Can You Use Mountain Bike Shoes on a Road Bike?

Mountain bike shoes are an important part of mountain biking. It supports the power transfer from your legs to the pedals, and someday to the drivetrain.

One of the most common questions among new mountain bikers and cyclists is whether mountain biking shoes come with cleats.

Confused by the notion of picking MTB shoes? In this article, we’re going to go into detail about what they’re for and how to choose them.

Flat vs Clipless Mountain Bike Shoes

There are two main types of mountain bike shoes. These are the flat platform pedal shoes and the clipless MTB shoes.

Flat pedal MTB shoes don’t make use of cleats because of their resemblance to standard shoes. They’re the most popular kind of biking shoes because they are easy for beginners to use.

On the other hand, clipless pedal mountain bike shoes are available with cleats. This is because they are the ones that attach or clip your foot to the pedals.

Learning how to clip and unclip your bike pedals for mountain biking may initially prove to be steep. But the great thing about it is that you can do so by riding on your neighborhood trails in mountain biking shoes!

Three-bolt clip-in system

The three-bolt system is also known as the SPD platform made by Shimano. It is usually used for road biking because of its pedaling efficiency and foot security.

The three bolts come along with a big cleat made from plastic which secures your foot and road shoes onto the pedal. It is then connected to your shoe with its three bolts to ensure that it won’t move easily.

Another thing about these shoes is that it has a clipping mechanism limited only to one side. Every time you use it, you need to make sure that you hit the right angle when clipping it into the pedal.

The larger size of road bikes makes them more steady by using three-bolt cleat systems.
It gives them more stability when riding thanks to the large cleats’ contact zone.

In addition, the big cleats protruding from your shoe threads make pedaling easier. This allows you to improve and maximize your pedaling performance. But, as a result of this, it can make the road shoes hard to walk on.

Two-bolt mountain biking clip-in system

The two-bolt pedal system is another frequent choice in mountain biking. Designed for trails, Enduro, and downhill races, these shoes are growing popular even in the streets.

It is gaining demand among commuter bikes for its simplicity. These shoes are also easier to clip and unclip compared to the three-bolt cleats system.

These two-bolt cleats are using a smaller cleat made of metal. It is then connected to the clipless MTB shoes via the two bolts found on its outer sole.

What’s more, is that the clipping mechanism is on both sides of the mountain bike’s shoes.
This makes the clip-in process much easier regardless of your location or your bike’s elevation.

If you’re into mountain biking, then you ought to wear mountain bike shoes with two-bolt clip-ins. On the other hand, if you are in the market for cross-country cycling, you should go for shoes with three-bolt cleats.

Ultimately, the two-bolt cleats are smaller than the other. This makes these mountain biking shoes a superior preference for mountain bikers who wish to wear this off the bike.

How do mountain bike shoe cleats work?

Clipless pedals have two main components. These are the pedal itself and the cleat which is attached to the sole of your shoe.

It also has a spring mechanism that lets you clip or connect the cleats found on your mountain bike shoes toward the pedals.

What’s common in almost all systems especially with road shoes and other cycling shoes is that you simply push your foot going to the pedal until the cleats and MTB shoes clip into the mountain bike pedals.

Doing this then secures and locks your foot and MTB shoes in place on the pedal. You can then unclip from it by simply twisting your heel moving outward. This then releases the cleats and detaches your foot and cycling shoes from the MTB pedals.


With all this being said, you can see how sophisticated clipless mountain bike pedals are, along with the cleats that come with them.

You just need to know how to use your cycling shoes properly so that you can ensure safety and improve your performance when riding your mountain bike.