How To Fit Mountain Bike Shoes

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You might have been riding the trails in your trainers or haven’t been comfortable in previous pairs of mountain bike shoes. Here are some tips on how to find mountain bike shoes that fit perfectly. 

When you’re out on trails or tough terrain on your mountain bike, your kit should help you to perform better. Mountain bike shoes are no different. As well as keeping your feet warm, dry and comfortable, mountain bike shoes should give you enough grip and protection to provide top riding performance in any conditions. Safety and impact protection are key considerations to think about when picking your perfect pair.

What are mountain bike shoes?

Mountain bike shoes are specially designed footwear giving riders the extra features they need to perform effectively off-road. Weatherproofing, grippy soles, impact protection and durable materials are some of the key features that are found in mountain bike shoes. 

Grip is particularly important for mountain bike riders who need to keep their feet on the pedals on bumpy terrain or tough weather conditions. Depending on the type of bike a rider has, there are two main shoe options that they can choose from: flat-sole and clipless (otherwise known as cleated) shoes. 

While flat sole shoes can be used on any type of pedal, clipless shoes have cleats that are recessed into the shoe and fix into the pedal to keep a rider’s feet in place. Flat sole shoes are a common choice for beginners, while clipless shoes are typically used by more experienced mountain bikers. 

D3O® impact protection is found in top mountain bike shoe brands like Adidas Five Ten and Ride Concepts to meet the safety requirements of riders. For all disciplines of mountain biking, including downhill, enduro, cross-country or trail, it’s important to be as protected as possible while riding and in the event of a crash or fall. 

What are the benefits of mountain bike shoes?

Although you might have used sports or other types of cycling shoes to ride your mountain bike in the past, the specific features of mountain bike shoes give riders particular benefits when they’re hurtling over tracks and trails, including: 

  • Greater levels of grip. As you’re putting power through your pedals over bumpy and difficult terrain, a slippery or misplaced foot can lead to falls and injuries. The soles of mountain bike shoes are designed to give optimum grip, even in wet or muddy conditions to avoid these types of accidents from happening. Clipless shoes allow riders to fix their feet into place, meaning they can put lots of force through the pedal without worrying about slipping off. 
  • Increased protection. Mountain bike shoes are made with riders in mind, and are able to take on the challenges of the trails. To reduce the risk of injury in a fall, as well as ride chatter fatigue and general wear and tear on your feet, the best mountain bike shoes are equipped with D3O® padding for a more comfortable ride. They’ll also keep your feet and ankles safe from rocks and debris that fly up while you’re riding, reducing the risk of bumps and bruises. D3O® protected Five Ten Trailcross Mid Pro shoes are a prime example of strategically placed padding.
  • Materials, fit and closure. As well as slipping off the pedal, a foot slipping around in a shoe can put huge strain on riders’ feet. Properly fitted mountain bike shoes can help feet stay stable on the pedal without causing discomfort, blisters, or fatigue. Choosing a shoe with an ankle gaiter, lace flap cover or dial twist closure will also help keep mud and water out for a lighter and more comfortable ride.
  • Maximum pedal power. Whatever style of mountain biking you do, you want to be able to give it your all. To prevent your legs and feet getting tired with excessive trail chatter, or the balls of your feet from taking a hammering on the pedals, choosing a mountain bike shoe with impact protection padding will bring you comfort, stability and all-day riding performance. The Ride Concepts range of mountain bike shoes features D3O impact protection in the heel and ball of foot, a unique feature to help improve ride comfort and injury prevention.
  • Durable and weather-resistant. Dirt, rain, sun and wind can all cause wear and tear to normal trainers or standard cycling shoes. The materials used for mountain bike shoes protect riders’ feet from any extreme weather and off-road conditions, so they’re always comfortable and can keep riding for longer. 

How should mountain bike shoes fit?

To make sure your mountain bike shoes stay comfortable for many hours out on the trails, it's key that you find the right option in the ideal size. To prevent your feet from slipping in the shoe and give them plenty of support, mountain bike shoes should have a close, snug fit. Remember they will stretch over time so a tighter fit at the start is what you should be looking for, but always try your shoes on, if possible with the help of a mountain bike store expert. 

Keep the width of the shoe as well as the length in mind, as some shoes are narrower than regular sizes. Checking the level of cushioning will also help you to understand how much ‘give’ there is in the shoes you’re choosing. If you’re considering clipless shoes, make sure the position of the cleat is on the ball of your foot - this will help you ride with maximum power and stay comfortable for as long as possible. 

How to find the right mountain bike shoes

To choose the right mountain bike shoes for your needs, the first decision you need to make is whether you’d prefer a flat sole or clipless pair. If you’ve just started mountain biking, then flat soles will give you plenty of grip without fixing your feet. Clipless shoes allow advanced riders to produce maximum force and tackle more challenging rides without risk of feet slipping off the pedals, but can take a bit of practice with clipping and unclipping when you dismount! 

Once you’ve chosen whether you prefer flat sole or clipless shoes, you need to weigh up the different features of any available options. The level of impact protection and weatherproofing, durability and foot support that each pair provides all need to be considered before you make your final decision. Whatever pair you choose, be sure to check the level of impact protection included within the shoes to help guarantee you a safer ride in the long term, protecting your feet and ankles again and again. Maintain optimum riding performance for as long as possible when you choose the perfect pair of mountain bike shoes.