The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Mountain Bike Shoes

Thursday April 8, 2021
The only real way to test mountain bike shoes is by riding in them...
The only real way to test mountain bike shoes is by riding in them. Our testers aren't complaining.
Photo: Laura Casner

How We Test


When we test products, we push them to their limits. We insist on testing and pushing products far beyond an initial impression, putting them through the wringer during long periods of continuous use and abuse. The bulk of our shoe testing regimen involved riding every day. We took each pair on a variety of rides including shuttle laps, enduro, cross-country races, gravel grinds, even a handful of road rides. Regardless of each shoe's intended discipline we wanted to try them all out in every scenario to see which ones worked best overall and which struggled. We rode in each pair of shoes for an extended period and switched between models frequently for back to back comparison. Switching quickly back and forth between shoes allowed us to get a feel for the minute differences in fit, power transfer, and comfort. We didn't baby the shoes; instead, we took them to excess, doing gratuitous hike-a-bikes, mud walks, abrasion tests, and sole-flexing sprint efforts. Once we were confident in our assessment of each shoe we rated them using predetermined comparative metrics. Those ratings were combined with our field testing findings to give you the most honest and unbiased reviews possible.

We're lucky to have a wealth of riding right out the door or just a...
We're lucky to have a wealth of riding right out the door or just a short drive away. This gives us the opportunity to test shoes in a huge range of conditions and terrain.
Photo: Laura Casner

Where We Test


We had the privilege to test these shoes for an extended period in a variety of locations, trails, terrain, and weather conditions. The shoes were tested extensively throughout northern California, mostly in the greater Tahoe area, but also the Sierra foothills, Downieville, Mendocino, Santa Cruz, Marin County, and the western Sierra foothills of Northern Nevada. We also employed the help of some friends who are particularly hard on gear, by having them put some of the shoes through their special type of abuse and report back to us with their impressions. These shoes were ridden hard and put away wet by testers who ride a lot (like every day) and mix it up in a variety of disciplines to provide you with the most thorough and unbiased performance assessment possible. Take a minute and read our full Mountain Bike Shoe Review to find out how all the competitors fared in the OutdoorGearLab head-to-head comparison.