If road cycling is your passion, the rush you feel once you’ve hit your stride is probably sheer exhilaration. But while your head gets euphoric, your feet do all the work. How important are the shoes you wear to keep riding? They could mean the difference between a lifetime of enjoyment and a short-lived hobby.
- Fizik Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoe – Men’s – The Best Overall Road Cycling Shoes
- Pearl iZUMi Men’s Select Road v5 Cycling Shoe – The Best Road Cycling Shoes Under $100
- Giro Techne Cycling Shoes – Women’s – The Best Cycling Shoes Under $100 for Women
- Vittoria Zoom Road Cycling Shoes – The Best Legacy Italian Classic Cycling Shoes
- Gavin Elite Road Cycling Shoe – The Best Cycling Shoes for Beginners
- Shimano (RP4) Road Shoe – Second Best Overall Road Cycling Shoes
- SPECIALIZED Torch 2.0 Road Shoes Womens – The Best Cycling Shoes for Women
- Bont Riot Road+ Boa – Another great alternative!
- Specialized S-Works 7 – The Best Expensive Pair of Cycling Shoes!
If you’re a newbie and want excellent introductory information on purchasing a pair of cycling shoes, watch this video to get started:
Do I need a pair of high-quality road cycling shoes?
The answer is yes, and here’s why.
Your feet stay healthy and happy!
They’re properly supported when you ride your roadie, and the right cycling shoe can keep you from falling because this shoe style provides a stable foundation for feet.
Further, the cycling shoe market is so diverse; you won’t have to settle for ugly footwear if you’re as concerned about your appearance as you are about your performance.
Wear high-quality road cycling shoes that are lightweight and breathable to eliminate the discomfort of sweaty, smelly feet.
Finally, the best cycling shoes can help keep you safe, increase pedal efficiency, and reduce foot fatigue and cramping. What’s not to love about this critical gear?
Six things to consider when shopping for a pair of cycling shoes.
If you dislike having too many choices, you’re in luck. There are only three main types of bike shoe closure systems.
Laces are favored by cyclists who crave a customizable fit and the ultimate in comfort. They are super-trendy right now after being spotted on professional road-racing peloton. They are lightweight, simple, and look very cool. The biggest benefit of all is that laces could accommodate practically any feet to the unique shape of it.
The dial is my favorite closure system for road cycling shoes. The system consists of a hub that when you rotate it tightens a cable, which snuggles the entire shoe. The best dial system is Boa. You can find it in some of the best models on the market, especially mid-to-high-end models.
Hook and Loop
A velcro-type closure system that is easy to use and reliable enough to be used on any type of cycling shoes. With a few high-quality Velcro closures, you can adjust the fit to be super-comfortable. You can find hook and loop type closure on cheap and expensive models.
Fit and Comfort
There are steps you can take to make sure that you enjoy both.
They include making sure you choose a product that fits the forefront area correctly because width can make or break your cycling experience if the pressure isn’t right. Feet spread while cycling, so audition cycling shoes when your feet are warmed up.
Your foot will be comfortable with no extra space on the front of the shoe, and if it’s too long, biomechanical cleat mounting could be impossible.
You want a firm fit in the heel area to avoid pinching and pain and insist upon stiff soles and rigid upper materials.
Here’s your mantra: The stiffer, the better. On the other hand, up to your CQ (comfort quotient) by adding cushioning via insoles and interior construction additions.
Having already mentioned the word “stiffness” above, you can take the term to its next level when you shop for shoes with the right sole.
Buy a cheap shoe, and you could wind up with wimpy soles. Spend the right amount of money and expect carbon fiber flex construction that transfers power from pedals more efficiently, and they will feel lighter when you wear them.
Is there a compromise to be made?
The stiffer the carbon fiber sole, the more road vibration you could feel so you could wind up sacrificing a bit of comfort in the name of longevity.
Looking for a less-expensive option? Some nylon soles are reinforced with carbon fiber.
Cleat and Pedal Compatibility
Road cyclists tend to be discriminating when it comes to this pairing, which is why professionals and amateurs alike recommend a three-bolt clipless pedal manufactured by a respected resource.
These clip-in pedals feature a large plastic cleat that attaches to cycling shoes with three bolts, so performance is enhanced by providing a stable platform that delivers a larger cleat contact area.
Why is this important?
Because the wrong system will slow down power transfer and maybe even impair performance.
That stated you could expect to have a harder time walking around in them because they protrude from the shoe tread so you could wind up looking like a duck out of the water with each step you take.
The Brits take seriously the importance of this compatibility as well as U.S. cyclists.
Is it possible to be offered too much ventilation when choosing between cycling shoe products?
The answer is no.
Cooling airflow is not just necessary; it is critical for road cyclists who undertake long rides on hot days.
Manufacturers are using a nice assortment of lightweight mesh materials that not only help cool feet but feel lighter and more compact.
If you find shoes featuring ventilation holes, say, “Yes, please!” just as long as you’ve no intention of wearing the shoes during winter rides when ventilation is the last thing you need to stay comfortable.
Must you buy a second pair?
Not if you cover the vents with duct tape when temperatures dive.
As a final note, if you’re a winter warrior, you’re probably already aware of the fact that engineers have come up with cycling shoes that have a layer of insulation, remain impervious to water, yet they don’t add an ounce of weight to the shoe.
You’re in luck: you live in an age of options, so when shopping for road cycling shoes (and if you have a little patience), you can find what you’re looking for at a price that won’t require you to cut back on your dog’s premium chow.
Whether you are brand loyal or you are religious about sticking to a “not to exceed” budget, expect to pay between $99 and $300 dollars for a good pair of cycling shoes that are as attractive as they are practical.
On the other hand, if nothing but a pair of Mavic Men’s Comete Ultimate LTD Cycling Shoes will do, expect to fork over $1,000 for these prestigious shoes that may not even be available in a choice of colors.
Why are these kicks considered “the ultimate” in road bike shoes?
Ergonomic design, superior power transfer, the best carbon materials, and softer-than-usual fabric make these shoes the best investment you make. Even if you can’t afford them, you can always put them on your holiday wishlist.
Best Road Cycling Shoes Reviewed
If you can get past the pronunciation of this shoe brand’s name and are willing to spend between $250 and $450 based on the color you choose and retailer pricing differentials, you’re likely to congratulate yourself for choosing a cycling shoe which is one of the best on the market.
Offering 3-bolt road cleat compatibility, a signature Infinito footbed, vented unidirectional carbon sole and exterior crafted of laser-perforated 1.2mm Microtex material, you’ll even applaud the Infinito closure system once you try out the product’s double Boa IP1-B dials.
Many cyclists call this shoe a top-level product that competes with Shots though the Fizik is heavier, which may be an advantage if you like a bit of heft.
Product designers are to be credited with ingenious engineering that includes the tri-zone wire fit system and customizable pressure distribution that manages to be comfortable and form-fitting.
If aesthetics are important to you, these cycling shoes earn high marks when it comes to style, so if you add a pair to your collection and aren’t usually known as a trend-setter, these shoes could change that. Fizik Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito is one of the best cycling shoes on the market now.
- Manufactured by the U.S. company fi’zi:k, a racing brand preferred by cyclists who thrive on competition
- Lightweight at less than 2 pounds
- An excellent ventilation system and an extremely comfortable fit.
- Easy to adjust.
- Expensive shoes.
- Maybe too absorbent for cyclists
- Heavier than competitor shoes.
Sleek, affordable and highly reviewed by consumers who are delighted to find a solid cycling shoe that costs less than $100, Pearl Izumi makes a great pick for new road cyclists who are still trying to decide how much time and money they want to devote to the sport.
At 2.37 pounds, these aren’t the lightest shoes around, but you may not care since these shoes offer a fully-lined mesh upper that is treated with an odor-resistant agent.
The Anatomic TRI enclosure does double duty: it eliminates hot spots and mediates forefoot pressure.
Beneath the Pearl Izumi, you can find an EVA foam and rubber heel bumper ready to deliver on both stability and comfort and the brand’s signature insole contributes a healthy measure of longitudinal and transverse arch support, so if you’ve got arch issues, these may help with those.
The carbon fiber forefront offers sufficient stiffness (rated 8) to protect feet, and the 3-bolt road cleat is SPD compatible thus, it stands up well against pricier shoes.
Pearl iZUMi’s proprietary Direct-Vent technology offers sufficient draining and cooling properties so you can count on these imported shoes to handle all of your road challenges.
- Ranks high on reviewer affordability lists
- Popular with cyclists who wear large shoe sizes
- Cleats are easy to install.
- Comfortable fit
- The strap nearest the toes could cause blisters on a long ride
- May not be as stiff as you like
- Cleats don’t come with these shoes; you’ll have to buy them.
Expect to pay less than $100 for these stylish white and silver road cycling shoes featuring die-cut insoles, injected nylon construction, and 3-strap synthetic upper.
If you don’t want to spend your time perpetually cleaning these shoes, you may wish to keep shopping.
But on the other hand, they weigh just 2 pounds, so you won’t have to contend with a heavy shoe when you ride.
These run small, and due to the integrity of the construction, they don’t stretch, so make sure you keep your sales receipt in case you have to exchange them.
Like many competitor shoes that don’t cost a fortune, you will have to purchase cleats separately. If you intend to use these for spin classes rather than taking them on the road, you should be delighted since they won’t leave your toes numb even after long pedaling sessions.
If you search for negatives, be aware of the fact that these shoes aren’t always a good choice for women with sensitive and paper-thin skin.
The long tongue could irritate skin and cause it to break. Otherwise, you get a lot of bang for your buck—-as long as you don’t mind cleaning these cute little white and silver shoes after every ride.
- Stylish and affordable, these make great starter cycling shoes
- They perform dynamically on the road and during spin classes
- They are nice and stiff, despite the relatively low price.
- Great arch support.
- Sizing is small and a major factor in negative reviews
- You could run into factory QC and construction issues
- Cyclists report clipping and unclipping problems.
You’ll spend a few dollars more on these stylish road cycling shoes if you aren’t able to find a deal, but you may not care. This pair of shoes cost between $100 and $125 and comes in basic black or white with touches of red or white.
This shoe fastens with two hook-and-loop straps that help distribute pressure uniformly throughout the instep area.
Cyclists are impressed by the simple CRS closure system and standard 3-bolt locking system.
Construction is solid and consists of micro-welded, stitched uppers that help keep feet cool. The sole is composed of nylon, making it a lightweight shoe that adapts quickly to the foot of the road cyclist.
Expect a toe box that comes close to Sidi brand cycling shoes and wearers are happy with airflow, though athletes with wide feet may not be as satisfied with the fit.
Perhaps the biggest issue for shoppers was finding compatible cleat plates that resulted in some returns to the manufacturer.
But if you love everything made in Italy, you’ll be impressed by this shoe’s pedigree: all Vittoria athletic shoes are made in a small Italian village that has been producing all manner of shoes for cyclists since 1976.
- Has an adjust-on-the-fly closure system
- The sole is infused with carbon fibers that reinforce the nylon
- A super stiff shoe despite its affordable price tag.
- Good arch support
- The 3-bolt system is standard, but you’ll have to buy cleats
- If you require a 100-percent carbon sole, this isn’t your shoe
- Not every retailer carries this brand.
If you’ve spent all of your money on your bike and have no discretionary cash available for road cycling shoes, consider the Gavin Elite that gets high marks from reviewers who are particularly impressed by the shoe’s $60 price tag.
The micro-adjustable buckle gives riders a custom, snug fit and while the “leather” is actually microfiber, the mesh material is very breathable.
You’ll pedal on a sole of nylon fiberglass that’s been produced with air-flow vents, so in concert with the mesh outer, if you’re weary of cycling shoes that say they will keep your feet cool, this shoe could actually do it.
Designed for comfort and compatible with a variety of cleats, these high-performance cycling shoes are manufactured to company standards and will serve you as well in a spin class as they do on the road.
Gavin engineers have improved the pedal stroke power over earlier iterations of cycling shoes and lay claim to delivering an optimized foot-to-pedal connection.
Find out if Gavin’s claim, that wearing these shoes gives you more control over your bike, is true-but in the end, the price point may be the factor that sways your buying decision. If you are a beginner road cyclists then you should definitely consider this pair.
- Brand fans say these perform like carbon fiber shoes
- Endorsed by a spin instructor who wears them 5 days a week
- Kudos to Gavin’s customer service department, according to lots of shoppers.
- You could find these to be flimsy and noisy
- Not a good choice for people with wide feet
- There have been multiple complaints about broken straps on relatively new shoes.
These sexy black bike shoes run about $125, but you acquire a pedigree that’s worth twice that amount.
Shimano has been delighting runners and bikers for too many decades to count and the RP4 is designed and manufactured for the recreational rider seeking an excellent high-performance shoe that excels at performance, power, and stability.
Constructed of high-density synthetic leather, these shoes have a sleek low profile and feature an offset strap that’s designed to relieve foot tension at the most vulnerable point of the foot.
Wide heel pads contribute stabilization that allows you to walk around in them when you’re off the bike.
Expect efficient power transfer from the glass-fiber-reinforced nylon soles and a reverse-mount buckle will secure your foot in place at any speed.
Use the Boa L6 dial to easily adjust your shoe on the fly thanks to the shoe’s precise micro-adjustment system.
Breathable and imported, the Shimano RP4 is a favorite of recreational bikers seeking a shoe that weighs only around one pound.
Compressed foam adds just the right amount of stiffness to a popular shoe that features a classic 3-hole cleat design.
- Excellent performance and ventilation
- Recommended for roads, Peloton bikes and other types of cycles
- Get an extra 5mm more fore/aft adjustment on cleats.
- Shoppers are advised to buy one size larger
- Prefer a ratchet system to a boa dial? This isn’t your shoe.
- You may not find the Dunalast sole to be as stiff as you prefer.
If bio-engineering impresses you, this Specialized Torch 2.0 road shoe should wind up at the top of your must-have list.
Starting from the bottom up, the carbon sole measures 7.0 on the stiffness scale, so wearers can count on foot support during the most arduous road trip.
Laboratory-tested to meet specific criteria, the Torch 2.0 has been proven by the scientists perfecting this shoe to increase efficiency, boost power, and deliver on comfort as well.
In fact, if you worry about injury, either because you’ve already been down that road or you don’t want to go there, this shoe has the potential to reduce the potential for injury by optimizing the rider’s hip, knee and foot alignment.
The manufacturer calls their proprietary designs “body geometry” because so much effort was put into the ergonomic design.
Even the rubber heel and toe features are crafted to enhance off-the-bike tension. At around $150, that may not be too much to pay for this much innovation.
- Attention to scientific detail makes this an extraordinary road shoe
- There’s a lifetime guarantee on the Boa dial closure
- Easy to make micro-adjustments as you ride.
- Sells out fast; you may not be able to find a pair
- Shoes run small
- They may require inserts for better support.
Bont Riot Road+ Boa is a great cycling shoe with super-stiff heat-moldable soles and very distinctive design. I can even say that they are one of the best-looking cycling shoes on our list here.
Due to the nice tub-shaped stiff soles, this cycling shoe is extremely efficient for pedaling. Bont claims that these cycling shoes come with an anatomical fit for practically every feet, but the good news is that they are even more customizable.
You can put your new cycling shoes into the oven for 20 minutes at 70°C/160°F before putting them for the first time, and they will get even more comfortable.
The closing mechanism is the standard nowadays Boa dial and Z Velcro Strap. If you are wondering what is the weight of these nice cycling shoes, it’s just 280 grams. You can find the Riot+ for around $130 and sometimes even at lower prices during holidays and sales season.
- Super comfortable fit
- Very stiff heal-moldable soles
- Great overall design
- A little bit expensive
Specialized S-Works 7 is a masterpiece in the world of cycling shoes. To put it into perspective – it’s the Mercedes S-Class of the road cycling shoes. If you are looking for something really high-quality very close to custom made shoes then this is your choice.
They are extremely light with a weight of 270 grams per shoe and very easy to adjust due to the two-Boa/Velcro strap system which is best in class. Specialized S-Works 7 are made of Dyneema – the world’s strongest fiber ( also used in sailcloth ).
The upper part is made of a four-way stretch mesh that is super breathable and strong at the same time. Despite the fact that the footbed is a little bit flat, many riders claim that S-Works 7 is super comfortable even for people with high arches.
- Very lightweight and comfortable shoes
- Extremely stiff soles
- Excellent Boa closure
- Best in class heat retention
- Very expensive
How to Clean Road Cycling Shoes
- Wipe the shoes off every time you notice soil and dirt. If a rag won’t do the job, just put a little soap and warm water on a brush and buff the area to remove the refuse.
- Don’t assume that your wet shoes will dry out by themselves. Towel them off and remove the footbeds, so they dry separately.
- Invest in a shoe dryer for the ultimate post-cleaning finish. If funds are short, stuff newspaper into the shoes so moisture is absorbed as they dry out.
- If your shoes begin to disengage from pedals, the cleats may need replacing. Depending upon how often you ride, cleat replacement could be necessary anywhere from one year to 5 years down the road.