Can you wear mountain bike shoes on a road bike?

Certainly, you can wear mountain bike shoes on a road bike, and I’ve done this on many occasions. Mountain bike shoes are typically more versatile and comfortable for walking, thanks to their recessed cleats and more rugged sole. When I use them on a road bike, I make sure that the pedal system is compatible.

Most mountain bike shoes use a two-bolt cleat system (like SPD), which is different from the three-bolt system often found on road-specific shoes. So, it’s essential to have the corresponding pedals on the road bike. While this combination works well, especially for casual riding or commuting, it’s worth noting that dedicated road shoes and pedals might offer better power transfer and efficiency for serious road cycling.

However, for flexibility and comfort, especially when off the bike, mountain bike shoes are a great choice.

The Main Reason for Wearing MTB Shoes

When it comes to wearing mountain bike shoes on a road bike, we can give you two good reasons to start with. You are a die-hard biker and need to benefit from the sport as much as possible in your training.

Not only are you an active MTB biker but a casual rider at the same time and need to save money on buying added equipment when putting your feet onto the pedals. Where do you stand in this scenario?

Not sure, then the rest of our article will help you find the value of using your current riding shoe.


We believe the mountain bike shoe is comfortable compared to road shoes. You find the shoes in different varieties to accommodate your foot.

The mountain bike shoe is less stiff, allowing your foot to flex and move while wearing it. On the other hand, road shoes have a stiff sole and often become uncomfortable when using the pedals.

What’s more, MTB shoes sport-specific, and you are a mountain biker through-and-through giving you another reason to put on your mountain bike shoes instead of road shoes.

The fact is, if you have no road cycling goals, then why spend extra money and time on getting another shoe to fit you comfortably and correctly.

On the other hand, when on your bike with your feet in the bike pedals, you have five points of contact. You have your two hands, two feet, and the saddle.

What’s more, the mountain and road bicycle may have the same seat and pedals, so why not use the same shoes, making it feel the same as your typical mountain bike ride.

Your primary goal, after all, is mountain biking. Another excellent reason is that your shoes have a durable design to dress in for trails in different weather conditions.

The footwear’s made with more rigid fabric to withstand conditions making it longer lasting than road shoes. Then you get versatility, as you only need to invest in one set of shoes and ride your road bike with your mountain biking shoes.

Yes, we already knew what you are thinking about next!

What about the other way round?

 When you put on road shoes, it provides your feet with better support in the bike pedals when pedaling compared to using the road shoes with an aerodynamic design. The main advantages of wearing MTB shoes and cleats are walking.

So if you do recreation riding, you can get away wearing your mountain bike shoes on a road bike, but not suitable to wear road shoes on your MTB.

To walk around with a road shoe becomes problematic as it has a stiff sole with bigger cleat and will hurt your feet. The MTB shoes for mountain biking retreat in the middle, and the cleat does not make contact with the ground.

On the other hand, it has traction making it easy to walk on different surfaces providing you with comfortable use and ride.

Some disadvantages

While you can find loads of benefits to use MTB shoes with your road pedal systems, there are specific reasons why road racers need a particular shoe for road cycling. Therefore, with benefits come shortcomings as well.

One of these limitations in use is the shoe gets hot as it has a durable structure with a less breathable design. The upper has fewer holes and may work well in winter, but in summer, extra heat builds up and places your feet on an edge.

Therefore, when you use mountain bike shoes, it leaves more hot spots than road shoes. Now, combine it with a small pedal with a stiff shoe, you get hot spots when in contact with the pedal compared to your road shoes.

On the other hand, you sacrifice a few watts when it comes to power transfer with the use of MTB shoes, and in a competing scenario where power counts, consider spending extra cash on road shoes.

Another weakness is that road shoes are stiffer when directly powering into the pedal. When you use MTB shoes, it is less rigid, and some of your power dissipates.

What’s more, the road pedals come with a larger platform and have a huge surface area when you push down and place power into it to produce more energy.

Lastly, the mountain bike shoe is heavier on the feet with a large tread pattern. When trying to optimize energy using the pedals, the road shoes shed some ounces.

Pedal fit issues

You can find some of the road shoes compatible with two and three-bolt pedal systems. However, when it comes to performance road shoes, you only see it consistent with one or the other. Therefore, look carefully at the description of the product when buying cycling shoes to ensure your cleats and pedals will work with the shoe.

Here are some recommendations for off and on-road cycling:

For extremely high-end MTB shoes with a lightweight and stiffer design similar to road shoes, the Bontrager XXX bike shoes come to mind. You get exceptional MTB shoes to wear for MTB and road cycling.

For a more affordable option, you can look at another shoe in the same brand, the Cambion that is a lower-end shoe but still has the same stiff carbon sole that works well as a road shoe. You get a Boa fit system to loosen or tighten the shoe throughout your ride.

Last on the list of comfortable MTB shoes to wear is the SSR Multisport Shoe from the same brand again. The shoe does it all from mountain biking to commuting offering you versatility but will sacrifice some performance in the pedals compared to the road shoe.

Saddle Up and Get Comfortable

When it comes to should wear your mountain bike shoe or a road shoe, there is no right or wrong answer. The essential thing is to saddle up and get comfortable when riding your bike, whether wearing a road cycling or mountain cycling shoe. On the other hand, if anyone does give you a hard time about your preferred footwear, then provide this link to check it out. The essential thing is to log enough hours, making you the overall winner in the end!

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