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Mountain Bike Shoes - Tread The Toughest Terrain

by Robert Sheehan [January 29, 2007]

Mountain bike shoes are specialized footwear. They are customized for the kind of cycling you plan to do, the model of your cycle, the terrain you are going to cover and finally your personalized needs. However, the basic criterion that makes a cycling shoe is determined by the pedal of the bike.

Originally, biking shoes were made of hard leather soles made firmer with a metal or plastic shoe plate or cleat nailed to it. The cleat had a slot that fitted into the pedal of the cycle, while the toe clip and strap worked to keep the bikers grip on the pedals.

When the clipless pedal became the norm, the features of the cycling shoes had to be modernized accordingly. Hence, the shoes featured cavities or clefts to smoothly accommodate cleats for clipless pedal machines for instance in Shimano's SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) and LOOK.

Special features of modern cycling shoes

Mountain cycling shoes have features that make it safe and ideal for this fun-filled yet highly challenging activity. They are:

1. Sole is very smooth, tough and inflexible

2. Sole is slightly curved at the ball of the foot that works to transfer force and pressure to the toe while cycling

3. Adaptable while in use

4. Features either velcro straps or even more complex straps instead of laces

5. Unhooks easily

Types of cycling shoes soles

The stuff the sole is made of and degree of tread it ensures determines the weight of the shoe, which is vital to this special footwear. There are generally three kinds of soles available:

1. Economical brands feature an injection-molded plastic sole. However, they are heavier and prone to flexing.

2. Moderately priced brands have a combination sole, either made of plastic and carbon fibre, plastic and fibreglass, or completely carbon fibre.

3. Premium brands manufactured post-2002 use carbon fibre soles.

How do the cleats of mountain cycling shoes differ from others?

The kind of pedals your cycle features determines the cleat. A clipless type pedals requires some specific cleats. Mountain biking shoes generally come with a sunken cleat and studs lining the sole. This helps negotiate the tough terrains. These mountain specific cleats are smaller than those designed for road shoes (that generally have protruding cleats and are attached with three bolts) and are fixed to the shoe with two bolts.

Quality of the shoe

For knowing the quality of the shoe you plan to buy, check the following:

1. The firmness and grip of the sole: A stiff sole ensures better pedaling

2. What is it made of?: Premium brands come with carbon soles

3. Breathability: It should ensure good air circulation and coolness

4. The total weight of the shoe: The lighter the better

5. Durability: It's a must to endure the tough terrain

6. Comfort: Your feet must be at ease while you ride

About the Author
Robert Sheehan is a freelance writer and co-owner of http://www.bicycles-are-us.com Visit Robert And read more about bicycles at http://www.bicycles-are-us.com/Mountain-Bikes.html