Best Mountain Bike Shoes in 2022 – A Buyer’s Guide for Every Type of MTBer

The best mountain bike shoes for you depends largely on the type of rider you are. If you’re hoping to speed through singletrack and maybe do some gravel riding or cyclocross racing, a pair of clipless MTB shoes makes sense. If you’re more interested in all-mountain or gravity disciplines like enduro or downhill, a flat shoe may fit the bill.

Best mountain bike shoe: clipless on left, flat on right

Clipless MTB shoes and pedals—which, yes, you clip into—are on the left; flat MTB pedals and shoes are on the right.

Here, the Bikerumor staff is sharing their favorite picks for any type of mountain biking you may enjoy. These MTB shoes have been tried and tested, typically for years, and have consistently been our favorites.

Want to learn more about picking the right shoe for you? Scroll down to read our MTB shoe buyer’s guide and reviews, as well as Frequently Asked Questions.


Best MTB show-shimano sphyre xc9

© Kurt Barclay

Nearly across the board, Bikerumor staffers turn to the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 for cross-country riding.

Its ultra-stiff carbon sole is paired with blocky treads on either side of the cleat, giving it excellent stability and power transfer, much like a high-end road shoe. Dual Boa closures let you independently adjust the fit across the top and middle of the foot. It is slightly narrow, so riders with wider feet may find the S-Phyre XC9 fits a bit tight. But for most riders, this shoe is as comfortable as it is fast, even on long rides.

Bonus: It works equally well for both cross-country (XC) and cyclocross (CX) racing thanks to two features: An optional (but included) claw spike that mounts in front of the cleat, and a full-length tread patch under the midsole that ensures you won’t slip off if you miss clipping in on the first try.

Available in silver, bright blue, and black, this ultra-sleek shoe is shiny, easy to clean, and it’s the shoe that our editors come back to the most often.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Boa
  • Sole: Carbon and rubber, removable cleat
  • Weight: 330 grams (size 42)
  • Sizes: Standard: 36 to 48 with some half sizes available, also available in wide
  • Price: $430

PROS: Ultra efficient yet comfortable, ideal for XC and CX racers
CONS: Expensive!


A caveat about women’s MTB shoes: You don’t need to use women’s MTB shoes if you’re a woman. In fact, you may find that unisex options fit better or that you prefer those styles. Typically, women’s cycling shoes run a bit narrower than men’s/unisex options and come in smaller sizes. So if you have a narrow foot or need a small size, you may need women’s MTB shoes.

Our favorite is the Scott MTB Comp. The combination of Boa and Velcro for closure means your foot is firmly ensconced in the shoe no matter what happens on the ride. This shoe uses Scott’s ErgoLogic technology in the footbed, so you can adjust the arch support to your needs. This helps eliminate pressure points that could cause discomfort while riding. The fiberglass-reinforced nylon outsole provides stiffness to maintain pedaling efficiency. Reviewers say this shoe runs true to size so you don’t have to worry when you make your purchase! Priced at $130, these shoes aren’t super expensive and still give you a lot of features for a fair price. It’s available in Black or Matte Blue.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Boa and Velcro
  • Sole: Nylon and fiberglass
  • Weight: TBD
  • Sizes: 36 to 42 in whole sizes
  • Price: $130

PROS: Comfortable while still being race-ready, good price
CONS: Fiberglass outsole is stiff, but not as stiff as carbon

 BEST MTB SHOE FOR TIGHT BUDGETS: Shimano SH-XC300 Mountain Bike Shoe 

Looking for a simple shoe with much of the tech behind Shimano’s S-Phyre options without the hefty price tag? The Shimano SH-XC300 is a great budget-friendly option. It’s simple, no-nonsense, and high-performing. Whether you’re riding gravel roads, technical singletrack, or just riding into town to run some errands, these shoes are comfortable. They have synthetic uppers and rubber outsoles with fiberglass-reinforced nylon to give you a stiffer feel for better power transfer. This shoe uses Boa’s lacing system for quick and easy adjustability so you don’t have to fumble with laces. The shoe is available in black and olive.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Boa
  • Sole: Rubber and fiberglass reinforced nylon, synthetic upper
  • Weight: TBD
  • Sizes: 40-51
  • Price: $125

PROS: Great range of sizes, good price
CONS: Not as stiff as higher-end models, heavier than most


bontrager xxx MTB shoes stand the test of time

Looking for a shoe that will last for years and remain one of the most high-end pairs of shoes on the market? Bikerumor likes the Bontrager XXX MTB Shoes for longevity as well as performance. This ultra-stiff shoe is Bontrager’s stiffest option, thanks to a lightweight carbon sole.

The stiff sole provides better power transfer, so you don’t waste watts on any ride. Two Boa closures keep fit perfectly dialed, and external heel cups prevent chafing even when running alongside your bike.

We also like that these shoes have a sleek style that makes them easy to wear on any type of ride. Riders who prefer to use one pedal system across all of their bikes will find these don’t look or feel out of place on a road ride. Available in basic black and sassier options of navy and fuschia or baby blue and white, they’re worth the $419 price tag.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Boas
  • Sole: Carbon
  • Weight: 300 grams for size 43
  • Sizes: 36-48 with some half sizes
  • Price: $419

PROS: Great for racing, look good on any bike
CONS: Might feel too stiff for non-racers who prioritize comfort

 BEST MTB SHOE FOR FLAT PEDALS: Adidas Five Ten Freerider 

best flat pedal MTB shoes: Five Ten Freerider

It’s pretty much impossible not to mention the Five Ten brand when talking about flat shoes. They’re ubiquitous in the MTB, DH, and BMX scene, and Bikerumor staffers love the comfort and stickiness of the Freerider with the grippy Dotty rubber tread.

These are perhaps the most ride-to-the-bar-friendly option in this roundup. Hit the trails, then head into town, and you’ll just look like you’re wearing casual sneakers. But they’re packed with features like a quick-drying upper, as well as a Stealth® S1™ sticky rubber outsole that allows you to stay optimally connected to your pedals despite no clips.

Available in both men’s and women’s sizing, the Freerider has a few color options. Black or “wild teal” for women; and black, gray, and “mesa” (tan) for men. Bonus: Adidas uses some recycled materials to make these shoes.

  • Type: Flat pedal
  • Closure system: Laces
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 391 grams for Men’s 12 US
  • Sizes: Men’s 6 to 14 US; Women’s 5 to 11 US
  • Price: $100

PROS: Stylish, simple, and durable
CONS: None, really


Best mountain bike shoe for flat pedal sessions: Specialized Rime

Do you find yourself walking a lot of features when you ride? The Specialized RIME Flat MTB Shoe might be for you. Designed with hikers in mind, this flat MTB shoe is a Bikerumor staff favorite for comfort on and off the bike.

Like other flat shoes from Specialized, they use SlipNot™ ST for the rubber sole, and Bikerumor testers consider it the “holy grail” of sticky rubber for keeping your foot in place while pedaling.

We consider them the ultimate “sessioning” shoe, meaning if you’re trying to nail a certain feature and spending as much time hiking your bike up the hill as you are riding down, you’ll love these. Compared to other flat shoes, these are much more flexible in the midsole thanks to an EVA foam insert for comfort and impact absorption, making them easier to walk in.

Read the full review here. 

  • Type: Flat pedal
  • Closure system: Laces
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 358 grams for size 41
  • Sizes: 36-48 with some half sizes
  • Price: $130

PROS: Comfortable all-day shoe
CONS: Not as stiff as other downhill shoes

 BEST MTB SHOE FOR ENDURO: CrankBrothers Mallet Speed Lace

Best MTB shoe for Enduro: Crank Brothers Mallet

If you’re clipless-curious, but you don’t want to commit fully or switch between riding styles, the CrankBrothers Mallet is a great option. Bikerumor’s editor raved that these shoes are great for enduro riders. They’re ideal for a mountain bike-style bikepacking trip since they are equally adept at clipping into pedals or strolling around town or your campsite.

They look like flat shoes at a glance, but there’s a recessed cleat mounting point hidden in the sole. We like the lace “garage” at the top of the tongue, and the closure that covers where you tie the laces ensures that you’ll never end up with a lace wrapping around your pedal or coming undone.

Ideally, you’d pair the CrankBrothers Mallet Speed Lace with the brand’s Mallet pedals, which offer a wide platform around the Eggbeater clip-in pedal. But they will work with any mountain bike clipless or flat pedal. And because CrankBrothers make them, they come with the brand’s cleats pre-installed for ultimate ease: Unbox and go! But if you do run SPD-style pedals, you can simply swap the cleats out.

  • Type: Clipless / Flat
  • Closure system: Laces and Velcro
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 415 grams for US Men’s 9
  • Sizes: 5 to 14 US Men’s
  • Price: $170

PROS: All-day comfort, stylish
CONS: Best suited for CrankBrothers pedals


specialized 2fo DH review

Planning to ride a lot of downhill? Bikerumor staffers who prefer descending like the Specialized 2FO DH flat shoe. Three-time reigning DH world champion Loic Bruni helped design these shoes, down to the SlipNot™ ST rubber sole. This rubber is so grippy that even when pedaling uphill, you can feel the connection.

Designed for rough terrain, these shoes provide maximum grip as well as protection for your whole foot. An internal shank keeps your foot protected and offers some shock absorption, though the cost is that these shoes are a bit less comfortable for casual walks around the neighborhood post-ride. We also appreciated the heavy-duty bumper over the front, protecting your toes from errant rocks.

Read the full review here.

  • Type: Flat
  • Closure system: Laces
  • Sole: Rubber
  • Weight: 396 grams for size 42
  • Sizes: 36 to 49
  • Price: $160

PROS: Highly protective, grippy rubber sole
CONS: Stiff for a flat shoe


CX MTB or gravel: Lake MX332

The Lake MX332 is a great cross-country shoe, but where it shines is its ability to go from singletrack to gravel roads. If you’re entering the gravel racing or cyclocross scene, a shoe that can handle the rigors of a mountain bike ride but can also be stiff and speedy like a road shoe is critical.

The MX332 is the racier model of more traditional Lake mountain bike shoes, so it’s lower profile with a slimmer fit and lighter weight. The carbon sole with rubber tread provides a stable surface for pedaling but is great for running as well, and there’s space for toe spikes if you’re into muddy rides or races. A temperature-regulating liner makes these leather shoes better than most for both hot and cooler rides.

Lake is well-known as the brand to choose for wide feet, and these shoes are no different: They have a wide size option. However, the regular version of the shoe is cut more narrow to be racer-optimized, so if you’re not a slim-footed person, opt for the wide.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Boas
  • Sole: Carbon and rubber
  • Weight: 370 grams for size 42
  • Sizes: 39 to 50 with the wide version available
  • Price: $450

PROS: Great for racing gravel or cyclocross, wide sizes available
CONS: Pricey

 BEST HIGH-END MTB SHOE: Luck Galaxy Custom MTB Shoes 

Best mountain bike shoes: high end custom Luck Galaxy

Want to spice up your shoes? Spanish brand Luck has you covered. Try the Luck Galaxy MTB Shoes in one of their eye-popping prints, or upload your own graphics and get a pair of completely custom shoes that will stand out in a crowd. One Bikerumor staffer has been using his Luck Galaxy Custom MTB Shoes for years and appreciates the details, from the custom design to the breathable perforated upper, long-wearing composite sole, and surprisingly durable proprietary dial retention system.

It’s not just that the shoes look great; they’re also a solid all-around trail-riding shoe. They’re speedy for cross-country, gravel, or cyclocross. Carbon and natural tree resin-derived rubber come together to form a stiff sole with a tread that gives you traction on the slipperiest sections of the trail.

And if you have a hard-to-fit foot, Luck doesn’t just do custom prints; they can do made-to-measure shoes as well. And they happily make custom shoes for each foot, so if you have a right foot that’s a bit wider and longer than your left, you’re in luck.

  • Type: Clipless
  • Closure system: Dial retention
  • Sole: Carbon-reinforced composite and rubber
  • Weight: 358 grams for size 45
  • Sizes: 37 to 48
  • Price: $476 with custom design

PROS: Custom design and fit, long-lasting
CONS: Pricey

Buyer’s Guide for Best Mountain Bike Shoes

Decide on how you want to ride. Are you focused on speed? Consider clipless. More comfort-based, or planning on doing bigger obstacles and downhill-styled riding? Flat shoes might suit you better.

Measure your feet carefully. Cycling shoes can be a little tricky since they tend to be stiffer than regular sneakers, which means you’ll have less room for error.

Make sure you try the shoes on with the socks you’ll be riding in. It sounds like a small thing, but sometimes your bike socks differ just enough from your everyday socks that they can change the fit and comfort of a shoe entirely.

Walk and ride to test. Even if you’re looking at clipless shoes and not planning to spend a lot of your time hiking your bike, you likely will walk at some point. So find a shoe that feels relatively comfortable while walking as well as riding.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mountain Bike Shoes

What do I need mountain bike shoes for?
Other than the obvious—namely, mountain biking—MTB shoes have other uses. Clipless MTB shoes are often used for gravel riding and cyclocross racing, and if you use SPD cleats, you can even use your MTB shoes for spin classes.

Some people (including this editor) simply find that MTB shoes are more comfortable and easier to walk in than road shoes and will use MTB shoes rather than road shoes for all kinds of riding.

Flat shoes used with regular pedals can be used as skate shoes or shoes for dirt jumping or BMX riding.

specialized rime flat pedal mountain bike shoe review

Flat shoes make it easy to put a foot down and are ideal for downhill or enduro-style MTB riding.

When would I need flat pedals versus clipless?
If you’re serious about putting in big miles, clipless pedals allow you to be much more efficient with your pedal stroke. Gravel and cyclocross riders will typically use clipless MTB-style shoes, as will cross-country racers. More casual riders and those in gravity disciplines like downhill may prefer flat shoes.

Do I need bike-specific flat pedal shoes?
When you get started, you may find that regular sneakers work just fine as mountain bike shoes when used with flat pedals. But as you progress, you’ll likely want to swap to bike-specific flat shoes, which have a rubber sole that’s stickier than your average shoe to stay more firmly planted on the pedals. The rubber is also more durable, so the small pins in your pedals that keep your feet in place won’t damage them.

specialized 2fo roost dh slipnot rubber sole 3rd gen rubber

The rubber on an MTB-specific flat shoe is much grippier and sturdier than sneakers.

How should a mountain bike shoe fit?
Think about a running shoe and aim for that kind of feeling: Snug enough that your foot isn’t sliding around at all, but not so tight that your toes are crunched, or you can’t wiggle them slightly. Because mountain biking typically includes spending time off the bike, a shoe that feels comfortable to walk in (or run in, if you’re racing) is important.

Do I need carbon soles?
It depends on the type of riding you’re hoping to do, but most recreational mountain bikers won’t need the added stiffness that carbon provides. If you are doing a lot of pedaling, though, that stiffness will help you transfer energy efficiently. Rubber will bend slightly with every pedal stroke, which will take away from the power you can produce.

giro cylinder mtb shoe

Narrow or small feet may be more comfortable in a women’s specific shoe.

Do I need women-specific shoes?
We only included one women’s-specific MTB shoe in this list, but women can easily wear any of the shoes on the list. You may find that you prefer a women-specific shoe if you have narrower feet or higher arches, but no, there isn’t a major difference, and you can certainly stick with unisex or men’s shoes without an issue.

Just be careful with the sizing! European sizes should be consistent between men’s and women’s options, though US sizing will differ. Make sure you can return or exchange shoes before you buy if you’re not sure about sizing.

Why do I use SPDs in spin class if they’re for mountain bikes?
If you’re someone who loves dropping into spin class, opt for SPDs over other styles of pedals and cleats since most spin bikes are equipped with SPDs. Compared to road pedals, SPDs are much easier to clip into. The shoes are also less slippery, so you’ll be less likely to wipe out on the slick gym floors.

Shimano IC2 walkable indoor cycling spinning shoes

Spin shoes are not ideal for MTBers, but you can use an MTB shoe with SPD pedals in spin class. c. Shimano

Can I use spin shoes as MTB shoes?
Try the opposite way—using MTB shoes for spin class. Spin shoes typically will have a smoother, more rigid sole that isn’t designed for the rigors of mountain biking.

Can I use mountain bike shoes as road shoes?
Absolutely. In fact, plenty of road riders have shifted to mountain bike (or gravel) shoes now that gravel riding and adventure riding have risen in popularity. You might lose a bit of efficiency and be a bit less tightly connected to your bike, but if you’re more comfortable in mountain bike shoes or on a tight budget and can only afford to have one style of clipless pedals and shoes, opt for mountain bike shoes.

They’re also easier to wear when running errands, hitting the bar, or getting off your bike to walk across a busy road. (This Bikerumor editor wore mountain bike shoes for an Ironman and still finished in the top 10 percent of competitors.

example of mountain bike cleats and tread blocks for clipless mtb pedals

Are you struggling to stay clipped in? You may need new cleats.

When should I replace my MTB cleats?
If you notice your foot wobbling around on the pedal, if you’re constantly coming unclipped from the pedal unintentionally, or if it’s become difficult to clip in, it may be time to swap out your cleats.

Why do mountain bike shoes have such weird names?
Many companies opt for a combination of letters and numbers to demarcate between shoe options, which can get annoying when you’re perusing your options. Did you want the M7, or was it the M4? But on the bright side, it’s easy to get the exact shoe you were looking for, rather than one that was sort of similar.

Rapha Explore Powerweave carbon-soled gravel bike shoes, BOA Li2

Boas are great for adjustability but tricky if they break mid-ride.

What’s the best closure system for mountain bike shoes?
For mountain biking, you’re best served with a closure style that closes in two different ways to give you backup in case something snaps in a crash. That means a Boa closure on top and velcro straps is a safer combination than a Boa alone.

Of course, plain shoelaces are great for flat shoes (and some brands like Giro make lace-up versions of their mountain bike shoes), and while they’re a bit old-school, they do a great job and are easy to adjust depending on your foot width and arch height.

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1 year ago

Any chance we could get a more in-depth review of the Luck’s? I’ve recently found the brand and I’ve been considering them for my hard-to-fit feet, after failed ‘Special Orders’ for top of the line Shimano, Northwave, Specialized etc shoes….

The Luck shoes are super enticing, but recent (and unpaid) reviews are hard to come by!

Just a Cook
Just a Cook
1 year ago

Important note on the Shimano SC-9’s: they are available in WIDE sizes too. And, personally the better value is the SC-7, one step under. Also available in wide. I am on my second pair of SC-7’s, and have 4E width feet. These are the most comfortable MTB shoes I have ever had. These are a true wide cycling shoe – your feet will thank you.

pablo luzall
pablo luzall
1 month ago

Great to see a shoutout to scott shoes – they have been flying under the radar – but my Vertecs have been my favorite pair of XC shoes after several SIDI, Giro etc