The Best Mountain Bike Shoes of 2022
A secure connection to your bike starts with your feet
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Whether you’re clipping in or stamping on pins, getting your footwear dialed can make the difference between nailing your flow or coming up short. Over the past year, we’ve put our toes to the grindstone pedaling our way through the latest offerings in off-road kicks. These four pairs of mountain bike shoes stand a foot above the rest, ready for everything from bike-park laps to the cross-country starting line.
Specialized Rime 2.0 ($170)
Best for Remote Exploring
The Rime 2.0 offers the best of a clipless performance trail shoe but with hikeable, off-bike utility. The panels of hydrophobic Xpel mesh kept drying time to a minimum after frequent stream crossings, and the chunky lugs provided excellent grip on soft terrain. The flexible sole took the edge off multi-hour hike-a-bikes. But back to riding: This shoe is just stiff enough for full-effort pedaling, and the lace-up-and-Boa closure combo made the shoes easy to cinch down when we wanted that one-with-the-bike feeling. For remote trail work and all-day epics, the Rime 2.0 got us there and back again with ease. (unisex 36–49)
Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS ($180)
Best for Hard Trail Riding
Think of the VCS as the burlier sibling of the regular Freerider Pro, Five Ten’s do-it-all trail-riding shoe. The VCS features a hook-and-loop closure that was easy to operate—even with our testers’ muddy, gloved hands. The ankle-height knitted cuff strikes an ideal balance of protection and comfort for all-day use in the bike park or backcountry, and trail debris stayed out when we got deep into the loam. Five Ten’s famous Stealth rubber grips pedal pins as tightly as ever, keeping slipped pedals a thing of the past. Spin your heart out or huck it to flat; the VCS is up for the former and down with the latter. (unisex 4–15)
Bontrager Foray ($150)
Best for Gnarly Cross-Country
The Foray has a roomier fit and a more walkable nylon midsole compared to most stiff race shoes. (Bontrager gives it a 6 of 14 on its stiffness scale.) The reinforced uppers sacrifice some breathability, but stand up to mud, debris, and rocky scrambling. The grippy rubber lugs and full-coverage outsoles gave our testers confident footing wherever we had to hop off the bike, and they could easily grab the pedals if we needed to sneak in a stroke before we clipped in. And it’s all secured with a Boa—not bad for $150. (unisex 36–48)
Giro Latch ($150)
Best for Post-Work Hot Laps
Giro hit a home run with the Latch, rivaling even Five Ten’s Stealth rubber in grip. This shoe ticked nearly every box on our testers’ must-have lists. It’s weather-resistant, stiff yet hikeable, and built with the toe-box protection to (lightly) kick a stump. But what really stood out is the surprising amount of padding throughout the uppers, making for a foot-hugging, performance-oriented fit. The casual styling will be a catch for some riders but probably a bonus for most. (men’s 38–50 / women’s 36–43)