Select Page

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

Whether you are a long time clipless mountain biker or a newbie to the sport who wants to learn good fundamentals without the fear of a low-speed tip-over, there are a number of positives about running flat pedals and shoes. Of course, there are also a number of reasons for using clipless mountain bike pedals and shoes! But that is a debate for another day. This article is all about helping you choose the best flat mountain bike shoe for your needs and your riding style!

Why Not Just Ride in Your Old Running Shoes?

Grip

Unlike their clipless counterparts, flat mountain bike shoes don’t look all that different from any old shoe, particularly skate shoes. So, why not just wear an old pair of Vans or Chucks for mountain biking?

As it turns out, there is a lot more to flat mountain bike shoes than meets the eye. For one, your shoes and pedals represent two of your five contact points with your mountain bike, your handlebars, and seat representing the other three. Your feet and pedals are also where all of your power transfer comes when pedaling, and where the bulk of your weight rests when out of the saddle.

Considering their impressive look, with long pins protruding from polished platforms, it might be easy to think that the pedal is where most of your foot’s grip comes from. However, a good shoe accounts for the vast majority of the grip, or lack thereof, that you experience with your pedals. As such, mountain bike shoes have soles that are made to grip the metal pins of mountain bike pedals far better than any other shoe would. The soles also have to be very durable, as the sharp metal pins found on mountain bike pedals will make short work of most street shoes.

Rigidity and Protection

So, why not ride in a pair of skate shoes? They tend to be grippy and at least fairly durable. The main difference between skate shoes and mountain bike shoes is how stiff they are. Skate shoes are much more flexible. This makes them comfortable for long skate sessions. However, their lack of rigidity means that they will not transfer power to your pedals as well as a stiffer shoe. Furthermore, this leads to fatigue over the course of long rides.

Furthermore, mountain bike shoes tend to be very stiff in areas that are most likely to impact the ground in a crash, like the front and top of the toe box and heels. Many rides have been saved from bruised heels and broken toes by a protective pair of mountain bike shoes.

What To Look For in a Mountain Bike Shoe

As with any shoe, and most other pieces of gear, the most important thing is to find a mountain bike shoe with a comfortable fit. Some shoes, like the Shimano GR 7 and GR9 tend to have much wider toe boxes and suit riders with higher volume feet while Five Tens might be a better fit for the average to below average volume footed rider.

Beyond fit, we think that the grip and stiffness/protection of a mountain bike shoe are the most important qualities. Most of the shoes in our review are within an ounce or so of each other, depending on size, and if you are terribly concerned with the weight of a shoe, then you are probably more interested in our review of the best clipless mountain bike pedals.  The comfort of a shoe is important, but this really goes back to the stiffness and fit of the shoe. Finally, durability might or might not be a top concern, depending on how frequently you are willing to replace your mountain bike shoes.

How We Judged

We judged the flat mountain bike shoes in our review based on what we look for in a mountain bike shoe. First and foremost is grip, followed by stiffness and protection. To a lesser degree, we evaluated the shoes based on their comfort and breathability, though to a lesser degree because comfort is subjective and breathability might be a positive or negative quality based on riding conditions. Finally, we considered the durability of the flat mountain bike shoes in our review and any additional features that might make a shoe more or less desirable.We judged the flat mountain bike shoes in our review based on what we look for in a mountain bike shoe. First and foremost is grip, followed by stiffness and protection. To a lesser degree, we evaluated the shoes based on their comfort and breathability, though to a lesser degree because comfort is subjective and breathability might be a positive or negative quality based on riding conditions. Finally, we considered the durability of the flat mountain bike shoes in our review and any additional features that might make a shoe more or less desirable.

Best Flat Mountain Bike Shoe Review

Top Picks

Shimano GR9: Best Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

Five Ten Freerider Pro: 1b Pick for Best All-Around Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

Shimano GR7: Best All-Around Flat Mountain Bike Shoe for Warm Weather

Five Ten Freerider Contact: Best Grip Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

Five Ten Freerider: Best Value Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

Afton Keegan: Strong contender for Best Value Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

Shimano GR9

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 100% 100%

Pros

Comfortable

Amazing Grip

Great in Wet Weather

Cons

Difficult to readjust on the pedals

Rubber Type: Michelin

Rubber Pattern: Full Tread

Weight: 365g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Five Ten Freerider Pro

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Breathability 50% 50%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Pros

Amazing grip without making it difficult to readjust foot position

Cons

Sole is too stiff for some riders

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 396.89g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Shimano GR7

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 90% 90%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Pros

Comfortable

Amazing Grip

Great in Wet Weather

Very Breathable

Cons

Difficult to readjust on the pedals

Rubber Type: Michelin

Rubber Pattern: Full Tread

Weight: 396.9g

Upper Material: Perforated Synthetic with Mesh

Five Ten Freerider Contact

  • Grip 100% 100%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 70% 70%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Wet Weather Performance 50% 50%

Pros

Unbeatable Grip

Easy to adjust feat

Comfortable

Cons

Worst in review durability

Rubber Type: Stealth Mi6

Rubber Pattern: Half Dot

Weight: 389.8g

Upper Material: Textile/Synthetic Leather

Five Ten Freerider

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 50% 50%
  • Protection 50% 50%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Wet Weather Performance 80% 80%

Pros

Amazing grip without making it difficult to readjust foot position

Cons

Not as durable as Freerider Pro

Sole lacks rigidity for maximum power transfer

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 418.15g

Upper Material: Suede/Mesh

Afton Keegan

  • Grip 70% 70%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 60% 60%
  • Protection 70% 70%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Breathability 50% 50%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 80% 80%

Pros

Mono-directional shank makes for unbeatable rigidity on the bike and comfort off of it

Cons

Less grippy than top picks

Rubber Type: Intact Rubber

Rubber Pattern: Skate Style

Weight: 396.89g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Five Ten Impact Pro

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 100% 100%
  • Protection 90% 90%
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Breathability 30% 30%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Pros

Unbeatable power transfer and foot protection

Great grip on and off the bike

Cons

Sole is too stiff for some riders

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Multi Dot

Weight: 550g

Upper Material: Synthetic

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch

  • Grip 40% 40%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 30% 30%

Pros

Durable, Stiff

Great Foot Protection

Cons

Vibram rubber lacks grip

Rubber Type: Vibram Megagrip

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 406g

Upper Material: Bonded, Seamless

Giro Riddance

  • Grip 50% 50%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Breathability 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Wet Weather Performance 30% 30%

Pros

Durable and Breathable

Cons

Vibram sole lacks grip

Rubber Type: Megagrip ISR

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 430g

Upper Material: Microfiber

Shimano GR9

Best Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 100% 100%

Rubber Type: Michelin

Rubber Pattern: Full Tread

Weight: 365g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Price: $150.00

What We Like: Comfortable, amazing grip, great in wet weather

What We Don’t: Difficult to readjust on the pedals.

The combination of a Shimano made shoe and a Michelin made outsole turned out to be a thing of beauty. Grippy rubber, car tire-like tread, and a sole with just the right amount of stiffness make the Shimano GR9 our favorite all-around flat mountain biking shoe on the market. Wherever you ride and whatever your riding style, the Shimano GR9 is a flat mountain bike shoe that does it all.

Five Ten Freerider Pro

1b Pick for Best All-Around Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Breathability 50% 50%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 396.89g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Price: $150.00

What We Like: Amazing grip without making it difficult to readjust foot position

What We Don’t: Sole is too stiff for some riders

Five Ten mountain biking shoes have long been the bar by which all flat mountain bike shoes are judged, and the Five Ten Freerider Pro is one of the best. The Freerider Pro features the classic Five Ten Stealth rubber compound and full dot tread pattern that is probably the most ridden mountain bike sole in the world. It is a mountain bike shoe that instills confidence on the bike and looks great at the pub after a ride. There is a reason that it has long been considered one of the best flat mountain bike shoes available, and we don’t see that changing any time soon.

Shimano GR7

Best All-Around Flat Mountain Bike Shoe for Warm Weather

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 90% 90%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Rubber Type: Michelin

Rubber Pattern: Full Tread

Weight: 396.9g

Upper Material: Perforated Synthetic with Mesh

Price: $97.50 – $130.00

What We Like: Comfortable, amazing grip, great in wet weather, very breathable

What We Don’t: Difficult to readjust on the pedals

The Shimano GR7 flat mountain bike shoe is extremely similar to our top pick, the Shimano GR9. It is a bit more breathable, but with only a $20 difference in MSRP, we recommend picking up the GR9 for cooler wetter riding, and the GR7 for warmer drier riding.

Aside from swapping the speed laces for regular laces and dropping the lace cover and higher ankle collar, the GR7 is the exact same shoe as the GR9, featuring the same blend of flexibility and rigidity and same Michelin outsole that made the Shimano GR9 our top pick for best flat mountain bike shoe available.

Five Ten Freerider Contact

Best Grip Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

  • Grip 100% 100%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 80% 80%
  • Protection 70% 70%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 30% 30%
  • Wet Weather Performance 50% 50%

Rubber Type: Stealth Mi6

Rubber Pattern: Half Dot

Weight: 389.8g

Upper Material: Textile/Synthetic Leather

Price: $149.95

What We Like: Unbeatable grip, easy to adjust feat, comfortable

What We Don’t: Worst in review durability

The Five Ten Freerider Contact is the grippiest mountain bike shoe on the market, full stop. On top of that, a pedal zone devoid of tread makes repositioning your feet a cinch, which is a rarity for a shoe with good grip.

The negatives for the Freerider Contact are that its amazing grip falls off sharply in wet conditions and when off of the bike, and that its ultra grippy Mi6 rubber makes it one of the least durable flat mountain bike shoes around. For many, those will be small prices to pay for the Freerider Contact’s magical grip.

Five Ten Freerider

Best Value Flat Mountain Bike Shoe

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 50% 50%
  • Protection 50% 50%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 70% 70%
  • Wet Weather Performance 80% 80%

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 418.15g

Upper Material: Suede/Mesh

Price: $99.95

What We Like: Amazing grip without making it difficult to readjust foot position

What We Don’t: Not as durable as Freerider Pro, and sole lacks rigidity for maximum power transfer

Featuring the same Stealth Rubber and full dot tread pattern found on the Freerider Pro, the base Five Ten Freerider is a bargain at $100, and many people actually prefer it to the more expensive Freerider models. It is cheaper because it lacks the rigid sole and toe protection of the Freerider Pro, but for those who want a more breathable shoe and more connected feel with their pedals, these are points in favor of the base Freerider, not against it.

Afton Keegan

  • Grip 70% 70%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 60% 60%
  • Protection 70% 70%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Breathability 50% 50%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 80% 80%

Rubber Type: Intact Rubber

Rubber Pattern: Skate Style

Weight: 396.89g

Upper Material: Synthetic Leather

Price: $99.00

What We Like: Mono-directional shank makes for unbeatable rigidity on the bike and comfort off of it

What We Don’t: Less grippy than top picks

At only $99, the Afton Keegan is a newcomer that goes toe to toe with the Five Ten Freerider as a candidate for the best flat mountain bike shoe on the market. Afton’s own “Intact” rubber compound and tread pattern are not far behind Five Ten’s, and the Afton Keegan’s “mono-directional” shank makes a shoe that strikes a balance between rigidity on the bike and comfort off of it that no other shoe in our review can match. If you want a great mountain bike shoe that is also a great shoe in general, then the Afton Keegan might be the flat mountain bike shoe for you.

Five Ten Impact Pro

  • Grip 90% 90%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 100% 100%
  • Protection 90% 90%
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Breathability 30% 30%
  • Durability 90% 90%
  • Wet Weather Performance 90% 90%

Rubber Type: Stealth S1

Rubber Pattern: Multi Dot

Weight: 550g

Upper Material: Synthetic

Price: $111.93 – $159.90

What We Like: Unbeatable power transfer and foot protection, Great grip on and off the bike

What We Don’t: Sole is too stiff for many riders

The Five Ten Impact Pro replaces the Five Ten Impact VXi, which was an extremely grippy downhill oriented shoe. However, the ultra-tacky Mi6 rubber of the Five Ten VXi just could not stand up to the demanding type of riding the shoes were made for. The Five Ten Impact Pro remedies this by using Five Ten’s Stealth rubber and multi-dot tread pattern. Along with paring the Impact Pro down a bit from older iterations, these changes have made a fantastic shoe for anybody who plans to pedal long days and take big hits.

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch

  • Grip 40% 40%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Breathability 70% 70%
  • Durability 100% 100%
  • Wet Weather Performance 30% 30%

Rubber Type: Vibram Megagrip

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 406g

Upper Material: Bonded, Seamless

Price: 150.00

What We Like: Durable, Stiff, Great Foot Protection

What We Don’t: Vibram rubber lacks grip

Pearl Izumi is a big-time cycling brand known for making high-quality apparel of all kinds. Their recent entry to the world of flat mountain bike shoes comes in the form of the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch.

The X-Alp Launch has a lot of things going for it, but sadly, almost all of those good things are undermined by its Vibram Megagrip outsole, that just does not match the confidence inspiring grip of its competitors.

Giro Riddance

  • Grip 50% 50%
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer 90% 90%
  • Protection 80% 80%
  • Comfort 60% 60%
  • Breathability 80% 80%
  • Durability 80% 80%
  • Wet Weather Performance 30% 30%

Rubber Type: Megagrip ISR

Rubber Pattern: Full Dot

Weight: 430g

Upper Material: Microfiber

Price: $129.95

What We Like: Durable and Breathable

What We Don’t: Vibram sole lacks grip

The Giro Riddance is a durable flat mountain bike shoe that is stiff enough to handle long rides without leaving your legs overly fatigued. Unfortunately, like the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch, the Giro Riddance is undermined by its Vibram soles, which are simply not on par with offerings from Five Ten and Shimano.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!