Do Mountain Bike Shoes Come With Cleats?

Last Updated on March 2, 2022

Mountain biking is about riding on trails and traversing rough off-roads. This leads you to the top of the hill or down through steep Enduro tracks.

But there could be times when we just want to exercise and experience the calmness of the smooth paved roads on our bikes.

That’s the time when mountain bikers get a sudden change of taste and use their road bikes. Most of the time, they just tend to use their mountain bike shoes for road cycling.

But is it alright to use mountain biking shoes on a road bike? What are the pros and cons of doing this? Are there going to be any safety issues?

In this article, we’ll answer that question for you!

Can you use MTB shoes for road biking?

Of course, you can wear a mountain bike or any type of shoes for road biking. However, doing so means that you would have to compromise a lot of things. This includes comfort, pedaling efficiency, aerodynamics, safety, and overall performance.

This means that mountain biking shoes are not the best option for road cycling if you want to maximize it.

Not only are they heavy, but they also easily move out of place. This can lower your performance because of the poor transfer of power from your legs to the pedal.

The same goes for any other shoes. You may use any shoes on your road bike, but it will just have the same problems, and even possibly worse.


Road biking is all about going as fast as possible on paved roads and maintaining high speeds for hours on end.

This is why you need to focus on aerodynamics, which also means that you need to be aerodynamic.

One good way to achieve that is by wearing road bike shoes. Since they are shaped in a sleek way with smooth and curved edges, it allows for improved airflow through your lower body and feet.

This speeds you up when riding and doesn’t slow you down due to air resistance. Unfortunately, you won’t get any of these benefits if you use mountain bike shoes since they are known for being bulky.

They also have synthetic leather upper, wide, and made for providing protection, not aerodynamics.


Mountain biking shoes allow for the highest levels of protection of your feet. They have a reinforced construction that keeps your feet safe from knocks and scrapes.

But you don’t have to worry much about that. If you’re riding on smooth paved roads, you are at lower risk of crashing and falling on your road bike.

And if ever you fall, you need to have a very stiff shoe to protect your feet against the hard asphalt or cement.

Hence, you need to use proper road biking shoes to ensure the utmost protection and safety.

In addition, the shape of road cycling shoes is very effective at reducing your likelihood of getting pushed off course by strong winds. Having this feature makes it more desirable and safer for you.


Road bike shoes are more breathable compared to mountain biking shoes. And breathability is a very important factor you should consider when road biking. Why?

Well, because you are going to ride for more than an hour, sometimes even three straight hours when going on long trips or epic rides.

And going on long-distance rides like these need your feet to stay comfortable and cool, which is why road bikes have air vents and thin outer coverings that make it easier to pedal even on a hot summer day because it allows cool air to enter its inner premises.

Pedaling efficiency

Road biking has a strong emphasis on pedaling efficiency because this is its main focus as is mountain biking on technical skills.

Road shoes are what you need if you want to improve pedaling efficiency because they are built for that.

They ensure that the energy and power you exert from your legs are fully transferred to the pedals, and in the process, through the drivetrain. This keeps up with your pace and maintains the speed of your bike when riding at high speeds on the pavement.

You can’t achieve maximum pedal efficiency with mountain biking shoes because they are not as stiff as a road cycling shoe when it comes to pedal stroke and its pedal system.

A mountain bike shoe is softer and more flexible so that the foot can easily adjust and move its position when tackling technical sections on downhill trails.

You also don’t pedal that much if you’re into downhill mountain biking, so cycling shoes made for that specific discipline aren’t geared towards pedaling efficiency.

Clipless Shoes vs Flat Pedals Shoes

Road bikes have a strong emphasis on ensuring pedaling efficiency because that’s all there is.

You don’t need to know how to traverse rock gardens, do jumps and drops, or hit sharp corners. You just pedal and rely on your cardiovascular strength throughout your ride.

This is why most road bikes have clipless pedals which also need clipless pedal cycling shoes. There is a good chance you can’t ride a road bike if you have flats. You also need to consider the cleats system of the road bike pedal.

Road bikes usually have a three-bolt cleats system that locks your foot in place and makes it a bit harder to unclip compared to the two-bolt system found in mountain bike pedals.

Make sure that your clipless mountain bike shoes have at least a three-bolt cleats system if you want to use them on your road bike.


You can use even the best mountain bike shoes on a road bike.

But doing so will just lower your performance and make road cycling less safe for you because they’re bulky and just not made for the high- and pedaling-focused cycling off-road bikes. Not to mention that you won’t be that comfortable on your ride.

Just wear proper road biking shoes if you want to make the most out of your road biking experience.