The Best Flat Pedal Mountain Bike Shoes of 2021? 7 Tested

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Looking for the best flat pedal mountain bike shoes for trail riding and bikepacking? Logan tested seven pairs that are relatively accessible and compared them based on comfort, looks, durability, and one of the most important factors, pedal grip. Find details on all of them after more than a year of use here…

Flat shoes or SPDs? It’s an age-old debate in the cycling world. I started out mountain biking with clipless pedals and cleats and considered myself committed to them at one point. However, that changed after a serious back injury and surgery a few years ago. Once I was able to start riding again—some seven or eight months later—I had to face the fact that there was nerve damage in both of my feet. This was particularly evident in the twisting motion required to disengage clipless pedals and SPDs, which made it a little challenging to unclip quickly and easily.

Prior to my injury, I always rode with SPDs while mountain biking and on most bikepacking trips, aside from longer dirt road tours where I switched to flats and a comfortable approach shoe. But the nerve issue forced me to switch to flat pedals for all types of riding and learn how to pedal more aggressive trails with flats. I’ll admit that it was challenging at first, but it ultimately led to me becoming a better rider and changing my style altogether. I’ve healed since then, but I stuck with riding flats on my trail mountain bike and consider myself something of a long-term convert at this point.

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While learning to ride flats on the rocky and rooty technical trails around my home in Western North Carolina, I quickly learned the importance of good shoes and pedals. It was pretty clear early on that Five Tens were the creme de la creme for their ultra-sticky soles that keep you glued to the pedals. However, more and more companies have released shoes that challenge Five Ten’s market dominance, so I decided to research and round up a bunch of the most well-regarded and mainstream options and put them to a group test over the last year.

Each of these shoes was ridden with OneUp flat pedals (my personal favorite) on a variety of hardtails, rigid 29+ bikes, and my full-suspension Ibis Ripley. Find a mini-review of each shoe below followed by ratings, weights, and other details, then read on for a few of my favorite picks in different categories. Note that all of these are flat pedal mountain bike shoes with a protective or molded toe cap, a lace-up design, and stiff-ish heel cups.

Bontrager Flatline

The Flatline is Bontrager’s only flat-pedal-specific shoe. It comes in both men’s and women’s-specific sizes. The men’s version comes in two color options: black with red laces or “battleship” blue. The un-reinforced lace eyelets are rectangular in shape, which are designed to keep the laces flat. A red-accented elasticized lace retainer is located mid-way down the tongue to secure the excess length of the laces, which is a nice touch.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Bontrager Flatline

The upper of the shoe has a leather-like appearance and is sewn entirely from a polyurethane, nylon, and polyester material (53.7% PU / 20% Polyester / 26.3% Nylon). A softer, fleece-like polyester fiber is laminated in place for the lining. The quarter panels on each side of the shoe have small ventilation perforations, and the heel cup and toe have a layer of protective “gnar-guard” laminated in place for extra protection.

The Flatline’s outsoles are constructed from Vibram rubber, which is quite hard to the touch. The only other comparable sole we tested was the Michelin rubber used in the Shimano GR7s. Because of the rigidity of the compound, the pedal’s pins don’t easily penetrate it. That means the shoes rely on both the pattern of the soles and the stickiness of the rubber to create a solid connection to the pedals. Unlike the GR7s, which have a more intricate sole tread design with lots of variation in the channels between the lugs, the uniform square pattern covering the midfoot of the Flatline’s sole provides fewer recesses or angles in which the pedals’ pins can really engage.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Bontrager Flatline

As such, the Flatline’s Vibram soles aren’t quite as grippy as the compounds used in many of the other flat shoes we tested. All of these elements leave the shoe with a less connected to the pedal feel. But, as Cass stated in his review of this shoe, “I have to be honest and say that the decrease in tackiness wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. They still hold on to the pedals more than sufficiently; I’ve tried them across a number of models and I found the pins catch and hold nicely in their grid-syle tread pattern. What’s more, there’s enough dampening in the sole to protect my feet from bouncing around along rough terrain, combined with a suppleness that feels comfortable when I’m walking around.” Another positive aspect of the harder sole compound is that they’re more durable than softer offerings that get easily chewed up from pedal pins. And like many of the shoes I tried, I thought they got a little grippier with use.

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  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Bontrager Flatline
  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Bontrager Flatline
  • Bontrager Flatline Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • Bontrager Flatline Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

The Bontragers fit and feel pretty comfortable. The insole feels pretty unpadded, but its overall cush factor seems on par with most others listed here (softer than the GR7 and Giants, and harder than the rest). They also have a moderately padded tongue that relieves pressure from laces. And they aren’t super stiff, so they’re fairly comfortable to walk around in. However, they fall short when it comes to traction on the trail. The moderately sticky Vibram rubber sole provides decent grip on dry, smoother surfaces, but the relatively flat bottom and zig-zag tread pattern at the toe and heel of the sole don’t quite cut it on mud, loose terrain, and wet grass.

All in all, the Bontrager Flatline is the lightest shoe that we tested. They’re a moderate balance between rigidity and cushy comfort, with maybe just slightly more sole flex than most others in this group. They are also the middle of the road when it comes to weather protection and breathability. It has synthetic leather uppers with small perforations on the side panels and a small row along the toe-side, but no mesh, so the ventilation isn’t great.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 42.5, US 9.5, UK 8.5, 27.3cm
  • Sizes Available EU 36-48
  • Weight (per shoe) 347 grams (12.2 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture China
  • Price $130
  • Manufacturer’s Details trekbikes.com

Five Ten Freerider Pro

Five Ten’s venerable Freerider lineup features a dizzying array of options that were made even more complicated when they merged with Adidas a couple of years back. The Five Ten Freerider Pro isn’t a completely new model, but it is the keystone of the Freerider range, in my opinion. The model reviewed here was released a few years ago and was a significant revision with an updated sole, an impact-resistant urethane toe box, and a lighter weight than its predecessor. It comes in both men’s and women’s versions—although it’s hard to say for sure if there’s anything different between them, aside from the colors. The men’s Freerider Pro comes in three color combinations: black, black with red accents, or gray/blue.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Five Ten Freerider Pro

The Freerider Pro has a stitched construction with a “quick-drying” synthetic leather upper and a textured rubber coating around the toe and heel for protection. The majority of the lace eyelets are rectangular, with the top two and three additional crank-side eyelets being metal-reinforced circles. Midway through the laces, there’s a vertically oriented elastic lace keeper, which isn’t as easy to use as others with the pull-tab-equipped horizontal elastic keeper. The collar and tongue are padded, but overall, the Freerider Pro is one of the simpler and more basic shoes in terms of construction.

Five Ten Freerider Pro, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

But the sole is where the magic happens. Five Ten’s rubber compounds and Dotty tread pattern are regarded as the gold standard for grippy mountain bike soles, one that all others are judged against. In an ever-evolving lineup rooted in rock climbing, Five Ten (now Adidas) has a broad range of rubber compounds that they apply to different products for specific activities, such as cycling and approach (pre-climbing). Some of these compounds are more grippy and less durable, and others are harder and more long-lasting, but less grippy. The Freerider Pro doesn’t use the stickiest rubber in their collection. Instead, they use a 64a durometer S1 rubber, which isn’t quite as soft and grippy as the Stealth Mi6 rubber that was on the Freerider Contact I tested many moons ago. Either way, it’s plenty grippy and still bests the majority of this group, with the Shimano GR7 and Giro Riddance coming in at a close second, and the Ion Scrub not far behind.

Looking at the soles, there’s nothing particularly special about them. The dot-patterned circles are larger than a lot of other shoes’ lugs, and the spaces between them are wider and consistent throughout the shoe. Unlike some other shoes, Five Ten relies on the stickiness and softness of its rubber compound instead of tight tread channels designed to hold the pedal pins. Although, there’s something to be said for the dot pattern too. The rather loose pattern does a good job at keeping the pedal pins engaged while still allowing you to make micro-adjustments while riding.

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  • Five Ten Freerider Pro, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • Five Ten Freerider Pro, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • Five Ten Freerider Pro, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

Despite the fact that they’re perfectly grippy on the pedals, it should be no surprise that they’re not that great when it comes to off-bike traction. Like many others in this list, they lose grip on loose or wet surfaces due to the lack of deeper lugs. However, similar to the Ion and the GR7, the Freerider Pro has a pretty stiff sole, which allows you to dig in with the side of the shoe while hiking up steep and chunky bits if needed.

I’ve had mostly good luck with the fit of Five Tens over the last six or seven years, but since the merger with Adidas more recently, there is a little inconsistency in sizing. There have been a few that fit true to size and others that have been way off. Fortunately, the 42.5 Freerider Pro fit perfectly. I would consider it mid-range in the comfort department. There are a couple in this roundup that are a little cushier. But I think that five Ten did a good job balancing simplicity and comfort. I appreciate the no-nonsense design of the Freerider Pro and the feel it has on the pedals. Internally, the Freerider Pro is built around a molded EVA midsole and an OrthoLite sockliner. There is just enough cushion there to keep it comfortable on long rides, but not too much to make it feel overbuilt or bulky. It breathes fairly well, too, regardless of the only perforated vents being on the top of the forefoot area. It also does a good job keeping the feet dry on creek crossings and puddles.

Overall, the Five Ten Freerider Pro is clearly a trail-centered riding shoe. There are better options for big mountain trips, such as the Guide Tennie or the Guide Tennie mid (RIP). And more recently, the expedition-focused TrailCross line, which Cass reviewed here. However, that doesn’t mean the Freerider Pro isn’t a good bikepacking shoe. On the contrary, it’s pretty comfortable and the S1 rubber seems quite durable. If I had one wish, it’s that they made more of a mid version with higher ankles and more support.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 42.5, US 9.5, UK 8.5, 27.5cm
  • Sizes Available US 7-13, half-sizes available, EU 40-48 equivalent
  • Weight (per shoe) 361 grams (12.7 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture China
  • Price $150
  • Manufacturer’s Details adidas.com

Giant Shuttle Flat

The Shuttle Flat is Giant’s all-terrain, all-purpose men’s flat pedal shoe. Liv offers their own version of the Shuttle Flat for women. The Shuttle Flat has the most casual street style of any of the shoes included in this roundup. They are basic black with “gum” colored soles. The shoe’s upper is constructed from a polyurethane (TPU)-coated synthetic. The quarter panel is single-layered with laser perforations on each side. An additional layer of synthetic leather is stitched on over the vamp (top of the forefoot), the bottom two-thirds of the tongue, and the bottom half of the heel. The collar of the shoe and top portion of the tongue are made from a padded mesh material, and there is a single-layered stretchy mesh pocket to stow any excess length of lace, which is a nice touch. The toe has an injection-molded TPU guard sewn into place.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giant Shuttle Flat

The outsoles of the shoe are composed of Giant’s exclusive GRIPR rubber in a consistent and relatively flat pattern in the pedal area and larger lugs at the toe-edge. The alternating small triangle pattern leaves recessed channels for pin engagement. And while it seems like pedal grip would be solid on this shoe, these were perhaps the least grippy of the bunch. As for hiking, the compound grabs smooth surfaces well, and the front lugs certainly help, but on loose or rougher terrain, the Shuttle Flats don’t provide much traction.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giant Shuttle Flat

The Shuttle Flat’s soles, especially at the pivotal midpoint, are also the most flexible when compared to the others in the roundup, which ultimately causes foot fatigue during long rides, based on my experience. The main culprit for this is likely the shoe’s removable liner, which is kind of like a hybrid insole/midsole. It supplies any of the support the shoe offers but is only semi-rigid through the middle and heel end. It has thick, albeit not terribly responsive cushioning at the rear end/heel-side and mid-foot, but next to no cushioning at all in the forefoot. The collar of these shoes also has the least padding of any of the shoes reviewed.

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  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giant Shuttle Flat
  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giant Shuttle Flat
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  • Giant Shuttle Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

Like the other shoes we tested, the Shuttle Flat has a molded toe guard. And the heel seems higher than most other shoes—about the same height as the Ride Concepts, which are more like high-tops. The TPU coating provides weather protection, but the vent holes on each quarter panel are unobstructed, so they do take in water. The perforations over the toe don’t seem to offer much in the way of breathability, as they are obstructed by another material layer. That said, they do seem to dry pretty quickly. The sock-liner/insole uses Giant’s TransTextura Plus antimicrobial technology, which purportedly helps with moisture and bacteria management. We haven’t tested the shoes enough to notice if they are less stinky than others.

Overall, these are the least expensive shoes in the lineup, and they are easy on the eyes. But, they certainly lack stiffness, long-ride comfort, and pedal grip.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 43, US 10, UK 9, 27.8cm
  • Sizes Available EU 40-48
  • Weight (per shoe) 409 grams (14.4 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture China
  • Price $110
  • Manufacturer’s Details giant-bicycles.com

Giro Riddance

The Riddance is Giro’s gravity-oriented flat pedal shoe. It comes in men’s and women’s versions, and as far as we can tell, the only difference is in the colorways. It also comes in a mid-top iteration with a velcro lace strap.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giro Riddance

The Riddance is slightly bulkier than the street-styled Giant and FiveTens, but still has a more everyday, toned-down look than some of the other options. It comes in three color variations: dark red, “jewel” blue, and “dark shadow.” Each color has black accents where a strip of gnar-guard type material (Rockprint) is sewn to the sides of the shoe extending back over the heel. A rubber panel is sewn on top of the heel’s Rockprint as well as at the toe to provide additional reinforcement. Aside from those accents, the upper is constructed from a microfiber fabric with lasered perforations covering the vamp and quarter panels. The padded tongue is sewn from the same looser microfiber knit that makes up the liner and includes an elasticized lace keeper. Only the top two eyelets on either side of the lace stay are reinforced with metal.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giro Riddance

The outsoles of the Riddance are made from Vibram’s Megagrip ISR rubber. Giro says that the rubber is not quite as sticky as Vibram’s IdroGrip, but it has greater durability. The rubber compound is also supposed to dampen vibrations. The tread pattern is made up of small hexagonal lugs that are consistently spaced over the entire surface. The only variation is at the toe and heel, where the negative space is slightly more recessed, so the lugs stand out just slightly further than they do over the rest of the outsole. This means that, for hiking, the traction is pretty much solely based on the rubber’s grip/stickiness. Still, with the small hexagons, there are ample places for pin engagement, so pedal grip is quite good. They are similar to Five Tens in the hiking department; with a lack of large lugs, they get a little slippy on wet or loose surfaces.

The Giro Riddance has a full-length EVA midsole with “vibration damping” according to Giro. And they are also fairly stiff, although not as stiff as the Freerider Pro, Ion Scrub, or Shimano GR7. They still have decent power transfer, as well as solid all-day ride comfort. In addition, they’re quite comfortable for just walking around. My only complaint in the fit department is they seemed to be a little harsh on the upper portion of my foot and a little loose in the front/toe area. That said, I have narrow feet, so these might be a good option for wide-footed folks.

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  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giro Riddance
  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Giro Riddance
  • Giro Riddance Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • Giro Riddance Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

The Riddance has plenty of vent holes, but no mesh panels, and all of the perforations are on multi-layered portions of the shoe, like most of the others. They aren’t as thickly padded as the Ion and Ride Concepts, so they breathe somewhere in the middle of the range.

Overall, the Giro Riddance are in the lower end of the price range in this roundup, but they also lack some of the more technical features, like mesh and welded fabrics. And they’re the second heaviest shoe in the group. Still, with a nice sturdy feel, decent power, and the next best pedal grip to the Five Tens, they seem like a pretty good value.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 43, US 9.5, UK 8.5
  • Sizes Available EU 35-50
  • Weight (per shoe) 443 grams (15.6 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture Vietnam
  • Price $120
  • Manufacturer’s Details giro.com

ION Scrub Select

Perhaps one of the lesser-known brands represented here, Ion is based in Austria and makes mountain bike apparel and protective gear, among other things. Ion’s Scrubs come in three unisex versions, with both men’s and women’s sizing. From their website, it’s hard to discern what the exact differences are between each model, other than the fact that the Scrub Select’s uppers are made from real leather, while the other models are synthetic. The upper on the Select features double-stitched, four-piece leather construction with a rubber protective toe cap and perforated area on the forefoot and outer side. The mid-top inner features a fine-grain padded leather that offers a nice level of padding and protection, particularly on the higher ankle side.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, ION Scrub Select

Each of the models is constructed with the same outsole, which Ion named Pin Tonic 2.0. This sole is composed of a hard rubber compound that Ion states is stickier than its previous iteration. To us, the stickiness of the compounds seems on par with the Vibram or Michelin compounds in some of the other shoes we’ve tested. The tread on the outsole is rather unique. The lugs are consistently and closely spaced over the entire sole, but their orientation changes. On the forefoot and heel sides of the sole, the lugs, which are roughly triangular in shape, create the positive design, with recessed channels separating them. Through the middle of the sole, the pattern is inverted, and what were positive shapes become negative space. This design effectively creates more traction in the forefoot and heel for hard-surfaced hiking, while providing ample spaces and angles for the pedals’ pins to engage through the midfoot. In short, the design, while unusual looking, is comparable to the GR7’s outsole. Both create secure foot-to-pedal connections. The Scrub’s sole has decent traction on smooth, hard surfaces, and does a decent job off the bike, but like most of these shoes, it’s not a hiking shoe and falls a little short on loose or rougher terrain.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Ion Scrub

As far as pedaling power, the Ions provide the same balance as most of the other contenders. They are quite rigid through the midfoot, albeit nothing compared to a road shoe, with more flex at the toes and heel. The combination provides solid pedaling efficiency while allowing for the natural foot movement and flex needed for hiking.

What does set the Ions apart from any other shoe in this review, besides the fact that they are leather, is the level of comfort they provide while riding. The Ortholite EcoPlush is a great insole that offers substantial cushioning. The collar is well padded and extends lower on the crank side to help protect the ankle bone.

Like all of the shoes in this review, the Scrubs are lace-ups. However, unlike the others, they do not utilize a lace garage or guard. They do, however, have a single hook and loop closure at the toe-end of the lace stay, which would allow for a little more fine-tuning in the fit for folks with wide feet; they didn’t do my narrow feet much good, aside from providing a way to secure the laces. The Scrub Selects run a little wide, particularly around the forefoot. Even so, they fit pretty well.

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  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Ion Scrub
  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Ion Scrub
  • ION Scrub Select Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • ION Scrub Select Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

So, the Ion Scrub’s have some great things going for them, namely excellent shoe-to-pedal connectivity and a plush feel. They also appear to be really well constructed. That said, they’re quite pricey, and, with all the plush components and real leather uppers, they are the heaviest of the shoes we’ve tested. In the long run, or on extended tours where all-day comfort is paramount, those extra ounces don’t matter much. But for everyday trail rides, the extra weight may prove burdensome for some riders. And for the same reasons, they don’t dry out as quickly or breathe as well as many of the others, which makes them a decent candidate for cooler temps (in the 50s and 60s F).

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 43, US 10, UK 9, 27.5 cm
  • Sizes Available EU 36-47
  • Weight (per shoe) 473 grams (1.04 pounds)
  • Place of Manufacture Vietnam
  • Price $190
  • Manufacturer’s Details ion-products.com

Ride Concepts Men’s Powerline

Ride Concepts, another lesser-known brand, is based out of Reno, Nevada, and makes a variety of mountain bike footwear and apparel. The Powerline is Ride Concepts’ all-purpose flat pedal shoe that sports a rather technical-looking design with a higher profile—right on par with the Ion Scrub Select—that looks like a mid-top. It’s black with dark gray accents on the collar and the midsole.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Ride Concepts

RC states that the upper is fully welded, and for the most part, that appears to be the case. However, there is one stitched seam that runs up the medial side of each shoe. There is also a finer seam that runs along the inside edge of the eye stays. The bulk of the upper quarter panel is constructed from a thick, almost rubberized-looking weather-resistant synthetic with lasered perforation for ventilation. The panel above the toe box/vamp is a more flexible and breathable foam-backed mesh material. The fully gusseted tongue is constructed from that same plush mesh and included a small, elasticized lace retainer. The liner is constructed with a softer, more loosely woven mesh. The upper is finished with a rigid molded rubber toe cap and metal-reinforced square eyelets.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Ride Concepts Powerline

The outsole of the shoe is composed of a proprietary compound, called DST (Dynamic Surface Technology) 4.0 Max Grip, which is the softest and tackiest compound Ride Concepts uses. The hexagonal tread pattern is pretty consistent across the entire surface, though at the toe and heel-ends the hexagonal dots are slightly smaller in size and the negative channels are slightly more recessed than the dots typical on Five Tens. But that leaves plenty of space for pins to connect between them, and they easily penetrate this softish rubber compound. Generally speaking, the pedal grip on the Powerlines was pretty good. I was super impressed at first but found they lost a little of the grippy mojo after a handful of rides. Additionally, they seem to be showing more signs of pin scarring than most. As for hiking, the tread is sticky enough for slick surfaces, but, once again, these aren’t great when hiking on loose or burly terrain because of the lack of aggressive lugs. That said, they seem to be better than many of the options listed here, probably due to the hexagonal shape and the deeper recesses at the front and back.

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  • Ride Concepts Powerline Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes
  • Ride Concepts Powerline Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

Overall, the Powerline is moderately stiff, although the sole is a little softer than many of the shoes listed here. It’s also fairly cushy on the inside. The Powerline features a cushioned EVA foam midsole and D30 “high impact” inserts in the footbed help to dampen vibration and trail chatter. I found they’re quite comfortable and cushy in that regard, although they feel a little tall based on the thicker soles. The “D30 impact protection” that encircles the asymmetrical collar area of the shoe is impressive, too. The padding extends well below the ankle bone on the crank side of the shoe for extra protection.

The plush lining on the vamp and tongue seem to diminish what would be the best area for ventilation. Additionally, the quarter panels have air holes, but the interior lining seems to obstruct good airflow. And the thick cushioning along the collar all add up to a bulkier, less breathable shoe.

As far as fit, the Ride Concepts Powerline runs a little bit small—I would say near a full size too small, in fact. Also, note that Ride Concepts does not have a women’s Powerline, but they have several women’s-specific flat pedal shoe offerings.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 42.5, US 9.5, UK 8.5, 28.35 cm
  • Sizes Available US 7-13, half-sizes available, EU 39.5-47 equivalent
  • Weight (per shoe) 404 grams (14.2 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture China
  • Price $150
  • Manufacturer’s Details rideconcepts.com

Shimano GR7 (SH GR701)

Offered in both men’s and women’s versions, the Shimano GR7 is named after a long-distance hiking trail in Europe; as a matter of fact, our own Altravesur route follows the GR7 through southern Spain. The GR7 is listed as an enduro/trail shoe in Shimano’s “gravity” line of footwear and is one of the more unique-looking MTB shoes in this roundup. Unlike the others, it’s not constructed with any leather (genuine or faux). Instead, it’s almost immediately evident that the GR7s are made from 100% synthetic materials. The result is a shoe that looks pretty technical in nature. The uppers have a silver-colored mesh panel on each side of the eye stay. That same silver fabric provides accent trim along the collar and heel. The rest of the upper is constructed from a fully welded thermoplastic urethane-coated synthetic, which, on the vamp, looks like a textured truck bed liner and resembles something more akin to Kevlar along the back quarter. The collar of the shoe has a neoprene-like sleeve, which adds to its rugged appearance, provides a nice deterrent for debris and gravel from getting inside, and gives it the overall aesthetic of a mid-top sneaker.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Shimano GR7

The outsole is a Michelin rubber and EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) composite. For the record, I tried the first iteration of the GR7 and didn’t care for it due to its lack of grip. However, Shimano and Michelin revamped this material for the second-gen shoe and I’m impressed. The compound itself doesn’t feel sticky to the touch, but once on the bike, it’s quite grippy. Additionally, the pedal portion of the tread is made up of alternating smaller shapes separated by narrow channels. These negative spaces, or channels, provide a unique pattern that’s effective at keeping the shoe connected to pedals, so instead of embedding into the rubber, the pedals’ pins engage with the channels between the lugs. It also has fairly aggressive lugs at the toe and heel ends of the sole, perhaps the most aggressive of the group. It appears the outsoles of these shoes will withstand wear better than the grippy soft compounds used in many of the other shoes listed here. I haven’t used them long enough for an ultra-long-term durability report, but there is only minimal breakdown evident.

best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Shimano GR7

The outsoles of the GR 701 are ranked as a 4 out of 12 on Shimano’s stiffness scale, a scale that covers all of their shoes, including road shoes designed for racing. While a “4” doesn’t sound very impressive, I found these soles to offer an incredibly stiff platform, the stiffest of all the options listed here, which is beneficial for power transfer. That lack of flexibility is both good and bad. In the hiking department, you’d expect them to not be the most comfortable when walking, but they do offer a more aggressive tread pattern at the forefoot, which makes the GR7 a good option for hikes on rougher, more uneven terrain. And, I’ve found the GR7 to be quite comfortable, regardless of the hard and stiff sole.

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  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Shimano GR7
  • best flat pedal mountain bike shoes, Shimano GR7
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  • Shimano GR7 Review, Best Flat Pedal Shoes

The GR7 performs pretty well in terms of weather protection and ventilation. While the few ventilation holes located across the toes do very little, if anything, to help with airflow, the silver mesh side panel on the lateral side of the shoe provides decent ventilation. The mesh panel on the medial side of the shoe has an extra layer of supportive backing material that obstructs some of that airflow. The plastic-type coating that covers the remaining upper material does a good job of keeping the feet dry from splashes and creek crossings, too. The neoprene ankle collar also works to that effect as well as keeping out dirt and debris from the trails.

All in all, I’ve been quite impressed with this new version of the GR7. It has a very promising and grippy sole, is quite comfortable, has good tread for hiking, and offers a solid balance of rain protection and breathability. The techy look might not be for everyone, but once they’re a little dirty, it’s not as noticeable. Lastly, they seem quite durable, so they might be one of my first choices out of this group for a bigger expedition trip.

  • Pedal Grip:
  • Stiffness/Power:
  • Comfort & Fit:
  • Traction (hiking):
  • Weather & Ventilation:
  • Durability:
  • Size Tested EU 43, US 8.9, 27.2cm
  • Sizes Available EU 36-48
  • Weight (per shoe) 385 grams (13.6 ounces)
  • Place of Manufacture China
  • Price $140
  • Manufacturer’s Details bike.shimano.com

There are a lot of great options listed here, and there are a lot of newer options that we’ve tested and are testing. Flat trail-centric shoes won’t make everyone’s gear list for bikepacking, but there’s no doubt that they offer a versatile solution that perform well while pedaling and can be worn comfortably off the bike with a semi-casual look and feel. To round out this group test, I picked a few favorites in a few different categories…

  • Most Grippy: Five Ten Freerider Pro
  • Best Value: Giro Riddance
  • Most long tour-friendly: Shimano GR7 or Ion Scrub Select
  • Most comfortable (off bike): Bontrager Flatline

For a couple slightly burlier options, be sure to check out the recently reviews of the Specialized Rime Flat and the Five Ten TrailCross Mid.

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