Best Cycling Shoes
Cycling has gained popularity over the years for myriad reasons. It is a cost effective way to travel, eco-friendly and promotes the concept of sustainable development. It also ensures that you get quality exercise which a staggering number of people sadly lack in the modern world.
It is not enough that you decide to take up cycling, you also need to have the proper equipment. Proper cycling equipment would consist of headgear (a helmet), cycling gloves, cycling lights, a horn and cycling footwear or cycling shoes. For some reason, cycling shoes do not seem to get as much attention as the other items mentioned on that list. This is probably why we sometimes see people cycling with flip flops (yes, it does happen!) or other improper wear. Remember, improper cycling footwear could lead to injuries; therefore, it is imperative that you always have the right kind of cycling shoes while cycling. This is where our article will help you. It has all the important information that one would need to know about cycling shoes. This article assumes that you have absolutely no knowledge about cycling shoes; therefore, do not worry about not having prior knowledge. By the end of this article, you will have learned more than enough to be able to buy shoes for cycling.
Our Top 3 Picks
10 Best Cycling Shoes
This price is quite reasonable considering the quality of the SHR065. You will find cheaper ones, but you will probably lose considerable quality.
The air intake/exhaust system will adequately take care of your ventilation needs. Proper air circulation and ventilation is an absolute must when it comes to cycling shoes (or any kind of shoes for that matter).
At 1.6 pounds, it is quite light. Do not let the lightweight mislead you into thinking that it means they are not durable – they are very durable!
Flat and flexible insole:
This ensures that the shoes will be a good fit regardless of your foot shape. The flat insole is also ideal for comfort and support.
Wider cleat adjustment range:
This basically has to do with the positioning of bicycle cleats on cycling shoes. A wider cleat adjustment range gives more room for leverage for the perfect fit between your shoe and your pedal.
This enables a more efficient upstroke, helping you conserve energy during those long bicycle rides.
Dual hook and comfort straps:
These add to the overall comfort level of the shoes.
- Reasonable price
- Good ventilation/breathability
- Wide cleat adjustment range
- Dual hook and comfort straps
- Flexible insole
- More efficient upstroke
- Size is slightly small (you might want to go for one size bigger than your normal size)
Louis Garneau Multi Air Flex
As stated earlier, this is definitely one of the best choices you can make in the sub $100 price range insofar as cycling shoes are concerned.
The mesh offers great ventilation and breathability.
This pair has 3 Velcro straps to ensure that your shoes are always securely in place.
These shoes provide enough resistance against water to ensure that a little rain does not get into the way of your riding plans. However, please note that water resistance and water proof are not the same thing.
The heel is reflective which makes it much more visible.
HRS-80 retention system:
This enables you to pedal more effectively and powerfully.
The insole EVA provides amazing stability.
Specifically designed for women:
These shoes have been specifically designed for women, keeping in mind the differences between the anatomical structure of a man’s foot and a woman’s foot.
Ability to position cleats using the visual display:
It is compatible with the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics System.
- Value for money
- Good ventilation
- Water resistant
- Secure fit
- Very stable
- Facilitates more powerful pedaling
- Specifically designed for women
- Size is on the lower side. Buy a size that is one size more than your usual size.
- Slightly heavy – might be a factor when you need to pack them in a backpack.
Giro Men's Treble II Bike Shoe
At this price is quite reasonable considering the quality of the shoes and the features it offers.
It is available in 3 different colors namely, matte black, highlight yellow/matte black and white.
After normal wear and tear, damage due to bacterial action is one of the biggest reasons for shoe damage. With the Aegis anti-microbial treatment, you can rest easy knowing that your cycling shoes are well protected at all times.
Universal Cleat Mount System:
The all new Universal Cleat Mount System accommodates both 2 and 3 boLT pedal systems.
The high quality synthetic fiber offers spectacular breathability and ventilation.
Medium arch support:
If your feet are a little sensitive, do not fret! The Treble II’s molded EVA footbed has medium arch support which will make you feel at ease.
3 wide straps:
There are 3 wide straps in place for a secure fit.
The treble II is aesthetically appealing and modern.
- Reasonably priced, value for money
- Available in 3 different colors
- Aegis anti-microbial treatment
- Universal Cleat Mount System
- EVA molded medium arch support
- Good fit with 3 wide straps
- Aesthetically appealing
- Tend to run a little narrow
With their price, just short of $100, the SH-RP2 are decent value for money. While you will find a few cheaper options, the incredible stability that these shoes offer may be a tad compromised.
Available in 2 colors, black and white.
The air intake/exhaust system offers great ventilation. This is the norm with Shimano cycling shoes in general.
Increased power output:
The soles of the shoes have been reinforced by fiberglass, resulting in increased power output. This helps with more efficient use of energy.
The upper synthetic leather adds to the strength and stability of the pair of shoes.
This facilitates a more efficient upstroke which is again, very energy efficient.
Pressure relieving straps:
The three straps are asymmetrical so as to prevent pressure on the foot.
Wider cleat adjustment range:
This results in the ideal shoe and pedal fit.
Designed for women:
The SH-RP2 have been specifically designed for women, keeping in mind the unique needs of a slightly different anatomical foot structure as compared to the men.
- Good value for money
- Available in 2 colors
- Air Intake/Exhaust system provides good breathability
- Increased strength
- Enhanced stability
- More efficient upstroke
- Energy efficient
- Wider cleat adjustment range
- Specially designed for women
- Not very durable
Venzo Shimano SPD Shoes
This is most certainly one of the least expensive pairs you will find in this price range. At this price, it is good value for money.
Award winning technology:
These shoes feature award winning technology for performance. One can rest easy with regards to performance doubts after knowing that.
Maximum power transfer:
The easy to use buckle facilitates maximum power transfer.
These shoes dry quickly. In case of rain or wet shoes for any reason whatsoever, you can be assured that the shoes will be dry in quick time.
The mesh is very breathable and provides great ventilation.
Beveled heels enable the feet to land down in a much smoother manner.
It is compatible with each one of Shimano’s SPD systems.
The sockliner is removable which adds to the convenience of using this product.
This enables fast fit and feel.
- Low price
- Award winning technology
- Quick drying
- Maximum power
- Breathable mesh
- Compatible with all Shimano systems
- Fast fit
- Removable sockliner
- Good for beginners, not so much for advanced cyclist needs
Tommaso Montagna 200
At this price, this is an absolute steal. If you are on a limited budget, the Montagna 200 must really be in your top 2 or 3 choices.
Whether you want to commute normally, use it indoors at the local gym, tour a city on your bike or explore mountainous terrain, these shoes will help you do it all.
The mesh portion is extremely well ventilated in order to help keep your feet cool at all times.
The synthetic leather will ensure maximum comfort for your feet all day long. The Velcro straps add to your comfort level by helping keep the shoes firmly in place.
Ratcheting buckle system:
This enables micro-adjustments which stay put even during the harshest and most daunting rides.
High performance and increased power transfer:
The polyamide sole has been reinforced with fiberglass so that you have the optimal mix of power transfer and high performance.
The armor toebox is reinforced which not only keeps your toes secure as you make that tricky ascent on your bike, but it also increases the overall longevity and durability of your shoes.
It is compatible with 2-bolt style cleats.
- Great value for money
- Extremely versatile
- Maximum comfort
- Well ventilated
- High performance
- Increased power transfer
- Size tends to run a bit large
Louis Garneau Men's Tri X-Lite
This price is not the lowest you will every pay for a pair of cycling shoes; but if you are taking part in triathlons and the like, it is likely that you are not a beginner and shelling a few extra dollars is totally worth, given what these shoes offer. Moreover, there are far more pricey cycling shoes on the market.
This pair is available in both white and bright yellow, both of which look classy.
The Tri X-Lite is quite appealing to one’s aesthetic sense. The sleek design adds to the aesthetic appeal of the shoes.
As mentioned earlier, lack of ventilation causes foot problems which could pose huge problems in a triathlon. Louis Garneau’s Tri X-Lite places a special emphasis on ventilation to ensure that your feet never get sweaty and that there is always adequate air circulation around your feet.
The upper sandwich mesh is great at moisture absorption. It fits perfectly and molds to your feet which makes these shoes extremely comfortable.
Bomber heel retention system:
Bid goodbyes to foot blisters forever thanks to X-Lite’s amazing bomber heel retention system.
Pull loop at the heel:
This makes it far easier to get your shoe on. You could save precious seconds which could be vital when you are riding competitively.
- Moisture absorption
- Prevents foot blisters
- Triathlon friendly
- Well ventilated
- They run a size small
- Socks could be a little too visible for the liking of some
Five Ten Men's Freerider Elements
At this price it may appear to be on the higher side at first glance, but the Freerider Elements is worth each and every dollar.
It is available in dark grey/orange and navy/black.
The material of the sole is rubber and not leather. This means superior traction.
A lot of biking shoes have Velcro straps, not the Freeder Elements though. It sticks to laces. This can be a plus or a minus depending on your personal preference.
The nature of the shoes and the rubber sole combine to make the Freerider Elements water resistant. This is particularly advantageous in rainy weather. Remember the caveat again – water resistant and waterproof are two different things.
The recommended use for Freerider Elements is mountain biking – they have been designed for that. However, the flexible soles make it good for walking and casual wear.
Your feet will literally be glued to the pedals once you have these on. When you are mountain biking, grip is arguably the most important thing as a lapse could be potentially dangerous. Five Ten has done an impeccable job as usual with the grip.
- Great value for money
- Available in multiple colors
- Better traction
- Water resistant
- Versatile use
- Terrific grip
- Well built
- Laces and not Velcro straps
- Size maybe half a size small
Fizik R5 UOMO BOA
This price is on the lower side for a Fizik product. In fact, one of the primary purposes of this particular model was to attract customers who wanted the brand’s customary high performance and high combination mix, but stayed away due to the steep prices.
If you are the kind that likes options when it comes to colors, then this model will not disappoint you. There are myriad options to choose from : black/dark gray, black/red, white/light gray, black, anthracite/fluorescent orange, black/dark grey, white/light grey.
The design is sleek and lightweight, making it a killer combination which also adds to its aesthetic appeal.
This enables the transfer of the highest amount of power possible and also optimizes pedaling technique.
The shoes fit perfectly and they relieve all the pressure points.
The aircraft grade stainless steel construction makes the shoes extremely durable. You can expect them to last a long time.
High performance and comfort:
Each shoe’s shape can be changed and adapted to the feet of the cyclist. This results in high control and performance.
The carbon reinforced nylon outsole coupled with the cycling insole sculpted footbeds and supportive heel result in incredible efficiency. Virtually not a single watt of power is wasted.
Microfiber material is extremely resilient and will meet all your biking needs.
The heel comes with a strip that is not only reflective but huge. This means that you will be visible no matter how dark it is.
- Very good price for the value offered
- Variety of options in terms of colors
- High durability
- Wonderful mix of great comfort and high performance
- Very resilient
- Highly visible
- Ever so slightly large
Pearl Izumi Tri Fly
All things considered, the price offered is a reasonable price.
It is available in 2 colors namely, deeplake/gumdrop and white/black.
The inbuilt longitudinal arch increases pedaling efficiency.
The upper mesh material is extremely breathable so much so that you could even cycle without socks and feel alright.
- Decent price
- Available in multiple colors
- Specifically designed for women
- Aesthetically appealing
- Runs a size small, order 1 size bigger than your normal size
Criteria used for Evaluation
Buying cycling shoes does not seem like the most daunting task in the world and really, it is not. However, it is not as simple as just walking into a store and picking the first pair that catches your eye, or typing cycling on Amazon and ordering the first search result that shows up. You could do it of course, but chances are that you will end up with a less than satisfactory product.
There are some basic criteria that you could use that will make your life much easier when it comes to buying the right kind of cycling shoes. Let us go through them one by one.
Purpose: what do you need the cycling shoes for?
The purpose of buying a pair of cycling shoes should be clear in your mind. There are several types of cycling shoes and while you will get more than the odd pair which claims to be able to do everything, it is likely to be a jack of all trades and master of none. In other words, it will not give you the optimal satisfaction or performance that you desire.
What exactly do we mean by “types of cycling shoes’’? Well, in a nutshell, you have road cycling shoes, mountain biking shoes, and triathlon cycling shoes. Let us briefly look at each one:
- Road biking shoes
As the name suggests, these shoes are meant for cycling on the road. The needs of a road biker will differ slightly from those of a mountain biker. Road shoes tend to be light, have a rather stiff sole and are extremely breathable in order to give the rider the maximum possible comfort on a hot and sunny day.
- Mountain biking shoes
Mountain biking shoes are generally meant to deal with harsher conditions. Intuitively, that makes sense as the mountainous terrain would pose more of a challenge to riders than straight and flat roads. As a result, mountain biking shoes tend to be sturdier and their soles also tend to be more flexible. This allows for easier dismounting from time to time.
- Triathlon shoes
Triathlon shoes are a type of cycling shoe in the traditional sense. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of people participating in triathlons (swimming, running and cycling). You could take part in these competitions using road cycling shoes or mountain cycling shoes, but again, it would be a case of taking a knife to a gun fight. Triathlons have unique demands which triathlon shoes take into consideration. For example, triathlon shoes are generally easier to remove and wear giving you that precious few extra seconds that could make a difference at the end. Also, triathlon shoes can usually be worn without socks. Again, this is an advantage when you need to transition from swimming to biking to running barefoot. It also has the added advantage of preventing blisters on your foot.
Therefore, it is important for you to figure out what exactly you need your cycling shoes for and then decide accordingly.
Clipless pedals vs toe clips vs platform pedals : what should you go for?
- Clipless pedals
Clipless pedals are in vogue at this point in time. You usually have the option of buying cleats along with the shoes you purchase. These are costlier than the other options, but they are also the most efficient. If efficiency is your priority and you do not care about the cost, then you can opt for clipless pedals; if not, you can look at the other options.
- Toe clips
Toe clips strap your feet to the pedals using a leather strap. These have been around since time immemorial, but their popularity and usage have been on the wane. Their biggest plus is that they are relatively inexpensive, but they are not as efficient as clipless pedals.
- Platform pedals
These are part of a number of everyday bicycles. If you are an experienced rider, then you can safely ignore this. This is the most cost effective option, do not care about efficiency and only intend to cycle to the nearest grocery store or McDonald’s, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you are keen on competitions and intend to ride a lot, then you will have to go with clipless pedals or toe clips.
Length and width
This may sound very primitive and basic, but you really need to be absolutely sure that the length and width of your cycling shoes are a perfect fit. You do not want them to be too tight or too loose. Ensure that you check the size thoroughly. Throughout the article there is mention of which models run too small or too large; do make sure you pay careful attention to that.
Laces or Velcro Straps or ratchets? What should you go for?
Laces, Velcro Straps and ratchets all have one primary objective: to keep your feet securely in the shoes at all times. You could go for either of the three and you would not be wrong. Some riders prefer ratchets over extremely long distances because they feel it is the most comfortable of the 3 options; some others have a preference for Velcro Straps and swear by its comfort. Some shoes have a hybrid of the two: 2 Velcro straps and a ratchet. Finally, there are those that prefer laces. The biggest drawback with laces is that you need to tie and untie them. However, the time needed to do this is so negligible is that it does not really merit discussion. If we were to generalize a little, more of the old timers and traditionalists tend to prefer cycling shoes with laces(although they are somewhat in vogue again). Shoes with laces also tend to be more aesthetically appealing at times.
This is most important in the case of road biking shoes. The shoes have to have adequate breathability and keep you cool and comfortable on a sunny day. Lack of proper ventilation will cause excessive system and ultimately lead to undesirable foot blisters.
As alluded to earlier, road biking shoes have more inflexible and stiffer soles, whereas mountain biking shoes have more flexible soles. This is purely to cater to the different requirements of each type. You should choose the sole material which best suits your needs.
Compatibility of the cleats
Usually, mountain biking shoes make use of a 2 bolt cleat mount, whereas road cycling shoes make use of a 3 bolt cleat mount. It is the cleats that will work together with the pedal, acting as a bridge to transfer power and energy from your legs to the pedals; therefore, make sure that you choose wisely.
Waterproof or water resistant
You will not always be cycling on a hot and sunny day. You might need to cycle on a wet and rainy day. If your shoes are not waterproof or at least water-resistant, then they will get wet and this could compromise your grip on the pedal. Needless to say, that spells danger which means if you do not have waterproof or water resistant shoes, you must stop cycling till the time the rain stops and/or your shoes dry up adequately.
Cycling shoes are not exactly cheap. Even the ones in the lower range are not exactly a dime a dozen. Therefore, you will have to ensure that you buy shoes that are durable and long lasting.
Finally, the shoes should “feel” right on your feet. If they satisfy all the criteria listed here but are uncomfortable and do not feel right, then there is no point of buying them.
Q: What is the difference between men’s cycling shoes and women’s cycling shoes?
A: There is no massive difference per se between men’s biking shoes and women’s biking shoes. Women’s shoes just take into account the slight difference in the anatomical structure of a woman’s foot vis-à-vis a man’s foot. As a result, shoes for women have the propensity to be slightly narrower. Men’s shoes also tend to have lower heels than shoes of women. More importantly, the biggest difference between the two is in size. A woman’s cycling shoe size of 10 is not the same as a man’s cycling shoe size of 10. This has to be kept in mind while purchasing your cycling shoes.
Can you buy a men’s pair of biking shoes if you are a woman or vice-versa? Technically you can, but you are definitely better off sticking to the pairs made for your own gender. If a certain pair made for the other sex seems to fit you really well, then by all means go for it.
Q: Can road biking shoes be used interchangeably with mountain biking shoes and vice versa?
A: You would be alright using mountain biking shoes while riding a road bike. People do it quite often and experience no problems. You are generally better off not using road biking shoes with a mountain bike though, as they are not as sturdy and will not work as well as mountain biking shoes.
Q: Can cycling shoes be used for walking or casual wear?
A: You cannot walk for any reasonable length of time in road cycling shoes without experiencing massive discomfort. They just are not built for walking or casual wear. On the other hand, mountain biking shoes may be used for walking or casual wear given their more flexible soles as compared to road cycling shoes. However, even mountain biking shoes are not ideal for long distances. In general, it is best if you were to use walking shoes for walking and cycling shoes for cycling. Each shoe type has subtle differences keeping in view the different demands of the activity concerned.
Q: What is the difference between a 2 bolt system and a 3 bolt system?
A: As mentioned earlier in the criteria section, mountain biking shoes use a 2 cleat mount and road cycling shoes require a 3 cleat mount. In the latter system, the cleat attaches your shoe to 3 bolts. These tend to be more stable on the pedal than their 2 bolt counterparts. On the other hand, the 2 cleat mount attaches your shoe to 2 bolts. These are simpler to clip-in and smaller, thereby making it easier to walk in. The 2 hole system is called the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics(SPD) system, whereas the 3 hole system is named after the first manufacturer of such a system: look-style system
Q: Is there any difference between indoor cycling shoes and outdoor cycling shoes?
A: Indoor cycling is also called spinning. This refers to stationary cycling. You get spinning shoes which are exclusively for indoor cycling purposes. You could use them outdoors on a recreational ride, but that is about it.
Q: How does one clean their cycling shoes?
A: Try to ensure that you do not let dirt accumulate on your shoes. Regularly wipe them with a towel. Do not use hot water as you could damage the fabric of the shoe. Use lukewarm water and a shoe brush to clean your cycling shoes. As far as possible, try to avoid anything with chemicals as this will only damage your biking shoes in the long run. If you must use soap, use something mild and only in small quantities.