When it comes to pedals and accompanying footwear, mountain bikers usually fall into one of two distinct camps – flat or clipless. While both choices have merits, flats are better for honing proper riding technique and let you enjoy riding freedoms that clipless pedals and shoes do not.
If you ride flat pedals, you need some shoes. Here’s what we reckon are the five best flat mountain bike shoes on the market…
The AM7s are great all-rounders for use at any time of the year. The lace covers not only give your feet protection, but do a decent job of fending off splashes too. There’s also a Velcro ankle strap to help keep the shoes securely in place.
While the soles are pretty stiff and durable giving you a solid pedalling platform. They are not as sticky as the Five Tens or the Adidas shoes below – so are better suited to foot shufflers rather than those who prefer for a really planted feel. Pedal feedback is decent though and the price is not too hefty either.
Best price £73.49
Specialised 2FO Flat
These rugged trail shoes are best suited to summer riding, as while masses of ventilation holes keep you feet cool, they also let in a load of water.
The soles are some of the stiffest we’ve tried on a flat shoe and they really boost your pedaling efficiency. On the flipside, this stiffness means that pedal feedback is minimal though. Pedal grip is pretty good considering how stiff the soles are, and the solidly made uppers give you plenty of foot protection.
Best price £90
Five Ten Freerider Contact
Sporting Five Ten’s top of the line Mi6 rubber soles (developed for the Mission Impossible 6 film), these shoes have massive levels of pedal grip. The soles are completely flat around the pedal area which allows you to more easily adjust your foot position if you need to, the soles are also reasonably stiff but still give pedal feedback.
The shoe is vegan-friendly, comfortable, provides good arch support and has stiff rubber toe cap to fend off rock strikes. Our favourite flat shoe.
Best price £98.49
Five Ten Impact VXi
Regarded by many as the ultimate flat pedal shoe, the Impact VXi has won many a group test. It’s a chunkier shoe with a slightly wider fit than the Freeride Impact and also a touch heavier. The Impact’s uppers are pretty weather resistant, which makes them a great choice for muckier conditions, and they provide plenty of foot protection.
The standout feature of this shoe though, is the unparalleled level of pedal grip. Like the Freeride Contacts, the Impacts’ soles use Five Ten’s ultra-sticky Mi6 rubber but without a flat section. The continuous dotted tread pattern means there’s always something for your pedal pins to hook in to. In fact, your shoes feel so locked in, it’s almost like riding clipless.
Best price £102.09
Adidas Trail Cross Protect
If you’re after a trail shoe that gives maximum foot protection, then Adidas’ Trail Cross Protect is the one for you. The padded Velcro ankle strap, solid toe boot and chunky sole do a great job of defending your feet from pretty much anything the trail can throw at them. That said, while the ripstop uppers do a good job of fending off splashes, they are not fully waterproof.
Adidas own Five Ten, so you also get super-grippy Five Ten rubber in Adidas’ flat MTB shoes. It’s not quite as sticky as the Mi6 variety on the Five Ten shoes above though.
Best price £98.95