When it comes to using flat pedals on a mountain bike, having the right shoes makes a world of difference. Between the sticky rubber and stiffer sole, you get better grip and support with a pair of mountain bike specific shoes. While many of the big-name brands make them, Five Ten is widely regarded as the industry leader. Five Ten, now owned by Adidas, has a proprietary compound called Stealth Rubber that is known for its durability and tackiness. Born from rubber used on climbing shoes, Five Ten began making shoes in 1985.
So what are the benefits of using a mountain bike specific shoe? Incredible grip and support is the number one reason. They will also give added protection for smashing into rocks and other hard stuff. Compared to clipless shoes, they give you an instant release in case you need to put your foot down or are flying over the handlebars. They’re also easier to walk in, although most mountain bike clipless shoes are easy to walk in as well (compared to road bike shoes). They have the cool factor too. You could hang out in your mountain bike shoes at the bar, at a restaurant, or a barbecue with your friends and no one would think twice. Not that that’s much of a reason, but it’s definitely an added bonus.
What are the downsides of a flat pedal shoe? Well, you don’t get the same power that you would be if you were clipped in. There’s no doubt about that and there’s no point in trying to argue any different. While being able to get off your pedals quickly and easily with flat pedal shoes is a benefit in a lot of instances, it can also be a detractor when your foot is bouncing on and off the pedal in rowdy situations. Another downside is that they don’t last as long as we’d hope. Even after one season of riding, a pair of Five Ten shoes will have significant wear from the pedal pins digging into the rubber.
What We’re Using
The Holy Grail of mountain bike shoes that most riders gravitate towards is the Five Ten Freerider Pro. This shoe gives a great balance of ruggedness, stiffness, and grip. It isn’t the lightest or most breathable shoe, but the positives greatly outweigh any of the negatives with this shoe. Due to the pandemic, most of their stock has been completely wiped out. We should start to see these come back on stock in the spring so keep your eyes peeled!