Endura might be new to the best mountain bike shoes game but its parent group, Pentland, has been involved in making shoes for 90 years. The range covers flat pedal shoes - Humvee and MT500 - and the Burner Clipless shoes tested here. They’re designed to work for everything from adventure riding to trails and downhill mountain biking, too, with Endura riders such as the Athertons, Joe Barnes and Kris Kyle, all involved in the development and lab testing to back up trail-time feedback. The result is a potentially versatile all-round trail shoe as long as unisex fit and lumpy insole tech works for you.
Design and aesthetics
Not only are Endura’s shoes a completely ground-up design, they also feature a unisex blueprint. Endura has also worked with external specialists, riders and lab testing of competitors to develop unique rubber compounds. That means the Burner gets a softer ‘StickyFoot Grip’ along most of the sole for maximum pedal grip, with a harder wearing, contrast color StickyFoot Dura at the toe and heel so they last okay when walking.
The long cleat slots have a slightly inboard positioning with a wide opening to keep them clean. They also come supplied with a bolt-in cover if you’re not quite ready to clip up yet. A nylon shank runs through the EVA midsole to stiffen them for pedaling.
Things get complicated with the EGM (Ergoministry) insole though. Working with Team Sky/British Cycling physio/podiatrist Phil Burt, Endura has built a supportive platform for your feet. This includes a metatarsal button way back under the arch to spread your foot bones as well as a raised inside ‘Power Arch’ under your instep to support power transfer. They’ve even added small raised ‘Sole Stimulant’ dots under the fore- and midfoot. These apparently improve proprioception (the ability to sense and control body movements) and use reflexology principles to wake up the foot and potentially help blood flow.
Up top, you’ve got a tough, multi-section synthetic, wipe-clean upper protected by molded toe bumpers. There are extra forefoot wings to anchor the lower laces and the contrast-colored rear of the shoe has a second layer reinforcing cup. There’s an inside scuff panel on the raised asymmetric crank side collar and the whole rear heel internal gets a high grip 'Sharkskin’ liner to grip the foot.
The rest of the liner uses deliberately thin, quick drying materials and there are gradiented micro-perforations over the toe. The shoe is secured by a five-hole lacing rung (the bottom hole on the forefoot wings is doubled and plastic reinforced) with a short wrap over hook and loop stabilizer strap at the top. You get ‘wild’ or ‘mild’ lace options with each shoe, too.
The first thing we have to say is that we’d definitely suggest 'trying before buying', as the unisex fit caused issues for our male testers. That’s because even with no tension in the lower laces, the extra forefoot wings really pinch in around the ball of the foot/pinky toe. They’ve not stretched or loosened up at all in a couple of months riding either. The fold section of the wrap-over strap is positioned so that, even when it’s as loose as possible, it’s still tight over the crown of the foot. Obviously, fit is a personal thing and riders with flatter, narrower feet may well find them fine. That said, it’s the first time I’ve felt pinched in a shoe since riding old school Italian fits and it definitely needs calling out. Several testers also found the right shoe significantly tighter in fit than the left which is a bit odd.
The deep sole, secure-feeling upper and nylon shank give reasonable pedaling stiffness and they don’t yaw much through the heel and midfoot, so power goes through to the bike pretty well. However, our test team found the overall forefoot area surprisingly soft and mobile, which created a pressure point over the cleat. While this was just an irritating niggle when using a broad platform-style clipless pedal, it can be obviously uncomfortable with small-cage offerings from the best mountain bike pedals. Even with the softer ‘StickyFoot Grip’ rubber the relatively uncompliant stiffness of the upper and tall feel due to the depth of sole meant we didn’t feel we gained anything in terms of nuanced bike control or extra security when landing drops either. Several of our testers found the front edge of the metatarsal button really intrusive and preferred to run the shoes with a conventional insole. This also reduced the tight forefoot issue for some riders as well.
On the plus side though, grip is good off the bike and while they feel stiff on uneven surfaces, there’s no heel lift or rub when hike-a-biking. The substantial toe and outer fit bumper fend off sniper rocks well and the asymmetric inside cuff stops crank clobbering. They’ve proved impressively durable and easy to clean through pre-release testing and they dry quickly, too. While the pores on the toe top didn’t give any tangible cooling/ventilation benefits they didn’t obviously let water in either so we’ll call that a drawer. While there’s no lace loop tidy we didn’t have issues with them coming undone anyway.
The positive ‘Power Arch’ support to the midfoot takes some pressure off the pedaling zone which is welcome on longer rides but it isn’t so pronounced it feels weird. If you’re a prehensile-toed barefoot yoga type the reflexology dots might be a tactile bonus too, but to be honest, they were lost on the calloused hooves of our test team.
The Endura MT500 Burner Clipless shoe is a solid, trail riding all rounder that complements the brand's clothing range in ethos and aesthetics. The unisex last, soft cleat area and obvious orthotics caused significant comfort issues for several of our test team though. That means we’d definitely advise trying before you buy rather than ordering online and potentially using a different insole than the one supplied.
Tech Specs: Endura MT500 Burner Clipless shoes
- Price: $159.99 / £129.99 / €159.99
- Weight: 1,044g (size 44 with SPD cleats)
- Sizes: 38-47
- Colors: Black/grey, Navy/aqua, Forest green/lime, Scarlet/burgundy