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The 5 Best Clipless Mountain Bike Shoes of 2020

There are a whole bunch of clipless mountain bike shoes on the market right now, and every rider is looking for the best pair for them. But what does the “best” pair of clipless mountain bike shoes even mean? Well, we think there are a few specific criteria that make bike shoes great. They need to have a straightforward closure system that’s easy to adjust. They need to work well on the bike, and off it when hiking, or at the bar. And they need to protect your feet from impacts. So we’ve rounded up the five best pairs of clipless mountain bike shoes to help you narrow down your shopping.

We highlight their features and performance characteristics, as well as the distinctions between them to help you find your new favorite clipless mountain bike shoes. We’ve also included a chart with each shoe’s intended use, closure system, weight, and price, to help you narrow it all down.


Giro Ventana

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2020
 

Giro calls the Ventana a “goldilocks” shoe for good reason. This is an all-round shoe for the all-round rider. It’s a competent jack of all trades. The Ventana doesn’t have the stiffest shank out there, so it’s still comfortable to hike in, and its grippy rubber sole helps with traction when you want to session a feature over and over again.

We really like its combination of a BOA closure on the top of the shoe, with a velcro strap over the forefoot. BOA is a really durable and easy to use lacing system that you can adjust on the fly. But with some shoes that only have a BOA system it can be hard to dial in the fit for people with narrow ankles and wide toe boxes. Adding the strap on the lower section of the tongue allows you to dial in the fit along the whole length of your shoe so that your whole foot stays comfortable no matter how long the ride.

Pure XC racers may want something a little lighter and stiffer for more efficient power transfer. And gravity riders may want something with a little more protection and grippier soles. But anyone between those two extremes will be very happy with the Giro Ventana’s performance.

 Intended Use Closure System Weight Original Price
 Trail Riding Boa & Velcro 417g (Size 42) $180

Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2020
 

Five Ten may be best known for their flat pedal and climbing shoes with ultra sticky rubber, but their Kestrel Pro is one of our favorite clipless shoes. It’s a competent all-rounder with a bias towards gravity and enduro riding.

Like the Ventana, the Kestrel has a combination of a durable BOA system, along with a strap on the forefoot. This allows you to dial in the shoe’s fit for your particular foot. The Kestrel’s shank is one of the stiffest in this group, that makes for great power transfer, and a very efficient ride.

The real standout of the Kestrel though is the Stealth rubber sole. This is the same rubber Five Ten uses in their legendary flat pedal shoes, and it’s unmatched for traction. This makes the Kestrel one of our top picks for riders using clipless pedals with a platform, like the Crankbrothers Mallet. This downhill bias makes them one of the best clipless enduro shoes.

 Intended Use Closure System Weight Original Price
Enfuro & DH Boa & Velcro 465g (Size 9) $200
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Shimano ME7

 

Shimano might be best known for their pedals and drivetrains, but they also make some of the best clipless mtb shoes, too. The ME7 is one of Shimano’s more aggressive clipless shoes, it’s designed with enduro style riding in mind.

That means it’s got a lot of foot protection built into the shoe to help ward off impacts at high speeds. If you have a tendency to have a lot of pedal strikes, or snag rocks or stumps with your toes, this is our top choice for you. This is a stiffer soled shoe, so riders looking for something that’s comfortable for long hike-a-bike sections may want to go for something a little softer. But if you’re looking for all day comfort and protection on the bike, the ME7 is your ticket.

The ME7 uses a unique combination of a ratcheting buckle up top, with a speed lace system over most of the shoe. This makes it fast and easy to get in and out of, while still being able to dial in the fit. The one big downside of speed laces over BOA is that they can get grimey and wear out faster. The ME7 counters this with a lace shield flap that keeps them clean and dry. If you’re looking for a shoe to spin you up long climbs with no fuss, and take on the rowdiest descents, the ME7 is definitely worth your close consideration.

 Intended Use Closure System Weight Original Price
 Trail & EnduroBuckle & Speed Lace 396g (Size 42) $200

Giro Chamber II

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2020
 

If you’re looking for a shoe that performs well on the trail, but doesn’t look out of place when you’re grabbing post-ride beers at the bar, the Chamber II is your ticket to success. The Chamber II combines casual skate shoe styling with Giro’s proven performance to create a clipless shoe that looks as good as it rides. The sole is a little less stiff than some of the other options on this list, so it’s comfortable to hike in, but we would recommend using it with pedals with a bigger platform so you don’t develop hot spots.

That casual styling does come with drawbacks for some riders though. If you often ride in the wet, or deal with water crossings on your rides, the Chamber may not be for you. It gets soaked quickly, and takes a long time to dry. Similarly, if you’re looking for a more performance fit, it can be harder to dial in the Chamber’s laces on the fly than just adjusting a BOA system. And there’s no protection for those laces, so riding in the grime will gum them up. However, for riders looking for a clean looking, high performance bike shoe that doesn’t look like part of a Transformer, the Chamber II is a great option.

 Intended Use Closure System Weight Original Price
 Trail Riding Laces & VelcroNA $149.95

Ride Concepts Transition

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2020
 

Ride Concepts is a relative newcomer in the world of bike shoes, but they’ve come out swinging, with shoes that are designed to deal with common problems and hold up to abuse. The Transition is their gravity-oriented clipless mtb shoe. It’s designed to offer a snug fit and great foot protection, all with understated styling. This isn’t the lightest or the stiffest shoe on this list. Instead, it’s aimed at riders who are focused on going downhill fast and need something that protects their feet from impacts and offers good traction for hiking features. This means the Transition is one of the best clipless pedals on the list for riders who value descents above all else.

Like the Chamber II the Transition has a lace closure with a velcro buckle to keep the laces from tangling. So it’s not the best option for wet rides. But it is very comfortable and easy to get on and off.

One of the real highlights of the Transition is its use of D30 material. This is a special material that stays flexible through normal use but hardens under impact. This means the shoe stays flexible and comfortable while riding, but instantly hardens to protect your feet from any rocks or stumps. If you’re looking for a clipless shoe that’s optimized for long days in the bikepark and big, gnarly descents, the Ride Concepts Transition is our top choice.

 Intended Use Closure System Weight Original Price
Enduro & DH Laces & VelcroNA $160

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