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Best mountain bike shoes 2021 | 25 tried and tested flat and clipless MTB shoes

Our top-rated flat and clipless shoes for mountain bikers

When looking for the best mountain bike shoes, there is a plethora of options. To figure out which pair is right for you, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to go with flat-pedal or clipless-pedal shoes.

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Our in-depth buyer’s guide will help you choose, as well as provide some information on the foundations of a good mountain bike shoe.

You’ll find all the best mountain bike shoe reviews on this page, and whether you ride cross-country, trail, enduro or downhill on flat or clipless pedals, we’ve ridden and rated the best mountain bike shoes on the market.

To make things easier, we’ve split this list into different types of mountain bike shoes:

These categories aren’t fixed, and many of the shoes are compatible across riding disciplines but it’s a good place to start if you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for.

The best mountain bike shoes in 2021, as rated by our expert testers

Best mountain bike shoes for trail and enduro 

  • Shimano ME7: £179 / $200
  • Crankbrothers Mallet BOA: £180 / AU$330 / €200
  • Giro Chamber II: £130 / $150
  • Scott MTB AR Boa Clip: £160 / $180 / €180
  • Bontrager Foray: £120 / $150 / AU$200 / €140
  • Scott MTB Elite BOA: £125 / $140 / €140
  • Shimano MW7: £190 / $275
  • Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes: £140 / $160 / $220

Best XC mountain bike shoes

  • Mavic Crossmax Elite CM: £159
  • Fizik Infinito X1: £325 / $400 / €350
  • Shimano XC501: £140 / $170
  • Specialized S-Works Recon: £340 / $425 / AU$500

Best MTB flat pedal shoes

  • Five Ten Freerider Pro: £120 / $150 / €140
  • Five Ten Impact Pro: £125 / $160 / €150
  • Ride Concepts Hellion Elite: £130 / $140 / AU$255
  • Specialized 2FO Flat 1.0: £100
  • Specialized Women’s 2FO Flat 1.0: £100
  • Specialized 2FO DH: £145 / $170 / AU$250 / €160
  • Specialized 2FO Roost: £110 / $120 / AU$220 / €110
  • Bontrager Flatline: £120 / $129.99 / AU$229.99
  • ION Raid II: £85
  • Ride Concepts TNT: £140 / $160 / AU$300
  • Ride Concepts Vice: £90 / $100 / AU$205
  • Shimano GR5: £80 / $100 / AU$119
  • Shimano GR9: £120 / $160

Best mountain bikes shoes for trail and enduro riding

Trail and enduro shoes tend to have solid, robust designs that can withstand a battering. The soles are stiff, but not so stiff you can’t take part in a bit of hike-a-bike. Many look like flat sole mountain shoes but others are more similar to typical clipless XC shoes.

All the shoes here take cleats for clipless pedals. Keep scrolling for our selection of the best flat MTB shoes.

Shimano ME7

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
The Shimano ME7 is a thoroughly accomplished pair of trail shoes.
Immediate Media
  • £179 / $200 as tested
  • Impressively versatile
  • Protective and resilient

Shimano’s ME7s are some of our favourite trail shoes having scored a full five stars in recent testing.

We found them to provide the perfect foot position for pedalling and descending, and although there’s enough stiffness to make the most of skinny XC pedals, they also flex enough for hike-a-bike escapades.

The outer flap and neoprene ankle gaiter combine to make them and their lace closure resistant to the ingress of mud, grit and stones.

We also found they’ll keep your feet comfortable in all but the coldest of conditions too.

Crankbrothers Mallet BOA shoes

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Crankbrothers' new Mallet mountain biking shoes are available in three different closure options
The Mallet shoes are designed to be the shoe used for downhill riding and racing.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £180 / AU$330 / €200 as tested
  • Comfortable with plenty of cleat adjustment
  • Boa system costs more than speed lace version

Designed for enduro and downhill riding, the Crankbrothers Mallet BOA shoes are a well-designed set of kicks that feel incredibly comfy.

They have enough feel and flex from the sole, ensuring you get a good level of feedback, without ever feeling droopy around the pedal. There’s plenty of cleat adjustment and the shoes shed mud easily too.

The shoes close with a Boa dial, which makes for quick opening and closing, but it does make these shoes £30 more expensive than their speed lace equivalents.

It might be worth trying the shoes on before you buy, as we found the sizing a little generous in testing.

Giro Chamber II

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Giro’s Chamber II offers plenty of cleat adjustment.
Immediate Media
  • £130 as tested
  • Plenty of adjustment
  • Good off-bike grip

Giro’s Chamber II shoes are standout performers that are easy for clipping in and out of the pedals, and have lots of cleat adjustment.

A thin sole gives enough feel while remaining efficiently rigid for sprints and climbs.

The shoes’ wide camo-print sole and toe bumper help to protect your feet, and the collar is well padded too.

Scott MTB AR Boa Clip

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Two Boa dials is something usually seen on cross-country kicks.
Immediate Media
  • £160 / $180 / €180 as tested
  • Double Boa dial retention
  • Tough, weather-resistant

These Scott trail kicks use two Boa dials per shoe, which is a design feature more commonly found on cross-country footwear. This makes them a doddle to cinch down to the perfect fit.

These are a tough, terrain- and weather-resistant option and great to pedal in.

The fit can be a little spacious for some, but is easily dialled in with the Boas. These don’t breathe as well as others though, so those in hotter climates might want to look elsewhere.

Bontrager Foray

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
The Bontrager Foray fits snugly, with no hot spots, thanks to the excellent Boa-and-strap combo.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • £120 / $150 / AU$200 / €140 as tested
  • Old-school looks
  • Secure, comfortable Boa and strap closure

Don’t let the ‘disco slipper’ cross-country look of Bontrager’s Forays fool you – this is a versatile choice that excels at trail riding or for long days out in the hills.

The sole is surprisingly flexible for comfortable walking and there’s plenty of grip even without using the bolt-in studs at the front of the shoe.

The Boa dial and strap combo make for a great fit without hot spots. As it stands these are a hard-wearing, efficient yet comfortable pair of shoes for trail riding.

Scott MTB Elite BOA

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
The Scott MTB Elite BOA trail shoes would be a good shout if you’re used to riding in muddy, wet conditions.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • £125 / $140 / €140 as tested
  • Great feel at the pedals
  • Quick and accurate BOA dial adjustment

The MTB Elites from Scott excel at trail centre outings thanks to their all-weather exterior, quick-drying padding and convenient BOA dial adjustment.

They’re not the best in very cold or waterlogged conditions and will warrant a waterproof sock for such use.

There’s a really direct feel at the pedals with these thanks to the thin soles, but this does mean they’re not suitable for hike-a-bike style adventuring.

Shimano MW7 shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best winter cycling shoes
The MW7 is a waterproof, insulated, clipless mountain bike shoe that’s ready to withstand the worst of winter.
Lawrence Crossman-Emms / Immediate Media
  • £190 / $275 as tested
  • Warm and waterproof
  • Ideal for rough wintry conditions

If you’re looking to get the most from your winter riding then having comfortable feet is a must.

Shimano’s MW7 is a top-tier winter waterproof shoe that will keep you dry for all but the most persistent downpours.

They’re jam-packed full of features including a Gore-Tex insulated comfort liner, Boa lacing system and Michelin-branded dual-density rubber soles.

They’re very comfortable for both riding and pushing your bike in and kept our tester’s toes warm throughout the winter as well as fending off puddle splashes, rain and mud admirably.

Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Specialized’s 2FO Clip 2.0 is a popular choice for a wide range of riding.
Andy McCandlish / Immediate Media
  • £140 / $160 / $220 as tested
  • Great protection
  • Lots of cleat adjustability

The 2FO Clips are built for aggressive trail riding but are also popular for enduro and downhill crowds. You get serious padding around the toe box and ankle, and stiff-but-not-too-stiff soles that work well on and off the bike.

We really appreciated the long cleat slots that make for lots of useful adjustability and the fact these shoes dry quickly once wet. The lace closure can prove fiddly, though.


Best XC mountain bike shoes

Cross-country as a discipline is always looking to save weight and go faster. As a result, cross-country mountain bike shoes tend to look a lot more like road cycling shoes than other mountain bike shred slippers.

Like road shoes, they have stiff soles and lightweight uppers, but they do have deeper lugs and take two-bolt rather than three-bolt cleats.

Mavic Crossmax Elite CM

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Mavic’s Crossmax Elite CMs are ready for bad conditions.
Immediate Media
  • £159 as tested
  • For racing and riding
  • Snug, stable fit

Mavic’s Crossmax Elite CMs are well-sealed and keep the weather out, yet they provide ample stiffness and upper security too.

A snug, stable fit with Velcro forefoot straps and Ergo Dial closure help efficiently deliver power through the pedals. The weather-shrugging toe and tongue, and neoprene collar ensure comfort even when the shoes get wet.

The sole is stiff enough for sprinting but not too rigid for longer rides, and a soft-compound tread gives good grip off the bike.

Fizik Infinito X1

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Fizik’s Infinito X1 shoes are more forgiving than most XC race shoes.
Immediate Media
  • £325 / $400 / €350 as tested
  • Compliant carbon sole
  • Comfortable XC race shoes

The Infinito X1s come with a hefty price tag, but if you are looking for durable, relatively comfortable cross-country race shoes, they could be for you.

The X1s fit excellently, depending on foot shape – with shoes of this ilk it’s best to check first. Plus a rubber gripper on the inside of the heel cup and the Boa adjusters ensure the feet stay put and don’t slip around.

A unidirectional carbon fibre sole with aggressive lugs for off-bike moments is stiff but not overly so. The X1s are more forgiving than other race shoes on the market.

Shimano XC501 shoe

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Shimano XC501 shoe for gravel cycling
The Shimano XC501 is an XC mountain bike shoe but its heavy performance leanings make it a good match for gravel riding too.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • £140 / $170 as tested
  • Comfy upper and good power transfer
  • Not great for walking

The Shimano XC501 shoes have a glass fibre sole that really shows itself off when you start pushing on the pedals, delivering immediate power transfer.

This does mean that there isn’t a great deal of flex and paired with the relatively narrow outsole, the XC501s aren’t great for walking.

The wrap-around upper helps to create a supremely comfortable and snug fit.

Specialized S-Works Recon shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
They aren’t cheap, but Specialized’s S-Works Recon shoes are light, stiff and comfortable.
David Caudery/Immediate Media
  • £340 / $425 / AU$500 as tested
  • Light, stiff
  • Very comfortable

Specialized’s S-Works Recon shoes are high-performing cross-country mountain bike shoes that are also suitable for gravel riding and racing.

Twin Boa dials make for perfect retention, with an extra Velcro strap for added security. Specialized Body Geometry insoles add shape to the footbed. The fit is excellent.


Best MTB flat pedal shoes

The best mountain bike flat pedal shoes will stick to your pedals easy and let you get a foot down when things get wild. Made for going full-gas downhill, these shoes are robust and there are plenty of options, from summer slippers to shoes that will keep your feet dry and toasty in the winter.

Five Ten Freerider Pro

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Five Ten Freerider Pro flat pedal mountain bike shoe
Greater protection and a stiff sole make these a leading pair of enduro or downhill shoes.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £120 / $150 / €140 as tested
  • Thick upper offering lots of protection
  • Sole offers maximum grip and plenty of damping

Five Ten is the benchmark flat-pedal shoe brand, with the Freerider Pros arguably its leading product. Beefed-up versions of the classic Freeriders, with a thicker upper and more protection, they’re still light and comfy enough to pedal in all day and aren’t as tall (or cushioned) as the DH-focused Impact Pros.

The sole strikes the perfect balance of height and stiffness for trail and enduro riding, and gives excellent pedal feedback, but it does take a few rides to bed in and develop enough flexibility to sit well into concave flat pedals.

Five Ten’s legendary S1 Stealth rubber offers maximum grip and superb damping, so the Freerider Pros don’t flinch an inch or bounce about, even over the roughest rock and root sections.

While the sole does wear out quicker than some competitors, it’s a price worth paying for the best combination here of fit, stability, feel and outright grip. The shoes support the foot perfectly, with a heel cup that really keeps them in place. Five Ten’s new upper dries way faster, too.

Five Ten Impact Pro shoes

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Five Ten’s Impact Pro shoes are a top choice for those who prefer flat pedals.
Immediate Media
  • £125 / $160 / €150 as tested
  • Grippiest rubber available
  • Lighter than previous models

Five Ten has no rival when it comes to the stickiness of its shoe rubber. The “Stealth S1” sole of the Impact Pro shoes, with its revised pattern, locks the shoes in place on the pedals.

The Impact Pros are just right in their construction; not overly bulky, but still protective with a reinforced toe cap and abrasion-resistant upper.

Ride Concepts Hellion Elite

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Ride Concepts Hellion Elite flat pedal mountain bike shoe
The soles on these shoes rival Five Ten’s leading grip.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £130 / $140 / AU$255 as tested
  • Supportive and with enough flexibility
  • Feet stay glued in place

These shoes fuse a low-profile, lace-up upper with Ride Concepts’ stickiest DST 4.0 sole. With this ‘Max Grip’ rubber blend, also used on the TNTs, RC has entered an exclusive club – along with Specialized and its 2FOs – whose members can legitimately claim grip levels on par with market leaders Five Ten.

In fact, the Hellion Elites feel similar on both foot and bike to the Freerider Pros, with a great blend of support and hold in the upper, balanced by just enough midsole flexibility to precisely feel the pedals and the bike, without any digging in or clawing over.

Traction, damping and pedal connection are superb. Your feet stay glued in place regardless of the terrain and weather, with no bouncing or slipping.

The Hellion Elites cost a tenner more than the Freerider Pros, but the D3O insole – which places the ‘smart foam’ in zones at the toe and heel to cushion against repeated hits or big impacts – is an extra feature for your money.

Specialized 2FO 1.0 flat shoes

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Specialized’s 2FO 1.0 shoes have an inner bootie.
Immediate Media
  • £100 as tested
  • Inner bootie keeps dirt out
  • Grippier redesigned sole

The 2FOs’ smooth, thermos-bonded upper construction has plenty of ventilation and they are super light at just 692g for a pair of size EU 43.

As with all flat pedal shoes, the quality of the uppers is irrelevant if the soles are no good, but Specialized’s SlipNot 2.0 rubber is impressively grippy. The lug pattern is also a progression of the brand’s original 2FOs and an improvement.

The shoes’ inner bootie provides a solid, stable fit and helps stop dirt and stones from getting into the shoes around the ankle area.

Specialized Women’s 2FO Flat 1.0 shoes

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Specialized women’s-specific 2FO Flat 1.0 shoes is a great choice for female riders.
Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media Co
  • £100 as tested
  • Very comfortable
  • Good traction

Specialized’s Women’s 2FO 1.0 is a total transformation from the original 2FO shoes. Their look, feel and fit have been redesigned into this women-specific option.

An inner-bootie helps provide a comfortable, snug fit and lowers the potential for stones and dirt getting inside the shoes when riding.

While Specialized’s SlipNot 2.0 sole is still not as grippy as Five Ten’s Stealth Rubber, it is an improvement and it is one of the better alternatives to Five Ten. The sole is also slightly suppler than its predecessor, which makes for a more comfortable overall feel.

This is an excellent option for female trail riders.

Specialized 2FO DH

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Specialized 2FO DH flat pedal mountain bike shoes
A wide outsole gives a huge contact area helping stability.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £145 / $170 / AU$250 / €160 as tested
  • Incredibly grippy sole and wide outsole
  • High inside ankle

It’s only taken 20 years, but someone has finally come up with a sole that out-grips Five Ten’s S1 Stealth. Specialized’s SlipNot ST compound has so much vice-like traction that you have to unweight your shoe to change foot position.

The DHs bring a ton of other new features to the 2FO line, too, such as a faster-drying leather and textile upper, and a sole and footbed with special profiles to increase comfort and pedalling power.

There’s spot-on damping courtesy of the EVA midsole, while the tilted and shaped insole is super-comfy. As the outsole is really wide, the pedal connection area is massive and stable.

The DHs have extra impact absorption and protection (including a higher inside ankle), so are slightly heavier and bulkier and offer less pedal feel than the more casual 2FO Roosts, which use the same super-grippy SlipNot ST sole.

Specialized 2FO Roost flat-pedal shoes

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Specialized 2FO Roost flat-pedal mountain bike shoes
The fit, comfort and design make the 2FO Roosts very appealing.
Andy Lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £110 / $120 / AU$220 / €110 as tested
  • Superb traction and very comfortable
  • Suede section can collect mud

The Specialized 2FO Roost flat-pedal shoes use a new sole compound that is super sticky and on par with Five Ten’s leading soles.

Inside there is a Body Geometry footbed that Specialized has spent a lot of time perfecting, and helps the shoes’ reach their high comfort levels.

The upper is particularly bad weather-friendly with a suede toe that attracts mud, but thankfully the shoes are quick drying.

Bontrager Flatline shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
Bontrager Flatline shoes offer good grip.
Immediate Media
  • £120 / $129.99 / AU$229.99 as tested
  • Comfortable on and off the bike
  • Quick-drying

Bontrager’s flat pedal mountain bike shoes use Vibram soles to achieve a good level of grip – enough that your feet stay on the pedals but not so much that they feel stuck in place.

The sole is shallower than on other shoes, meaning lots of feedback. Likewise, the upper has minimal padding and is relatively flexible.

The Flatlines are comfortable and light (708g per pair, size EU 43) and provide adequate grip, but don’t have boatloads of protection.

ION Raid II shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
ION Raid II shoes have a more casual look.
Immediate Media
  • £85 as tested
  • Excellent grip
  • Secure fit

ION’s “Pin Tonic” rubber comes oh-so-close to Five Ten’s “Stealth” rubber in its grippiness – something very few shoe manufacturers manage to achieve.

The Raid IIs’ casual styling belies their technical strengths. A pre-formed heel and asymmetric shaping ensure secure fit and protection from crank knocks.

A lack of meshing or vents isn’t ideal for summer, but it makes for better splash-proofing.

Ride Concepts TNT

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Ride Concepts TNT flat pedal mountain bike shoes
The TNTs are heavier than some trail shoes but this added weight translates to added protection.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £140 / $160 / AU$300 as tested
  • D30 protection
  • Good for use off the bike too

The TNTs are Ride Concepts’ latest DH-specific flat-pedal shoes. Hardening-upon-impact D3O material is used in the insole for cushioning and on the raised inner ankle to protect from crank bashes.

The new DST 4.0 sole has fantastic grip – your feet never flinch, even if covered in slime, and the damping is as good as any of RC’s rivals. The TNTs feel marginally less locked-on than the Hellion Elites, perhaps because these more solid, heavier shoes don’t conform to the pedal platform quite as easily.

A wrap-over laces strap and the higher ankle combine to support and stabilise the foot really well, plus there’s a chunky toe bumper to fend off stray rocks and impacts.

The price tag is high and the extra weight is noticeable when pedalling, but considering the extra tech and protection, value is still decent. The TNTs also double as good trail-building shoes, with enough heft to stomp and scrape dirt without them getting wrecked.

Ride Concepts Vice flat-pedal shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Ride Concepts Vice flat-pedal mountain bike shoes
The suede finish looks great but isn’t the most weatherproof.
Andy lloyd / Immediate Media
  • £90 / $100 / AU$205 as tested
  • Decent grip and really comfy
  • Suede finish is hard to keep looking fresh

The Ride Concepts Vice shoes were developed with the brand’s dirt jump and sloe style riders, giving an idea of what these shoes are intended for.

The shoe has a hexagonal print on the sole that gives more than enough grip. The build quality of the sole is also excellent.

There is D30 material across the heel and toe, a reinforced toe bumper for protection, while metal eyelets and a tongue gusset are nice details.

These shoes might not tick all the boxes for trail or downhill riding, and the suede finish might not ideal if you ride in the wet or on muddy trails.

Shimano GR5

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Shimano GR5 flat pedal mountain bike shoes
These shoes from Shimano have a skateboarding look to them.
Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
  • £80 / $100 / AU$119 as tested
  • Grippy sole that can be used walking
  • Good breathability

Shimano’s cheapest flat shoes have a skate-style synthetic upper that saves over 100g compared to previous versions, with a reinforced, rubberised bumper to protect your toes.

The sole has a honeycomb pattern in the pedal zone and grippy ridges at each end for hiking. Shimano’s own rubber blend is adequately grippy and is incorporated into a pretty flexible midsole. This means there’s a lot of feedback from the pedals, so you know exactly what’s going on with the bike.

We prefer the grip and feel here to that of the more expensive GR9s. Traction and damping aren’t class-leading but are sufficient even in wet and muddy conditions.

The upper can bunch up when you pull the laces tight, but overall, these are lightweight, well-dialled shoes that breathe well thanks to plenty of air holes, although that makes them less suited to winter riding.

Shimano GR9 shoes

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best mountain bike shoes
The Shimano GR9 shoes have a Michelin sole.
Immediate Media
  • £120 / $160 as tested
  • Great fit thanks to Speed Lacing system
  • Michelin sole

Shimano’s GR9 shoes are packed full of technical features such as the Speed Lacing system and splash-proof cover.

The Michelin sole is grippy and flexes just enough to provide feedback through the pedals without sacrificing foot support.

They are also reasonably light at 803g for a pair of size EU 43.


Mountain bike shoe buyer’s guide

Mountain bikers have two options when it comes to footwear: clipless shoes or flats.

What shoes you choose is up to you and will depend on your choice of the best mountain bike pedals. Both types have their benefits, but picking the right type is important because different styles work better in different situations.

Which mountain bike shoes are best for you?

There’s no right or wrong answer but it’s well worth considering what type of riding you’ll mostly be doing – XC (cross-country), trails or gravity orientated – because this will influence your decision.

Flat-pedal shoes tend to be orientated towards trail, enduro and downhill riders, where feel and grip on the pedals, as well as protection, are important. Some flat-pedal shoes have soles that are stiffer than others, but none are as stiff as a dedicated cross-country shoe.

Clipless-pedal shoes come in a wider variety of forms, catering to virtually every sort of rider. They range from XC shoes, which are much like road shoes but with a little bit of tread on the soles, all the way to DH shoes that resemble their flat-pedal counterparts, save for cleat mounts.

So, what do you need to look out for?

Fit

No matter what style of shoe you choose, if they don’t fit correctly they’ll be uncomfortable and won’t perform as well as they should.

We recommend you try before you buy because everyone’s feet are different and manufacturers use different lasts to build their shoes.

Ensure there’s enough wiggle room for your toes and a decent hold on your heel for comfort and power transfer.

You should also make sure there are no hot spots or parts that dig in because these will become painful on longer days in the saddle.

Retention system

The retention system is what keeps the shoes on your feet. Laces are the traditional option, but there are alternatives.

Laces give you great control over a shoe’s feel and fit but can’t be adjusted on-the-fly and can get claggy with mud – unless they’re protected by a lace flap.

Boa systems use a ratchet dial and a wire that’s looped through the shoe’s opening for quick, easy and accurate closure and adjustment. They’re found on pricier shoes and tend to be specced to help save weight.

Velcro straps and ratchet buckles are more common and pretty rugged but weigh a bit more. They tend to come on cheaper and mid-price shoes.

Sole

The sole is key in defining how the shoe performs. XC riders will want a stiff sole that transfers every watt of power to the pedals. A stiff sole also helps when the shoe is perched on a small clipless pedal.

Pricier shoes will benefit from a light and stiff carbon sole, while cheaper ones use plastic, which is heavier and more flexible.

Trail and enduro riders tend to go one of two ways: either an XC-style shoe with more protection and a more aggressive tread or a gravity-orientated shoe with a more flexible, comfortable sole and a construction that performs better with clipless pedals that have a platform.

Generally speaking, weight and sole stiffness are of no concern to gravity-orientated riders, so they tend to go for shoes that offer plenty of pedal feel and foot protection.

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Tread pattern is also important. Some shoes offer a lightweight minimal tread, which is great for racing but will come up short if you need to run or walk anywhere while out on the trail. Others offer more grip and protection but weigh a little more as a result.