Best Cycling Shoes
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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 cycling 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 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 gunfight. 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 feet.
Therefore, it is important for you to figure out what exactly you need your cycling shoes for and then decide accordingly.
Many people when looking for cycling shoes may not know that these shoes can be more than just a simple pair of shoes and they can come equipped with special features to make your ride better. Some of those features are:
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 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.
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. If you do not care about efficiency and only intend to cycle casually 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.
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, although some traditionalists find them more aesthetically pleasing.
Overall you want a comfortable pair of cycling shoes. The last thing you want is to start cycling and having discomfort caused by your cycling shoes which will cause your ride to be shortened. Make sure to check the customer reviews to ensure that the shoes you have your eye on were comfortable for other customers that decided to go with them.
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 fit 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. 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.
Always make sure you check the sizing chart provided by the seller, as this is the best way to ensure you get the correct size and that they will fit.
Top Ten Pairs of Cycling Shoes
1. Louis Garneau Men's Tri X-Lite
If you plan to take part in a triathlon, these shoes are close to perfect for you. Aesthetically appealing, reasonably priced and well ventilated, the Tri X-Lite offers a perfect mix of efficiency and comfort.Read more
This price is not the lowest you will ever 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.
Bid goodbyes to foot blisters forever thanks to X-Lite’s amazing bomber heel retention system.
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.
This pair of shoes comes in a variety of sizes, so you will have no issues finding the perfect fit and pair for you.
2. Louis Garneau Multi Air Flex
Whether you wish to train for competitions or ride by the mountains on a lazy sunny morning, Louis Garneau’s Multi Air Flex Fitness is tailormade to suit your needs. With its overall versatility, comfort, and breathability, this is one of the best pairs of cycling shoes that you can possibly lay your hands on in the sub 100$ price range.Read more
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 insole EVA provides amazing stability.
The mesh offers great ventilation and breathability. 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 waterproof are not the same things.
The heel is reflective which makes it much more visible.
HRS-80 retention system: This enables you to pedal more effectively and powerfully.
This pair has 3 Velcro straps to ensure that your shoes are always securely in place. 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.
These cycling shoes come in a variety of sizes to ensure you get the best fit possible.
3. Shimano SH-RP2
For all the women just starting to ride or train, Shimano’s SH-RP2 are the ideal cycling shoes. They are light, comfortable, breathable and facilitate increased power output while pedaling. The cherry on top of the proverbial cake is the magnificent stability that these biking shoes offer, which are particularly important for cyclists just starting out or without much experience.Read more
With their price, just short of $100, the SH-RP2 is a decent value for money. While you will find a few cheaper options, the incredible stability that these shoe offers may be a tad compromised. The upper synthetic leather adds to the strength and stability of the pair of shoes.
The air intake/exhaust system offers great ventilation. This is the norm with Shimano cycling shoes in general.
The soles of the shoes have been reinforced by fiberglass, resulting in increased power output. This helps with the more efficient use of energy. The three straps are asymmetrical so as to prevent pressure on the foot.
The SH-RP2 has been specifically designed for women, keeping in mind the unique needs of a slightly different anatomical foot structure as compared to the men.
Wider cleat adjustment range- This results in the ideal shoe and pedal fit. These shoes come in a variety of sizes to ensure they will fit great and you can find the best fitting size for you.
4. Giro Carbide
These cycling shoes are another great pair from Giro. They have a rugged and durable look as Giro knows when you are cycling outside, you need to be prepared for anything as the weather and terrain can change in moments.Read more
These cycling shoes are highly rated amongst previous customers and that is due to the stylish and comfortable design. They are also highly breathable to ensure that when you are cycling proper airflow can enter and exit the shoes ensuring your shoes do not get clammy and your feet stay comfortable.
These shoes are pretty basic cycling shoes. They have 3 straps to ensure a tight fit and also have a molded footbed which offers great arch support.
These shoes offer a great fit for wide footed individuals as well. They mold to the shape of your feet to ensure while you are biking you have no issues being uncomfortable.
This pair of shoes comes in limited sizes, so be sure to check the sizing chart before you purchase and also check the customer reviews to ensure that previous customers that purchased their size of shoe, actually had a good fit and did not need to go up a size.
5. Tommaso Pista
Switching from platform to clipless pedals is an important decision that most cyclists will make soon enough, though the costs associated with it can add up. Using a factory-direct sales model, Tommaso has made this decision a little less expensive. The Women's Pista is a solid choice that will make both you and your wallet happy.Read more
Tommaso sells its products factory direct, which allows them to offer high-quality products at an affordable price. These come in at under $75, making them a very accessible option, especially for beginners or those on a tight budget. It is important to note, however, that these shoes do not include cleats.
While these shoes don't come with cleats, they are compatible with a wide range of two- and three-bolt cleats, including the SPD, SPD-SL, and Speedplay cleats. So no matter what kind of pedal you have, these shoes will work with them nicely.
These shoes are a basic cycling design, they do come with 3 velcro straps for ultimate fit and comfort.
With a fiberglass-reinforced sole, the Tommaso Women's Pista offers optimal stiffness and power transfer, so you can go longer and harder without using as much energy. The leather upper is comfortable and flexible while being durable enough to last you many seasons.
The 3-strap velcro design is easy to put on and remove while offering a fit that's secure and easy to adjust.
Sizes range from US 7-11.5, in half size increments. Tommaso also offers a 100% free fit return policy so in the event you get the wrong size, exchanging them for the correct pair is easy. These shoes come in three colorways; black with blue accents, white with silver accents, and black with pink accents.
6. Fizik R5 UOMO BOA
If comfort is your priority and “the fire of competition” is your thing, Fizik should be one of your go-to brands. The R5 UOMO BOA Road Cycling Shoes will definitely be among the most comfortable and high-performance shoes you will wear and given that this is Fizik, the price is relatively low as well.Read more
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.
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 the pedaling technique. The aircraft-grade stainless steel construction makes the shoes extremely durable. You can expect them to last a long time.
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.
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.
The shoes fit perfectly and they relieve all the pressure points. Each shoe’s shape can be changed and adapted to the feet of the cyclist. This results in high control and performance.
These shoes come in a variety of sizes, so you will have no problem finding a perfect pair of shoes that fit great.
7. Giro Men's Treble II
The Treble II Bike shoe has been designed for the “modern you”. It looks classy, offers great comfort and comes in myriad colors. If you are looking for high-quality shoes that offer great breathability, then the Treble II will not disappoint you.Read more
The all-new Universal Cleat Mount System accommodates both 2 and 3 bolt pedal systems.
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.
The high-quality synthetic fiber offers spectacular breathability and ventilation. 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. There are 3 wide straps in place for a secure fit.
These shoes from Giro only come in a few size options, hopefully, they have your size or you may have to move on to the next pair of cycling shoes on your list.
8. Five Ten Men's Freerider Elements
If you are one who likes the big brands, then look no further. Five Ten have been produced some of the best cycling shoes on the market for outdoor activities for more than 30 years now. The Freerider Elements is an absolute masterpiece. If mountain biking is your thing, just choose this without a second thought. Chances are you will not want or need anything else!Read more
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. The material of the sole is rubber and not leather. This means superior traction.
Your feet will literally be glued to the pedals once you have these on. When you are mountain biking, the 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.
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.
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 recommended use for Freerider Elements is mountain biking – they have been designed for that. However, flexible soles make it good for walking and casual wear.
These shoes come in limited sizes, so you may not have the chance to find your size. if you do find your size, these are a great pair of versatile and comfortable shoes.
9. Pearl Izumi Tri Fly
The Fly V is designed to be a long-lasting companion – whether it is during competitive racing or just training. It's lightweight and fits perfectly. It is designed specifically for women.Read more
These shoes are highly rated amongst previous customers. These shoes come from a great brand that is known for its durability and use. If you are looking for a great pair of cycling shoes from a reputable brand, take a closer look at these.
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.
These shoes are comfortable but are not the most comfortable on our list. If you have wider feet than you could fit these shoes a bit narrow.
These shoes come in a few size options, so make sure to check the sizing chart provided by the seller to ensure they have your size.
10. Giro Empire SLX
Since their founding in 1985, Giro has made it their goal to provide exceptional cycling equipment, and the Empire SLX shoes are a perfect example of this intention. An ultra-lightweight design and ventilation holes in the upper make these shoes wonderfully breathable while offering a wide range of sizes to fit everyone.Read more
The laces are microfiber, and designed to be durable and hold a knot easily. In the event they break, they can easily be replaced. Unlike proprietary straps or buckles, you can buy laces most anywhere. Seven pairs of eyelets mean a lot of contact points as well, which ensures a snug and secure fit.
The ultralight design means that these shoes only weigh about 175g for a size 42.5 pair. While they don't have any mesh in the upper, the weight along with the ventilation holes provide exceptional ventilation.
These are priced similarly to other cycling shoes, while the lightweight and comfort make them a very worthy investment.
While being light, the sole is stiff and offers a good deal of support. The lace-up design is made to accommodate a wide range of foot shapes. This along with the breadth of size options means you're sure to find a pair that will fit you comfortably. An Easton EC90 SLX2 carbon outsole means your foot is closer to the pedal, even if just by a few millimeters. This allows for better control over the bike, and some pedal brands may even work better with shorter cleat hardware.
Sizes range from EU 39 ( US Women's 7.5) to EU 48 (US Men's 14), in half size increments. They also come in a variety of color options, including black, white, blue, and red. As stated above, the seven pairs of eyelets ensure a secure fit, so you'll be able to find a pair that fits you well.