(Last Updated On: April 23, 2021)
If you’re riding flat pedals, the best option is to wear flat-soled Skate Shoes For Mountain Biking. These have extremely stiff soles and a tacky rubber sole that allows the metal pins in the pedals to bite into the ground, providing incredible grip even on the most rugged terrain.
If you’re riding clipless pedals, you’ll need biking shoes with cleats that click into the pedal mechanism, securing your shoe to the pedal until it’s released. Those new to riding will most likely be using flat pedals and decide which of their existing shoes are best suited for this sport. This is not ideal, as it can result in various complications when riding difficult mountain bike trails – but we’ll get to that in a moment. That is an excellent question! You may believe that a pair of skate shoes, or even running shoes, or other sneakers would suffice – after all, the bike’s tyres are rolling down the trail – it’s not as if we’re running.
However, there are some drawbacks to that. To begin, multiple forces are at work here. Consider how your shoes will want to fold over the pedals as you stand on the pedals, up off the seat, and descend some gnarly downhill trail – with your weight and the chunky terrain and obstacles moving the bikes in multiple directions, your shoes will want to fold over the pedal. If you’re riding down a five-minute trail, that’s perfectly acceptable. However, if you’re planning on mountain biking for a couple of hours, that’s a different storey! Your feet will be in the chaos following a vigorous riding session.
Additionally, if you attempt to use your running shoes with a cutout sole specifically for running, the sole will not mesh well with the wide square of metal grip pins. A lack of grip between your feet and the bike is detrimental. Your pedals and grips are the two most critical points of contact on the bike when navigating technical terrain, fast descents, and a variety of other potentially dangerous adventures on a mountain bike! Having your foot (or potentially both!) instantly lose contact with your pedal during a particularly intense moment on the trail almost always results in a bad time.
The short answer is yes, you can, and riding in normal shoes will suffice for the majority of the time. There are, however, numerous disadvantages to riding without mountain bike-specific footwear. The extent to which these factors affect your riding will vary according to the type of shoes you’re wearing, your skill level, the terrain you’re riding, and how much you ride. To begin, some shoes are superior to others and more closely resemble mountain bike shoes. Continue reading the article for a more in-depth discussion of this. Your skill level is the second critical factor. The more advanced your skill level, the more riding in standard shoes will limit you. Mountain biking is a prohibitively expensive sport to enter. Therefore, if you’re a beginner purchasing other gear such as a bike and helmet, it’s acceptable to save up for some bike-specific shoes.
Finally, the terrain and amount of riding will dictate how quickly you should acquire a pair of MTB-specific shoes. Mountain biking is hard on shoes, and if you ride frequently, you will notice that your shoes do not last as long as they should. MTB pedals tend to shred standard shoes as the pins and groves rip up the soft rubber used in standard shoes.
Additionally, riding on rough terrain can be challenging if you lack the necessary pedal grip, so if you ride on rough terrain, a pair of mountain bike shoes will come in handy!
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of mountain bike shoes and why you should consider saving up for a pair. Mountain bike shoes offer numerous benefits and elevate your riding to a new level while also increasing your confidence on the trails.
The stiffness of the shoe is one of the most noticeable differences between regular and MTB shoes. When you flex the sole of an MTB shoe, you’ll notice that it’s somewhat stiffer than the sole of a regular shoe. Stiff shoes transfer more power to the bike when pedalling, which is extremely beneficial on those long climbs! Additionally, it makes riding much more comfortable. The shoe keeps your foot aligned with the pedals and prevents your foot from twisting and flexing as you descend.
Durability is another critical factor to consider when deciding whether to purchase a pair of mountain bike shoes. Regrettably, mountain bike pedals frequently destroy regular shoes. The pins and grooves mostly cause it on the pedals. These are required to keep your feet on the pedals, as the soft rubber on regular shoes quickly wears away. Thus, while normal shoes are acceptable for a short period, if you want them to last, I would recommend investing in a pair of MTB shoes as soon as possible.
- Sustain & Grip
Mountain biking places your foot in some unusual positions and requires you to use muscles you wouldn’t normally use. The shoes feature stiff soles and uppers that help keep your foot centred on the pedals.
Mountain bike shoes are also constructed with a unique rubber compound that provides maximum grip on the pedals. The rubber on the sole is extremely sticky, and because they are designed for mountain biking, the pedal pins do not chew up the shoe like they do with regular shoes. Protection MTB-specific shoes also feature a sturdier, thicker upper, which protects your feet from flying rocks and anything else you may clip while out on the trails. Nobody enjoys discussing it, but the added protection comes in handy if you take a spill off the bike. If your foot does become entangled in the bike or something similar, you will appreciate the added protection. It does not occur frequently, and thus you can continue to wear normal shoes.
- Pedals Without Clips
The final reason you should consider purchasing a pair of specific mountain bike shoes is that they enable you to purchase a pair of clipless mountain bike shoes. This will require the purchase of a new set of pedals, which will add to the cost. If you’re just getting started, clipless pedals are unnecessary; instead, opt for a pair of flat mountain bike shoes. You should only go clipless if you are confident and prepared for the change.
The First Benefit Of Mountain Biking Shoes Is Protection
While tennis shoes are ideal for running around town, they provide very little protection when mountain biking. Your feet can be extremely exposed while mountain biking, and you don’t want anything too flimsy protecting them in case they get smashed against a rock. Certain shoes protect both the toe box and ankle, allowing you to enjoy the trails for longer.
Additionally, some shoes include neoprene sleeves around the ankle to keep dirt and small rocks out of your low cut shoe. While the majority of blisters are not life-threatening, they do diminish the enjoyment of riding. Additionally, they are far more effective at repelling water and mud than standard shoes, which would quickly soak through and ruin your ride.
Benefit #2 Of Mountain Biking Shoes – Support
Mountain biking shoes may look similar to some skate shoes at first glance, but they have a significant difference that is difficult to notice until you get your hands (or feet) on the – stiffness. Stiff shoes alleviate stress on the foot by removing the need to perform all of the work. This is especially beneficial on long rides or descents. Mountain biking shoes incorporate incredible foot support. Whether you’re chasing big air or simply cruising through the woods for the day, your feet will appreciate the added support.
Benefit #3 Of Mountain Biking Shoes – Improved Power Transfer
While we all appreciate the fitness benefits of mountain biking, this does not mean we should work harder than necessary! When you’re pedalling hard, any amount of giving in the sole of the shoe results in a loss of power transfer. Assume you’re pushing with 100% of your strength, but your cushioned tennis shoe absorbs 10% of that energy before transferring it to the pedal. You’ve just lost 10% of your effective output power! That means you’ll be exerting additional effort to complete the same ride. Mountain biking shoes’ stiffness prevents this loss of power. Additionally, clipless pedals can help you generate more power by allowing you to push and pull the pedals.
Benefit #4 Of Mountain Biking Shoes – Grip
The most obvious benefit of mountain biking shoes is increased grip. As with benefit #3, you want to spend as much time as possible ensuring that your hard work pays off! The longer your foot slid around the pedal; the more energy was lost. Mountain biking shoes are engineered to provide the maximum amount of grip on your pedals. On this front, ordinary shoes cannot compete.
Certain individuals believe that a hiking or Vibram-type shoe will provide an equivalent level of grip. Regrettably, for them, they are incorrect. While the material used in these shoes has a similar coefficient of friction, they do not feature the same tread patterns as mountain biking shoes. Mountain biking shoes are designed to attach to your pedals’ metal posts. The inadequate grip can also be a safety hazard. You do not want your foot to slip off a pedal as you cruise downhill or whip around a berm!
Benefit #5 Of Mountain Biking Shoes – Durability
Cost is always a consideration when purchasing new equipment. However, have you considered that investing in mountain bike shoes may save you money over time? Assume you intend to ride in your running shoes. While you will most likely be able to ride normally, your shoes will take a beating! The dirt, dust, and wear and tear caused by the pedals are not intended for regular shoes. The next thing you know, your $120 pair of running shoes that were supposed to last a year have worn out in less than a month! Rather than purchasing new shoes only to ruin them again, you’re better off investing in a pair of dedicated mountain bike shoes.
Mountain biking shoes are similar to other types of shoes in that they have an outsole, a midsole, and an upper, but they are designed differently to aid you in different environments.
The shank is the midsole component made of carbon fibre (lighter and more expensive) or plastic (heavier and more affordable) that transfers power from the shoe to the pedal. The stiffer the shank, the less flex there is and the more difficult it is to walk in the shoe. If your rides include hike-a-bike sections, climbing, and pushing uphill, consider a less concerned shoe concerned with power transfer (ultra-stiff) and more concerned with versatility. Certain manufacturers have struck a balance with composite midsoles that provide excellent power transfer without adding excessive weight.
Insoles: Mountain bike insoles should be comfortable, efficient at transferring power from of the foot to the pedal, and secure the heel to avoid rubbing. Numerous shoes include a ready-to-ride EVA insole. Because you may be walking more on a mountain bike than you do on a road bike, comfort takes precedence over overweight. Insoles are critical components of any performance shoe, as they aid in the translation of the foot’s small muscles into power and control.
Outsole: The outsole features will vary depending on your riding style and whether you require traction. These variables contribute to achieving the optimal balance of traction, durability, power transfer, and weight.
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