6 Best Mountain Bike Shoes in 2023

Rhys Smith
Rhys Smith on
6 Best Mountain Bike Shoes in 2023
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Getting the best MTB shoe for you is vital for a good time out on the trail. But we know that searching for a suitable pair can be baffling.

To help you find the best option for your rides, we have reviewed over 40 models of MTB shoes. Flat or clipless, cheap or premium, we’ve selected our top picks in five different categories.

And if you need more guidance on the types of MTB shoes, the various cleat and closure systems, scroll down to the guide sections below.

How we test mountain bike shoes

Unlike most top 10 lists that feature products based on popularity, RunRepeat takes pride in going the extra mile to make sure we include items on account of their performance.

Here’s what we do:

  • We are a team dedicated to immersing our waking days in the nuts and bolts of over 150 mountain bike shoes.
  • Our test encompasses all cycling brands, riding styles, and areas, from cross country to downhill and everything in between.
  • We spend an average of 7 hours per shoe to truly figure out and identify a model’s benefits and disadvantages.
  • After that’s done, each pair is given a CoreScore of a number between 0 to 100 based on its performance. The ten highest scored shoes make it to the list.

Best mountain bike shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Terra Atlas is the most versatile bike shoe from Fizik. It is a true crossover that handles all terrains and distances as well as various types of cycling adventures. Bikepacking, gravel grinding, down-country, you name it. All while remaining comfortable and flexible enough when getting off the bike. The shoe proves to be a real value for money.


  • Most versatile bike shoe
  • Balance of power transfer and comfort
  • Comfortable for long tours
  • Roomy toebox
  • Easily adjustable BOA
  • Smooth and efficient pedaling
  • Easy to clip in and out
  • Excellent grip
  • Well-made
  • Ventilated upper


  • Possible heel slips
  • Double BOA would be better
Full review of Fizik Terra Atlas

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Any color
Army (TEX5BPR1)

Best water-resistant mountain cycling shoes

Five Ten Freerider

What makes it the best?

This model is deemed the best flat MTB shoe in the market. Considered a classic in the mountain cycling arena, the Five Ten Freerider’s strongest point lies in its casual design and grippy outsole. Apart from these, its comfort, adequate rigidity, and durable construct make it ideal for both urban and mountain cyclists.


  • Grippy on dry and wet surfaces
  • Durable
  • Well-made construction
  • Worth every penny
  • Versatile use (for gravity, enduro, and trail use)
  • Stiff sole
  • Wide colorway selection
  • Added grip to flat pedal bikes


  • Loud when walking
  • Leaves rubber marks
  • Heavy
  • Takes a while to dry
Full review of Five Ten Freerider

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Any color
Hazy Yellow Wild Moss Core Black (FW2841)
black (FW28356)
Sand (FW2839)
Black (GW5443)
Red (EF6950)
black (BC0666)
Black/Grey Five/Red (BC0663)
Blue (FW2837)
More colors

Best mountain bike shoes with flat sole

What makes it the best?

The Five Ten Freerider Pro appears minimal at first glance but is reinforced and padded in all the right places. When perched on the pedals, these soles remarkably gripped tightly for a locked-in feel for a confident ride over obstacles. If you're looking for some supreme power transfer, then the rigidity of the Five Ten Freerider Pro will maximize your efforts. It's the best-looking mountain bike shoes I've seen, which makes it perfect for grabbing a beer or coffee after a ride.


  • Superb pedal grip
  • Reliable hill performance
  • Extra toe protection
  • Easy to wipe clean
  • Rigid soles
  • Stylish
  • True to size
  • Appreciated lace keeper
  • Repels moisture
  • Spacious toe box
  • Cushioned


  • Challenging to readjust
  • Uncomfortable crease on top of the shoe
  • No holster for the end of the laces
  • Not breathable
Full review of Five Ten Freerider Pro

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Any color
Grey/White/Blue (FW2824)
Black (BC0640)
Black (FW2822)
Solid Grey/Grey/Acid Mint (FX0301)
Core Black/Carbon/Wonder White (GW5442)
Black/Red (BC0638)
Solar Gold/White/Impact Orange (HQ1086)
grey three/bronze strata/core black (HQ10858)
Black/Grey (BC0646)

Best mountain bike shoes with BOA

Sidi Tiger

What makes it the best?

The shoe's signature Sidi premium quality, adjustable heel retention, fit customization, comfort, and durability all contribute to its users' satisfaction. The Sidi Tiger remains a go-to choice for riders seeking footgear that ticks most of the essential elements, especially durability, and comfort.


  • Extremely comfortable
  • Adequate power transfer
  • Well-made build
  • High-end materials
  • Lightweight
  • Protective dial closures
  • Snug heel fit
  • Appealing look
  • Adequately ventilated


  • Lack of grip
  • Lack of rigidity
Full review of Sidi Tiger

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Any color
White/Matte Black (SMSTGRWHMB)

Best value mountain bike shoes

What makes it the best?

The Sleuth DLX bike shoe symbolizes the first true collaboration between Adidas and Five Ten. The shoe's design is based on the classic Adidas Samba, while its technical features and functions are backed up by Five Ten's know-how. The result is a comfortable, efficient, and good-looking bike shoe.


  • Sneaker-like design
  • Excellent grip on pedals
  • Efficient power transfer
  • Great walkability
  • High quality
  • Water-resistant
  • Cheaper than average


  • Quite difficult to clean
  • Tongue lacks padding
  • Lack of protective toe cap
Full review of Five Ten Sleuth DLX

Today's best price

Any color
Grey (BC0659)
Core Black/Carbon/Wonder White (GY5127)
Black (EG4614)
Brown (FX4440)
Grey Three/Clear Grey/Collegiate Nav (G26491)
Black/Grey/Gold (BC0780)

Comparison of the 6 best mountain bike shoes

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Users rating
Best price
# of colorways

Why wear mountain bike shoes?

A lot of mountain cyclists mistakenly think that wearing grippy skate shoes is enough for riding the rugged trails of the mountain. However, this could cause serious injuries in the long run, among other things.

MTB vs skate shoes.png

In instances like light trail cycling or BMX riding, skate shoes can be enough. But if you aim to improve on your skills or simply to have more efficient, safe, more fun on the bike, mountain bike shoes are best.

How do MTB shoes work?

Mountain bike shoes are designed from top to bottom to withstand rigorous cycling outdoors. Most of them display a rugged exterior to match the trails.

  • The upper is especially designed to prevent injuries by using impact-resistant and long-lasting materials. 
  • Perforation details also help keep the foot feeling cool during warmer weather.
  • Flat and quite pliable soles provide hike-a-bike comfort and prevent foot ailments
  • Excellent traction keeps you upright in slippery areas.
  • A rigid sole and cleats on XC shoes ensure efficient transmission of power to the pedal, and prevent foot slip

Choosing your ideal mountain cycling shoes (5 steps)

Following the 5 steps below can make your search easier and quicker.

  • Consider your cycling activity
  • Choose the pedal type
  • Select a suitable closure system
  • Figure out the appropriate stiffness level
  • Test for the most ideal fit

1. Type of mountain cycling you plan on doing

Your activity and purpose are the first crucial point you need to figure out as there are plenty of MTB shoes for different mountain biking. Below are the primary MTB activities.




Cross country.png


(model: Shimano S-Phyre XC901)

Cross-country (or XC) shoes stray away from beefy design. They are characterized by the following:

  • Minimalist and lightweight upper design
  • Stiffer soles for maximum power transfer
  • Often compromise foot protection for lighter weight
  • Aren’t comfortable for long hike-a-bikes


All mountain - trail.png


(model: Specialized 2FO ClipLite)

With All-Mountain riding’s long hours in the trail and a lot of hike-a-biking and descents, these shoes have:

  • Relatively flexible soles for outstanding walkability
  • Excellent traction
  • Moderate impact protection
  • Relatively lightweight




(model: Five Ten Kestrel Pro BOA)

Enduro cycling entails pedaling uphill but focuses more on the descents. With this, shoes tend to be:

  • Bulkier and heavier due to excellent foot protection
  • Relatively lighter than Gravity shoes


Gravity - downhill.png


(model: Five Ten Hellcat Pro)

This activity focuses mainly on cycling down the mountains as fast as possible. Shoes for this endeavor have:

  • Relatively stiff soles for efficient pedaling
  • Adequate flex for walkable comfort
  • Excellently protective upper design


Casual - commutepng.png


(model: Five Ten Sleuth)

With the rise of casual cycling or commuting via bike, specialized footwear are also on the rise. Casual cycling shoes:

  • Look like sneakers
  • Don’t have much technical features
  • Have better durability and sole stiffness than everyday beaters

2. Pedal choice

Cyclists can choose between clipless and flat MTB shoes. Both types have advantages and disadvantages and deciding which one is better lies solely on your personal preferences.

Here’s the difference between the two.


SPD Clipless (2-holes)


SPD clipless.png


  • Easy planting of foot on the ground when needed
  • More natural walking experience
  • Foot placement on the pedal can be altered whenever
  • Secure pedal connection
  • Promotes direct power transfer
  • Most leg muscles are being used, preventing long-term injuries


  • Pedaling slips are possible, which could cause injuries
  • Weak power transfer compare to clipless
  • Fewer leg muscles being activated
  • Spontaneous foot planting isn’t possible, making crashes a bit more daunting for newbies
  • Walking could feel less natural
  • Mud build-up in the cleat area can cause problems
  • Can be loud and cause damage on the floor when indoors

3. Closure System

Mountain cycling involves rough trails, mud, and unpredictable bumps, chafing, and impacts. These scenarios should be considered in choosing which lockdown mechanism to go for.



Velcro straps





  • Lightweight
  • Tried and tested design
  • Cheap and easy to replace
  • Fit adjustment while on the bike
  • Lightweight
  • cheap
  • Incremental adjustments for most accurate fit
  • Replaceable
  • Mid-ride fit adjustment


  • Fit can’t be adjusted mid-ride
  • Laces can go loose and get caught in the bike
  • Velcro can loose grip over time
  • Not all shoes provide replaceable strap parts
  • Most expensive to replace
  • Not as available as the other two closure systems
  • Parts have a big chance to break while in the trail
  • Mud can get stuck in it

Sometimes brands also use 2-3 closure systems in one model to provide the most ideal fit and variety.

4. Outsole material and rigidity

While upper materials are also crucial in mountain cycling (level of protection and breathability), this guide will focus more on the outsole design. 

The two factors that led me to choose outsole instead are the difficulty to quantify and that, essentially, the upper's protection depends upon the shoe's purpose (which is seen above). Also, MTB shoes are already generally protective in nature.

Now that’s out of the way, back to the outsole material. One key factor to look out for in the sole material is its stiffness level.

Sole materials and stiffness.png

Note that these units are measured generally, meaning not all shoes with a specific material have the exact rigidity level stated above.

5. Find the right fit

Getting the correct fit can make or break your cycling experience. Here is the tried-and tested advice you can follow to get the most ideal fitting MTB shoes:

  • When you’re going to try out a pair, schedule it in the afternoon. Human feet are known to swell as the day passes. This practice will accommodate that swelling.
  • Wear the usual socks you regularly use. This way, the fit will really be accurate.
  • Walk around with the shoes on and sit on a bench and mimick the motion of pedaling. Pay close attention to your feet while doing these. Make sure there are no pressure points, rubbing, or digging.
  • If you do a lot of hike-a-biking, be mindful of the sole stiffness while walking.
  • Pay close attention to how your heel fits in the shoe, especially when choosing XC shoes. The heel should fit in nicely and the shoe should hold it firmly.

Top MTB shoe brands

The brands included in this section are the ones with the best-rated mountain bike shoe models. Learn more about each company’s unique offering and strength in the table below:



five ten.png

Five Ten or 5 10 MTB shoes are very popular for their grippy outsoles. Mountain bikers who are into flat pedal MTB shoes are the company’s main market.

Their footwear displays a sneaker/skate shoe aesthetic that most cyclists love. Check out their best-selling classic Five Ten Freerider.


Giro’s MTB shoe category houses both sneaker-looking and road shoe-looking options. What stays the same is their signature sleek and minimally designed uppers.

The company is also credited for bringing back lace-up cycling shoes to the market.


Shimano’s MTB shoes include all types of mountain cycling. From cross-country ro enduro and all-mountain, they have it.

The company also collaborates with Michelin in creating grippy MTB shoe rubber outsoles.


Sidi’s mainly known for their superbly crafted bike shoes - Sidi MTB shoes are no different.

Apart from the excellent quality, some of the brand’s well-loved footwear features are the Sidi heel cup for excellent foothold and serviceable parts for practicality and longevity.

Can mountain bike shoes be used for spinning?

Simple answer: Yes, but not all.

Most indoor cycling or Spin studios employ indoor bikes with SPD (2-hole) cleat pedals. And since MTB shoes also come with the same cleat design, indoor cyclists can choose to wear an MTB shoe for their studio time.

However, one thing to check is if the MTB shoe is too rigid. Spinning doesn’t require much stiffness. In fact, the more flexible ones are recommended to keep walking around the studio comfortable.

You can check out this in-depth indoor cycling shoe guide to learn more about how to choose your ideal Spin shoes.

Rhys Smith
Rhys Smith

Rhys is an expert in all things cycling and bicycles who at a young age pursued the dream of becoming a professional cyclist by racing for a French and then Belgian road racing team at the Elite level. He is heavily involved in the cycling scene and runs one of Australia’s highest-rated online bicycle parts stores. He’s THE expert when it comes to testing cycling shoes.