There are a lot of people who wonder ‘can mountain biking shoes be used with road bikes?’. We suppose a question like this makes sense. After all, the name implies that this type of shoe is specifically for mountain biking. It is, to an extent. However, for the vast majority of people, riding with mountain biking shoes on a road bike actually makes sense.
Can mountain biking shoes be used with road bikes?
They absolutely can. In fact, some people prefer to cycle with mountain biking shoes for several different reasons (which we will come to in a short while). Unless you are riding competitively, or you are going on long road trips, then there is no real advantage associated with using road biking shoes over mountain biking shoes. They are going to perform roughly the same.
You will often find that many of the more ‘experienced’ cyclists will actually use mountain biking shoes over road biking shoes, even when they are on the roads. This is due to the inherent versatility that mountain biking shoes offer. The only time road biking shoes will really outperform mountain biking shoes is when you are heading out for hours and hours on end without any break.
Honestly, if you are asking the question ‘can mountain biking shoes be used with road bikes’? Then you are probably not at the level of skill where the type of shoe you are wearing is going to be mattering all that much. Just stick with mountain biking shoes. They are probably going to be better for you.
Let’s take a little look at some of the pros and cons of using mountain biking shoes. This will give you a better answer as to whether they are right for you or not.
Are there any downsides to using mountain biking shoes with road bikes?
Road biking shoes are, of course, designed from the ground-up to offer the best possible performance on the roads. This means that there are a few inherent disadvantages to using mountain biking shoes on your road bike.
Perhaps the main issue most people are going to face with their mountain biking shoes is that the soles can be a little bit stiffer. The purpose of this is to ensure more-efficient cycling on long stretches of road. With stiffer soles, the pressure you put onto the shoe will be evenly distributed across the shoe, and this can make pedaling a little bit easier and far less-strenuous. Mountain biking shoes, on the other hand, are a whole lot more flexible. This means that applying pressure to them can be a little bit uneven. Your legs and feet will need to be putting in a lot more effort to pedal, basically.
You will often find that it is far easier for you to ‘grip’ the pedal when you are wearing road biking shoes. This means fewer adjustments to your feet, which you probably do not want to be doing if you are cycling for hours on end. It means you can really focus on the road ahead as opposed to always adjusting yourself to try and get in the right position. This is fine for mountain biking since you always need to be ‘on the ball’ as you never know when a dip or turn is coming up, but not so much when you are road biking. You are (mostly) going to be focused on speed there.
Over longer periods of time, if you are using mountain biking shoes, you will notice that there is ‘less surface area’ on the shoe. This means that weight is going to be poorly balanced across the length of the shoe. The result will be a pain in your foot, mostly because there will be some areas that have more pressure applied to them than others. This can become exceedingly uncomfortable. However, this is the price that you are going to need to pay if you want the versatility that mountain biking shoes bring to the table.
That being said, these are issues that are only really going to present themselves if you start to go on longer bike rides. If you are using your road bike to do nothing more than commute into work, then it is unlikely that wearing a pair of shoes that is a little bit more flexible will ‘tire’ you out all that much. It is only when you start to go on trips for at least a couple of hours that the issues will start to pop up. However, even then, if you have never worn proper road shoes on your bike and tend to go for your standard shoes, then your muscles may actually be ‘trained’ to the point where there isn’t going to be an issue at all.
Why would you want to use mountain biking shoes over road biking shoes?
Obviously, the downsides of using mountain biking shoes over road shoes don’t sound that great. So, why would you want to ride with mountain biking shoes instead?
As we said; mountain biking shoes are a bit more flexible than your average road biking shoes. However, mountain biking shoes still have a degree of flexibility for them. This is something that you want. We don’t know if you have ever tried walking in a road biking shoe, but it is not a pleasurable experience in the slightest. The soles are completely flat. This means you certainly wouldn’t be able to walk indoors, and you would have no grip outside either. Whenever you hop off of your bike for long stretches of time, you will need to put up with the fact that you need to change shoes. That isn’t the case with mountain biking shoes. They have been built for a bit of walking every now and then. Not as much walking as standard walking shoes (still need that flexibility), but enough for a short period here and there.
Mountain bike shoes also tend to offer a bit more protection for your feet too. This makes a lot of sense. Mountain biking shoes are built for going ‘off-road’. This means that they have to be able to cope with mud, sticks, and water being thrown at them almost constantly. At the same time, they need to protect their feet. Road biking shoes do not offer anywhere near the same protection. This is fine if you are biking exclusively on the road, but if you want to experiment with your bike a little bit, those road biking shoes are not going to offer any protection if you even so much as bike over a small amount of mud.
Do you bike during the wetter months? If you do, then road shoes become virtually useless. They allow the water in a bit too easily, which can result in a less-than-pleasurable bike ride on occasion.
Remember; since mountain biking shoes have a bit more grip to them, and no flat soles (coupled with the fact that they offer more protection), you may actually find that this type of shoe is going to last you a lot longer. If you are exclusively road biking, then a good pair of mountain biking shoes can last you age without any issues. You would need to replace road biking shoes fairly often.
To cap it all off; the versatility of mountain biking shoes means that you only need one pair of shoes on you. Opt for road biking shoes, then you need multiple. This is if you plan to get off your bike and walk around a little once you reach your destination. Oh, and you are going to need to get your hands on a third pair if you ever want to go off-road. Since these shoes are going to be expensive individually, we couldn’t imagine needing to purchase multiple ones.
How can you choose a quality pair of mountain biking shoes to use with your road bike?
A lot of the comfort that you get with mountain biking shoes on a road bike will hinge on the quality of shoes that you have picked up in the first place. As long as you find something that fits perfectly (you should always aim to get professionally sized before purchasing a pair of shoes), then your comfort
At the very minimum, we suggest that you get yourself professionally-sized when you are picking up a pair of shoes for your road biking adventures. We assume that since you are considering dedicated shoes for road biking, this is something that you are doing fairly often. When you get a pair of shoes that fit well, you will find it a whole lot easier to ‘grip’ the pedal. You will also find that it is easier to apply force to the pedal when you are riding. Essentially, you are going to have a far easier time cycling. Probably not as easy as you would with a dedicated pair of road biking shoes, but it should come pretty close.
If you can, you should opt for shoes labeled as ‘Cross-Country Mountain Biking Shoes’ (or a variant of that name). Generally speaking, these shoes are going to be a bit stiffer and far more versatile than your average mountain biking shoe. This means that they can offer close to the same level of comfort that road biking shoes are known to deliver. Not exactly there, but enough that it is not going to be bothering the vast majority of people.
It should probably go without saying that you should only be purchasing your mountain biking shoes from reputable brands. This way you can be sure that you will be receiving all the benefits these shoes are known for. It will also make it a bit easier to use them when road biking.
How do you make your road biking more comfortable when using mountain biking shoes?
While it is not vital if you purchase a quality pair of mountain biking shoes, we do have a few tips which should make your ride a little bit more comfortable when you are road biking.
The first is to not cycle huge distances with mountain biking shoes while on the road. They are not built for that. Try to keep your journies at around the 20-hour mark, maximum. Anything longer than that, then you will find that your feet start to tire out. Mountain biking shoes are built for short trips only. Obviously, you can counter this by taking more frequent breaks whilst riding, but if you are going for long distances, then you may as well get dedicated road biking shoes. That is when most of the advantages start to kick in.
A lot of people have also found that their mountain biking shoes are a bit more comfortable to wear when they are paired with some good mountain biking pedals (you can attach these to a road bike). Although, to be honest, this is not something that is going to be strictly necessary. Stick with your standard road biking pedals unless you find them uncomfortable to use with mountain biking shoes. The only people who ever really have major concerns here will be those who are new to biking.
Do bear in mind that road pedals tend to be narrower, which can cause issues in some people. Although, that is a story for another day. Basically, at all times, most people will find that a combination of mountain biking pedals and mountain biking shoes is the perfect level of comfort on shorter journies, even when traveling exclusively on roads and other paved surfaces.
Hopefully, if you were wondering ‘can mountain biking shoes be used with road bikes?’, this page has helped to answer your questions (and a few more). As you can see; they absolutely can. In fact, in many cases, you may find them better to wear. The only time road biking shoes really come into play is when you are doing long-distance road cycling….or you want to save every last second when it comes to your speed. Most people are not too fussed about either of these.