Shoes to Wear When Mountain Biking


Mountain Biking shoes to wear

When I go mountain biking, it’s important to have pedals and shoes that are good at working together to help your feet remain stable and not slip while riding. When going over bumps and jumps, the right shoes helps me ride without losing grip.

Mountain biking shoes are usually the best shoes to wear when using your mountain bike on trails. They are preferred by many because they help protect feet, secure footing, and help with power generation when pedaling.   

If you have rubber-soled shoes that grip well and they have some toe protection, then you should be fine most of the time as well. Riding a mountain bike takes practice and getting used to mountain biking shoes that clip into pedals will also take some getting used to, but may find it beneficial.  



Types of Mountain Biking Shoes

I normally wear rubber-soled shoes when I use my mountain bike. I usually don’t go on trails too much but have been thinking about doing it more often. I want to find out what makes a good mountain bike shoe.  

I’ve learned that some of the qualities that make a mountain bike shoe helpful are it is made a bit tougher than your normal shoe. The other thing that is helpful with mountain bike shoes is their grip (article). They either have a grippy rubber sole or a cleat that clips into the pedal. 

There are three types of mountain bike shoes that I have found: skater style, hiker style, and light hiker style. These shoes may look like normal shoes but they are different in some ways.  


Skate Style Shoes

Take your normal skater’s shoe. They are flat rubber-soled shoes that grip the skateboard (article) well and work well while skating. While mountain bike shoes may look the same, yet they are tougher.

Skate Shoes vs Mountain Bike Shoes

Normal Shoes

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  • Flat Rubber soles
  • Toes Protection
  • Canvas Material
  • Average Padding
  • Average Foam Midsole
  • Flexible

Mountain Bike Shoes

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  • Bumpy Rubber Soles
  • Toes Protection with Sewn on sole 
  • Thicker Material (Sometimes Leather)
  • Extra Padding
  • May Include Extra Foam Midsole
  • Less Flexible; More Rigid ((article)

So if I am looking for a shoe that I can walk in and still ride my mountain bike on the trail, I would want a shoe that can take some punishment. It should feel comfortable but perform well when riding. 

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You’ll want to have a good pair of pedals that have little bumps that are still up to help grip your shoes. This helps prevent the dust or water from letting your shoes slide off. 

So, using a rubber-soled shoe and pedals that have pins to provide that extra grip will help you ride on rougher trails better.  

These types of shoes don’t have the option to use cleats that clip into pedals. That means that are just like regular shoes, and if you have a shoe that is rugged already, you could try using those first before buying a pair of mountain bike shoes. 


Hiking Style Shoes

Another common type of mountain bike shoe is a hiking style shoe (article). These usually have a recessed area under the shoe to install a cleat. The cleat can clip into clipless mountain bike pedals. These types of shoes can handle mountain bike riding and some hiking on the trail. 

Hiking Shoes vs Mountain Bike Shoes

Normal Hiking Shoes

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  • Knobby sole
  • Toe Protection
  • Lace Up
  • Extra Padding
  • Average Foam Midsole
  • Rigid Sole
  • No Cleat Area – Best Used for Hiking       

Mountain Bike Shoes

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  • Knobby sole
  • Toe Protection
  • Velcro In
  • Extra Padding
  • Average Foam Midsole
  • Very Rigid Sole
  • Recessed Cleat Area – Best Used for Biking

This type of mountain bike shoe can be used for biking, hiking, and maybe a bit of running. It is best used for clipping into pedals (article) and getting some good protection. Like all specialty shoes, if they are used for other activities than they were intended, they are not likely to last as long as an average hiking shoe. 

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You’ll want to have a good pair of pedals that have cleats that are compatible with your shoes.  

These will help your shoes stay secure and can give you a performance boost. The pedal shown can also be used when your not using your mountain bike shoes if that’s an option you’re looking for. 

The more serious riders will usually use cleat and pedal clip systems on their bikes because it helps them when they are maneuvering on very technical trails

Longer distance riders like to use these shoes and pedals as well. You want to get the most out of your legs and clipping in can help.


Light Hiking Style Shoe

These are good shoes for walking (article) more comfortably in the city and on the trail. They have grip and can be used in various situations and then work while clipping into your pedals when mountain biking. 

Light Hiking Shoes vs Mountain Bike Shoes

Light Hiking Shoes

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  • Light knobby Soles
  • Toe Protection
  • Lace Up
  • Extra Padding
  • Average Foam Midsole
  • Rigid Sole
  • No Cleat Area – Best Used for Hiking                                                                                        

Mountain Bike Shoes

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  • Light knobby Soles
  • Toe Protection
  • Lace Up
  • Extra Padding
  • Average Foam Midsole
  • Rigid Sole
  • Recessed Cleat Area – Best Used for Biking. May not recess cleat enough to walk well.

Light mountain biking shoes are good for those looking to do some light hiking and mountain biking. Be aware that some of these shoes do not recess the cleats well enough to walk with. If you take off the cleats, they should work just fine, and then you can use them for either activity, just not both at once. 

I like lighter hiking shoes because they tend to be more comfortable and flexible. Mountain biking shoes will tend to be rigid because they are meant to give you leverage when pedaling. Lighter mountain biking shoes should give you a nice balance of comfort when walking and performance when biking.


Making a Choice

Once you decide on the style of shoe, you’ll want you can try it out and see if it works for you. You may want to go to a bike store and ask if you can try out some mountain bike shoes and see how they feel, and ask specific questions about any concerns.

See about the return policy and choose a pair that best meet your needs at the time. Remember that you may not need a mountain bike shoe with cleats if you have good pedals or only use your bike for light trails. 

Be picky when choosing a shoe, and decide if you really want them and if they meet your requirements. If they don’t try something else. 

Choose Your Shoes

Then you can see if you need any other gear to make sure you are ready for your mountain biking adventures. I recently found a pair of mountain bike tires I forgot that I had put in storage, and it turns out they are just what I was thinking of getting for my mountain bike. 

Once I put on the stored tires, I will have better performance with these more knobby tires. Your shoes should also meet the need of how you will be using your mountain bike. 

Top view of sport equipment in pastel colour

Conclusion

When considering the type of shoes to wear when mountain biking, you find the best answer is how you most often use your bike. While regular shoes should work fine in many ways when mountain biking, getting shoes designed for mountain biking will help you get the most out of your experience.

I personally would like to try cleat-style mountain biking shoes because of the performance they can give you when encountering more difficult trails.  

Thanks for visiting Helpshoe.com

CHRIS TOOLEY

I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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