When I first started to ride a mountain bike, the first shoes that I had were Vans shoes. I was very naive at that time and did not know if it was essential to have mountain bike shoes. Months have passed, I have tried trailing. Vans or other shoes aren’t working well. I asked myself if I should buy mountain bike shoes. However, are mountain bike shoes worth it? Let’s see!
Are mountain bike shoes worth it? If the pedals on your mountain bike are flat, you don’t need mountain biking shoes. But you will need mountain biking shoes if you want clipless pedals. No matter what kind of pedals you use, mountain biking shoes can improve your experience by giving you more support, grip, and protection.
Some people try to use their hiking, skating, or even tennis shoes for mountain biking, but they miss out on the most important benefits of mountain biking shoes.
5 Benefits Of Using Mountain Bike Shoes
Even though your running shoes are light and comfortable for running around town, they don’t offer much protection when mountain biking.
Mountain biking can put your feet in dangerous places, and you don’t want something thin to protect your foot if it gets hit by a rock. Some shoes protect both the toe box and the ankle, so you can stay on the trails longer and have more fun.
Some shoes also have neoprene sleeves around the ankle to keep small rocks and dirt from getting into low-cut shoes. Even though most blisters are not life-threatening, they do make riding less fun.
Also, they are much better at keeping water and mud out than regular shoes, which would soak through quickly and ruin your ride.
At first glance, mountain biking shoes may look like skate shoes, but they have a key difference that is hard to see until you get your hands (or feet) on them: they are stiffer.
By not making the foot do all the work, stiff shoes put less stress on the foot. This helps a lot on long rides or when going downhill.
Mountain biking shoes are made to give your feet a lot of support. Your feet will appreciate the extra support, whether you’re going for big air or just riding trails for the day.
Better Power Transfer
We all like that mountain biking is good for our health, but that doesn’t mean we need to work harder than we have to. When you push hard on the pedals, any give in the sole of your shoe makes it harder for your power to get to the bike.
Let’s say you push with 100% force, but your tennis shoes are so soft that they absorb 10% of that power before it gets to the pedal. You just lost 10% of the power you were putting out. This means you’ll have to do more work to get the same ride.
Because they are stiff, mountain biking shoes stop this loss of power. Also, clipless pedals can give you more power because you can both push and pull on them.
The most obvious benefit of mountain biking shoes is that they give you a better grip. Similar to the previous benefit, you want to spend as much time as you can making sure your hard work pays off.
More energy is lost the longer your foot slides around on the pedal. The soles of mountain biking shoes are made to give you the best grip on your pedals. Normal shoes just can’t compete with these.
Some people think that a hiking shoe or a Vibram-style shoe will have the same level of grip. The bad news is that they’re wrong.
Even though the material of these shoes may have a similar coefficient of friction, or grip, as mountain biking shoes, they don’t have the same tread patterns. The posts on your pedals are made of metal, so your mountain biking shoes are made to hook onto them.
Not having enough grip can also be dangerous. You don’t want your foot to slip off a pedal as you go downhill or whip around a berm!
When getting new gear, the price is always a factor. But have you ever thought that buying mountain bike shoes might save you money in the long run?
Let’s say you want to ride your bike in your running shoes. Most likely, you’ll be able to ride just fine, but your shoes will take a beating.
Normal shoes were not made to handle all the dirt, dust, and wear and tear from the pedals. The next thing you know, your $120 running shoes that were supposed to last a year are worn out after only one month.
You shouldn’t buy new shoes just to ruin them again. Instead, you should buy a pair of shoes made just for mountain biking.
How Much Do Mountain Bike Shoes Cost?
Mountain biking shoes have a wide range of prices, just like all other gear. I thought it would be more interesting to look at the prices at a national chain store than to list a wide range of prices.
Choosing a store with stores all over the country helps level out the price differences between regions.
I went to our old friend REI and looked at all 67 of the mountain biking shoes they sell online. Here are the conclusions of this study.
- The average price of a mountain bike shoe is $135.81
- $284.93 is the most expensive shoe for mountain biking.
- $44.83 is the least expensive mountain bike shoe.
I’ll admit that I was a little surprised to learn that mountain biking shoes at REI cost an average of $135.81. Before I did any calculations, I thought the average would be around $100.
Even though this number isn’t cheap, it’s not too far from the average price of running shoes these days (around $115).
When you think about how much more material is needed to make mountain biking shoes and how few companies make them, it starts to look like a better and better deal.
Types Of Mountain Bike Shoes
Most people who are new to mountain biking start out with shoes with flat pedals. If you have never been on a road bike before, the thought of being strapped into the pedal can make you feel scared.
Shoes with flat pedals just sit on top of the pedal and grip the metal pins that stick up. Their flat bottoms are covered in sticky rubber and have a tread that makes it easier to hold on to the pedal.
Because there is no physical connection, it is easy to put your foot down quickly or throw out your leg if you need to while making a sharp turn.
Flat shoes are also a great way to improve your riding technique because they take away the “crutch” of being physically attached to your pedals. This is especially helpful for people who are just starting to ride.
If you want to focus on trail, downhill, or dirt jump biking, flat shoes might be a better choice for you. Some riders use them because they like how they feel and how well they grip the pedals.
Mountain biking shoes with clipless pedals have a cleat on the bottom that fits into the pedal. This binding is like a ski boot in that you step your foot in and it holds your foot in place while you ride. The best thing about clipless bindings is that they let you make more power.
Their increased stiffness also helps power get from one place to another. High-end models even use carbon fiber to make this stiff, but this makes the price go up a lot.
Even among clipless shoes, there is a wide range in how stiff they are because they are used for so many different things. Cross-country shoes tend to be the stiffest, which makes them hard to walk in. On the other hand, clipless shoes for downhill will look a lot like their flat pedal counterparts.
Why Are Clipless Pedals Called Clipless?
In the early days of cycling, riders would slip their toes into small baskets on the pedals to improve their grip. “Toe clips” was the name for these. Once step-in attachments were made to hold the foot in place, the toe clip was no longer needed. And that’s how clipless pedals came to be.
Can You Mountain Bike With Normal Shoes?
The short answer is yes, you can mountain bike with normal shoes, and most of the time, normal shoes will be fine. But there are a lot of bad things about riding without shoes made for mountain biking. How much these things affect your riding will depend on the shoes you wear, your level of skill, the terrain you ride on, and how often you ride.
First, some shoes are better than others and are more like shoes for mountain biking. Read on to see a more in-depth discussion of this topic.
Your skill level is the second most important thing. The more skilled you are, the more riding in normal shoes will slow you down. Mountain biking is a sport that costs a lot of money to get into. So if you’re just starting out and buying things like a bike and a helmet, you don’t have to buy bike-specific shoes right away.
Lastly, the terrain and how often you ride will have a big impact on how soon you should get a pair of shoes made for mountain biking. Mountain biking is hard on shoes, and if you do it a lot, you will find that your shoes don’t last as long. Normal shoes usually get torn up by MTB pedals because the pins and grooves tear up the soft rubber that normal shoes are made of.
Also, it can be hard to ride on rough terrain if you can’t get enough grip on the pedals. If you ride on rough terrain, a pair of mountain bike shoes will help you a lot!
So, to conclude, are mountain bike shoes worth the money? They are, yes. They send more power to the pedals, give you a better grip on the pedals, protect you more, and last longer than regular shoes.
But if you are just starting out and don’t have much money, you can get by without them if you already have a good pair of shoes. You won’t have as good of a time on the bike as you would with the right shoes, but at least you’ll be able to start, and that’s what’s important. Time on the bike is everything!