Are Vans Good For Mountain Biking

Are Vans Good For Mountain Biking? Honest Answer!

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I love mountain biking more than anything else. I love it more than skateboarding, road biking, and gravel biking. Why? Because riding a mountain bike is easy and comfortable. It is the ideal bike for every beginner out there! 

During my novice year, I used a mountain bike, Vans, and flat pedals. It was very fun and exciting! However, is it great to put these three things together as I did? Are Vans shoes good for mountain biking? Let me answer that beautiful question. 

Are Vans good for mountain biking? Yes! Vans shoes are great for mountain biking because of their grippy soles. However, they can only be used on flat pedals. Vans shoes are much cheaper than other shoes designed for mountain biking. But Vans shoes are less supportive than other brands. 

Vans shoes are great for beginners that ride on a mountain bike. They are cheap, easy to wear, and have a powerful grip! However, it can also lose traction in muddy or wet conditions. 

I know that you are considering Vans shoes on your options, and it is a good idea. However, they are not the only choice out in the market. There are plenty of them! Vans shoes are good if you have flat pedals on your mountain bike. Otherwise, you have to choose other brands. 

Let me tell you later the best type of Vans shoes that are good for mountain biking and other brands you might want to consider. Also, I will share with you my personal experience of using Vans shoes for mountain biking. If you are ready, let us move on! 

Personal Experience

Before we proceed to our other subheadings, let me share with you first my personal experience on Vans shoes. 

In my personal experience, Vans shoes are great! But only if you are using flat pedals. During my novice year, I solely relied on Vans since I don’t have enough money to buy specialized shoes and pedals. The type of Vans I use is the Vans old skool and the Vans authentic black and white. These two types of Vans are great for mountain biking. 

The grip of the Vans I used is very powerful! It is like my pedals are glued on my Vans shoes! If I am going to trail, I can bail out effortlessly, even though the grip of my Vans shoes is powerful. However, the only thing I dislike about Vans shoes is that they get slippery when the sole gets wet or muddy. 

However, if you will only ride your mountain bike in the city, Vans shoes are great! But if you bring your mountain bike on forests or trails, Vans shoes will disappoint you. So I suggest you find out first where you will take your mountain bike. If it’s just a casual ride, wear Vans shoes but if you will go for an intense ride, find alternatives.

Do I Need Special Shoes For Mountain Biking?

If your mountain bike has a flat pedal, you don’t need special mountain bike shoes. However, if your mountain bike has clipless pedals, you need to buy cleats. 

You cannot use Vans shoes on your mountain bike if your mountain bike has clipless pedals. It will not be compatible. However, Vans shoes are good if your mountain bike has flat pedals. We will only talk about flat pedals since Vans shoes are incompatible with clipless pedals. 

If you don’t really need special mountain bike shoes for flat pedals, why should you still need to consider buying one? 

Because of grip! A flat, super grippy shoe provides a larger surface area to stick to a flat pedal. If you have more contact between your foot and pedal, you will have more power pedaling your bike, more stability, and safer! If your shoes are slippery, it is hard to maintain control of your bike, and your foot might always slip from your pedals. 

Before I go deeper into our topic, let me discuss the difference between flat pedals and clipless pedals. 

Flat Pedals Vs. Clipless Pedals

Flat Pedals

First, let us know what flat pedals are. 

Flat pedals are flat, which is why they are called flat pedals. Sounds logical, right? Flat pedals have a flat body. It features metal pins or plastic lugs on the pedal’s riding surface. These pins help the cyclist’s shoe grip to the surface of the pedal and prevent their foot from slipping off the pedal while riding. 

Most of the flat pedals in the market feature a slightly concave or convex shape so that riders can choose based on their personal preferences. 

The concave shape offers a powerful grip between the pedals and feet, but it is harder to make adjustments to your foot position while riding. It can be annoying if you go for a difficult trail section and your feet aren’t set right. I already experienced this one, and it was really annoying!

On the other hand, convex pedals are the opposite. They have no powerful grip like the concave, but it is easier to make adjustments to your feet if you feel uncomfortable. I also tried this type of flat pedal. My feet often slip on my pedals. For me, it is dangerous if you go trail on trails with difficult sections. 

BMX and enduro riders love flat pedals. Even the new riders! Why do they love flat pedals? Because it is easier to use, and you can bail out effortlessly if you get into a tricky spot on the trail. It is very difficult to ride on a clipless pedal when you are trailing. You might fall with your bike if you fail to unclip your cleats from your pedals. 

Clipless Pedals 

Clipless pedals are pedals that can lock your shoes into them. If you have cleat shoes, you can lock your shoes to the clipless pedals. Clipless pedals are usually used by bike racers. 

Racers and cross-country riders prefer clipless pedals because they provide secure foot position. Also, it helps cyclists to increase their pedaling power because you can push and pull up the pedal.

However, clipless pedals are hard to use. You cannot use it if you don’t know yet how to clip and unclip your shoes from the pedals properly. You might get into some accidents! It is hard to bail out during a fall! Your bike and you will fall on the ground at the same time.

Vans cannot work on clipless pedals. Vans can only work on flat pedals. Flat pedals are what I will talk about more here in the article. 

Pros And Cons Of Using Vans Shoes For Mountain Biking


Aside from the cool design of Vans shoes, the other thing Vans are known for is their flat and powerful grippy sole. That is the most essential feature in a mountain bike shoe for flat pedal cyclists. 

Vans also offer some mid-height shoes for those mountain bike users that want more ankle protection and support. They also have high-tops that can also protect your ankles. However, high-tops are irritable because they will most likely make your feet sweaty. 

The other good thing about Vans is that they are cheaper than any mountain bike shoes. Most of the Vans shoes will cost an average of $50-$80. However, the other brands are much more expensive than Vans shoes. You are lucky if you found below $100 because usually, those other brands cost $150 above! I will talk about that later, so keep reading. 


I had lots of Vans shoes already. Yes, they look cool, but I don’t find them comfortable. The high-tops are making my feet sweaty. The Vans shoes do not offer much cushion around my ankle, even the high-tops! That is why I don’t wear them if I go on an all-day mountain bike trek. 

The other thing I dislike about Vans shoes is their soles. Yes, their soles are grippy and flat, but only in dry conditions. Once you step on muddy or wet places, the traction runs away. 

So if you ride mostly in dry conditions, Vans shoes would be great. However, if you love trailing in muddy trails or want something more comfortable and give more support around your ankle, consider other brands. 

Best Mountain Bike Shoes In The Market

Like I have mentioned above, Vans does not support clipless pedals. That is why I only compare shoes from other brands that are also compatible with flat pedals. However, these brands offer shoes for clipless pedals too. So if you are interested in getting a clipless pedal, these brands might be interesting for you. 

Five Ten

Five Ten is one of the most popular mountain bike shoe brands. They are listed on the favorite list of most mountain bike riders. These shoes are designed specifically around the needs of every mountain biker. They don’t make any road cycling or BMX shoes. 

The tread pattern of this shoe helps remove dirt and mud while maintaining the best traction that you need. They have great cushioning around the ankle, which is why Five Ten are great on longer and tougher rides. 

The Five Ten mountain bike shoes are also durable! Some mountain bike riders claimed that their Five Ten shoes last three years even though they do trails! You can get them for $100. However, the higher you pay, the more durable it will be. 

Ride Concepts

The next is ride concepts. Ride Concepts is basically a new company, and they are the main competitor of Five Ten. Like Five Ten, Ride Concepts is focused on creating mountain bike shoes only. They don’t create road cycling stuff. 

Ride Concepts and Five Ten have the same price range and features. However, Ride Concepts have more enticing designs. If you love enticing and colorful designs, go for Ride Concepts. 

Pearl Izumi

Pearl Izumi is well-known for creating road cycling gear and apparel. However, they also have really good mountain bike shoes. 

Pearl Izumi does not have many options, but they make some shoes with an interesting feature that sets them apart from other mountain bike shoe brands. They offer Vibram and Goodyear rubber soles on some of their models. Pearl Izumi provides a superior grip on any surface! If you are looking for a powerful grip, Pearl Izumi is for you! 


Specialized is also a brand that loves creating gears and shoes for mountain bike riders. Aside from that, they are also the only brand listed here that creates mountain bikes as well.

Specialized use Vibram soles and BOA closure systems on some of their models. The models Specialized offer are more similar to Pearl Izumi and Giro. That is why they offer different designs compared to Five Ten and Ride Concepts. 


Giro is another brand that makes most road bike shoes. However, they also have mountain bike shoes, but not very many. Giro is cheaper than any brands listed here. So if you are looking for a budget meal or just a casual rider, Giro is the right choice!

Who Should Wear Vans For Mountain Biking?

If you are only doing casual or chill mountain bike rides, Vans shoes are enough for you. Also, if you are riding pump tracks, bike parks, or trails that don’t get too muddy, Vans shoes are enough for you. They offer enough grip for these kinds of riding styles. Lastly, if you are just getting started with mountain biking and don’t like to spend lots of bucks, Vans is a great option for a beginner like you because it is cheap!

Final Verdict

Vans are good mountain bike shoes because they have a powerful grip. However, that powerful grip will jump out of the window if you ride in muddy or wet places. 

If you are a beginner, casual rider and go to trails that do not get too muddy, Vans is a great choice. However, if you ride more aggressive terrain where trail conditions get pretty muddy and wet, you may want to consider the brands I have listed above. 

The mountain bike shoe brands I have listed above may be expensive but the quality of their shoes will surely last a long time and provide the amount of support you need!

Related Article: Why skateboarders wear Vans?