Skip to content
Home » Bike Gear » Biking Shoes » How Mountain Bike Shoes Are Not Necessary To Ride

How Mountain Bike Shoes Are Not Necessary To Ride

biking and jumping

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

Mountain bike shoes come in all shapes and sizes, but they are designed to keep up with the speed and mud of mountain biking. There are many different types of shoes to choose from, so you should do your research before selecting one.

The purpose of mountain bike shoes is to provide protection for your feet while at the same time giving you enough grip on the pedals so that you can maintain control during your ride. You should buy a pair of sturdy shoes that will be able to handle the bumpy terrain and will protect you from injury.

While mountain bike are highly recommended, they are not necessary in order to mountain bike. You can ride in sneakers or hiking boots pretty effectively, so it really depends on the terrain to how important wearing mtb shoes would be.

In fact, sometimes I do wear sneakers or hiking boots when I plan on doing a bit of walking after biking to an area. So those are two reasons why you would want to wear regular footwear on a ride. Sometimes money is a factor ( I have a great article on finding sub-$100 mtb shoes here). I can fully understand in that case dual-purposing your normal footwear to also be your footwear. In fact, starting out that is very common.

Having said that, let me tell you a little more about why they are recommended.

Using Shoes As A Tool To Improve Your Riding Experience

Using shoes as a tool to improve your riding experience is a new and growing trend.

Mountain bike shoes can help riders with their bike handling and braking. Other benefits of using shoes include improved comfort, increased traction, and increased protection from trail hazards.

The MTB shoe use case study is one of the many examples that shows that there are many ways to use different types of mountain bike gears in order to improve the performance on the trail.

The Best Mountain Bike Shoes For Beginners

There are a lot of questions that come up when someone is first getting into mountain bike riding. The first one being, what kind of shoes should I wear on my new bike?

If you don’t want to spend a lot on your new bike then trail runners or dirt jumpers will be fine. These shoes offer the best protection from the rocks and small pebbles without costing too much. If you are looking for some adjustment from those shoes though, look into trail-mountain bike shoes. These will offer more support and comfort for those who ride more aggressively on their bikes as well as provide more traction for those who also ride in wet conditions or snow.

If you like the idea of wearing normal shoes like you use everyday, then you’ll want to buy a pair of flat pedal shoes. Mountain bike shoes can really make a difference when the terrain is serious so I would start by looking at where you plan on riding and then work back from there to the footwear.

How To Choose The Right Mountain Bike Shoe For You

When it comes to choosing the right mountain bike shoe for you, there are four main factors that you should take into account: your foot size, your riding style, your riding conditions and the type of terrain that you will be riding on.

The most important thing to consider is your foot size. To determine what kind of mountain bike shoe you need, stand with one leg on top of the other and measure the distance between your big toe and second toe. This measurement is equivalent to how wide or narrow a person’s feet are. Wide-footed riders typically ride on rocky terrain or in sand while narrow feet generally prefer a more cushioned ride on smooth trails or pavement.

There are three different types of mountain bike shoes: road cycling shoes, aggressive cycling shoes, and off-road cycling. I have put together some articles already that compare flat shoes to clipless and compare road to mtb shoes to give you some background if you need it. I also have articles on things like what clipless shoes are so that by the end all of these terms make sense.

While the options can seem overwhelming, remember that mtb shoes are really worth it if you are really into biking. Having a pair of shoes that will keep your feet planted on the pedals even when they are wet might save you from at least one of your crashes (we all crash sometimes in learning).

How To Choose The Right MTB Shoe For Your Personal Type Of Riding?

In order to choose the right MTB shoe for your riding style, consider the individual features of each shoe. Some shoes have a more durable toe, while others have a softer toe. Some shoes have a wider forefoot and some have a narrow forefoot. Some shoes offer better cushioning and others offer more protection from impact injuries.

Some MTB shoes can also fit multiple riding styles or types of riders. Shoes that are best for long rides can also be used as training shoes for those who want to get into downhill mountain biking; those that are best for shorter rides can also be used as racing flats; and those that are best for beginners will work well as either training or racing flats.

Regardless of what shoes you pick, one of the biggest overall things is that your shoes need to fit your feet. In width, length (make sure you can wiggle your toes) and height they need to feel like they were made for you to find that right pair. Keep looking until you find these ones.

So the first thing is really to decide where you plan on riding. If you plan on riding on the road, a pair of cycling footwear might be best. If you plan on cross-country biking, then finding a good pair of mtb shoes will be your priority.

Types Of Shoes You Can Wear On A Mountain Biking Trip

Different types of shoes are suitable for different outdoor activities. Mountain biking is no exception, and the type of shoe you should wear depends on where you’re going. When you are doing some serious riding, then mtb shoes are worth their weight in gold.

Climbing shoes are the ideal footwear for mountain bike riders because they have a stiff sole that will help you to grip while wearing them. They are made with aggressive traction patterns that will provide good grip while riding on rough terrain.

Road cycling shoes are made for racing and are lightweight to allow for quick transitions between different terrains. They have minimal cushioning so your feet can experience minimal impact with each pedal stroke. These shoes are ideal for sprinters or triathletes who need speed.

So there are lots of options if you aren’t happy with regular mountain bike shoes. If you using normal shoes, you want a pair that can stay on the pedals and have a flat sole on them. Vans for instance are surprisingly good for flat pedals.

The Best Mountain Bike Shoes For Freeriding & Dirt Jumping

In the past, downhill dirt jumpers and trail runners were seen as two different types of mountain bikers. But as of late, riders have been using a variety of footwear on the mountain to increase their options.

A recent study from Specialized found that more people are pairing downhill dirt jumpers with a shoe for water skiing on trails. This is a trend that has been growing over the last few years.

Water skiing shoes are lightweight and provide more grip on rocks and roots compared to regular trail runners or dirt hikers. They also allow for increased mobility when you need to make adjustments during freeride sessions. In return water skis can be taken off and used as your downhill shoes by simply switching the inserts out for your foot shape just like you would with any other shoe.

Myths Of The Mountain Bike Shoe And Why They Are Still Relevant Today

Recent developments in technology has led to a surge in the production of mountain bike shoes. In the last few years, people have seen a rise in the number of riders who wear sneakers rather than mountain bike shoes.

The most common reason for wearing sneakers is that they are more comfortable and easier to use when riding mtbs. However, there are still some myths surrounding this new trend. These myths include that wearing sneakers means you’re less committed to riding trails, it will end up ruining your mtb shoes and they’re not as good for speed on trail.

Mountain bike shoes are still your best bet if you’re serious about biking.

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