MTB Shoe Recomendation

Im going to buy my first MTB Bike. Im between two shoes:

Shimano SH-XC501
Giro Privateer Lace

Any recommendations or other options?

If you have wide feet, take a look at Sidi.

Love the Spesh Foot out Flat out (2FO), can go flat, spd, boa or lace, still really light and comfy and most importantly; look like a shoe

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I’ve tried many shoes over the years and by far and away have always come back to Shimano. I get the E sized shoes for my wide feet (they have standard and E widths in their ranges).

If you’re coming from road, stiffness in the shoe is not the be all and end all. Consider where you ride and how much, or how little, hike a bike may be needed. MTB shoes are more flexi for a reason!

Consider too that flat pedal shoes such as Five Ten are pretty crap on wet muddy surfaces as they have little to no tread on the soles. Work great with flat pedals, but a 20% wet clay embankment, not so much!

I have found Giro to be irritatingly narrow as well. I like the look of some of them, but my feet sure as hell hate them!

Shoes are extremely personal. One man’s pillow is another man’s torture device.


A cycling shoe is an unpadded, stiff shoe that will fit in a size that is different than your running shoes. You need to order both, you’ll probably return both, and then order the right one in a better size.

XC501 - it’s a good starting point. Laces are stupid here. Boa is easiest to clean. The XC7 can be around the same price. Basically, just about everyone here has owned a Shimano shoe…and for good reason.
Giro - Recon over the Privateer.

Specialized Expert XC and Fizik Terra X5

If you have a narrow foot, you can find a lot of Mavic Crossmax’s on sale.

You don’t need an infinitely stiff shoe; just something that’s stiff from the mid-heel to the cleat.
It should feel like the perfect slipper - not needing to be tight to stay in place.
Size it by the arch and point sides of your forefoot hitting in the right spots as opposed to your toes being in the right spot, as the curve of the shoe is more important than the ultimate length - toes can have some extra room.
Get a shoe with two adjustments, not one. the lower one you’ll likely set once and never touch again.

I’ll throw an oddball in here, Velokicks’s Lactate: they are very affordable, but don’t let that fool you, you are getting a much better shoe than if you paid a comparable amount from another brand. They are supremely comfortable, the sole has the right balance of stiffness and flex (remember: flex makes them easier to walk in). I got mine when they were released and have been using them 5 times a week for my commute. I walked in them way more than you should. They still look like brand new. The only two niggles I have is that I’d prefer a Vibram sole, it’d provide more grip and be silent while walking. And the material on the toe cap, which does its job of protecting the toe of the shoe perfectly, looks a bit cheaper than the rest of the shoe.

The owner is a podiatrist (i. e. a medical professional specialized in feet and ankles), and it shows. I have wide feet, so wide that with other brands I had to resort to wide versions. I wouldn’t even be able to put on most brands’s regular cycling shoes. The Lactic is different in a good way. In case you are not sure about sizing, trace out your feet, measure length and width and send that to Velokicks, Nick, the owner will give you a size recommendation. He was spot on for me.


Over the past year I have been trying to find a shoe to replaced the discontinued Pearl Izumi XProject elite shoes that I loved. I have literally tried 6 different shoes… mountain bike shoes are really tough to get right. Anyway, the shoe I settled on, and love by the way, is the Giro Privateer Lace. I have a wider toe box and high instep and the shoes are perfect. I also have found that I prefer the laces to boas. I would highly recommend the shoes. As a bonus, they are excellent value.

I have loved these Tommaso shoes

Had a Shimano pair before (lower-end price range) and they compressed my toes and forefoot even while straps were loose. I don’t have wide feet. Narrow actually. Was surprised.

My wife loves the same model of Shimano, which I hated, FWIW.

Giro has a very low instep which makes th

Specialized 2fo is also decent, if you want to check out a different style.

Lake for truly wide feet. Shimano wide is barely an E as well as sidi IME

I was considering those for my next set also - they look good. Did I see that Gplama had some?

I’ve currently got XC7’s - Shimano for decent width.

I tried Fizik X5 - beautiful shoe but a bit narrow for me.
Northwave I also tried - I found them to be either slightly short & too narrow. Or too long in the correct width.

If you have slightly narrower/longer feet than the Shimano sizing those could be good options.

@GPLama has the road shoes (at least he presented the road shoes on his channel), which is how I learnt of the brand. They are a really good buy IMHO: they are stiffer than the Sidis they were replacing, more comfortable, and it does not look like the bottom plate will rust. I had it happen that the cleat bolts rusted in place and my LBS needed to use a Dremel to free them. By the end the bottom plate was completely rusted through. Oh, and the Sidis cost twice as much.

Unless you are looking for shoes with the ultimate stiffness or want something that is eminently more walkable, the Velokicks are a great choice, especially for people with wider feet.

As soon as I’m having permission from my sponsor to buy bike stuff again (I bought a new bike last month …), I’ll get a pair of road shoes for indoor training. My Specialized S-Works are amazing, but I’d like a second pair of shoes to spread the wear a little and to, well, give my S-Works some time to dry out so that they don’t acquire an odor that some countries would consider a crime against humanity. :wink:


RE: Velokicks. Still wearing them to this day. I have a few shoes on rotation given all the pedal systems I’m using. I have a set of Blanco Dial and Season 4 Nero. Both for road. (Lake for MTB. Bont for Speedplay/Road).


Thanks for sharing. I was really interested. Unfortunately, they only make up to size 46.

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Bont are outstanding as a stiff racing shoes. There are also heat moldable, so you can really fine tune the fit. But they are stiff…

I’ve had great success with Sidi’s as well, but the width can vary somewhat between models. I have the original Drako’s, still one of my favorites, and the newer Drako 2’s. Both fit wider than the Sidi Tiger’s.

I like to use custom insoles with the Sidi’s, as the stock insoles offer little arch support. There are a few different brands that have worked well. Giro’s Supernatural insoles were great and have different wedges that you can put in. I think they stopped selling them though but I had heard they may bring them back.

I found Sidi wide to not be wide at all. I read somewhere that rather than actually making wider shoes, Sidi just adds more leather, so you have more space on top, but a narrow last. Not sure if that’s true, but my “Wide” Sid shoes definitely hurt. I suspect it has to do with where the shoe is actually wide. I have flipper feet that start narrow and just get wider to the tips of my toes. As a result, even though visually this Sidi appears wider than the Shimano, the Shimano with wider toe box is infinitely more comfortable.


I have an like the XC501 shoes. I have somewhat wide feet and have no complaints. The shimanos also allow for a more mid-foot cleat placement, which I prefer on the mountain bike. I can’t comment on the Giros.