It is possible to ride in just about any type of shoe, but if you ride your regularly, more than three times per week, you can greatly benefit from shoes specifically designed for biking. There are shoes specifically designed for the type of riding you plan on doing. As a mountain bike rider, you might want to consider many of the excellent styles from Shimano, in my opinion the leader in cycle shoe development.
So what makes a mountain bike shoe different from other types of footwear? First of all, mountain bike shoes have a rather stiff sole which assists in making pedaling more efficient. They also have a rubber lug outsole which allows for walking on rugged, often slick terrain. They also offer a lacing or hook and strap system, often Velcro®. This allows you the ability to adjust the fit as well as offering a bit of protection to the toes.
As you increase in price, you get additional features. These include a lighter weight, stiffer sole, increased ankle and foot protection, waterproof liners and a hook and loop or buckle and ratchet type strap which provides for increased foot security and greatly improved fit. Some Mountain bike shoes also offer a removable toe spike which provides for increased traction while walking your bike.
Clipless mountain bike shoes utilize the 2-hole cleat system commonly known as the SPD system or Shimano Pedaling Dynamics system. This is the industry standard for clipless technology. The nice thing about this system is that the cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe which gives you the ability to walk comfortably even while wearing your bike shoes. This system is used on most mountain bike shoes today.
There is also a 3-hole system often referred to as the Look-style system. This system provides the greatest level of energy transfer, stability and stiffness but on the downside the ability to walk comfortably is becomes an issue due to the cleat bolted to the shoes sole.
Why Shimano: No matter what type of shoe you’re wearing, whether for sport or casual wear, comfort is the key to determining the shoes quality. Shimano goes above and beyond when it comes to the design and development of each of their bike shoe styles.
Shimano utilizes the Custom Fit Technology to develop a shoe that conforms exactly to your foot. They use ergonomically correct thermo-form plastic inserts and an anatomical last and vacuum fit process. The heat moldable fitting system combines three important properties in the development of the perfectly fitted shoe. Stability, Rigidity and Light Weight. This custom fit technology works together to create more speed and power with less wasted energy all with increased comfort for the rider.