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How to Fit Mountain Bike Shoes

Everybody likes a new pair of shoes, and mountain bike shoes are no exception. So how can you ensure that your new pair of kicks will feel and perform as awesome as they look? We’ve made a list of five tips for shoe fitting, so you can make sure you get the right size (and the right shoe) before you make such an important investment.

  1. Mountain bike shoes don’t fit like casual shoes.
    While your cycling shoes should never be uncomfortable, your foot should feel different in them when you’re walking around. Casual or walking shoes need a little more room to allow your foot to spread out as you step, which is unnecessary in bike shoes. Most cycling insoles are built to support your metatarsals (the bones where your toes meet the rest of your foot) so your foot doesn’t flex when you push down on the pedals, keeping your feet comfortable and increasing power output. Long story short, it’s okay if your toes are right up against the end of the shoe, as long as they aren’t pressed against the toe box.

    image courtesy of pinkbike.com

  2. The Enclosure system is important!
    When trying on casual shoes, the lacing system isn’t always a primary concern- if the shoe is comfortable, who cares how it closes? With cycling shoes, you have to make sure the shoe is still comfortable when tightened down. Your shoe should be tightened snugly (regardless of what enclosure system you use), as leaving your shoes loose can allow your heel to move around in the back of the shoe, causing blisters. When trying on shoes, make sure to take a couple of test steps, then re-tighten the shoes and test whether you can lift your heel at all inside the shoe. The movement should be minimal, if any.

    image courtesy of Pinkbike.com

  3. Ankle/Arch support is also important.
    Most shoe companies don’t build shoes with a ton of ankle or arch support. The reason for this is simply that customers needing low arch support will be very uncomfortable in a shoe with medium/high arch support, whereas a customer needing high arch support can still use a shoe without. When trying on a pair of shoes you shouldn’t be able to lift your arch off the sole of the shoe with the shoe flat on the ground. If you can feel movement under your arch, a pair of supportive insoles is a good idea. Your local bike shop can help you with fitting suggestions!

    image courtesy of outdoorgearlab.com

  4. Walking on flat ground won’t tell you how the shoes feel on the bike.
    If you can’t bring your bike along to test the shoes, try walking up a flight of stairs- the foot position and muscle movements are very similar to pedalling a bike, so you should get a good approximation of how the shoes feel when pedalling.

    image courtesy of verticalgear.com

  5. Ensure your shoes fit you AND your bike.
    Mountain bike shoes- especially those built for aggressive riding like the Five Ten Freerider, are quite large, to give you better support and traction on the pedals. This can lead to clearance issues between the sole of the shoe and the crankarms, front tire or chain stays. If you find your shoes rubbing, you might need to look into pedal washers (to move your pedals out from the frame), or a different cleat position if you’re clipped in. Keep in mind that if you make changes to your pedal or cleat position, you should ensure that your bike fit remains the same. Once again, your local bike shop can help you make the necessary changes without causing any issues.

    Heel rub can really mess up your bike’s aesthetics

Five Ten cycling and climbing shoes are available through your local Live to Play Sports dealer. Head there and the staff can help you try all the different models, can give you advice on which shoes will suit your riding style the best, and can help you set them up for maximum performance!