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The 6 Best Clipless Mountain Bike Shoes of 2021

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 Ranger Bike Shoes

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

When Giro designed their Ranger shoe, they started by looking at top-performing XC race shoes, and figuring out what made those shoes great. Then they worked to combine the best parts of those efficient designs into a more durable and versatile platform. The Ranger is the result. It has the stiff sole and efficient characteristics of an XC race shoe, but deeper traction lugs and softer rubber mean it’s competent off the bike too. The Ranger is held closed by three velcro straps, they’re bombproof and easy to adjust independently so that you can find a fit that keeps your foot secure without creating pressure points.

Giro makes the Ranger’s upper out of a seamless Synchwire material that sheds moisture and looks fresh even after miles of wear. That sort of sums up the Ranger’s ethos, they’ve eliminated most of the traditional failure points that cause problems for bike shoes, so the Ranger is poised to last year after year of hard riding. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense trail shoe with a stiff sole and exceptional durability, the Ranger will fit the bill.

 Intended Use Closure System Original Price
TrailVelcro$100

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Giro Manta Lace Bike Shoes - Women's

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

Giro’s Manta Lace shoe is designed for female riders who want a full-featured shoe in a slim, discrete package. Don’t let the Manta’s casual styling fool you, it’s got some tricks hidden under that sleek exterior. The Manta’s rubber toe cap has been reinforced to protect your feet from trailside rocks and stumps, and scuff-resistant materials throughout mean that it sheds off abuse and keeps looking good.

On the sole, the Manta has durable, grippy rubber lugs, and studs to attach toe cleats if you decide you want extra traction off the bike. The Manta’s laces are designed to be easy to tie and to stay put, even over long miles. If you’re looking for one shoe to do everything from commuter rides to work, long gravel rides, and XC and trail mountain bike rides, the Manta Lace are clipless mountain bike shoes that have all of that and more covered.

 Intended Use Closure System Original Price
XC/GravelLaces$140

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Ride Concepts Transition Shoes

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

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 mountain bike shoes on the list for riders who value descents above all else.

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 Original Price
Enduro & DH Laces & Velcro $160

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Giro Ventana Fastlace Bike Shoes

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

Giro calls the Ventana a “goldilocks” shoe for good reason. This is an all-around 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 one-piece Synchwire Upper Design tied into PU Bonded Mesh, along with the velcro strap. The Synchwire system is a really durable and easy-to-use lacing system that you can adjust on the fly. But with some shoes that only have one tightened, it can be hard to dial in the fit for people with narrow ankles. Adding the strap on 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 Original Price
 Trail Riding Quicklace & Velcro $130

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Five Ten Hellcat Shoes

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

Five Ten is probably best known for their flat pedal shoes with extra sticky rubber, so it should come as no surprise that the Hellcat looks more like its skate shoe brethren than it does a traditional XC or trail shoe. The Hellcat keeps the same subtle styling of shoes as the classic Freerider but updates it with a slightly stiffer sole, and clipless pedal cleats. That means that with the Hellcat you get the best of both worlds. When you’re not clipped in, you’ve still got the legendary 5.10 grip, but once you are locked onto your pedals they efficiently deliver power to your drivetrain.

XC and trail riders who rarely unclip, and walk their bikes even less will probably appreciate something stiffer. But if you’re an aggressive downhill rider who likes to be able to control their pedals even when you aren’t clipped in, the Hellcat is hard to beat. And its casual styling means it looks good at the brewery after the ride as well. The velcro strap locks in your ankle and keeps your laces from snagging in the undergrowth, and the coated leather upper keeps water out. If you like to seek out the gnarliest descents in your area and need a clipless shoe that can keep up, look no further than the Hellcat.

 Intended Use Closure System Original Price
DH/EnduroLaces+Strap$150

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Shimano XC3 Shoes

The best clipless mountain bike shoes of 2021
 

Shimano is one of the best-known players in the bike component and clipless pedal game, so it should come as no surprise that they also make a comprehensive line of mountain bike shoes to interface with those pedals. Shimano makes a bike shoe for just about every style of riding, from World Cup XC racers to weekend warriors The XC3 falls pretty squarely in the middle of that spectrum. It’s designed as a do-everything, go anywhere bike shoe that puts a priority on comfort.

In service of that goal, Shimano designed the XC3 with an offset BOA closure that allows you to micro-adjust the shoe’s tightness on the go. Cinch them down when you’re hammering on the pedals, loosen them up a little for long hike-a-bikes, never fumble with laces again. Shimano also rate’s the XC3’s shank stiffness as a 5 out of 10, it’s right in the middle of the road, stiff enough to transfer power efficiently, but not so stiff that it’s uncomfortable to walk around in. That said, if you spend a lot of time off your bike, pushing uphill, a shoe that’s a little softer, with a grippier rubber sole may serve you a little better. But if you like to spend long days in the saddle, chasing singletrack and new trails, it’s hard to go wrong with the Shimano XC3

 Intended Use Closure System Original Price
XC/TrailBOA$120

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