Are special MTB shoes a necessity?


Hello I am new here and you could say new to cycling. I have a Trek mountain bike and just wearing a pair of normal trainers however was wondering do these special MTB shoes that you can buy from wiggle, planet x make any noticable difference for speed and resistance.

No matter what gear I'm in it's like I cant seem to get up to a decent speed and didnt know whether footwear could be a problem?


Perhaps This One.....
Nope. Normal trainers are fine unless you're planning on some really serious downhill stuff.


The Monch
Inside my skull
Are you riding the mtn bike off road or just on the road? For off road SPD certainly stops your feet bouncing off the pedals. But people do get on with both platform (which you have) and spd.

I’ve ridden spd since 2003 so it hard to know what my big bikes would be like without. On my Brompton I have platform pedals and don’t find it an issue, but don’t use it for long rides.
MTB specific shoes will help, they'll have stiffer soles which will improve pedaling efficiency. Plus depending on which flat pedals you have they may also provide better grip. But overall maybe 1 or 2 mph more that just wearing trainers. But your shoes may not be your biggest problem, the simplest thing to adjust for most new riders is seat height. If your seats too low it'll be really tough to get up to a decent speed.


Ride It Like You Stole It!
South Manchester
Normal trainers arent stiff in the sole, which will cause issues.

You can get cycling specific trainers. I usually wear proper SPD shoes with very stiff soles, but I have a pair of SPD trainers for casual rides. Trainers with cleats.

Most MTB shoes are designed for flat pedals. I can't get on without my feet being anchored to the pedals, many folk can't get on with them being fixed to pedals. My wife uses the MTB trainers without cleats. Just a stiffer sole.


Hiking trail shoes have stiff enough sole for most riders. MTB shoes can be used on plain platform pedals but work best when clipped in to "clipless" clip-on pedals. The older style of toe clips with straps also still work and there are various systems of mini toe clips without straps and straps without clips. There are pros and cons to every system.
Any system that attaches your feet to pedals requires some skill in bike handling that comes with experience. The term "clipless moment" is a failure to remove feet and resultant topple over at low speed.
The short answer is no they are not, but they may help , where do you usually ride, I mean what sort of terrain, road, canal bank, etc.


Flouncing Nobber
For longer rides you may find more suitable foot wear more comfortable due to the stiffer soles and better grip/support of your foot that the upper gives. However, your feet will soon tell you if there's a problem. Until then, if you're comfortable and safe, carry on as you are.


Legendary Member
Accra, Ghana
The question about cycling specific shoes has been answered comprehensively but the reason you “ can’t get a decent speed up” Is down to gearing. MTBs have lower gearing for, well, climbing mountains so not best suited for the road. You could remedy this by changing the cassette on the rear wheel to give a higher gear, if your derailleur will handle it, you’ll also probably need a longer chain.Its something your LBS could handle for you if you don’t have the tools.


Senior Member
I find that the "honeycomb" pattern on the soles of my Vans interlock nicely with the pegs/serrations on my mtb pedals, so feet don't slip around. Also I don't have to look like a cycle fanatic when I walk in to the pub at the end of the ride ^_^
Top Bottom