Leatt may have only been making mountain bike shoes for a couple of years, but they’ve already progressed a lot, and the 2023 lineup sees big performance upgrades at reasonable prices, a big part thanks to their all-new WaffleGrip Pro tread design and softer RideGrip Pro rubber. We’ve been riding the waterproof Leatt HydrDri 7.0 Flat and mid-level Leatt MTB 3.0 Flat Pro shoes on platform pedals for the past few weeks, and have improved how well they stick to traction pins in any weather.
Leatt revamps MTB shoe range to suit trail to gravity riders
We’ve actually already teased a good bit of the second-generation MY23 updates to Leatt’s mountain bike shoe range, but it’s worth taking a closer look at improved performance that makes its way all the way down to their $99 entry-level shoes. And to be honest, the naming schemes are a bit easy to mix up, so worth explaining. Plus, I’ve been riding the two higher-end versions of the new flat pedal shoes, so can offer some real-world feedback on how well they stick.
Pretty much all of Leatt’s MTB shoes initially had a hollowed-out waffle-pattern tread like Vans skate shoes with plenty of negative space (called WaffleGrip). But the webs connecting the tread actually made the shoes too stiff for the best grip. So they inverted the design, creating WaffleGrip Pro with individual 2mm tall triangular tread blocks that can each deform separately, and allow the sole beneath to flex unrestricted by the tread. The result is plenty of negative space for both short & long traction pins to dig in, plus a more self-cleaning design.
Yet, Leatt still wanted more grip, so they formulated a 20% softer rubber – dubbed RideGrip Pro – that’s even stickier on the pedals, as well as off-the-bike scrambling up rocks. Plus, it’s said to deliver almost the same level of durability as the harder rubber, so the shoes will still last you several seasons.
Review Leatt MTB 3.0 Flat Pro shoes
The big evolution in Leatt’s flat pedal shoes continues from the new grip and stickier rubber, also to an improved midsole that mixes EVA foam and rubber to provide additional damping of vibration and impacts. Much like a flexible shoe can bend over the pedal to maintain grip, if the structure of the shoe can damp impacts a bit, it is more likely to stay on the pedal and not bounce off when you barrel through chunky rock gardens. Plus, the shoe:pedal interface is the biggest transfer of forces between rider and bike when you are flying down the trail, so the more comfort & stability the better.
The $150 / 170€ Leatt MTB 3.0 Flat Pro shoes are targeted at all-mountain, enduro, and downhill riding, combining the medium-stiffness upgraded sole with a reinforced upper. With a wide skate shoe sneaker feel, they are cut fairly high at the ankle both inside & out with a loose-fitting neoprene cuff that offers a bit of protection from an errant pedal or flying trail debris, and has so fair kept most dirt & rocks out without feeling too tight.
My Pro-level shoes are tightened with a micro-adjust MOZ cable & dial (Leatt’s own Boa-style system that they back and provide replacement parts for) attached to the stiff rubber surround of mesh side vent panels, and a long velcro strap up top. They get also get perforation vents across the rest of the synthetic leather upper, and heavy-duty rubber toe & heel protection.
The shoes feel pretty light for a well-protected enduro shoe with a sticky rubber sole, weighing in at 809g for the pair in my size 43 in snow camo.
There’s also a lace-up version of these 3.0 Flat Pro shoes that sell for $130 / 150€ for those who don’t want the added complexity of the dial closure, plus you may even save a few grams.
I’ve been riding and hiking trails now for a while in these new Leatt MTB 3.0 Flat Pro shoes and can really appreciate their latest sole & midsole construction. On the bike, they feel firmly planted on a couple of different platform pedals I’ve tried, hooking up like velcro whether the pins are short or shin-shredding long.
Hike-a-biking in the snow & mud shows they aren’t magic, but any dirt, rock, or root to grip on at the revised WaffleGrip Pro tread is a huge improvement over the older Vans-style tread. After just a few, you could start to see small divots in the tread blocks from the longest pins making contact, but now around 10 rides in there’s not really any more wear as the pins seem to have found their place.
And really, the shoes might even feel more connected to the pedals now. Or that could be my imagination, as I just get used to new shoes that are breaking in around my feet?
Review Leatt HydrDri 7.0 Flat shoes
Now more in more season-appropriate conditions, the most expensive shoes in the 2023 Leatt MTB lineup are these $190 / 210€ waterproof HydrDri 7.0 Flat shoes, unsurprising as they are certainly more complex. Unlike many winter shoes, they are not insulated making them more versatile in all seasons, and the outer shell is not actually what makes them waterproof. Instead, underneath you find a more conventional shoe construction with a Leatt 10k/10k breathable membrane on the inside and simple speed-laces that cinch tight, held in place with a cam lock.
On the outside, the HydrDri 7 shoes do have a tough outer gaiter shell that is highly waterproof yet flexible, also with heel & toe reinforcement, a waterproof zipper, and a secure snap closure at the top that fits tightly but comfortably against your leg, and under your pant leg. Then, there is the same top-tier WaffleGrip Pro x RideGrip Pro sole for maximum platform pedal grip.
That’s really where these shoes shine, offering the same flat pedal grip, even when the weather outside is miserable.
Even with the outer protection gaiter, the Leatt HydrDri 7.0 Flat shoes aren’t much heavier than a regular pair of gravity shoes, a real 895g for my size 43 boots shoes.
I also have to really resist the temptation to call them boots. They look like boots and sit next to my insulate winter boots from Northwave & 45Nrth at the moment. But really, because of the low-cut inner shoe construction, they feel a lot more like a regular trail sneaker than real winter boots. If you ride in the Arctic that might be a downside, but really these are just more versatile.
That big surprise here for me is that the HydrDri 7.0 shoes are really just foul-weather shoes, not winter shoes. In fact, they don’t feel overly warm at the moment when we are still in the death throes of winter. But in the same size 43, these shoes do offer a bit more room for thicker socks. That means I can go with merino ski socks to stay warm in freezing temps, but I will still be able to ride in these waterproof shoes when temps warm up.
But the cuff stays tight against my leg, and stays under slim-cut riding pants, so the mud stays out, my feet actually stay dry while riding super sloppy wet trails, and you can just hose them clean at the end of the ride without worrying about wet socks. And when I’m worrying about hunting for grip under my tires on slick trails and muddy off-cambers… I have had sticky predictable grip on my pedals.
I already mentioned that it’s nice to have the exact same grip on summer & winter shoes, right? That’s a welcome new feature to me, as I usually had resorted to non-cycling-specific boots for winter platform pedal riding. And now I wonder why I didn’t get proper winter flat pedal shoes before.
Other MTB Flat & Clipless shoe options
I haven’t tried the Leatt clipless shoes at all. They do share some similar construction details up top, but combine a stiffer WaffleGrip (not Pro) sole with a recessed cleat pocket cutout. The uppers are very similar to my 3.0 Flat shoes, with the option for the $160 / 180€ Leatt MTB 4.0 Clip Pro with the same MOZ dial closure or the simplified $150 / 160 Leatt MTB 4.0 Clip with classic laces. These clipless shoes use the original hollowed-out waffle pattern (WaffleGrip) with block tread lugs at the heel & toe, and stick with the longer-wearing but not quite as soft RideGrip rubber.
I also haven’t ridden the $99 / 120€ Leatt MTB 2.0 Flat shoes, but their sole construction is exactly the same as the 3.0 Flat Pros I have been riding, just with a simpler skater sneaker-style lace-up upper. Word on the street is also that Leatt will continue to introduce limited edition designs at this affordable price point, as well.
Wrapping up more solid Leatt riding gear…
Also of note in these riding photos that we show last week at Mountain Bike Connection Winter in Tuscany…
I’m riding in Leatt’s new jeans – the $120€ MTB Gravity 3.0 Pants which are surprisingly comfortable on & off-the-bike thanks to a hard-wearing stretchy polyester denim fabric with plenty of movement to fit over kneepads, and smartphone-friendly pockets. The kneepads I am wearing are the new $130€ AirFlex Knee Guard Hybrid Pro that offers extended coverage and extra protection above the knee. And then the $150€ MTB All-Mtn 3.0 helmet with 360 Turbine anti-rotation impact protection, a nice Fidlock magnetic closure, and dial-adjust that makes this lid fit my head more securely than any other Leatt half-shell helmet yet.