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8 Reasons Why Mountain Bike Shoes Are Worth The Price


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Mountain bike shoes play an important role in biking. Getting a good pair is worth spending more money on. There are many benefits to having the correct shoes on the trails. Here are 8 reasons why you should consider paying more for quality mountain bike shoes.

Improved Power Transfer

Stiff soles found on many mountain bike shoes enable more power transfer into the pedals. The stiff bottoms do not bend or flex when pedaling hard. This leads a rider to get more power from each pedal stroke on the trail. More expensive shoes tend to use materials like carbon fiber to maximize stiffness. The result is better pedaling efficiency and speed when riding over rough terrain.

Riders who pay extra for stiff soles report feeling less foot fatigue. Their feet do not have to work as hard stabilizing on soft soles during technical sections. Pedaling in inefficient floppy shoes often leads to sore feet by the end of a ride. Upgrading to properly stiff mountain bike shoes can make a big difference in power and comfort.

Increased Traction and Control

Quality mountain bike shoes also have better traction and control for hiking and walking sections. The bottoms grip pedals better for efficient power transfer. But they also stick well to slippery trail surfaces when off the bike. Different tread patterns and rubber compounds help create this needed grip and traction.

More traction keeps a rider safer and more confident when walking over roots or rocks along the way. Some high end mountain bike shoes even have aggressive spikes near the toe for extra grip. Better traction leads to better bike control when hopping over objects or quickly putting a foot down. Paying extra for shoes with good grip and traction enhances performance and safety.

Keep Feet Cool and Dry

Another benefit of upgraded mountain bike shoes is better ventilation and moisture wicking abilities. Cheap bike shoes tend to trap heat and sweat leading to very hot, soggy feet. But more expensive shoes use advanced materials and design features to keep feet cool and dry even during intense riding.

Some models have lots of mesh panels or small holes for maximum airflow. Others incorporate moisture wicking linings to pull sweat away from feet. And some designs integrate channels inside the sole to allow air to flow under the foot. Keeping feet cool and moisture-free provides comfort over long days riding on the trails. Paying for quality shoes delivers much needed ventilation and dryness during activity.

Protect Against Impact

Mountain bike shoes also protect feet against hard impacts out on the aggressive trails. Unexpected crashes and bumpy terrain can lead to bruised and battered feet in regular shoes. Quality mountain bike shoes have reinforced toe caps and disruptive cushioning systems. These components shield the feet while also absorbing shock and vibration.

Toe caps guard against rock and root strikes when putting a foot down at speed. The reinforced protection prevents broken toes and cracked nails in crashes. Multi-density midsoles cushion landings off big drops and hits to the pedals from below. Paying more for this impact protection can prevent injury when the inevitable crashes happen. It also reduces foot fatigue from trail chatter and bump forces making the ride more enjoyable start to finish.

Optimized Fit and Adjustability

An optimized fit also makes mountain bike shoes worth the investment for most riders. Cheap bike shoes tend to have a sloppy loose fit with little adjustment possibility. This leads to rubbing, sliding, and a lack of control when riding technical trails. But dialed in fit is crucial for power transfer, comfort and injury prevention over long days.

Quality mountain bike shoes incorporate advanced closure systems to customize fit. Many have straps, dials, and laces so each area can be independently tuned. A rider dials in the perfect fit for their individual foot shape. No sliding, no pressure points or hot spots. Some models also have heat moldable linings allowing custom molding for ultimate lock down support. Paying more allows dialing in the shoes for maximum performance and comfort run after run.

Improve Safety and Confidence

The right mountain bike shoes provide a feeling of control and confidence tackling hairy lines. Poorly fitted, slick shoes often lead to sketchy riding as feet slide around inside. This forces a rider to tip toe instead of attacking the terrain. But shoes offering optimized traction, control and stability encourage confident charging no matter how rough the trails get.

The security of shoes sticking to pedals and the ground allow calmly looking ahead instead of staring at the next step. Dialed impact protection reduces anxiety about smashing feet or toes leading to more focus on the fun riding. And shoes fitting like a glove provide assurance nothing will slip or slide around unexpectedly. Quality mountain bike shoes supply this added feeling of safety for improved skills, faster learning and big smiles.

Enhance Long Term Durability

Upgraded shoes also enhance longevity saving money over time. Bargain shoes tend to fall apart quickly from hard off-road use. They fail at the seams, liners pack out, and soles come unglued after only weeks on the trail. Continually buying cheap shoes adds up. But quality mountain bike shoes stand up to abuse using solid construction and premium components.

Many premium shoes boast seamless welded uppers eliminating potential failure points. Supportive lasting linings and molded heels maintain their shape resisting packing out. And many incorporate replaceable spikes, shanks, and rails extending usable life even more. While the up front cost seems high, properly constructed shoes save money down the road through enhanced toughness and durability season after season.

Promote Foot Health

Finally, dialed mountain bike shoes also promote long term foot health. Poor fitting, unsupportive shoes often lead to various overuse issues over time. Common problems like plantar fasciitis, neuromas, metatarsalgia and blisters can onset from years in inadequate kicks. But ergonomically designed, supportive mountain bike shoes protect feet against chronic injuries.

Many quality models carefully contour to natural foot shapes keeping alignment intact. Supportive arches and ankle pockets prevent over pronation preventing neuromas. Shock absorbing heels and forefeet alleviate plantar faciitis and met pain. Precision fit eliminates pinch points and rubbing practically eliminating blisters altogether. While expensive up front, the right mountain bike shoes can help keep feet happy and healthy for many seasons ahead.

In conclusion, several compelling reasons exist to invest in proper mountain bike shoes. Dialing in power transfer, traction, breathability, impact protection and fit can significantly enhance performance and enjoyment hitting the trails. Quality shoes also provide safety and confidence charging rough lines at speed. And supportive construction promotes foot health and happiness mile after mile each season. Considering these meaningful benefits, spending more on shoes is often money well spent by hardcore riders. Though the initial cost seems high, the advantages provided easily justify their price for most dedicated mountain bikers out there.

About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed