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Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Mountain Bike Shoes for Women

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Most mountain bike shoe brands cater to men or unisex sizing. As Dr. Stacy Sims says, “women are not small men,” so when you’re a member of the “fairer sex” buying a mountain bike shoe, there are a few factors to consider to help you find the right fit.

When researching women’s mountain bike shoes to buy, you must look for the right fit, including comfortable padding and a wide enough toe box. Also, you want a durable yet flexible rubber sole that can include recessed clip-in capability and flexible, breathable material for a comfortable fit.

Shoe shopping doesn’t have to be a hassle. See below for the best ways to select a new mountain biking shoe and the three best women’s mountain biking shoes on Amazon.

How To Find the Right Fit

Women’s feet are naturally smaller and more narrow than their male counterparts. So when choosing a mountain bike shoe, you have to consider that the shoe is generally going to have a more narrow forefoot and toe box.

Online, shoe companies will provide measurements according to their size chart. To find what size shoe you should buy, you need a tape measure, a piece of paper longer than your foot, and a writing tool.

Here’s how to measure your foot:

  1. Place the piece of paper on a flat surface.
  2. Put your foot flat on the piece of paper and mark the tip of your longest toe (this may not be your big toe) and at your heel. 
  3. Measure from the first marking to the second marking with a tape measure in centimeters. Add ½ cm (0.2 inches) to account for movement and swelling.
  4. Measure both feet.

After measuring both feet, you may find that one foot is larger than the other. Take the measurements from the larger foot as your shoe size. It’s better to order a larger shoe than to have one too small and uncomfortable.

Next, you’ll need to measure the width of your foot. Use the tape measure and wrap it around the widest part of your foot, starting from zero. That number will be your width. Measure both feet and use the measurements for the broadest foot.

You’ll use these measurements to find the correct size from the specific shoe brand’s size chart.

What To Look For in Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes

When it comes to mountain bike shoes, you may have your personal preferences. You may want the most practical, fuss-free footwear available, or you may want to express your personality with shoes that come in every color of the rainbow (and more).

Regardless of your aesthetic sensibilities, however, there are factors that you should take into account if you want to make the most of your mountain biking experience.

Solid Soles

You want to make sure your mountain bike shoe has a rigid sole, so you don’t tear up your shoes when you ride down trails with spiky cacti or large rocks. The sole should be stiff and provide enough traction to avoid slipping (which is especially important on treacherous mountain trails!)

Durable Fabric

The top fabric should be light and flexible without sacrificing durability. A mesh top fabric will provide better breathability and comfort for your ride. Also, as you sweat, your feet swell, and you’ll notice the shoe feels tighter. A flexible fabric allows for slight movement and makes this swelling less noticeable.

Good Heel Padding

Padding at the heel will provide added comfort. Pairing these shoes with a decent pair of socks will reduce blistering. You know you’ll usually be sore after a hard ride, and you want to make sure you’re ready to get back on your bike for your next ride.

Clip-In vs. Clipless Shoes

Clip-in shoes are famous for cyclists who don’t want their feet slipping off the pedal. The clips are attached to your bike and the recessed insert in the shoe’s sole. These clips allow you to clip onto the pedal, and provide the ability to pedal with less effort. As you lift your foot, the pedal attached to your shoe follows, so you use less force and energy to push down.

On the other hand, clipless or flat pedal shoes are for riders who don’t want to be attached to the bike. Some riders may wish to disengage from the pedal immediately in case of a crash or to provide more balance. Many riders use clipless bike shoes for other events like running or hiking. 

Best Women’s Mountain Bike Shoes

Now that you have your size and width, you might be looking for your ideal mountain bike shoe online. Do you want clip-ins or clipless? Are you on a budget? What specific shoe design do you want? There are so many options to choose from. Luckily, I have compiled the best women’s mountain bike shoes from Amazon to give you a place to start.

Best For Clip-ins: Giro Petra VR

These mountain bike shoes are versatile, stylish, and durable. You can use these shoes for road, trail, or indoor cycling classes. This particular model works well with or without the clips, and the recessed clips are comfortable while walking or running if you need to leave your bike behind. Also, the Giro Petra VR has a lace closure. 

However, these shoes run small, so you may want to consider ordering a half size larger. You can also order two sizes and return the ones that aren’t as comfortable.

Best Clipless/Flat Shoes: Adidas Five Ten Trailcross LT

Adidas is a popular and respected name in the fashion and sports industries. The flat bottom on these shoes still provides enough traction to maintain a good grip on your pedals. The mesh top fabric offers a breathable and flexible fit. These shoes feature a lace closure, like your daily tennis shoes.

A flat bottom shoe is versatile for hiking and walking or running, while some clip-in shoes can make it awkward to get around due to the recessed clips.

These shoes can run large and are very roomy with a broader toe box. You may consider ordering a half size down to secure a more snug fit.

Budget Pick: Ride Concepts 2021 Livewire

For many of us, a hundred dollars (give or take) is a considerable amount to dole out for a pair of shoes. Still, shoes within that price range are an investment and should last you for a while. Instead of replacing your shoes every few rides, you have a reliable pair waiting for you in your closet.

The Ride Concepts 2021 Livewire shoes are a flat bottom with elastic laces, so you don’t have to worry about tying knots or getting laces caught in chains and pedals. The sole is durable rubber that can withstand rough terrain.

Also, this shoe tends to run small, so consider ordering a size larger.

Conclusion

Choosing the right mountain bike shoes is crucial to riding comfortably. Investing in a solid pair of mountain bike shoes may be expensive initially, but if you choose one that’s durable and comfortable, it’ll save you money in the long run. 

Keep in mind the comfort and sizing reviews to help you choose the best fit. Measuring both feet and trying on different styles will help you find the right shoe.

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