Anyone who rides regularly should invest in a good pair of cycling shoes, but the type of cycling you do will determine which shoes are ideal for you.
One uses their forefoot when cycling. While your toes don't do much in the way of power generation, everything you do generate ultimately makes its way to you. As a result, not only do improperly fitted shoes cause discomfort, but they can also have a negative effect on performance.
"If you're in a wrongly fitted shoe, it would manifest as rubbing around the little toe," Phil Burt, a former British Cycling physiotherapist and bike fitter at his eponymous company, told us. A lot of people experience tingling or numbness between their first and second toes. ”
As for performance, he said, "The foot and ankle don't generate any power." Your quads and your glutes are the source of all your strength. But if your shoes don't fit properly, you could be wasting a lot of energy because your foot is slipping around or over pronating, for example. ”
The fastening system, the sole, the cleat style, and the fit are the most important aspects of a good pair of cycling shoes, though the latter is also affected by the quality of the cycling socks you wear with them. (Link opens in a new window/tab)
Check out our guide to the best commuter cycling shoes for urban and gravel use if you're in search of footwear that can be used both on and off the bike. Furthermore, we have compiled a list of the top gravel bike shoes for your perusal.
We only choose tried-and-true items; sometimes the lowest prices aren't the best value. Cheap, low-quality shoes at half off will never be preferable to high-quality ones that have been discounted even further.
In this article, you will learn about
We've separated our recommendations into three categories: best cycling shoes for beginners, best cycling shoes for intermediate riders, and best cycling shoes for wide feet. The best cycling shoes for you are listed and described at the bottom of the page.
Basic cycling footwear
Check out our best cheap cycling shoes guide for more affordable options.
Photograph by Paul Grele.
When we first saw these dhb Dorica road bike shoes, we were blown away by their retro race shoe blend of laces and carbon sole, especially considering how affordable they are.
We found the power transfer to be superior to that of shoes costing three times as much in our tests. When out of the saddle climbing, heel slip was not as noticeable because the heel cup wasn't as snug as on more expensive options.
Shoe insoles are thin, and the overall shape of the shoe is flat, so riders who struggle with balance may want to look into purchasing replacement footbeds.
The carbon outsole sets these shoes apart from the competition at this price point, which includes the Shimano RC3 and the Specialized Torch (both of which are outlined below). The dhb Dorica shoes are the best cycling shoes on the market because of their lightweight design and sleek aesthetic.
Full review of the dhb Dorica Carbon can be found here.
(Photo by: The Future)
To strike a good balance between low cost and high performance, Shimano has trickled down the technology of its range topping S-Phyre, which is featured below as another, albeit pricer, great cycling shoe.
One of the BOA dials has been removed and replaced with a Velcro strap, and the dials are the cheaper L6 model instead of the more versatile IP1 dials found on the S-Phyre, which allow the tension to be loosened in 1mm increments.
And yet, this has not come at the expense of practicality. Long rides, both indoors and out, were no problem for these shoes, as they kept my feet from getting hot. The upper's many perforations have a noticeable cooling effect because the air can be felt rushing in.
Whether or not these shoes' exceptional breathability is an asset depends, of course, on the conditions under which you plan to ride.
There are a variety of sizes, fits, and styles available, including men's, women's, and wider fit options. However, there are only two color options for each size range: white for the men's and white or navy blue for the women's.
More information can be found in our in-depth review of the Shimano RC5 cycling shoe.
(Future used as image source)
In terms of value, the Giro Savix II shoes can't be beat. Although they rest on a nylon composite sole unit rather than a carbon sole, they are stiff enough to be useful and should last longer than a carbon sole. Cleats can be mounted with either two or three bolts, expanding their usefulness.
The synthetic upper has mesh panels for ventilation, making it suitable for hot summer rides. Additionally, it is cushioned to ensure your comfort. The combination of the front velcro strap and the single Boa L6 dial for closure is solid.
The Savix II is suitable for a wide range of foot shapes thanks to its roomy fit, and the soles fared well in our tests thanks to the protection provided by the front and rear TPU pads.
If you're looking for more affordable options, check out Cycling Weekly's comprehensive guide to the best cycling shoes under $100.
Keep reading for a detailed analysis of the Giro Savix II road cycling shoes.
Premium cycling footwear
Photo by Andy Turner.
One of the most reasonably priced options is the S-Works lace model, which is also one of the most pleasant to wear.
Lacing up your shoes properly can help you achieve a snug yet comfortable fit for those long rides. The shoes also feature one of the stiffest platforms available, the FACT Powerline carbon sole.
However, the S-Works 7 Lace share a flaw with all lace-up shoes: they cannot be adjusted on the fly, and getting them extremely snug is challenging, especially during sprinting. No matter what we tried, our tester's feet still ended up moving around a little bit inside the shoes. However, the 7 Lace are even more comfortable than the regular S-Works 7, and are thus a fantastic option for long rides and activities that don't require maximal sprinting.
As a whole, these shoes are fashionable, supportive, and lightweight, and they manage to combine a stiff sole with all-day comfort. In terms of value, they're a decent buy because they're less expensive than both the Giro Empire SLX and the DMT KRSL.
Shoes for cycling on the road: Specialized S-Works Lace
Photo by Adam Jones.
Keeping with Fizik's policy of releasing product lines that cater to a wide variety of consumers, the Tempo Decos Carbon sits between the Italian brand's more expensive Vento range (starting at $369) and its more affordable Pro range (starting at $429). 99 / £349 The Tempo Powerstrap R5, considered the "entry-level" model, retails for Costing approximately $134.99 USD 99)
Comfort and performance are not sacrificed in the Tempo Decos Carbon, which features the brand's signature design flair and cutting-edge engineering. These shoes are suitable for a wide variety of cycling activities, from long training rides and sportives to time trials and full-gas local criteriums. Polyurethane-laminated mesh, a single-sided Li2 BOA dial, a super-rigid R2 carbon sole with ample venting all contributed to the shoe's high marks in our cooling efficiency test. In addition, the rows of rubberized dimples on the inside of the heel prevent your foot from sliding inside the shoe while you're on the move.
They weigh only 228g (without cleats), which is lower than many of their competitors. Furthermore, Fizik claims that by moving the cleat position for their 3-bolt compatible pedals back slightly from the norm, knee compression is reduced and pedaling efficiency is increased. makes it so that riders who take a more commanding stance can benefit from wearing this shoe
To learn more, check out our in-depth review of the Fizik Tempos Decos Carbon.
Featured image by Riley Missel.
While we focused on the women's Regime, men's and even half sizes within each range ensure that you can find the perfect fit.
The Regime is a cheaper alternative to Giro's high-end Imperial shoe, which shares many of the same features with it (including the non-stretch Synchwire upper) but with a lower price tag. Plus, there is plenty of air circulation.
We ranked the stiffness, durability, and weight of the sole, in addition to the traction provided by the heel and toe pads. If you have a high or low arch, you can easily adjust the footbed to fit your needs.
The Giro Regime shoes offered the best of both worlds: foot comfort and sufficient support for brisk cycling.
Learn more in our in-depth review of the Giro Regime road cycling shoe.
(Photo by: The Future)
These Gaerne shoes are the most expensive of the brand's offerings, as befits their status as the company's flagship product. The heel cup is rigid and has a cat's tongue inner surface to help prevent heel lift, which is a common problem in athletic shoes.
Although the uppers are heavily punched, they do not feature any mesh panels, making them slightly warmer than mesh-equipped footwear.
The complete review of the Gaerne Carbon G.STL shoes can be found here.
[Photo by Andy Turner]
The Specialized S-Works 7 Vent improve upon the already-popular S-Works 7 shoes, which have been a mainstay atop podiums on the world tour and in the ranks of enthusiastic amateurs everywhere.
Weight is reduced from the regular 7s while the stiffness drop is barely perceptible.
The upper is the same non-stretch Dyneema as before, but it has been updated with mesh panels for improved ventilation and a more forgiving feel in high-heat zones.
Due to the increased airflow, your feet may feel chilly on rides with lower temperatures. The mesh panels, however, are the real deal because they let your feet breathe and make for more comfortable riding in hot weather.
While they retail for a hefty $425/£399, you can find them at a significant discount on the internet.
Here's a complete review of the Specialized S-Works 7 Vent road cycling shoes if you're interested.
(Photo by: Wiggle)
The Shimano S-Phyre SH-RC902 has an unrivaled reputation as a top-tier racing component thanks to its lightweight construction and top-tier stiffness rating among Shimano's own models.
Some people may be put off by the high level of rigidity and question the comfort, but know that while you get the most out of your sprinting and climbing, it isn't at the expense of everything else.
The top-tier Bontrager shoe scores 14 out of 14 on stiffness according to Bontrager's internal rankings, while the top-tier Fizik shoe scores 10 out of 10 on stiffness according to Fizik's internal rankings. RC9 carbon soles are rated as a level 12 by Shimano for their "rigid and responsive" construction. What really matters, though, is how well the shoe can absorb pedal force while still being comfortable, and in this regard, they truly shine.
The newest and smallest of the highly regarded closure brand, the double Li2 Boa dial system is designed to fit as snugly as possible against the side of the shoe. This is a smart design choice, especially considering the roomy interior of the shoe's toe box, which helps to keep the shoes' overall height to a minimum. The wrap-around style, while enticing, can be difficult to master at first.
Although they are a significant investment at this price, they stand out from the crowd thanks to innovative features like air circulation in the underfoot. If you're serious about cycling, this is one of the best pairs of shoes you can buy.
Continue reading for our in-depth look at the Shimano S-Phyre SH-RC 902 road cycling shoes.
Photos by Riley Missel.
Lightweight cycling shoes, once the purview of the professional peloton alone, are now widely adopted by amateur cyclists looking to trim a few pounds from their gear.
While only 500 pairs of the sub-100-gram Specialized S-Works EXOS 99 shoes were produced, the lighter Pearl Izumi PRO Air shoes are available to anyone who wants them.
The ultralight footwear has a full carbon sole, laminate-coated mesh upper, and lace-up closure—each of which contributes to the shoes' negligible weight.
As a result, we have lightweight, durable, and airy shoes.
The Pro Air shoes are simple in design, but that hasn't stopped them from being effective. Our testing revealed that they provided an excellent ride feel, striking a fine balance between stiffness, support, and comfort. However, while we applaud the laces' contribution to reducing weight, we found that they limited the possibility of making adjustments while in motion.
These are the best of the best when it comes to cycling shoes, but you'll have to pay a premium for that privilege.
Check out this in-depth review of the Pearl Izumi PRO Air road cycling shoes if you want to learn more.
(Photo by: The Future)
Many cycling shoes, including the Lake CX403, have a heat moldable upper. Because of their intended purpose as a racing shoe, rather than a general purpose sneaker, we found them to be too stiff and flat for regular use.
To ensure both comfort and support, the uppers are constructed from a combination of soft leather and stiff carbon fiber. They can be molded easily at home or by a dealer, and the process can be repeated multiple times if necessary to accommodate your feet's unique shape.
Check out this in-depth review of the Lake CX403 cycling shoes to learn more.
(Future used as image source)
The Specialized S-Works Ares shoe is made for professional level sprinters and can be found in the price-no-object realm of cycling footwear. The S-Works 7 footbed is utilized, but the upper is different by adding a deep, rigid heel cup. The upper is sock-like in its fit, eliminating the need for a tongue to prevent bulk and save a few grams.
However, not everyone will benefit from wearing Ares shoes; high arches and specific foot shapes are ideal.
For more, check out our in-depth review of the Specialized S-Works Ares cycling shoes.
Bike shoes with extra room for wide feet
Manufacturers of cycling footwear usually design their products for the "average" consumer. However, those who do not conform to the norm may have trouble locating a pair of cycling shoes that fits due to the shoes' extreme rigidity and their attachment to the pedals and cleats.
Several manufacturers, such as Sidi, Bont, Shimano, and Lake, do provide 'wide fit' options. The latter offer roomy toe boxes and molded heel cups for a snug fit even if your foot is on the wider side.
In order to find the best cycling shoes for wide feet, we had one wide-footed tester, Owen Rogers of Cycling Weekly, put three pairs through their paces. Former British Cycling physio Phil Burt cautioned shoppers to make sure they're buying the right solution for their foot pain.
You might not have particularly broad feet, but Your foot may be collapsing and splaying because of this. Many people assume they have wide feet, but once they try on a pair of shoes with a corrective insole, they realize that their problems were caused by inadequate arch support. ”
You can find arch support insoles at any drugstore, and if you want something more unique, there are plenty of companies that will make you a custom pair.
You should only continue reading if you are positive that you have wide feet and do not simply require a thicker insole.
(Photo by: The Future)
The entire line of Lake Road shoes is available in wide sizes, and even extra wide in some styles, making them a must-have for this evaluation. The CX332, despite its name, is a road shoe that comes in at number three in the range.
The pair I was sent is beautifully constructed, with a strong and supple upper of Lake's Klite kangaroo leather. However, they have the appearance of a pair of school shoes rather than a pair of running shoes. But there are three other color options available, including a chameleon blue that really stands out and a black and white graphic fade that is really cool.
Two heat-moldable carbon weave patches, one on either side of the heel, look great and reduce slippage. Although you can complete the molding process on your own, the manufacturer suggests getting assistance from a Lake dealer.
If you want to do it yourself, make sure you don't overtighten the shoes right after they've been heated, as this can cause permanent damage to the toe box, making the shoes uncomfortable and unsightly. If you do it right, you won't have any problems; I didn't even have a heel slip out while walking down the street.
The sole is aesthetically pleasing, with a glossy carbon weave that shimmers in the light and perforations for airflow. Rutland Cycling's Retül fitter, Chris Reid, remarked on how the graphics provided the ideal blend of clarity and specificity for adjusting cleats.
The sole, however, shines brightest when used on a bicycle. It's incredibly rigid, putting all of your weight on the pedals, and while the Bont's rigid sole can be uncomfortable, the Lakes are so soft and supple they'll feel like slippers.
My wider right foot felt a little constricted at first, but that has since gone away, and there is plenty of room in the toe box without any uncomfortable wiggle room during the upstroke.
The Boa IP1 dials on these shoes make lacing and loosening them quick and easy at any time, even while wearing socks and overshoes.
These CX332s might not have the most edgy aesthetic, but they were designed for racing and come with a two-year crash replacement guarantee and a 50% discount on a new pair in the first year and a 25% discount in the second.
See this full review of the Lake CX332 if you're interested in road cycling shoes.
(Photo by: The Future)
The Tempo Overcurve, which we tested, now comes in a wide fit option, so Fizik can accommodate a variety of foot shapes. The R4 line aims to be the middle ground between high-performance and casual cycling footwear. Their mesh uppers and carbon/nylon composite soles both allow for plenty of airflow.
Unlike most cycling shoes, the Overcurve design of the uppers allows for a spacious toe box. One Boa IP1 dial holds them in place, but we thought two would be better for fine-tuning. The lack of rigidity in the sole unit contributed to our impression that these shoes were very comfortable to wear. Compared to similar products, we found the R4 Tempo Overcurve shoes to be priced a bit high.
The Fizik Tempo R4 Overcurve is a great option if you ride on the road.
What to look for when purchasing cycling shoes
Velcro, ratchets, laces, and dials are the four most common methods for adjusting the fit of a pair of cycling shoes.
Velcro straps are used for fastening on the vast majority of low-priced cycling shoes. Velcro straps do a good job of keeping the rider's shoe in place, but they can be difficult to adjust while riding, and it can be difficult to achieve a custom fit.
Lightweightness is another perk of Velcro straps. This also means that you can find them on extremely lightweight climbing shoes that cost hundreds of dollars. However, the Velcro's ability to hold your foot in place can weaken with time.
Check out some of the best cycling shoes that have ratchets, the next level up in the fastening system food chain, at a more reasonable price. A ratchet provides greater precision than Velcro straps, a more secure fit, and the convenience of being tightened while riding. But loosening a ratchet is trickier, and it usually takes two hands to do it. Commonly found on mid-range footwear, ratchets are often paired with one or more Velcro straps for a more secure fit.
Most high-end footwear is secured with a fastening called a dial closure, which is at the top of the food chain. They can be adjusted easily and provide a very precise hold. But different dial brands have their own quirks. The current standard is a Boa dial; higher-end Boas allow for gradual loosening and tightening, while those from other brands and lower-spec Boas can sometimes be tightened more easily.
Some other high-end footwear, like the Giro Empires and the Specialized S-Works Sub 6 shoes (and some retro-style footwear), also offer the option of laces. There is a wider distribution of pressure across the top of the foot, and the laces self-adjust to help even it out, making laces very aerodynamic for those interested in marginal gains. However, tying laces while walking is nearly impossible.
Similar to the different types of closures, cycling shoes also come with a wide variety of sole designs, the quality of which naturally increases with price.
It's crucial that the soles of your cycling shoes are fairly rigid. This ensures that the sole doesn't give way under pressure, transferring all of your efforts to the pedal. The second factor is the shoe's weight; typically, higher-quality footwear will have thinner soles.
Most inexpensive cycling shoes have nylon soles, but for a little more money you can get shoes with carbon composite soles (i.e., more durable). e a composite of carbon and plastic, with carbon-soled shoes representing the pinnacle of footwear technology. Some people may experience discomfort on longer rides due to the ultra-stiff sole of some very high-end shoes; therefore, it is advisable to check out customer reviews before making a purchase.
Shoes are no exception, and weight is always a factor. Typically, high-end carbon shoes will be much lighter than their cheaper counterparts.
If you're in the market for a new pair of cycling shoes, it's important to consider not only the sole material but also the cleats that will fit into them. It's possible to use either a standard or a metric adapter in some models, especially those on the cheaper It all comes down to the type of riding you're doing when making your decision.
Use a pedal system with two-bolt cleats, like Shimano SPDs or Crankbrothers Eggbeaters, if you plan on riding off-road or if you want a pair of shoes that are comfortable to walk in.
But three-bolt cleats are what you want for road riding because they provide a more stable platform for your feet and a more efficient transfer of your body weight to the pedals. Because of this, even the highest-end shoes will only have three different bolt patterns.
The inside of your cycling shoes will sweat even if you're riding in warm, dry weather. Take care not to leave them sitting in a plastic bag after use; instead, find a dry place to store them until you need them again. It's also a good idea to remove the insoles to give the sole unit's inner surface a chance to air dry. More expensive cycling footwear typically comes with a net bag for safekeeping.
The insoles should be removed and newspaper crumpled to absorb moisture if your shoes get wet.
While a damp cloth will suffice for cleaning most pairs of cycling shoes, you shouldn't subject them to any more rigorous cleaning unless instructed to do so by the manufacturer.
The best cycling overshoes will keep your shoes clean and dry if you frequently ride in muddy or wet conditions. However, overshoes tend to wear out quickly, so you may be better off with a pair of winter cycling shoes, such as the Gaerne Icestorm boots. These shoes will have a waterproof upper and sole, as well as a breathable membrane and insulation, to keep your feet dry and warm.
However, heel support and heel lift are frequently issues with this style of winter boot, so be sure to get a good fit if you decide to go this route. To avoid slipping on the tile floor of the coffee shop, you may want to switch to winter boots and pedals with two-bolt cleats before setting out.
Even the most expensive cycling shoes typically only offer a flat insole. Aching feet are a common side effect of having your feet held in one place for extended periods of time. Upgrade your insoles! The insoles you buy separately from your shoes may or may not offer additional features to improve your feet's comfort and support, such as an adjustable arch support, a less flat profile, or a midfoot bump. Custom insoles molded to the shape of your feet are also available.
Some shoes, like the Bont Riots and the Lake CX402, can be heated and molded to fit the shape of your feet. Since your foot won't be able to move around in its sole, this means you'll be more at ease and have better power transfer thanks to your footwear. Heat moldable footwear could be the answer to your arch and foot problems.
To compete in a triathlon, you need special footwear. Consider investing in a triathlon-specific pair if you're interested in trying the sport.
Since triathletes need to quickly slip their shoes on and off while cycling, manufacturers have developed a retention system that is simple to release. You can grab the loop on the heel and pull yourself up with ease. Keep in mind that many tri-shoes have drainage holes for wet feet, which can be a problem if you ride in the winter. If you're sure you want road shoes and not triathlon shoes, double check with the sales clerk to make sure you're getting the right pair.
Try on a pair of shoes at your local bike shop to make sure they fit properly (ideally, you'll end up buying them there, too). ) Since your feet tend to swell a little during the day, this is a task best performed in the late afternoon or early evening.
It's true that shoe sizes tend to be fairly consistent between manufacturers, especially when compared to other cycling apparel; however, just because your old, worn-out pair of size 46 shoes were comfortable doesn't mean you can immediately slip into a pair of the same size from a different manufacturer.
You may need to go up or down a size when purchasing new cycling shoes due to variations in arch height, shoe width, and fastening systems. Some of the more fashionable shoe brands even stock half sizes, making it easier to find the right fit. Conversely, low-priced footwear is more likely to be sold exclusively in whole sizes, and is typically wider to begin with. To further complicate matters, if your feet are between sizes, you may have a hard time settling on a pair of shoes. If you are on the fence about which size to order, go down a size.
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Exceptional; there's nothing we could say about it that would lower the rating. Fourth-Rated Product: Reliable, Though Room for Improvement Rating: 3 (Excellent, but flawed in a few places) Acceptable, but could use some tweaks
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