Best Cycling Shoes Reviewed for Performance

From marathon racers to casual riders, the proper cycling shoe is essential for making every pedal count so that every mile matters. The right combination of features ensures that the ride will be manageable over any terrain. Many factors go into determining what sort of cycling shoe is right for you, including price, features, and your skill level.

Best Cycling Shoes-cyclist-riding-bike

The options available for cycling shoes are varied and often intimidating, with both close similarities and striking differences. Determining the right cycling shoe for your needs doesn’t have to be difficult when you can identify the aspects that are most important to you.

Last Updated: April 5, 2018
By Ana Rockov:

The latest update to this article include an additional 5 shoes that have excellent ratings and are a favorite among cyclists in 2018. These include shoes by Venzo, Shimano, Giro and others. In addition, the Criteria for Evaluation and Frequently Asked Questions sections have been expanded with more information about how to choose the best shoes for cycling.

Featured Recommendations

Shimano XC31
  • Shimano XC31
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 2 bolt SPD cleats
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Price: See Here
Five Ten Freerider
  • Five Ten Freerider
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Excellent grip for pedals
  • Unisex design
  • Price: See Here
Gavin VELO
  • Gavin VELO
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Highly Compatible
  • Nylon fiberglass sole
  • Price: See Here

Many brands even offer different versions of the same shoe based on how much or how little you ride. No distance is too great when your cycling shoes are functional, durable, and comfortable enough to get you to your destination. And with the right shoe, the destination can sometimes be the journey itself.

 

 

15 Best Cycling Shoes

 

 

1. Shimano XC31

The Shimano XC31 is an excellent entry level cycling shoe that won’t burn a hole in your pockets but will provide you with plenty of features that will make your ride a much smoother one. Made out of a synthetic leather upper that won’t stretch, with a three strap velcro closure and an adaptable cup insole that will accommodate a wide variety of feet, these shoes are the perfect choice if you need an inexpensive shoe that will serve you well for cross-country riding and commute use.
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Well-Balanced Sole
The outsole of these cycling shoes is a good combination of stiffness and flexibility and takes into consideration that you may need to walk some parts of the trail when riding. It has mud-shedding properties, and is made out of and is made out of polyurethane, with an arch pad that will give you added pedal stability.

Durable and Lightweight
The outsole of these shoes is hard, and does very well with abrasion, so you can rest assured the Shimano XC31 will serve you well and for a long time. An added bonus is the fact that it is one of the most lightweight pairs of cycling shoes you can find, weighing a mere 1lb 8oz. It has the advantages of Shimano Dynalast system that provides a better ergonomic position for a more efficient upstroke, all ensuring that your energy is saved and directed towards maximum performance.

Cost and Value
The Shimano XC31 is an excellent choice if you are new to cycling and are looking for a pair of shoes that won’t break the bank, but will give you better grip and power transfer than a regular pair of shoes. When you add the fact that the outsole is hard and resistant to abrasion, you get a shoe that will last you plenty of time at a cost that is affordable, and perfect for enthusiasts who don’t need all the features of a professional grade cycling shoe.
Pros
  • Compatible with 2 bolt SPD Cleats and pedals
  • Hard polyurethane outsole
  • Velcro closure for easy adjustability
  • Enough flexibility for walking
  • Shimano Dynalast system
Cons
  • Can be slippery on smooth surfaces
  • Not enough transfer when used with clipless pedals

2. Venzo Shimano SPD

Sometimes, your cycling adventure may take you off the beaten path to roads less traveled. When that happens, you have to be able to depend on a capable shoe that can go the distance like a pair of Venzo Shimano SPD’s. With their award-winning performance technology, quick-drying mesh, and low-cut construction for a comfortable, fast-fitting feel, no mountain stands a chance.
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Breathable Construction
Their sleek construction is comprised of a quick-drying mesh that is highly breathable, a textile lining with a removable sockliner, and low-cut fit that allows them to be easily slipped on or off.

Comfort
A light feel, flexible forefoot, and a running shoe beveled heel assure speed, performance, and durability don’t have to come at the expense of comfort. Rule the road and feel good doing it.

Cost and Value
Coming in at the median cost for cycling shoes, these boast a level of performance technology and comfort well beyond their price point, and they even come with pedals and cleats!
Pros

Award-winning performance technology

Quick-drying mesh

Comfortable construction

Superior quality for fair price

Pedals + cleats included

Cons

Run ½ size big

3. Five Ten Freerider

This pair of shoes by Five Ten is not only a great choice if you’re in the market for footwear that will serve you well for all-mountain riding, but also for when you’re off your bike and need something for casual use. It is available both in men’s and women’s versions and is a perfect fit for the wider foot that needs more space in the metatarsal area. If you choose this pair of shoes, you will find that they provide all-day comfort for medium rides and use around town.
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Ultra Grippy Soles
The best feature of the Five Ten Freerider is the fact that these shoes will give you some of the best grip on non-clip pedals, providing you with plenty of control, solid climbing, and excellent downhill performance. The upside of the soles on these shoes is that they will do well on all types of surfaces, dirt or pavement, and in all weather conditions, including rain and snow.

Breathable Upper
Even if you intend on spending all day on your bike and working up a sweat, these shoes will provide you with great breathability due to the suede and mesh upper that will allow moisture to escape more easily. While this means that you will need waterproof socks or overshoes when it’s wet outside, the construction is made so that there are fewer pieces and parts, extending the lifespan of these mountain biking shoes.

Cost and Value
These shoes cost average compared to the rest of the products on this list of best cycling shoes. They will provide you with excellent grip on non-clip pedals, will be comfortable for all-day use, and will do equally well off the bike as well as for when you are riding. The durable sole will last you a long time, regardless of the conditions you decide to use them in.
Pros
  • Excellent grip for pedals
  • Great for all-mountain, cross country, park and moderate downhill rides
  • Breathable upper
  • Men’s and women’s styles available
  • Averagely priced
Cons
  • Less rigidity due to having no shank
  • Lighter duty EVA midsole

4. Fizik R5 Uomo Boa

4. Fizik R5 Uomo Boa
Some shoes keep getting better with every incarnation, and with the 5th version of the Fi Zi:k model, top performance, and durability have never been more apparent. The nylon and carbon fiber outsole that we’ve seen on other cycling shoes allows for the most power to be transferred with each stroke, while the BOA IP1 fit offers maximum versatility of fit.
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BOA IP1 Closure System
The BOA IP1 closure system allows for on-the-go adjusting, crucial when time and speed are of the essence to the cyclist. The Fi’zi:k R5 also has an additional, micro-adjustment strap on the inside that makes for the snuggest fit possible. The main material used in its construction is Microtex, allowing for maximum flexibility of movement.

Carbon Fiber Outsoles
Though carbon fiber outsoles are not exclusive to this model, they allow for the maximum power transfer with every stroke and make it as durable as any other cycling shoe. What sets this shoe apart from the others is its aircraft grade stainless steel construction, ensuring that the Fi’zi:k R5 UOMO is one of the most durable cycling shoes on the market.

Cost and Value
While a more expensive cycling shoe, it offers a combination of the some of the best features on the market. Carbon fiber outsoles, BOA IP1 closures and inner micro-adjustment strap, and an aircraft grade stainless steel construction make it an attractive package for its price point. It is also available in a wide variety of colors.
Pros

High quality materials

Highly Functional

Unique construction

Wide variety of colors available

Cons

Can be expensive

5. Pearl iZUMi X-ALP Seek VII

5. Pearl iZUMi X-ALP Seek VII
This pair of cycling shoes is a versatile option for those looking for a good pair of commute cycling shoes, and do just as well off the bike as when riding. They are also an excellent choice for an MTB shoe and are compatible with SPD cleats, which is the most common pedal standard. The lacing system enables a secure, adjustable fit, while the breathable upper is great for summer use when you need a shoe that won’t have you feeling too hot and sweaty.
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Fiberglass Injected Composite Shank
These shoes have an outsole that is made out of carbon rubber, while the shank is fiberglass injected, giving you excellent power transfer and rigidity. Although for some users this will prove to be too hard an outsole for strolling, you will definitely appreciate these if you need footwear that will perform well when riding, and do well-enough for when you have to get off your bike.

Comfortable Fit
Even though they run almost a full size small, you will find that these shoes will be comfortable enough, even for all-day wear. The EVA Alp-X midsole provides just the right amount of cushioning so that your feet don’t take too much of a beating. They give adequate arch support, but can also fit custom insoles for a winner combination focused on performance and comfort.

Cost and Value
These cycling shoes come at a great value, especially when taking into consideration that they are versatile, SPD compatible, breathable and comfortable enough to wear all day long. Although you will need to study the sizing chart before ordering, they will prove to be a great choice if you need something that will provide you all the benefits of cycling shoes but will look more like regular everyday tennis shoes.
Pros
  • Good power transfer
  • SPD compatible
  • Great for commuting and MTB use
  • Decent arch support
  • Adjustable lacing system
Cons
  • Run small
  • Very narrow toe box

6. Shimano SHR065

6. Shimano SHR065
For the cycling enthusiast that values comfort, pique performance, and style, the Shimano SHR065 cannot be outclassed. It’s sleek, imported black silhouette is made up of high-quality materials, ergonomic features, and a lightweight design for optimal comfort.
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High Quality
These onyx beauties boast fiberglass-reinforced polyamide soles, and an upper of high-density leather and quick-drying mesh. Their design is low-profile and hugs the foot, as well as offering dual hook and loop straps for support and a wider cleat adjustment range for the proper shoe to pedal fit.

Ergonomically Designed Comfort
Style and comfort go hand and hand with the Shimano SHR065’s. An integrated air intake keeps feet dry and feeling fresh, while the foot is secured to the ideal ergonomic position for an efficient upstroke. A lightweight insole and uniform underfoot cushioning will make you forget you even have them on until you check yourself out in the mirror.

Cost and Value
As far as the Shimano brand is concerned, these beauties are top of the line for style, performance, and comfort. Their features are worth the slightly higher price point because of the high quality and durability.
Pros

High quality materials

Quick-drying mesh

Comfortable construction

Ergonomic support

Sleek design

Cons

Slightly more expensive than the average cycling shoe

7. Giro Treble II

7. Giro Treble II
Amidst the rugged and the stylish cycling shoes, there always exists room for the classic. No cycling shoe embodies this as much as the Giro Treble II. Perfect for spin classes and long rides alike, it accommodates a variety of cleat patterns and has a unique construction of fibers that make it highly adaptive. The best part is that for all of its high tech features, it has an incredible price point and doesn’t sacrifice its classic good looks.
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Hook and Loop Closure
The ability to cinch down your foot with three straps for precise adjustments make the functionality of this shoe immediately apparent over other types of closures. It has a molded EVA footbed for arch support, Aegis microbial treatment, and an injected nylon outsole.

Compatible with 2 and 3 Bolt Cleat Patterns
With a universal cleat mount system, it can accommodate 2 and 3 bolt cleat patterns. It also comes in a variety of colors options to suit the swathe of any cycling gear.

Cost and Value
While the Shimano brand is considered a sterling representation of comfort, design, and functionality in the cycling world, the Giro Treble II has all of that at a much lower price point. The economic but serious cyclist can be confident they’re getting a lot of bang for their buck while investing in a timeless shoe.
Pros

High quality materials

functionalist

Versatile

Unique support

Classic design

Cons

They run small

8. Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100

8. Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100
If cycling shoes had a gourmet category, the Louis Garneau Carbon LS-100 would fit perfectly. Named after famed Canadian road racing and track cyclist Louis Garneau, they embody a racer’s performance ideal. They are both durable and versatile, and of the best quality.
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Durability
Instead of the strap closures of the previous shoes, these offer a BOA closure, and one hook and loop strap. They have a stiff carbon fiber outsole to withstand the hours of wear they’ll receive, along with an upgraded heel cup to cut down on slippage. The use of synthetic leather in the construction of the shoe prevents the warping from natural leather.

BOA Closures
The BOA closures and hook and loop strap allow for ease and comfort of fit for long rides. HRS 100 technology forms a band over the cyclist’s heels to keep them in place and prevent discomfort on long rides. Best of all, these shoes come with two inserts, one designed to trap heat in and one designed to allow maximum cold air flow.

Cost and Value
These top of the line cycling shoes illustrate the perfect marriage of high quality, durability, and functionality. With their stiff carbon fiber outsoles and the addition of two unique inserts, they offer unique features not seen in other cycling shoes at slightly lower price points. Definitely worth it to ride like Garneau.
Pros

High quality materials

Highly Functional

Versatile

Unique construction

Vibrant colors available

Cons

Can be stiff

9. Giro Rumble VR

9. Giro Rumble VR
The Giro Rumble VR is an excellent, affordable pair of cycling shoes that offers you versatility, comfort and plenty of durability at a price that is oriented towards users just getting into cycling. You will find that the high quality synthetic and mesh upper does a great job for prolonged use, even in hot weather, providing plenty of breathability and preventing odor, while the outsole is a good choice for cycling when you have to walk smaller parts of the trail. Finally, you will be happy to hear that these shoes are vegan, which makes them a good find if you are looking for cycling gear that is made without the use of leather or other animal source materials.
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Vibram Sole With Removable Panel
One of the best features of these shoes are the Vibram outsoles which are appropriate both for use with SPD cleats, as well as with flat pedals. The Vibram outsole features a diamond-shaped pattern and is a great choice for when you need a better grip on the surface underfoot. Due to its versatility, it will work with any type of terrain, while the removable panel will allow you to install SPD cleats in case you prefer to use that type of pedals.

Comfortable and Stylish
These shoes are perhaps more comfort than performance oriented, and if you need a pair of shoes that you can easily wear all day, these are an excellent choice. The sole is not as stiff as on other cycling shoes, and the padded heel adds some much needed cushioning. You will also love the padded tongue, roomy toe box and a good lacing system that allows for a good, customized fit. The shoes are available in four different sizes, all of which will look good even when you’re off the bike.

Cost and Value
While the Giro Rumble VR is affordable, it proves to be more comfort and less performance oriented for hard riders and professional users. The power transfer has proven to be lacking for some people, while the Vibram outsoles will wear after about a year, meaning that if you choose to install cleats, they will be touching the surface underfoot after a while. Nonetheless, if you are looking for a pair of shoes to wear while cycling that will allow you versatility and won’t come with a price tag that is too high, then this pair by Giro is an excellent choice.
Pros
  • Vibram outsole
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Plenty of padding
  • SPD compatible
  • Optimized cleat zone
Cons
  • Tricky cleat location
  • Not enough power transfer

10. Pearl Izumi Select RD IV

10. Pearl Izumi Select RD IV
The Pearl Izumi Select RD V represents the cyclist who wants the quality of the aforementioned brands but not the price point. For the economic but no less serious cyclist, it is an appealing fit. It has a few unique features that boost its functionality and make it stand alone as an attractive and competitive mid-range shoe.
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Anatomical Closure System
It has a closure system that more closely follows the contour of the foot, with a 1:1 ratio anatomically closure system involving forefront straps at a 25-degree angle. It is also compatible with road or spd pedals for functionality that is far more versatile.

No Pressure Build Up
While other cycling shoes might have design elements that make them stiff, the Pearl Izumi Select RD V is designed for comfort. The anatomically correct closure system virtually eliminates hotspots and works to reduce swelling. New cyclists not used to long rides or racing will appreciate the comfort and lack of pressure build up.

Cost and Value
The Pearl Izumi RD V is a great shoe for beginner to intermediate cyclists. It’s ergonomic closure system and mid-range price point ensure cyclists stay happier pedaling, and spending.
Pros

Highly Functional

Unique construction

Comfortable

Fair price point

Cons

Run small

11. Gavin VELO

11. Gavin VELO
The Gavin VELO are shoes oriented towards both professional and recreational users but come with a price tag that is the lowest on this list. These cycling shoes are compatible with Look, SPD, SPD-R and SPD-SL cleat systems, and give you the benefits of a comfy, adjustable fit with plenty of mesh and ventilation to keep your feet cool and dry even during the toughest rides when you’re bound to work up a sweat. Users with wide feet will particularly like these, as cycling shoes often tend to be too narrow.
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Hard Sole
The sole of these shoes is made out of nylon fiberglass, which gives these the rigidity you need for better power transfer so that you can develop maximum speed with less effort. The better foot to pedal connection will give you the opportunity to exercise more control over how your ride goes.

Lightweight and Durable
These shoes are made out of a synthetic leather material with plenty of vents that will give you a good level of breathability when you most need it. They are lightweight, which help your ride in the sense that it won’t slow you down, while the durability on these shoes is a feature that you will love, as they will serve you well, for plenty of time.

Cost and Value
These shoes by Gavin are the most affordable model on this list, which means that they are the perfect pair if you are just getting into cycling, and are looking to find out whether certain clipping systems will work for you. They are also a good choice for spinning class or indoor cycling. Note that clips are not included.
Pros
  • Sturdy and rigid outsole
  • Compatible with a number of clips
  • Three point hook and loop closure
  • Breathable upper
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Run a full size small
  • Only suitable for cycling, not walking

12. Mavic Ksyrium Elite

12. Mavic Ksyrium Elite
The Mavic Ksyrium Elite is a cycling shoe for the cyclist who wants power without sacrificing comfort, and comfort without sacrificing a weightless feel and fit. It “fits like a glove” in the cycling world. This is no doubt due to the range of features in its construction and design that helps it to fit snugly and comfortably.
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Endofit Tongue
A unique feature of the Mavic Ksyrium Elite’s functionality is its Endofit tongue, which envelopes the rider’s foot like a second skin. It’s synthetic and mesh construction ensure no warping and lots of breathability.

Ergonomic Design and Arch Support
The Mavic Ksyrium Elite certainly have comfort in mind. Ergofit 3D Ortholite insoles keep your feet feeling refreshed and pressure free on long rides, while an Ergo ratchet system of closures on the outside keeps your feet firmly in place with room for adjustment with two accompanying velcro straps. The ergonomic design with arch support and lots of foam ensure painless pedaling.

Cost and Value
If you’re an avid cyclist that wants to forget your swelling toes or sore ankles, these are the shoes for you. They will fit your foot like a glove and make sure that painful rides are behind you. The ergonomic properties of the Mavic Ksyrium Elite combined with its functional design make for a truly distinctive piece of footwear.
Pros

Highly Functional

Unique construction

Very Comfortable

Clipless

Cons

Soles not as stiff

13. Vittoria V Flash

13. Vittoria V Flash
Representing Italy with a flashy shoe that has been outfitting cyclists for the last several decades, the Vittoria V Flash is all style and all value and a classic testament to its sport. It has all the elements you’d expect from a brand of its repute along with new innovations like superior air-flow technology that delivers a lot of functionality for not a lot of euros.
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Three Strap Closure
It has a standard 3 strap closure which provides surefire stability, while its nylon infused outsole is stiff but lightweight. Its uppers are a reliable blend of synthetic leather and breathable mesh synthetic microfibers.

Breathable Upper
It’s Air Flow technology ensures a cool and comfortable ride on even the hottest Italian summer days, and its anti-slip inserts mean secure traction and no loss of mobility meandering through the Italian countryside.

Cost and Value
The Vittoria V Flash is one of the most affordable cycling shoes available, with all of the classic design features of more expensive cycling shoes. Wear one of the most respected brands in European cycling and be confident you’re riding with the best. Especially since the colors are quite eye-catching.
Pros

Highly Functional

Classic construction

Comfortable

Fair price point

Cons

Slightly heavier than average cycling shoes

14. Sidi Dominator 7

14. Sidi Dominator 7
The SIDI Dominator 7 represents the penultimate version of SIDI’s range of cycling shoes, with a wide range of performance enhancing features and a high degree of functionality. They are not for the faint of heart cyclist, but for those that appeal to its sleek and mighty power.
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Performance Enhancing
It has high grip tread for those pesky rocks and roots. It has Microfiber Microtech uppers that are water repellant as well as eco-friendly. It has a SIDI heel cup that makes sure the foot is positioned for the most powerful upstroke possible, while also being adjustable to fit every heel type.

Evenly Distributes Pressure
It has a Soft Instep 2 closure system that distributes pressure evenly along the foot, much like the Pearl Izumi RD V, reducing hotspots. It also has a ratchet closure at the top, ensuring it can be adjusted quickly at any point during a race or ride for a secure fit.

Cost and Value
The SIDI Dominator 7’s are one of the most expensive cycling shoes on the market, but they have been known to last two decades. Their performance enhancing features combined with their level of comfort means they are ready and waiting for any racing offroad adventure, time after time.
Pros

Highly Functional

Performance Enhancing design

Comfortable

High Quality materials

Cons

Higher price point

15. Pearl iZUMi Pro Leader III

15. Pearl iZUMi Pro Leader III
These professional grade cycling shoes by Pearl iZZUMi are focused on performance and power transfer while still allowing you plenty of comfort so that you can avoid developing pressure points even after long rides. They provide a roomy toe box, and even pressure distribution on the top of the foot, and good arch support thanks to the contoured carbon fiber plates. While they come at a price that is one of the highest on this list, you will appreciate this pair of shoes if you are looking for top quality with no compromises.
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Extremely Stiff Soles
The soles of these shoes will not bend, no matter what you do to them, allowing you to maximize your pedaling efficiency and to have the best power transfer possible. In addition, they will not elevate you from the pedal, only giving a 5mm height, which means that you are close to the pedal, with added toe and heel bumpers to prevent sole damage.

Boa Closure
These shoes feature IP1 micro-adjustable Boa closures which are perfect for adjusting on the go, even from your bike. They adjust via a dial and allow you to set the tension on either of the two closures. The tongue is padded, so you won’t feel any pressure where the closure runs, giving you a comfortable, well-padded shoe.

Cost and Value
These shoes are the most expensive item on this list. While they give you maximum performance and power transfer, they also provide you with a customized fit when it comes to padding, closure, and insoles (which are customizable so you can adjust to your own needs). If you are looking for excellent, professional grade cycling shoes, then these are definitely the right choice for you.
Pros
  • Replaceable heel treads
  • Meshed vents
  • Seamless upper
  • Stiffness rating 13
  • 3 bolt road cleat
Cons
  • Not as snug in the heel as some users prefect
  • Won’t give a rock-solid feel underfoot

 

How to Choose the Best Shoes for Cycling

Though the choices are many, selecting the right cycling shoe for you is simplified when considering its features, your skill level, and cost. Different cycling shoes are required for different terrain, riding conditions, and comfort level. By being able to look at different brands for different cycling purposes, you can buy with confidence knowing that you’ve chosen the right shoe for your cycling needs. Having customization options, multiple versions of the same shoe style and a wide variety of color options make for an even more personal buying experience.

Best Cycling Shoes-riding bikeq

A rider wants to know if they can change the fit of a shoe based on if they’re pedaling faster or the weather changes. They want to know if it’s lightweight or more sturdy to deliver a better ratio of power per upstroke. They want to know if it can handle rough terrain, slick roads, and steep inclines, and whether or not their shoes are durable enough to survive them. The right cycling shoe means the difference between stopping your ride early and finishing strong, which for either the expert racing cyclist or the novice cruiser is the most important.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Cycling Shoes

Best Cycling Shoes-material

Breathability/Ventilation

Whether you’re cycling a long distance or a short distance, on the road or up a mountain, it’s important that your cycling shoes have a high level of breathability. This keeps the temperature inside your shoe at a constant state and keeps your feet dry and cool. Look for mesh fabric or webbing that allows for good air flow, or integrated air intakes that will keep your feet dry and fresh feeling. Some even have holes in the sole area that increase air circulation and keep you comfortable in warmer weather. Some cycling shoes will have a certain amount of insulation for colder months, but an appropriate amount of mesh will still be present to keep your feet properly ventilated. Although the amount of mesh present will depend on the type of cycling shoe you need and the climate you’re cycling in, the need for breathability will always be there.

 

Pedal Compatibility

Best Cycling Shoes-pedals

Different cycling shoes require different pedal compatibility, and come in three varieties; those that clip to the pedals of your bike, those that have cleats that snap into the pedals, and those that have no connecting system. Most cycling shoes are designed to specifically work with pedals that are clipless. They have holes drilled into their soles for attaching the cleats needed to snap into the pedals and make a secure connection. Cleats come with pedals as a system, not already attached to the shoes. Therefore, the cycling shoes you purchase have to be matched with appropriate cleats and their corresponding pedals. There are two types of hole systems on the bottoms of cycling shoes where cleats are placed:

The 2-hole system, or SPD system (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) as it is often referred as, is typically used for all types of cycling, from road cycling to mountain cycling, as well as marathons and simple cruising. The recessed cleat design, when matched up with the corresponding cycling shoes, makes for a less, awkward hobbled gait when you dismount from your bike, not to mention minimizes the clip-clop sound as you walk.

The 3-hole system is almost always a road style system, due to the fact that it’s the more durable system, and offers performance-enhancing efficiency and high energy return for the rider. Since the cleat is larger, it’s able to disperse the force the rider applies to the pedal over a much wider area than the 2-hole system. This allows for the pressure to be reduced on the connection systems themselves and make them more secure when the rider is pedaling for long periods of time or at fast speeds.

Cycling shoes without pedal systems like cleats or clips mean that the rider is not bound to the connection of their bike, which can sometimes make a novice rider feel more comfortable. Being connected to your bike at the sole can mean more serious injuries if you fall and can’t extract yourself from it. It’s important to work your way up to pedal systems.

 

Traction/Grip

Best Cycling Shoes-traction

Traction and good grip for cycling shoes are best on road shoes and mountain biking shoes that are not a part of a clip or cleat system. Look for soles with good, thick tread if you want your shoes to stay securely on the pedals, especially over uneven terrain. It’ll also help your feet from slipping and sliding off the pedal with each push forward, giving you the most energy return you can have without having your foot secured to it.

Weight

Road shoes are generally more lightweight, allowing for greater bursts of speed since the rider isn’t working against the weight of the shoe itself. Mountain biking shoes will generally be heavier and bulkier to allow for thicker rubber soles, more tread, and materials that combat against certain environmental elements. Marathon and racing shoes may shed some weight in the uppers but keep weight in the soles, especially where they clip or snap into pedals. Cleats will also always add weight to a shoe as soon as they’re snapped on.

Shock Absorbing System

best cycling shoes-shock

A good shock absorbing system is becoming more and more important in cycling shoes due to the presence of foot fatigue and joint pain, especially for marathon riders and those that pedal long distances. Whether you race hard for several hours at a time, cruise the open road touring for the day, or spend it battling the incline of a mountain trail, you need a cycling shoe that can stand lots of impacts. Several brands design their shoes with footbeds which are removable and have pads to absorb the shock of impact, just like other athletic shoes. There are also areas in the shoe, under the forefoot and back towards the heel where gel packs are built into the footbed construction to give extra shock absorption. Each instance your foot pushes forward on the pedal, from the shoe outsole to the forefoot and all the way back, the shock absorption systems in place absorb this force of contact, leaving your joints pain free. This way you can pedal longer and harder without sacrificing your endurance or performance level.

Comfort

Best Cycling Shoes-comfort

To get the most out of your ride you need cycling shoes that are comfortable, so you can concern yourself with getting where you’re going, not when you can stop and rest to give your feet a break. Many cycling shoes have built-in ergonomic designs with extra foam cushioning and arch support so that all pedaling is painless. Even certain closure systems along the uppers are designed to distribute pressure evenly along the foot, reducing swelling and hotspots. Performance shoes are often rigid along the midsole, making them stiff and much less comfortable. Luckily, most insoles can be modified for any rider that experiences pain at the forefoot, such as with the addition of a gel insert or having a custom-made orthotic insole made. Since most energy is expelled at the forefoot with each pedal push through, this is where most pain will be experienced, so taking the extra time and care to find the most comfortable fit in that area is paramount.

Fit

Best Cycling Shoes-fit

A cycling shoe should always have a proper fit since ill-fitting cycling shoes can lead to injury of the foot during consistent wear, or allow a greater probability of slipping off a pedal and losing control of your bike resulting in an accident. The upper portion of a cycling shoe is where fit is most important and can be customized. Shoes for cruising or casual rides often have lace or velcro closures, whereas racing, touring, and marathon shoes often have ratchet-style buckles. Though one would think the tighter the cycling shoe, the greater the energy transfer and return, but in actuality, it can limit blood circulation and restrict blood flow, so a happy balance must be achieved. Cycling shoes even come in wider sizes for those that can’t fit into their ordinarily tapered design. Anatomically correct closure systems, whether ratchet, buckle, or lace-up eliminate hotspots, swelling, and injury.

Features most common to road cycling shoes

  • Fabric made from mesh for proper blood circulation and breathability
  • Materials to make it lightweight
  • Gel air intake along the forefoot
  • Lace/buckle/ratchet closure systems

Features that are common to mountain cycling shoes

  • Heavy tread/lugs on the outsoles for grip
  • Thick soles
  • Waterproof construction
  • Insulation
  • Supportive midsole for arches

Energy Transfer

Energy transfer is one of the most critical components of a cycling shoe because it determines how effective your pedaling will be. This manifests in certain ways, like how much pressure is dispersed across the forefoot area, whether due to shoe construction or how the sole is clipped onto the pedal. A heel cup that makes sure the foot is positioned to make the most powerful upstroke it can, means that you will get a greater energy transfer and maximum energy return with every pedal.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What is the best type of closure system for cycling shoes?
A: Cycling shoes have several varieties of closure systems depending on their purpose. Casual riding shoes often just have laces or velcro, while performance racing shoes often have ratchet systems or buckles. The latter is designed in such a way as to facilitate quick customization and alteration on the go, but both are secure and simply vary in weight. Some can create different points of discomfort, so much of deciding on a lacing closure system depends on personal preference and the purpose of the cycling shoe.

Q: What style of cycling shoes withstands the most use?
A: Since there are many different types of cycling shoes designed for different types of riding and terrain, deducing which style of cycling shoes is the toughest comes down to how well they perform in their designated category. Where road shoes are concerned, they won’t be thick and heavy to be tough, but they will need a high energy return, be comfortable, and breathable so that they last out on the open road. Mountain biking shoes tend to need to need lots of tread and lugs for proper foot placement, and those should be durable. Since so much of selection and wear comes down to personal preference, whichever style you choose it should stand up to your cycling habits.

Q: How long do cycling shoes last?
A: Cycling shoes should be able to last hundreds of miles. Marathon and other racing shoes are designed to last longer since so many miles are covered in a single day. Avid cyclists, despite how much ground they cover, expect shoes to last several years at a time. Any brands that have shoes that need to be replaced every 6 months are only suitable for cyclists that take casual rides.

Q: How do you clean cycling shoes?
A: Cycling shoes, especially those used for mountain riding, trail riding, or touring can get pretty dirty. If your cycling shoes need cleaning, most are waterproof with a Gore-Tex lining that won’t be affected if you give them a rinse off with a hose or run water over them with some soap and a rag. Leave them outside to dry and don’t forget to remove the insole footpads to let them dry separately.

Q: Do you have to replace cleats?
A: Anytime you feel your footing get loose or see your cleats visibly cracking, they should be replaced to avoid injury and increase security. Avid cyclists will end up replacing their cleats about once a year based on simple wear and tear and as a part of annual maintenance.

 

Need Mountain Bike specific shoes? Check here.

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Salomon XA Pro 3D
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