If you are going to use flat pedals then you must know about the best mountain bike shoes for flats. These kinds of shoes must have great grip and stick your foot to the pedals. No more slipping off the pedals and scraping up your shins. My research below makes your search easy. We have taken into account grip, comfort, durability, appearance and more. Take a look below.
1. Five Ten Men’s Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes [Best Overall for Flats]
Do you tend to wish that your favorite shoes for riding your BMX will also work for your mountain bikes? Are you looking for versatile mtb shoes for flats, which you can use for long distance rides, downhill pedaling adventures, and for just going around the neighborhood?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the Freerider from Five Ten may be just what you’re looking for. These made-in-the-US shoes are just that good. That’s pretty much the consensus from plenty of cyclists who have tried it out.
One of these riders admitted that he wasn’t that good of a cyclist, who switched to flats after an accident with a clipless. For him, switching to the Freerider introduced him to how these shoes can really offer a terrific grip. It absorbs impact nicely when climbing and when pedaling normally. But once he puts all his weight on the pedals, it’s as if he has on Stealth rubber on the outsole while using pins on flats.
Another rider was skeptical of the hype, but then had to confess afterwards that the hype was pretty much spot on. He’s about 50 years old, yet he’s a fan of the look of Vans shoes. He thought this shoe had that same vibe, but it sure offered much better mtb performance than regular sneakers. For him, the Freerider is comfy, supportive, and offers just the right level of stiffness.
BMX shoes actually inspired the simplicity and style of the Freerider, and its legendary sticky rubber outsole will remain glued on your pedals. You have the Stealth S1 rubber here with the Dotty tread to rely on.
The leather upper is durable, and the medium flex offers a great combo of combination and comfort to give the feel you want. With its casual look, it’s a relaxing shoe for biking and relaxing.
2. Ride Concepts Men’s Livewire Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoe
What’s the point of buying a different shoe for each type of activity you like to do? It’s pointless (not to mention expensive), especially when you can just go with a versatile shoe for different activities in the first place. Of course, it depends if you’re getting the right kind of versatile shoe. Go with the Ride Concepts Livewire for flats, and you can’t go wrong.
One rider confirmed that it fits true to size, and it’s available from size 7 to size 12. The shoe feels comfy right from the get go, and it has remained that way after lots of rides and lots of miles. The stiff sole offers awesome pedal grip, and even after a lot of use it hasn’t shown any hint of damage or wear. The upper is comfy and breathable. He also mentioned that these shoes look terrific.
Another user also gushed about the premium quality of the shoe. He loves the incredible grip, as it gives him enough confidence for riding on the trails in the woods. He gets enough support when using his flat pedals, and he appreciates how comfortable it is to have the shoe on his feet.
The Livewire sports the Rubber Kinetics DST 6.0 HIGH GRIP Rubber on the outsole gives you that grip you want. Your feet are also protected by the D3O High Impact Zone Insole Technology, and you also have custom molded guards for the toe and heel. You get additional support plus excellent shock absorption from the EVA midsole.
You get safety and comfort, with the tough synthetic leather in the upper. The high-abrasion mesh is both durable and comfy. You’re able to ride for much longer, thanks in part to the fully gusseted tongue that keeps out the debris and dirt from getting inside the shoe.
3. Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes [Best Flats for Women]
The Freerider is one of the best among mtb shoes, and the good news is that it isn’t just for the guys. Ladies can get in on the action as well, and plenty of them get even bolder on the trails with these shoes on their feet. It does help that though the dominant colors seem masculine with lots of black, you have nicer color accents like purple, shock green, berry, and gum to choose from.
One of the ladies who tried the Freerider is actually the wife of an avid cyclist, and she started out her new hobby with flat pedals and these shoes. Actually, she has already tried out biking, but she was more interested in just riding on roads as she felt more timid on mtb trails. But these shoes gave her such a boost in confidence that she now feels a lot more adventurous for mtb riding.
A more experienced lady rider also regards these shoes as top notch overall. She appreciates the premium quality build, and confirmed that the outsole really stuck to the flat pedal. She always feels secure, and her feet never came off the pedals unless she wanted them too. She also likes the colors just fine, as she personally feels insulted when shoe brands seem to think that “ladies’ shoes” have to be all in shocking pink.
The features here are basically what you get in the men’s version. You get the sticky outsole courtesy of the Stealth S1 rubber. You have suede for the upper, with mesh for breathability. The midsole is also medium-flex, giving just the right balance between proper support and power transfer with enough comfort and walkability.
All in all, this is the shoe that disproves that mountain bikes aren’t for the ladies. With sneakers, then yes, it’s not for them. But then again, with sneakers it’s not for men either. Ladies with these shoes can rock the mtb trails and they can show the guys that mountain bike riding isn’t a man’s world.
4. Pinned Flat Pedal Shoe Black
This shoe from the O’Neal brand looks cool and tough sneakers when you look at them from the top. Then you take a closer look (especially at the outsole), and you realize that there’s more here than you thought. If you’re on flat pedals, you may want to stick to this shoe instead of insisting on your regular sneakers. It’s not as if you’ll lose style points with the switch. Just make sure your shoe size is within the size 7 to size 13 range.
One rider who tried this out marveled at the bang for the buck value of the shoe. He was looking for a replacement for his old pair of mountain shoes, which cost a fortune when he bought it. But he replaced those with this one, which was a lot more affordable.
What really shocked him is that he thought that this O’Neal shoe was even better. He tried this out and was pleasantly surprised at how well these shoes stuck to the flat pedals on his mountain bike.
The same sentiment is echoed with lots of other users. One rider summed it all up when he said that he’s been using the same brand and model of shoe for the last 15 years, and finally switched to this one. He concluded that he was in the dark for more than a decade, since this O’Neal shoe was available at half the price, but performed twice as well as his previous favorite mtb shoe.
The key to the stickiness of this shoe lies in the unique honeycomb structure found in the sole. The terrific lace closure system works fine, as it offers both the snug fit you want while you still get the casual look you expect from your favorite sneakers. The footbed is removable, so you can always replace it with something else if you want. Your feet are also protected on the trail by the reinforced toe cap.
5. Etnies Men’s Jameson Mid Crank Brandon Semenuk Mountain Bike Flats Shoe
Plenty of mtb shoes these days seem to sport the same dark colors. These same colors like black and gray are also available in the Jameson Crank Mid from Etnies, but then you also have more vibrant options like burgundy and gum, tan and green, and stone with white sole.
Plenty of riders have voiced similar comments on how great these shoes look. Many of them also noted that these are very comfy shoes, and the price is affordable for the budget as well. Some did caution that the shoe needs a break-in period before you really get comfortable with it.
One rider, like many others, also mentioned that it performed well, with outstanding grip on the pedal pins that really offered him the confidence he likes when riding. The shoe is comfortable for him as well, so that allows him to go on long rides without any issues.
The upper is made from 100% leather, which explains the need to break it in. But once you’re done with that, the leather conforms nicely to the particular shape of your feet. It’s supple as well to help with your comfort.
The strobel board midsole gives you terrific pedal feel, with just the right amount of stiffness for efficient power transfer to the pedals. This is a huge improvement over the rigid boards (that seemed like cardboard) which used to hold the upper to the sole.
The TPU underlay offers a more reinforced fit, while the asymmetrical collar offers another layer of protection for your ankle. As for the glue-like grip, you can thank the Geo-Hex tread pattern on the rubber outsole for that. This outsole really sticks to the pedal, and they work really well on the slick surfaces you encounter when you need to walk on the trail.
6. Ride Concepts Men’s Hellion Flat Pedal Mountain Biking Shoe
Trying to use your cool sneakers just won’t cut it on flat pedals on your mountain bike. Those trendy sneakers may seem eye-catching out on the streets, but they won’t last all that long when you ride hard on your mountain bike. Even your feet won’t last long either, since these sneakers don’t offer the protection and performance you want.
But then you can try the cool Hellion, designed specifically for flat pedal mountain bikes, and you’ll fare much better.
One rider confirms all these benefits, as he has used the Hellion for more than a year now. It still looks great, which attests to its durability (and good looks). He still wears and uses them, which just proves that it offers the comfort, performance, and protection that most mtb riders look for.
It’s a versatile shoe, since it doesn’t even have to be just for mtb riding. You can wear these shoes casually. In fact, one user even uses them for disc golf, which is much like golf using frisbees. He loves the grip he gets from the sole, which is the same feeling that mtb riders get when they have to walk on the bike trail. He also confirms that these shoes are comfy.
The outsole grip is courtesy of the DST 6. 0 High Grip Rubber Outsole, from Rubber Kinetics. You get the stickiest rubber you can find here, along with the proven honeycomb tread pattern that works well with flat pedals. Whether you’re pedaling or walking, you’re good to go.
You have the tough synthetic upper with the anti-peel coating that can withstand the roots and rocks on the trail. There are lots of perforations too, to help keep your feet cool and comfy.
For protection, there are anti-abrasion guards on the toe and heel. The D3O High Impact Zone Insole Technology on the insole offers the much-needed shock absorption on the trails. This is the same kind of padding you find in elbow guards and knee guards. You even have a fully gusseted tongue that keeps out the debris and dirt from the shoe. This can be rather uncomfortable when you have a stone in your shoe.
7. Freerider Contact Mountain Cycling Shoe – Men’s
This is a Freerider from Five Ten, but the Contact model comes with several key differences from what you normally find in the Freerider. This time, you get even more foot protection. But you also get all the other features that make the Freerider so iconic in the first place.
One rider acknowledged that it’s much like the regular Freerider, though he did note the extra touches. In comparison, he also felt that the toe box somehow felt wider. That’s a good thing, because he then has more surface area on the sole to get into contact with the flat pedals. This contact was so sticky that it seemed like he was riding clipless.
Another rider really adores this shoe, but just for cycling for just about any adventure. The stiff sole was great for scrambling and approach, and the grip was utterly insane. It stuck to the pedals like mad, and stuck to just about all surfaces whenever he was forced to walk on the trails. He wears this everywhere, as it’s really tough.
What makes this an updated version of the regular Freerider is that, this time, you have toe protection to go with the tough upper. That gives you even more leeway when cycling, and you’re better protected in case you goof the landings. But it’s still comfy and ventilated, with the mesh offering the breathability you need.
The flat Stealth Rubber is still here, giving you dependable grip while you’re still freely able to reposition your feet on the pedals. This is in response to those riders who sometimes complain that outsoles can be too sticky, so that it’s almost impossible for them for reposition their feet once they’ve planted them on the pedals.
This time, you can adjust your foot position on the pedal without any issues. The outsole also absorbs shock impact nicely. That should keep you nice and comfy when you’re on a challenging trail full of bumps ahead.
8. Bontrager Flatline Mountain Bike Shoe [Best for Men/Women]
These shoes are actually for both men and women. So, if you’re a couple who likes to ride mountain bikes with flat pedals, just get 2 pairs of these and you’re done shopping. The available sizes range from size 3.5 (that’s size 5 for women), to size 14.5 (16 for women). Of course, you’re free to get them if you’re solo.
One solo rider got these shoes for herself, after a lot of searching. She wanted a shoe that offered some flexibility, instead of the super-stiff shoes that are so prevalent these days. She wanted shoes that she could walk on when she wasn’t on the bike. With the Flatline, that’s what she got. The shoe really works for her, whether she’s on a mountain bike or on a cross bike—or even just walking around town.
Another rider confirmed that this worked well as cycling shoes for him, with its outstanding ability to let him transfer force to the flat pedal. He especially likes how the sole can really grip the pedal, yet he doesn’t have any trouble adjusting his feet to a better position. He felt comfortable wearing the shoe, while he was biking and also when he had to walk on it.
The rubber outsole here is undoubtedly the best, and it’s probably its main selling point. The Vibram rubber comes with a uniform tread pattern, which gives you the consistent feel you want between the outsole and the pedal. It’s grippy, but not overly sticky to the point that foot adjustment is an issue.
The EVA midsole also offers the shock absorption you want, so that you won’t be too jarred when traversing especially challenging trails. You even have a special directional tread at the toe and heel sections that gives you the off-bike traction you need. It works whether you’re scrambling uphill or downhill.
The upper is made from durable synthetic leather, which should last a long while even with frequent trips on the trails. They’re very comfortable, and they don’t prevent you from walking normally when you have to. The upper fiber is a composite with about 54% tough PU, 20% polyester, and 26% nylon. It feels lightweight as well.
9. Freerider Elements Mountain Cycling Shoe – Men’s
The Freerider is so famous that it comes with several versions to suit various particular needs and tastes. This shoe was inspired by the design of BMX shoes, so that you’re able to really ride it out on mountain bikes with flat pedals.
One rider summed up everything great about it, saying that it’s just perfect. It fits true to size, and it’s available from size 4 to size 14 (with available half-sizes from 4-12). It feels extremely comfortable on his feet. It sticks to the pedals like glue. He has also used the shoe extensively, and it feels like it’s going to last a good long while.
Another rider switched to flat pedals from riding clipless, which he found rather dismaying. Riding clipless may be great for climbing, but then he wasn’t really able to unclick readily when he’s about to crash. That’s a problem that he solved wearing the Freerider Elements with flat pedals. His feet don’t slip on the pedal sideways, but he can just disengage by lifting his feet straight up.
The Action leather here is located in the places that cranks, pedals, and stuff on the trail tend to do the most damage (at least on other shoes). The leather is also double-stitched for extra durability. In the other places, you have mesh for ventilation. The durable upper really offers supple protection while giving you comfort for a whole day of riding.
The semi-stiff midsole supports the feet and prevents hotspots. At the same time, it offers just enough flex so you still get proper feedback from the pedals. You’re also able to walk on the shoe more easily, as you can bend your feet.
You still get the iconic Stealth S1 rubber on the outsole, with the dotty tread pattern. It’s still a Freerider, and the Stealth S1 offers cushioning and shock-absorption in addition to the top-of-the-line stickiness.