MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES
Mountain bike shoes can make or break your day. You can certainly where your regular shoes, but it helps allot with comfort and control to wear mtb bike shoes.
I wear different shoes for a day at the trails, than I do for adventure racing. I'll wear race cleats for the day trip, but need a hybrid for an expedition race.
One reason to switch to mtb bike shoes is you can use clipless pedals. The shoes have cleats on bottom that snap into your pedals. This allows you to stay on the pedals, pedal with more efficiency and gives you more control over the bike.
These shoes are designed to keep you locked into your pedal without the need for an additional locking system.
If you stick with a flat pedal and not clipless you can use your tennis shoes or adventure racing shoes. The same goes if you are using toe straps.
Though mtb shoes are not always the most comfortable, they have come a long ways.
The body of your mountain bike shoe is made with a special venting fabric that will not only provide protection for your feet, but will assist you in keeping your feet as cool as possible as well. There is also ventilation within the tongue system.
The shoes are stiff and rigid and some are made of carbon with a hard plastic sole. This will fit your foot snugly. It is important that they are the correct size for your individual foot and do not make your feet go to sleep. This will insure that they will be comfortable the whole day through.
You'll want some tips on how to ride your clipless pedals as it can be a challenge. Try it first at home before you hit the trails. I had a few wrecks getting used to my clipless pedals, but not find it hard to ride without them.
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TYPES OF CLEATS
Race Cleats Race cleats are for racing where you'll be clipped in most of the race, unless of course you fall. The shoes are stiff and rigid and have a very hard sole. These should fit your foot snugly and you'll wear a bike sock with these, which are very thin.
These are made for short races and not for walking. They are made just for biking, similar to a ski boot.
Downhill or Free Ride Cleats
These are going to be more supportive with a higher ankle. They are sometimes even high-tops with a hard flat sole. They look more like a skate board shoe than race cleats.
The downhill boots are going to be firm like a ski boot and lock you in very tight. This is too keep you steady while you fly down the hill like a maniac.
These shoes are a combination of shoes and cleats. They are more like a regular shoe with cleats. They are allot more comfortable and if you are a causal rider these are for you. You do lose some efficiency because they are not stiff, like race cleats.
Shoes for Flat PedalsShoes such as Five Ten have a sticky rubber sole for gripping the pedals. These are used for things like freeform riding, where you are doing tricks and need to be able to be out of the pedals. But they do offer some grip when on the pedals.
WHICH BRAND AND STYLE?
There are many manufacturers that both design and sell quality mtb bike shoes. Among these are Sidi, Beloe, Pearl Izumi, Five Ten, Marzocchi, and Shimano.
At Jenson USA you'll find these brands for good prices. I'd try them on at a local store first however to check for sizing.
The difference in the prices of shoes has to do with weight and stiffness. The more stiff they are the more expensive, as this translates to more efficient pedaling. However if you are a recreational rider, shoes on the lower end are fine.
You'll also pay more for weight, lighter weight shoes that is. Sidi has one of the lightest shoes at 285 g. I wore that shoe for a long time, but switched to a hybrid this last race as it was so long. I went with a medium priced Shimano.
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