Skip to content
Home » Bike Gear » Biking Shoes » Are Flat Shoes Good For Mountain Biking?

Are Flat Shoes Good For Mountain Biking?

mountain bike shoes

This page contains affiliate links, and I may earn a commission if you use them. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Flat shoes work great for mountain biking because they provide traction and grip on the pedals.  If you get a quality pair of mtb flat shoes, they can hold onto the pedals like glue and make your mountain biking far easier.

Some people might think that flat shoes are not ideal for mountain biking because they lack the protection of a shoe with a high arch. The reality is that flat shoes provide better traction than high-arched ones because they maximize the contact patch with the pedals.

But don’t worry if your feet get wet when you ride in wet weather, because the low-profile design makes it easy to wick moisture away from your skin and keep your feet dry in any condition.

Flat mountain bike shoes are made for mountain biking and they excel greatly at it!

What Is A Flat Pedal Shoes?

A flat pedal shoes is a type of cycling shoe that has a flatter profile than other cycling shoes. The shoes have a raised platform that provides support for the foot and ankle. It was developed by ex-pro cyclist, Robin Summers, in 2005.

The flat pedal shoe has evolved into more than just a sports shoe for professional cyclists. Many athletes use it in their training regimen to maintain power and stability when sprinting, jumping or climbing stairs. Flat shoes are made in both road and mountain bike versions. While they differ slightly and I recommend to only use the mtb versions when you’re doing real mountain biking, that is the topic for a different article.

Are Flat Shoes Better For Biking?

There are really two options … flat shoes or clipless for biking. Really they both work well if the shoes are good quality. The point of this article isn’t to say which is better (which is more about choice really), but that flats are very capable when you are out mountain biking.

Some people (including me) swear by them for riding mountain bikes, even though they may be a little less rugged. Flat shoes have good traction on pedals and if you need to jump off the bike quick, you’ll be able to make it up or down a steep incline with equal speed as someone in rugged boots.

In addition to learning about flat mtb shoes here, I suggest reading one of my articles on clipless shoes as well so you get the whole story and you can buy your shoes as an informed decision. Maybe you’ll even get both and vary usage depending on the trails. Clipless are very effective on nice XC trails for instance.

There are really two options ... flat shoes or clipless for biking

Are Flat Shoes Good For Mountain Biking When You Need To Climb Up Hills?

When you are mountain biking, your typical outfit would consist of a pair of sturdy mountain bike shoes. Wearing these shoes on the trails is important because they provide traction when you are riding. However, in some instances, it can be easier to walk in flat shoes instead of wearing the boots that come with your bicycle.

Flat-soled shoes may be better for climbing up hills when mountain biking at low speeds instead of wearing boots with thick soles. They also provide more freedom to maneuver and may reduce the risk of injury during a fall or crash by giving more control over your foot placement and balance, which could potentially help prevent a sprain or fracture.

Which Shoes Are Best For Mountain Biking?

In order to choose the best shoes for mountain biking, it is important to think about your activity and your fitness level. If you are new to mountain biking and don’t know what type of shoe you should buy yet, I recommend choosing a shoe with sturdy soles and enough cushioning.

What makes a good bike shoe?

The most important consideration when choosing the perfect bike shoe is comfort – your shoes must be comfortable enough that you can comfortably ride for hours without getting sore. The next most important consideration is traction – where you’ll choose these shoes will depend on how much traction they provide on wet surfaces like asphalt or mud (clipless), as well as dry surfaces like gravel (flat).

Last, but certainly not least, is that your bike shoes have to fit like a glove. You should be able to bike without even thinking about your shoes. They need to fit snug but with enough room to wiggle your toes and not affect circulation. Just don’t get them so loose that they are sliding around on your feet.

What Shoes Should I Wear With A Flat Pedal Mountain Bike?

Most people who go out for a ride on their mountain bike don’t think about what shoes to wear. They just put on whatever is closest and that’s it. However, wearing the right pair of shoes can make all the difference in terms of comfort and safety.

If you are looking for a shoe that will not only make your riding experience more comfortable but also safe on flat pedal mountain bikes, you should consider flat pedal mountain bike shoes for your riding. These shoes have a stiff sole and sticky rubber soles for good traction. Another factor to consider is the type of material your shoe will be made from. Leather or mesh are both great options as they offer better protection from scrapes and cuts compared to suede or synthetic materials which offer better comfort than wool or cotton.

A flat pedal shoes is a type of cycling shoe that has a flatter profile than other cycling shoes

Pros Of Wearing Flat Shoes On Mountain Bike Trails

Cycling is a form of exercise that has its pros and cons. In the case of mountain biking, the right shoes can keep your feet on the pedals instead of slipping off when you put the most power into the gears. When you are powering through snow, rain, and mud, you’ll be thankful you have your very capable flats on.

A good set of flats will keep your feet planted on the pedals, but there are many other benefits as well. Because they are built for biking, they have additional padding to help prevent blisters and help keep your ankles in the right position to less the chance of injury. Flats commonly also have enough padding in the sole so that not all of the trail vibrations make it up into your legs.  A little shock insulation if you will. That definitely helps with your legs and feet being a little less beaten up and tired from mountain biking.

All of these benefits of wearing flat shoes on the trails make them a great idea if you budget allows.

Cons Of Wearing Flat Shoes On Mountain Bike Trails

There are some cons to wearing flat shoes on a mountain bike trail. They are not physically connected to the pedals the way clipless shoes are. That means with enough wetness it’s possible your feet can slip off of the pedals.

Really that is the big difference when you compare flat shoes and clipless shoes. Clipless shoes cannot slip off the pedals, but at the same time if you need to bail off the bike you can’t with clipless. I personally prefer flats for this very reason, especially on downhill runs.

Flat Shoes Work Very Well For Mountain Biking

Mountain bikers usually have a few things that they can’t be without. At least two of them are their mountain bike and their shoes. But one thing that most people don’t think about when getting a new pair is how well they’ll work for mountain biking. It’s important to know what kind of shoes you want to get so you can pick a well-made pair such as ones made by Five Ten. Some of the bigger brands may seem more expensive but remember that you are buying mtb footwear so they work, so ensure you get good functionality in your investment of footwear.

The main point here is that it’s important to know what kind of shoe you’re going to get in order to choose the best pair for your needs. There are many different types of shoes in the market, but not all of them will work well in the mountain terrain.

About the Author

avatar for 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