Our award-winning products have seen recent updates from their respective manufacturers. A new version of the X-Project is now available. A new version of the Giro Privateer is also available, and new colors are available for the Giro Terraduro. For all of the info on the new versions and updates see our detailed reviews of the respective products.
Best Overall Mountain Bike Shoes
Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro
Boa retention system
Insoles are customiziable
Foot protection is minimal
New version now available — March 2017
New on the market for 2017 is the X-Project Pro, pictured above. With notable updates to the sole and upper, the new version should rival the original. A full review of the X-Project Pro is in progress, and the differences between the old and new versions are highlighted in the individual product review. We loved its predecessor, and after researching this updated model, we expect performance to improve.
The Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro
is the winner of our Editors' Choice Award. It is truly a unique shoe, with a level of versatility that is unmatched by any other shoe we tested. It is well suited to cross-country, enduro, and even cyclocross. The carbon sole gives the shoe excellent power transfer characteristics, with a stiff feeling under even the hardest out-of-the-saddle pedaling efforts, while still maintaining a surprising amount of flex when off the bike walking or running. The tacky rubber outsole almost completely covers the carbon midsole, protecting it from wear and rock strikes, and utilizes an aggressive lug pattern that clears mud well. A well-designed Boa retention system uses two dials and allows for an unmatched level of micro-adjustability while riding or racing. The upper is seamless with lots of mesh panels for ventilation. An adjustable insole system, with different arch and various inserts, complements the well-designed upper for an unmatched level of comfort and customization. The Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro should be on your shortlist no matter what type of rider you are.
Read full review: Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro
Best Bang for the Buck
Giro Privateer R
Not ideal for running or walking
Hard rubber outsole lacks traction on rocks
The Giro Privateer R
is the latest iteration in the Privateer line. It is far from the least expensive shoe we tested, but you get a lot of performance for your money. The Privateer is an entry-level shoe; with a stiff Zytel Nylon sole and a firm lugged rubber outsole. It is geared more towards the cross-country racer than the gravity crowd, but it is a capable shoe and we would recommend it for just about any type of riding short of a day at the bike park. The Privateer looks nearly identical to Giro's higher end Code shoe but has nylon sole instead of the carbon utilized by the Code. Power transfer is not quite as good as with the Pearl Izumi X-Project, but for a shoe without a carbon sole, it is impressive. The shoe is very comfortable and utilizes the same insole as the Terraduro, but has a much more supple upper. The Privateer is not super cheap, but we challenge you to find a better shoe in this price range. For the details on how the previous Privateer stacks up to the new Privateer R, see the individual product review.
Read full review: Giro Privateer R
Top Pick for the Enduro Racer
Great foot protection
Not the best at clearing mud
This shoe is marketed as an enduro race shoe, and while it excels in that capacity, it is also one of our favorite all-around shoes. Not as stiff, or lightweight as the Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro, it might not be on the top of the list for cross-country racers, but everyone else should at least consider this shoe. To say it is durable is an understatement. The Vibram sole was one of the most resistant to wear during our testing and nearly every spot on the shoe in danger of abrasion is coated in a tough rubber-like abrasion resistant material. The Giro Terraduro
is comfortable both on and off the bike, if you spend a lot of time off the bike inspecting lines or hiking sections of backcountry trail, this is the shoe for you. When walking or running the Terraduro feels more like a firm hiking shoe than a typical mountain bike shoe. Power transfer is not as good as with top end cross-country shoes such as the X-Project Pro, but when paired with a platform or mini-platform clipless pedal, the efficiency is more than acceptable, even on long backcountry rides. Our only complaint with the Terraduro is the lack of ventilation, on hot days your feet may get a bit warm. The Terraduro is a fantastic shoe that meets the needs of a broad range of riders.
Read full review: Giro Terraduro