Once Cycling is the most popular form of fitness today, closely followed by running. While every runner would undoubtedly tell you how important is to have proper footwear, this fact is much less known in the cycling community at large.
While you can perfectly ride your bike with regular shoes, if you opt to use shoes that are specifically designed for use on bike You will definitely notice the increase in efficiency.
Types Of Mountain Bike Shoes
There are three different types of biking shoes. Those are mountain bike shoes, which we will focus on, sport/casual bike shoes and road biking shoes. They all have their advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other but they overall provide better cycling performance. Advantages of wearing mountain bike shoes are numerous.
First, you will get better energy transfer from your feet to the pedals, due to the very stiff soles, compared to regular shoes.
Second, mountain bike shoes offer greater protection for your feet on those long riding sessions. And the most important thing about mountain bike shoes is that they have a socket for cleats, which is recessed into the sole, for use with clipless pedal system that virtually every mountain bike has.
What makes mountain bike shoes quite a bit different than other biking shoes is that they are specifically designed to be comfortable both when riding and when walking. This is to account for the fact that mountain bikers regularly need to walk some distances, as opposed to road cyclists.
Just take note here that there is a difference in them, some are better designed for walking, some for riding. The difference comes from the stiffness of the sole, if you find yourself walking more than riding then you need a softer sole.
Also, mountain bike shoes are arguably the best looking bike shoes on the market. Since they resemble the regular shoe the most, manufacturers and designers have much greater liberty in designing new and awesome looks for these shoes. As if that great variety in mountain bike shoes was not enough, there is a range of “accessories” for your shoes.
What comes as a first option is so called “closure style”. Closure style refers to how your shoes are being, well, closed. In this regard, you can choose from variety of straps and laces. Choosing which style is best for you is a matter of trial and error. What you should know about them is that if you want perfect fit, you cannot go wrong with laces.
However, if you are cycling in muddy or damp environments, laces tend to get soiled and after some time they break apart. If you find yourself in these situations often, it may be better to opt for some kind of strap system, or even some specialized closure system.
Rule of thumb for strap systems is that the more the straps, the better you can adjust the fit of the shoe. Usually the straps come in “hook and loop” system, which offers easy buckling of the shoe as well as easy unfastening of the straps. While on the subject, there are also straps with buckles on them which would provide you even better closure for your shoe.
Specialized closure systems are undoubtedly the best out of all of them but they come with a really high price tag. These are being made for professionals and die hard mountain bikers.
If you are in position to buy that kind of system, trust me you will not want to go back wearing a regular shoe, or even a mountain bike shoe with regular closure system, ever again.
These systems vary from company to company but the most interesting one is Boa technology one, which feature steel Lace, nylon guides and a mechanical reel. The end result here is effortless adjustment and perfect fit for any shoe while offering maximum protection possible. Professional Shimano road shoes come with their own specialized closure system, for example.
As if everything else was not enough, you can also purchase cycling shoe covers for your mountain bike shoes. These covers were originally made for use in really cold or really damp or rainy weather, to add more warmth and provide water resistance for your shoes. Since they go over your shoes, they have cutaways in them, in order for cleats to pass through.
Lately, shoe covers have started to look like a fashion accessory that many bikers wear just for looks. You can use them on foot but it is a damn shame to ruin them like that. They are specifically made for riding, not walking.
Another option for your mountain bike shoes are toe warmers. If you do not want to buy a pair of winter cycling shoes for riding in cold weather, toe warmers come as a perfect option. Toes get numb fast and this accessory can help you a lot with preventing that.
Best mountain bike shoes with best closing systems were, in the past, reserved for professionals only due to their insane pricing. Regular Joe would not spend a 500$ on a riding shoe, but a professional would, since it gives him the edge he needs.
Nowadays, mountain bike shoes are being made for everyone, in many cases with features that were previously reserved for professionals only and with much much lower prices.
References: The 6 Best Mountain Bikes Under 300 Dollars (Mike Schmidt). Retrieved 10 November 2016.