Over a period of four months, we rode six days a week and put these mountain biking shoes to the test. We took them on flowy moderate tracks. We took them on long climbs. We took them to Northstar's mountain biking park. And when we found similarities in a pair of shoes, we would try them side-by-side on the same day. Our test location is in Tahoe and includes awesome trails like Star Lake, Cold Water Creek, Armstrong, Corral, Marlett Lake, Mammoth, and Northstar. Our favorite pairs accompanied us during the Xterra Triathlon and the Downhill series at Northstar.
We think that grip is the most important metric because it is what keeps us on our bike. So we tested all of the shoes on the same terrain. For each pair, we tried a flowy trail with moderate climbing. When we felt that two pairs of shoes performed similarly, we tried them again to answer the question, which one is best?
Comfort and Protection
Comfort is a subjective metric, as everyone has different feet and qualities they like and don't like. We did our best to speak to what actions companies take to increase comfortability for the consumer.
It is very easy to buy aftermarket inserts if you have a high arch foot, but you can not buy more protection for your foot in the shoe. We took falls in all of these shoes and carefully looked and researched each one.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
To test rigidity, we examined how these shoes felt when we were pedaling. Could we feel our foot on the pedal? And how they felt when we had to hike the bike. Do our feet cramp because the shoe is too rigid? And how does a rigid shoe affect how much power we can put into the pedal? We tested this metric for all riding styles.
Summers in Lake Tahoe tend to be consistently 80 degrees. The whole summer, we rode mile after sweaty mile in each pair of shoes in this moderately hot climate to tell you which ones we feel are the most breathable. We found that the lightest shoes were also the most breathable.
We tested these shoes on all types of terrain and weather. We hiked them, hit them against rocks and trees (most of the time on accident) and scrapped them against our pedals to be able to tell you which ones we think will give you the best grip while also lasting the longest.