Posted on May 06 2019
Your feet deserve a specific MTB tool for the job
When you chose your bike, you probably selected a model that was appropriate for the type of riding you do, and then the size that best fit. The process of selecting a mountain bike shoe is very similar. When it comes to footwear choice on the bike, you may find yourself asking the questions “why do I need a mountain bike-specific shoe? My hikers or runners work just fine,” or “I don’t want to be clipped in to my bike.”
While a familiar hiking, running, or skate shoe might seem to offer trustworthy comfort and versatility, cycling creates very specific requirements from your body. As one of only three points of contact with your mountain bike, your feet deserve a specific tool for the job.
3 Factors For MTB Shoe
When selecting any cycling-specific shoe, much like your bike, there are important factors to consider such as the type of riding you participate in and the type of pedal of you use. Specifically, in regards to a mountain bike shoe, it’s easiest to start your search by narrowing down to three areas:
- Pedal contact
- Fit and comfort
#1 Mountain Bike Shoe Pedal Contact
Unless you’re a pro freerider and your job is to detach yourself from your bike, perform a trick in the air and land safely, one of your goals is most likely keeping your feet on your pedals at all times when riding. The interface between rider and pedal is an integral ingredient of proper technique on the bike. This is accomplished through two different types of pedals:
- Clipless: Ironically, clipless shoes are pedals that you clip into with a cleat on your shoe
- Flats (also known as platform): are great for beginners (and experienced riders too) for skill building and ease of getting off the bike
There are age-old debates over the benefits and downsides to each and we won’t go there in this particular article other than saying it’s often personal preference.
Nonetheless, there are things about pedal contact that you must know. Like the pedals themselves, mountain bike shoes are made specifically for each pedal type and should not be used for both.
Clipless shoes generally feature a stiff midsole or shank to which the cleat is attached, providing efficient power transfer on a clipless pedal. Flat pedal shoes on the other hand- or foot- feature midsoles that are stiffer than a running or skate shoe, but not quite as stiff as a clipless shoe as the shoe must be able to form to the pedal.
The outsole is one of the most important features of a flat pedal shoe, where tread pattern and rubber are essential in providing copious amounts of grip on the pedal. It is also crucial to pair your flat pedal shoes with a quality set of thin, wide-platform and grippy flat pedals.
#2 Mountain Bike Specific Fit & Comfort
Once you’ve decided on your pedal type, fit of the shoe is recognizably a crucial aspect. Ride Concepts designs all of our shoes from the ground up with a focus on gender-specific fit and flex.
We build all of our shoes on gender-specific cycling lasts. A last is a three dimensional mold on which a shoe is constructed. What that means for the rider is that we have taken into consideration the anatomical differences of men, women, and youth, such as heel width and height and toe width. We then design our shoes to fit accordingly.
For example, our women’s shoes have a narrower heel design than that of men’s. The flex points are also tailored across gender for better comfort and performance. Our women’s and youth shoes will flex with less applied pressure than that of a men’s model.
#3 MTB Shoe Protection
Finally, mountain biking shoes offer better protection from both the elements and obstacles encountered on the trail, should something go awry. Lightweight, breathable and quick-drying synthetic materials ensure water intake is kept to a minimum and the materials dry quickly after riding in wet conditions. Protective toecaps and anti-abrasion heels offer protection from are just some of the features in our shoes.
Ride Concepts is the only mountain bike footwear manufacturer to use impact protection in insoles. We use D3O, a material that absorbs impact by the movement of molecules on the surface area when an impact occurs. This reduces shock sent to the heel or toe area of the foot and offers a more forgiving ride.
Pedal contact, Fit and comfort and Protection are just a few of the reasons a mountain bike specific shoe can up your game, and keep you coming back to the trail ride after ride.
In future articles, we will explore topics such as clipless versus flat pedals, the tuned differences between our proprietary DST rubber compounds, and a deeper look at how the collaborative teamwork with D3O adds unmatched value to RC shoes.
See you on the mountain,