Road bike and mountain bike shoes both have cleats, but they are very different sizes and styles. The road bike shoes have larger, more prominent cleats, while MTBs have smaller, low-profile cleats set into the shoe for easier dismounting and walking around.
Mountain bike shoes are more versatile. Can you use MTB shoes on a road bike?
You can use MTB shoes on a road bike; however, it will be challenging to ride an MTB with the much larger cleats of a road bike shoe. The small cleats on a mountain bike shoe are set into the sole, and as a result, they work on virtually any pedal. Additionally, MTB shoes also come in cleat-free styles.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
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Is It Safe To Use MTB Shoes On A Road Bike
It is safe to use MTB shoes on a road bike. The cleats on the bottom side of a mountain bike shoe are designed to be much smaller, which allows them to be set into the sole of the shoe.
This is a significant advantage for riders who tend to get off their bicycles and walk around. Plus, the cleats don’t wear down as quickly, thanks to their size and position.
There is nothing about how an MTB cleat works that should hinder your pedaling on a road bike. Moreover, not clipping in isn’t dangerous.
Just as riding in regular shoes is safe, you can rest easy if you wear your MTB shoes on a road bike.
Pros & Cons Of Using MTB Shoes On A Road Bike
There are two sides to every coin, or shoe in this case. For example, your MTB shoe isn’t compatible with larger cleats, but the small cleats don’t interfere with walking.
Below I’ve listed the most important pros and cons of using MTB shoes on a road bike.
- Versatility – When you use your MTB shoes on a road bike, you could switch bikes to an entirely different style mid-ride and have no trouble.
- Ability To Walk – Mountain bike riders often dismount and walk for a while, but road bikes are meant to go the distance over a paved road all at once. Because of the difference in riding styles, an MTB shoe needs to be comfortable to walk in, so they are more flexible.
- Durability and Longevity – Thanks to the cleat design, MTB shoes last a long time. There’s no added pressure from the large road bike cleats, and even more important, they are made to be outdoors. Mountain bike shoes are often abrasion-resistant, weatherproof, and UV-resistant.
- More Weight – Road bike shoes are lighter than MTB shoes in general. If you’re planning to go a significant distance, then every ounce counts.
- Lost Power – Because your MTB cleats won’t hold a road bike pedal the same way a road bike shoe will, you don’t gain the same advantages. What that means from a practical standpoint is that you aren’t putting as much power into the pedal. You will fatigue a little bit sooner and work harder to travel the same distance.
- Solid Platform – The bottom of a road bike shoe is solid and stiff. This is an advantage for power output and speed, plus some riders genuinely prefer a rigid sole.
Mountain Bike Shoes vs Road Bike Shoes
Most of the differences between mountain bike shoes versus road bike shoes are easy to spot. For one thing, the road bike cleats are much bigger and stick out below the shoe.
This can make it difficult to walk in road bike shoes. Meanwhile, MTB shoes have relatively tiny cleats sunken into the sole, and they’re comfortable to walk around in.
Your larger road bike cleats attach to the bottom of your shoe with three screws often set in a wide triangle shape.
Alternately mountain bike cleats connect with two smaller closer-set screws. Some mountain bike shoes don’t have cleats at all but rather sport a rubbery sole that is softer and almost sticky so the shape of an MTB’s pedals can dig in and offer traction over varied terrain.
Finally, mountain bike shoes work on any bicycle, though they don’t always offer any particular advantages, but road bike shoes need a road bike pedal to sit correctly.
Check out this excellent video from Two Wheel Cruise. They explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of both types and when to use them.
Best MTB Shoes For Road Bike
Picking the best MTB shoes for a road bike doesn’t need to be complicated. Below are my top two choices for shoes that can go from a mountain bike to a road bike with no problems.
These shoes come from well-established, high-quality, and reliable brands that back their products with good customer service.
1 – Tommaso Vertice Men’s 100 & 200 Mountain Bike Shoes
Tomasso’s Vertice Men’s 100 and 200 Mountain Bike Shoes from Amazon are ideal for MTB or road bike riding.
The inner shank plate helps transfer power to the pedals, and the Vibram sole enables you to keep your grip on the pedals or the ground below.
You can choose between the 100s with a ratchet and velcro closure system and the 200s with only velcro.
Not only does this excellent company offer a hundred percent guarantee on the fit, but they also offer returns and exchanges to get a better fit if you need it.
Plus, Tomasso’s come with a two-year warranty. Learn all about it by clicking here.
- QUALITY CYCLING PRODUCTS SINCE 1985: Our Italian designed cycling shoes, bicycle, and cycling products have made riders look like pros since '85. But we're more than just fancy gear, we're a community. Our cycling-crazed customer service team in Denver can help with any questions or concerns. Plus, our Lifetime Warranty Replacement Promise means you can put our gear to the test with unrelenting confidence. We hope that you will Join The Ride, for fun, fitness, and community.
- DESIGNED FOR OUTDOOR & INDOOR CYCLING: Whether you ride mountain, gravel, commute, or go to a spin studio, these shoes area perfect for your style of riding. Enjoy the performance benefits, like increased stability, improved power transfer, and enhanced comfort wherever you ride. Thanks to a recessed 2-bolt cleat area, you can walk with ease. Plus, you'll be able to transfer power from your legs to the pedals more efficiently, so you can ride harder, faster, and longer, wherever you ride.
- BUILT TO LAST: Looking for mtb shoes that can handle any challenge you throw their way? Then our tough and ultra-durable Vertice cycling shoes are for you. These shoes are built tough, with reinforced soles, shoe armor, and sturdy construction that provide maximum support, stability, and power transfer. Moisture-wicking materials ensure that your feet stay cool and dry during even the most intense rides. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or just starting out, the shoes can step your game up.
- STAY DRY & COMFORTABLE: We can all agree mtb shoes need to be comfortable and breathable. The challenge is providing both, while also maximizing performance. This intersection is where our mtb shoes excel, offering insane breathability, great padding, and a super stiff carbon fiber infused cleat shank. Perfect for casual rider and mountain junkies alike, because we believe everyone every man deserves high performance cycling shoes that will last a lifetime at a fair price.
- PERFORMANCE MATTERS: Every part of the Vertice 200 Vibram sole was designed with you in mind. The quick and easy 2-strap & buckle design has you secure and comfortable in no time, while locking your heel in and avoiding hotspots and pressure points.Stiff carbon fiber infused sole will protect your feet, while give you better performance, so you can sweat out the troubles of the day, while maximizing engagement of your leg muscles. So trust Tommaso and let us help you crush your cycling goals!
2 – Five Ten Freerider Pro Mountain Bike Shoes
Five Ten Freerider Pros from Amazon are clipless or no-cleat MTB shoes. These synthetic shoes have a medium-flex molded EVA midsole and impact-resistant Poron toe box for comfort and safety.
Meanwhile, the Stealth S1 rubber outsole is textured for excellent grip on mountain bikes or road bikes.
Additionally, Five Tens also dry fast and have Ortholite sock liners. Plus, these shoes’ laces and overall look feel more like a casual sneaker even though it pedals like an MTB shoe.
You may not recognize the Five Ten brand, but you know their parent company, Adidas, for its high-quality sportswear. Get a pair by clicking right here.
- Full S1 dotty outsole
- Synthetic and lightweight upper
- Impact resistant toe box
- Compression molded EVA midsole
- Removable Ortholite sock liner
Helpful Tips To Know About Using MTB Shoes On A Road Bike
There’s nothing wrong with using an MTB shoe on your road bike. It is safe to ride with clipless bottoms or shoes with MTB cleat anchors because of the size difference.
Here are more helpful tips to know about using MTB shoes on a road bike.
- Pedals for an MTB tend to be dual-sided, while road bike pedals are single-sided. However, you can also swap out the road bike-style pedals in just a few minutes if you prefer.
- If you want a more versatile MTB shoe that fits your road bike pedals, an adapter can convert SPD or mountain bike cleats to SPD-SL or road bike cleats. Unfortunately, since there’s very little demand it can be difficult to find these converters. Most cyclists either change their pedals or their shoes instead.
- In the winter, a pair of high-topped, waterproof MTB boots will help keep your feet warm and comfortable no matter what kind of bike you ride.
You can easily ride a road bike using MTB shoes. The small, set into the sole cleats, or cleatless style of mountain bike shoes can sit on any pedal.
Moreover, an MTB shoe is more flexible and comfortable on your foot and easier to walk in when you’re riding a road bike.
Instead of having a stiff carbon fiber or hard plastic bottom this shoe style is flexible and has plenty of padding to keep you more comfortable on long rides.