Mountain bike shoes and pedal systems: Everything at a glance

After you have hopefully found your dream bike, the next important decision is waiting: The choice of the right bike shoes. First of all, you should know that there are two important things to consider: your pedals and your preferred bike discipline. We will show you why. 


2 different pedal Types

As already mentioned the system of your pedals plays an important role when choosing bike shoes. Essentially, two types can be distinguished: pedals without a click-system, so-call platform or flat pedals, and pedals with a click-system, so-called clipless pedals.


Pedals without click-system

Basically, platform pedals are “normal” pedals, where there is no firm connection between the shoe and the pedal – pins on the surface provide additional grip in the terrain. To keep the pins in the sole you need a flat sole with enough grip.


Advantages: Since you are not firmly connected to the pedal, you have your feet back on the ground faster. This allows you to try out different things, risk more and improve your own riding technique. Plus, riding with platform pedals requires a higher body tension, as you have to guide your bike more carefully if you do not want to slip.


Use: This type of pedal is particularly suitable if you do a lot of downhill and freeride biking because you can reposition your feet easily and quickly. Basically, you can use flat pedals for any other mountain bike discipline as well, if you prefer a bit more freedom of movement. They are also ideal for beginners.



Pedals with click-system

Clipless pedals are a bit more complicated than those without. Plates, so-called cleats, need to be mounted on the soles of your shoes, which can be clicked into the pedals of your bike and thus provide a firm connection. Your bike shoes have to be designed for this – you can not simply attach cleats to any shoe.

Depending on the manufacturer, there are different pedals, which differ mainly by the size and the click-system. While smaller pedals are used for racing, the size and weight play a minor role in mountain biking.  As far as the click-system is concerned, the Shimano SPD system is mostly used for mountain bikes, as the system offers quite a high walking comfort. The cleats in this system usually allow multiple exits – horizontal, diagonal and vertical. Getting in and out of clicks is just a matter of practice, don’t worry!


Advantages: The clicks-system creates an optimal connection between shoe and pedal. No more slipping, even at high speeds or bad weather conditions. In addition to increased safety, another key benefit of click systems is clearly the better power transmission. The energy is not only transferred when pressing the pedal down but also when pulling it upwards again. 


Use: Because of the better power transmission, clipless pedals are especially suitable for longer bike tours, as you can save a lot of energy. Also for cross-country races, they are, ideal.


The right shoe for you discipline

As you already know, depending on your discipline clipless pedals or platform pedals are better suited. Now we need to talk about the matching shoes.


Downhill & Freeride

If you mainly ride downhill and feeride, you should choose so-called flat pedal shoes. Their flat, soft sole offers ideal grip on platform pedals without clicks. Various tricks and rapid downhill riding are no problem due to the unlimited freedom of movement. Plus, they also look good.




If you not only like to speed down trails, but also want to ride them up, all-mountain bike shoes are the right choice. They usually are suitable for click-systems because of the better power transmission when going up. Also for bike tours, they are perfect, as you can save necessary energy on longer distances. In addition, these shoes are comfortable and have a good profile, making them ideal for walking in the terrain as well.



Cross Country & Race

Due to the better power transmission, cross country and race shoes are always equipped with click systems. To be even faster in the race, they are tighter and lighter compared to all-mountain shoes. The reduced profile, however, makes them less suitable for walking. 



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