Cycling can feel like such a complicated and expensive sport. There is equipment and accessories for every need and there is an even bigger price tag attached to each item. I coach a lot of athletes who are just getting into the sport or who are trying to optimize their training. No matter where you stand on the fitness or experience curve, at some point you’ve probably wondered which pieces of equipment are multi functional.

When the trails are wet and un-rideable and you are kitting up for a road ride, you might wonder, “Can I wear my MTB shoes on the road?”

Yes! You can wear your MTB shoes on the ride. Often times, they are more comfortable, sport-specific, and save you from buying another piece of equipment.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Using Mountain Bike Shoes on a Road Bike:

There are two main reasons that you would wear mountain bike shoes on the road. The first reason is that you are a die-hard mountain biker and you want to benefit from being as sport specific as possible in all of your training. The second reason is that you are a casual rider who can benefit from saving some money on equipment and values comfort and versatility above all. Not sure where you stand on this spectrum? The rest of this article will help you find what you value the most out of your riding shoes.

Shoes, Socks and Pedals – taking care of your feet riding is critical. Check out the articles below:

Advantages of MTB Shoes for Trail and Road

Comfort: I believe, that overall, the mountain bike shoe is usually more comfortable than a road shoe. A mountain bike shoe comes in more varieties, thus accommodating every type of foot. It also, in general, is less stiff, which allows your foot to flex and move slightly while wearing it. The road shoe, on the other hand, will have a very stiff sole which can often be uncomfortable.

Road vs MTB Shoes
Road vs MTB Shoes

Sport-Specificity: Another reason to ride a road bike with mountain bike shoes is because you are a mountain biker through and through. If you don’t have any road cycling goals then why would you spend time and money on getting another pair of shoes to fit you perfectly?

You have 5 points of contact with your bike: two feet, two hands, and your saddle. If your road bike and your mountain bike have the same pedals, shoes, and saddle then the fit and feeling will be very similar to your mountain bike, which is your primary goal after all.

Durability: Since mountain bike shoes are designed to be worn on trails, and in all weather conditions, they are generally more durable than a road shoe. They can be made out of tougher material and will usually last longer and withstand conditions better than a road shoe.

Dedicated Mountain Bike Clipless Shoes
Dedicated Mountain Bike Clipless Shoes

Versatility: If you want to save some money and can only buy one set of shoes, then mountain bike shoes and pedals are the way to go. You can ride a road bike with mountain bikes shoes, but you cannot, or rather should not ride a mountain bike with road shoes.

Walking: One of the biggest advantages of a mountain bike shoe is that it is easy to walk in; much easier than a road shoe. A road shoe has a stiff sole and a large cleat on the bottom which makes walking difficult. It also hurts the integrity of a road shoe to walk on the cleat repeatedly.

A mountain bike shoe, on the other hand, recedes in the middle so that the cleat does not come into contact with the ground. It also has traction on the sole of the shoe so that it is easy to walk on a variety of surfaces without slipping. If you plan to do any adventure rides, walk up a hill, commute, go grocery shopping, or even hang around a coffee shop for a long time, a mountain bike shoe is likely the best option for you. 

Find a HUGE selection of Mountain Bike Shoes at AMAZON. Here is a Link to highly rated MTB Shoes – Mountain Bike Shoes for Road (Amazon Link)

Disadvantages of MTB Shoes on a Road Bike

Even though there are a lot of advantages to riding a mountain bike shoe on the road, there is a reason that road racers have specific shoes. That means, there must be some disadvantages as well.

They Can Be Hotter: Since MTB Shoes are made out of more durable material, sometimes they can also be hotter. Mountain bike shoes are often made with less breathable shoes, and fewer holes throughout the material. This can be an advantage in the winter or in trial conditions, but when the sun is beating down on the black asphalt it can be the extra heat on your feet that puts you over the edge.

In addition to a thicker or less breathable material, sometimes MTB shoes can produce more hot spots on the feet than road shoes. The combination of a smaller platform pedal, and a less stiff shoe, can create hot spots on the contact area of the pedal that is less common with road shoes. 

Less Watts: It’s true, when you wear mountain bike shoes on the road, you are sacrificing a few watts. In most cases, the difference is negligible, but if you are racing or competing in a scenario where every watts counts, then you might consider spending the extra money on road shoes.

Stiffness: The stiffer a shoe is, the more directly power is transferred into the pedal. Since MTB shoes are less stiff, some of the power is dissipated into the flexibility of the shoe.

Surface Area: A road pedal has a larger platform which means that when you push down there is more surface area to place power into and you can produce more watts.

Heavier: Since a mountain bike shoe has a more durable design and a larger tread pattern on the bottom of the shoe, they are usually heavier than a road shoe. When you are trying to optimize watts per kilogram, road shoes are another place to shed some grams.

Being comfortable is critical to getting stronger on your Mountain Bike. Read another article on How to Make Your Mountain Bike More Comfortable

Recommended Mountain Bike Shoes for On and Off-Road Conditions:

Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike Shoe: This is an extremely high-end mountain bike shoe which means it’s stiffer and lighter than many road shoes on the market. This high-end mountain bike shoe would likely serve you better on the road than a low-end road shoe. This beauty will cost you about $399.

Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike Shoe
Bontrager XXX Mountain Bike Shoe

Bontrager Cambion Mountain Bike Shoe: This is a more affordable, and slightly lower-end shoe than the XXX MTB Shoe. It still features a stiff carbon sole and will serve you well on the road. It features a Boa fit system that allows you to tighten and loosen the shoe as needed throughout the ride. This shoe is slightly more affordable and can be found for as low as $120.

Bontrager SSR Multisport Shoe: As the name suggests, this shoe is actually designed specifically to do it all. It can be featured as a road, mountain biker, or commuter shoe. With versatility you sacrifice a bit of performance, but you can get it at a low price of $99.

Saddle Time and Comfy Feet

There is No Wrong Answer: The bottom line is that there are both pros and cons for wearing MTB shoes on the road bike. The most important thing is that you are riding your bike! If anyone gives you a hard time for your choice of foot attire, sight a few reasons for your choice from this article and make sure you log more Strava hours than them.

Looking for More Things to Learn About Mountain Biking?

Hannah Finchamp is a professional mountain biker for the Orange Seal Pro Team. When she isn’t riding her own bike she is coaching others to reach their goals as a Certified USA Cycling Coach and Certified Athletic Trainer. To learn more about the author please visit and follow Hannah on Instagram