Endura MT500 Burner Flat Review: First Ride
Just released, the Endura MT500 Burner Flat ticks a lot of boxes that riders look for in a backcountry mountain biking and bikepacking shoe. We’ve been testing a pair over a handful of rides to see how they stack up for this launch day review. Find all the details here…
There’s no shortage of good flat pedal mountain bike shoes on the market these days. But, most of them have soles that are, well, too flat. It’s a logical design for maximizing pedal grip, as many ultra-sticky shoes have proven. However, many backcountry bike routes call for a hiking-friendly sole with tread that’s a little more toothy than what those options offer. If any of you have attempted a loose, rocky scramble or a push up a muddy, steep bit of trail in a shoe like the ever-popular Five Ten Freerider, you know what I’m talking about. Fortunately, there are a few companies answering the call and offering flat pedal shoes with soles that combine an adequate flat and sticky section for pedals and a more hike-a-bike forward toe and heel with deeper lugs. The relatively new Specialized Rime we reviewed is one example, and the just-released Endura MT500 Burner flat is another. I’ve gotten about a half dozen rides in with the MT500 for this review.
As you may have already heard this morning, the Endura MT500 Burner Flat is the Scottish apparel brand’s entry into the footwear game. They launched three shoes in all: the MT500 Burner Flat, the MT500 Burner Clipless, and the HummVee, another flat pedal option for street and casual city use. The MT500 Burner Flat and Clipless versions both feature the same look and feel and general outer construction, with “lightweight and highly durable upper fabrics with perforated panels for enhanced ventilation,” a removable footbed, an EVA midsole, and traditional lace-up design with an additional Velcro strap. The Burner lines come in several color options in sizes 38-47, with half sizes 41.5 and 42.5. They also both get a few interesting details, like the sharkskin fabric lined heel cup that makes it easy to move socks down and into the shoe, but has directional fibers that resist an upward-moving sock to help hold the foot in place.
Both shoes have a dual “StickyFoot” outsole, constructed from two rubber compounds. The pedal area is made of “StickyFoot Grip,” which is the grippier of the two and engineered to compete with other trail/enduro shoes that offer a secure pedal pin connection. The Grip rubber takes up the entire mid-section of the MT500 Burner Flat. The lighter gray toe and heel sections are made from “StickyFoot Dura,” a harder and more durable rubber compound featuring an aggressive tread pattern designed for hiking on more rugged terrain.
I rode with the Endura MT500 Burner Flats on both a hardtail and a full-suspension bike on two sets of pedals. Overall, I found that the rubber in the pedal contact area performed fairly well. It’s not the stickiest sole I’ve used, but I expect it will get better as they break in, a characteristic I’ve found in a lot of these types of shoes—they seem to get better after a dozen or so rides. Compared to the seven pairs of flat pedal shoes I tested last year (see link in the related grid below), I’d say they land in the upper mid-pack when judging them solely (pun intended) on pedal grip. I’d give them a 7 or 8 out of 10 in that category. Similar to other shoes I’ve tried, they work much better when going down. I have zero complaints about the grip on descents. It’s climbing where I noticed that the MT500s sometimes “disengage” and fall a little short of the spiderman-grip of shoes such as the venerable Freerider Pro. However, I expect the MT500 will probably be a bit more durable, and they’re not bad, by any means.
When it comes to hiking or scrambling, the added traction from the toe and heel makes them far better than all of those seven shoes in that roundup. I pushed up a couple of steep, rooty, rocky hills for the express purpose of feeling them out. I’m happy to report that they are great when you need to dig in and go upward. And, there was zero heel slippage, thanks in part to the Sharkskin fabric in the heel, I think.
Another interesting feature on the MT500 (and Endura’s entire shoe lineup) is the removable ergonomic footbed. Warning, this is where the marketing language gets thick in Endura’s press materials. According to the company, the design of this footbed is based on “Ergonomistry.” Developed in partnership with physiotherapist and ergonomist Phil Burt, “The collection features highly inventive engineering backed by medical science to allow you to ride harder longer.” I don’t doubt the importance of ergonomics, but I figured all shoes were made with some of this stuff in mind. At any rate, the footbed has an unusual contoured metatarsal button that you can kind of see in the photos above. Endura claims it helps spread your big toe from the rest of them, thus improving your forefoot function and comfort, preventing unwanted scrunching of the toes. I couldn’t really discern that in particular, but I did find the shoes to feel quite good underfoot while pedaling, even on long rides. The footbed also has a dozen or so “Sole Stimulant” small dots and a “Power Arch.” Endura makes claims about both, but I won’t really get into it. It’s got a comfortable sole that seems solid and not mushy or dead feeling, and that’s pretty much sums up my takeaway from riding it.
I generally prefer lace-up designs, and this one’s fine in that regard, save one little gripe. I don’t particularly care for the velcro strap. It actually works pretty well at keeping the shoe tight, but not overly so, and there’s no weird pressure as a result, but having velcro at the top along with the laces is a little clumsy for getting them on and off. The laces are always sticking to the velcro. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I think I’d prefer a BOA closure at the top, although perhaps just an elastic lace keeper somewhere in there would be fine too.
The MT500 fit well enough, and the US 9.5/EU 42.5 seems true to size. Like many shoes, I have to cinch the front of the laces and crumple the shoe because of my relatively narrow feet, although the effect was minimal on the MT500. I suspect that folks with wide feet might find the toe box to be a little narrow. They fit me quite well, but it wasn’t the most comfortable shoe I’ve tried out of the box. Many shoes that I end up really liking aren’t, to be honest. There were no real painful pressure points noticeable on the first ride, which is good, but there was a sharp point just at the top of my foot when walking. Note that this mostly subsided after a few uses, and on the last outing I barely noticed it. I’d speculate that after a few more rides, they will be plenty comfortable. As mentioned, they feel really good while pedaling.
- Model Tested: Endura MT500 Burner Flat, Size 9.5 US/42.5 EU
- Actual Weight: 416 grams per shoe
- Place of Manufacture: China
- Price: $149.99
- Manufacturer’s Details: endurasport.com
- Dual compound soles provide a solid combination of good pedal grip and great scrambling traction
- They seem well made, adequately stiff, and I’d speculate that they’re pretty durable
- Sharkskin heel and comfortable ergonomic footbed are nice touches
- There was a little uncomfortable pressure point at the top of the foot when walking (but I expect they’ll break in after a half dozen or so more rides)
- I’m not a fan of the velcro strap and wish it was a BOA or something else
- Techy look might not be for everyone
First and foremost, I’m happy to see Endura come out of the gate with a shoe that combines pretty good pedal grip with excellent off-the-bike traction. That’s a good combo for routes and rides that require techy riding and bike-pushing on the rough stuff. And shoes that properly tick both of those boxes aren’t all that common. Although it’s not without some minor complaints, I think the MT500 Burner Flat could hypothetically* make a great shoe that’s well-suited for routes like the Colorado Trail or the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, where both technical riding and scrambling with a loaded bike are part of the journey. Just make sure you break them in before you set out.
*Without having tested the Endura MT500 Burner Flat’s durability, which is obviously critical. I’ll make sure to update this review a bit down the road.
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