Top 8 MTB Shoes of 2021

Best Mountain Bike Shoes 2020

We tested a ton of MTB shoes this year.  These our our picks for best mountain bike shoes from our test.

Five Ten Kestrel Lace

The Kestrel has been a solid performer in the FiveTen lineup for years. The lace-up version has classic skate-shoe styling and is comfortable both riding and walking (the sole isn’t quite as stiff as the Boa model). Five Ten’s signature Stealth outsole is super grippy and will help keep you on your bike even if you haven’t quite managed to clip in.

The rugged exterior feels absolutely bomb-proof, and venting over the toe helps keep them cool (or at least a little cooler; this style of shoe is always going to be hot). The only count against the Kestrels is that this solid construction, padding, and grippy rubber is really heavy. This isn’t a featherweight cross-country shoe; but if you’re looking for a trail, all-mountain, or downhill shoe, the Kestrel will serve you well. One of the best clipless mountain bike shoes of the year.

(Note: there’s also a Boa model that ratchets instead of ties. I opted to include the lace-up model here because it’s what I ride. If you like the idea of a more consistent fit, check it out.)

Price: $150.00


Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek VII

Pearl’s bike-shoe pedigree is undeniable. Their running shoes have earned quite a following as well. And with the X-Alp Seek, they sought to combine the two. Despite the running-shoe look, these kicks pack two-bolt cleat compatibility and nylon plates in the sole for efficient power transfer. They’re just remarkably comfortable off the bike as well.

This is another notably heavy shoe—the average weight is even higher than the Kestrels. But you’re making a great tradeoff; superior comfort and versatility for a bit more weight. It’s a deal that almost every rider will be happy to make. Especially when you can still look pretty stylish hitting the brewery after a ride!

Price: $129.00


Shimano XC5 Shoe

This Shimano Mountain Bike shoes not all too versatile. It won’t give you maximal traction for hiking. It won’t protect your feet from rock bashes. But it will help you ride as fast as you possibly can. The XC5 is designed for cross-country, cyclocross, and gravel-road riding. Which means it’s almost a road shoe. But the lugged outsole and a little bit of flex where it’s needed make it very at home on rougher rides.

Synthetic leather and lace closure are all you’ll find on the upper: no bash guards, reinforced sections, or Boa dials. This is a stripped-down shoe made for going fast. And even though it doesn’t have the hiking chops of trail shoes, the Michelin rubber outsole over the carbon-reinforced midsole will give you enough grip to get through those rockier sections of a cross-country ride.

Price: $150.00


Sidi Dominator MTB Shoes

The Dominator has long been a proud shoe; Sidi’s legacy of professional-level footwear is predicated on shoes like this. It’s meant for one thing and one thing only: going fast. The leather-like upper is super light and well-ventilated. The Caliper Buckle system gives you tons of adjustability. The nylon composite sole transfers power like nothing else.

This particular shoe is designed to work well for cyclocross, so the tread compound is a bit softer than most MTB shoes. But it still manages to be super light and ready for the rigors of cross-country rides and races.

Price: $249.00


NorthWave Celsius Shoes

The Celsius is a specialty shoe: it’s built for really nasty riding. It’s not even really a shoe. It’s more of a cycling boot. It doesn’t pack a ton of insulation, but it does bring GORE-TEX to keep your feet totally dry, no matter how wet or snowy the riding. The high-ankle cuff keeps snow and water from getting inside the boot.

It’s not cheap, but if you’re doing a lot of wet or winter riding, not much can compete with it. NorthWave isn’t a well-known brand, but the Celsius is a respected option for wet-weather riding.

Price: $249.00

What are you riding right now? I’m currently rocking the lace-up version of the Kestrel, and I love it. I want to hear what you’re using! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think of your current MTB shoes.

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  3. Best Bike Helmets
  4. 10 Mountain Bike Upgrades
  5. Best Hybrid Bikes for Commuting
  6. The 5 Best Mountain Bike Bells
  7. Best Bike Bells

About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief.

1 Comment on "Top 8 MTB Shoes of 2021"

  1. Been running the 5-10 Freeride (for warmer weather – breathable) and Freeride pro (colder or rainy weather) since I switch to flats…..used to run the Giro Terraduro (went thru 2 pairs) on Crank Bros Mallets, but for Flats (running DMR Vaults) the 5-10’s are insane anf grippy. I maybe lose 10% of the pedaling power I had in clips, but feel much more versatile to try tech sections with these two shoes and my flat pedals…..I won’t be switching back to clips with the performance I get from those kicks!

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