The item of clothing that makes the biggest difference to your performance are your shoes. Here’s our guide to different types of off road shoes.
Urban flat pedals
If your riding style is easy like a Sunday morning, the good news is you don’t need special shoes. If your pedals are standard flats with no clips you can wear whatever you like. Maybe avoid your best leather soled Sunday shoes – you’ll ruin the shoes and slip off the pedals. For cycling to the shops or a quick off-road jaunt through some woodland, you can wear any old pair of trainers. Hopping off your bike without having to change your shoes for the walk is elegant – and convenient.
The ‘on and off’ bike rider
If you like getting out of the city and onto the trails, you’re likely to encounter gates, rocky ground and fallen trees. Be prepared to get off your bike, especially if you’re not planning on hitting the roads on your ride. Sometimes carrying your bike is unavoidable, so you want something like Five Ten Freeriders that are tight enough to offer less sideways movement, but the soles are stiff enough you can be sure–footed with the weight of your bike on your back. The added benefit of stiffer soles is they put more power to the pedals.
Cleated shoes for power boost
If you get your buzz racing your off-roader, you’ll be more concerned with the speed of your ride than getting off your bike. If you’ve never tried cleats before go out and buy some. Cleats allow for even stiffer soled shoes and are better at transferring your power output to your pedals – hence why road cyclists are such fans.
Once you’ve paid out for the pedals, even entry level shoes like Shimano’s MT34 will offer a huge performance boost – and like the more casual Teva Pivots, the cleats are recessed into the sole to make short distances on foot comfortable. Don’t worry about unclipping, it happens automatically by magic when you fly over your handle bars.
Mod your favourite trainers
Different companies have tried to introduce cycle specific “designer” shoes with varying degrees of success. Vans introduced their Warner SPD cleated cycle shoe which looked great but didn’t review well with the cycle press. Nowadays, companies like Retrofitz sell cleat systems, so you can modify your favourite trainers for use on cleated pedals. Alternatively, you could send them your favourite pair of Common Projects trainers, and ask them to fit the cleats for you.
What’s your preferred footwear on your mountain bike?