Mountain bike shoes come in a variety of prices, from the inexpensive $70 range, up to over $400. The amount of money you pay depends entirely on whether or not you are a casual, once-a-month rider, a serious hobbyist, or someone who competes in races - either amateur or professional.
What is it about mountain bike shoes that make them a) important to have and b) so expensive?
Shoes designed specifically for cycling have stiff soles, which helps the cyclist in transferring the power from his legs and feet to the pedals and thence to the chain for greater speed. Since the road cyclist is expected to be on his or her bike at all times without having to do a great deal of walking, they normally have a protruding cleat which slots into the recess on their pedals.
A protruding cleat would be of no use to the mountain biker, who quite frequently has to get off the bike and wheel or carry it around obstacles. So mountain bike shoes have recessed cleats, that won't interfere with walking, and aren't made with a totally rigid sole, but one that will give just a little bit.
There are dozens of mountain biking shoes on the market. Men will find a wider variety of designs then women, nevertheless there are quite a few styles designed specifically for the smaller foot of the average woman.
What makes the mountain bike shoe so important?
The occasional biker usually doesn't bother with toe clips or clipless pedals. . . . they just hop on their bike and they're away. However, the serious cyclist wants to get all the power he or she can out of a pedaling, and with the shoe firmly attached to the pedal - either with a toeclip or by a cleat, the cyclist can pull upward on the pedal as well as simultaneously pushing downward on the other pedal, which increases the speed of the bike.
What makes the mountain bike shoe so expensive?
Well, as with any shoe, the price comes down to what the shoe is made of. The lighter the shoe is, the better for the racer. But, lightness comes expensive. Carbon fiber soles are the lightest soles on the market - carbon fiber is more expensive to produce than injection-molded plastic, or plastic and fiberglass.
However, the average rider should be able to get a pair of mountain biking shoes for less than a hundred dollars.
Alastair Hamilton is a journalist who has written more articles and newsletters on this subject for http://www.bikecyclingreviews.com . You can find more information and resources on mountain bike reviews at his website.