals. Cleats are included when you purchase pedals, but some manufacturers offer cleats with different amounts of float for different applications that can be purchased separately. 

 * Please be aware that bike shoes do not include cleats. Cleats are included when purchasing pedals, or can be purchased separately.