Ready to hop off of your bolted-down gym exercise bike and say hello to the great outdoors by joining the growing cycling trend? Excellent, we’re sure your local bike community will be happy to have you. While you can ride your bike wearing any kind of shoes, if you plan on cycling regularly you might want to invest in cycling shoes to maximize your performance. Cycling shoes are different from everyday athletic shoes in how they are designed with stiffer soles – this gives you more efficient energy transfer as you pedal so none of your effort is wasted and every push really gets you moving. Ready to check out a list some of the current best cycling shoes?
We considered several factors for our ratings on the best cycling shoes including aesthetics, support, breathability, traction, comfort, durability, stability, price, and energy transfer.
Here are some great cycling shoe picks for you to try on:
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Looking for high quality road cycling shoes? Try the Fizik R5 Uomo Boa Cycling Shoes. They’re great for beginner and routine bike riders and land mid-range in the spectrum of cycling shoe costs. These shoes are known for their stunning performance.
They’ve got a sleek, aerodynamic design with a microfiber upper for breathability and flexibility, and they’re highly adjustable. The R5 Uomo Boas have a 4-anchor dual Boa Dial and a velcro toe strap. You can use the dial to adjust the shape of the shoe and increase or decrease the volume to customize the fit. The Boa iP1A closure lets you make quick adjustments to keep your feet secure, and the micro straps at the bottom help the shoes fit you snugly.
The outsoles are nylon with carbon reinforcements – they’re stiff and stable, supportive and secure. The shoes have a low stack height so they’re close to the pedals.
The R5 Uomo Boas aren’t as lightweight as other cycling shoes because they aren’t fully carbon, but they’re certainly not heavy and they trade the weight for extra shoe comfort. The shoes have a smooth soft lining and plenty of padding to keep your toes snug and pressure off your foot’s contact points. The insole has a sculpted footbed and a supportive heel.
You can get them on Amazon.
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Another sleek pair of cycling shoes, the Shimano SHR065s have a dual hook-and-loop velcro strap closure for fast and easy adjustments. Although these shoes lack the micro adjustment dials of other shoes, they’ll still keep your feet secure.
The shoes can accommodate different foot shapes and is compatible with both 2 and 3-bolt cleats. The soles are reinforced with fiberglass for stiffness, and its air intake and exhaust system helps give you an energy-efficient upstroke when biking for a smooth ride. The energy transfer is great in these shoes considering their price – about $72 is a great deal for cycling shoes that perform this well.
The system also helps with breathability and moisture control through the synthetic leather and mesh-layered upper. The good ventilation contributes to the comfort of these shoes, as does the flat insole’s pillow underfoot cushioning. The comfort of these shoes makes them a good choice for beginners.
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For $79 to $100 on Amazon, you can get the Shimano Women’s SH-RP2W Cycling Shoes and ride your bike to your heart’s content. These are the best cycling shoes for beginners or recreational cyclers (whether indoor or outdoor) – they’ve got all the features a good cycling shoe should have while still landing on the lower end of prices for shoes made for cycling.
The upper is made of stretch-resistant synthetic leather to keep your foot stable and protected. The triple asymmetric strap closures help relieve pressure points to prevent sore feet by spreading the pedaling force evenly over your foot. The air intake and exhaust system provide ventilation to keep your feet cool and dry.
The SH-RP2Ws are lightweight with a fiberglass-reinforced nylon sole that’s stiff enough for pedaling and flexible enough for comfort. The cleat is 2 and 3-bolt compatible. The shoe has a reduced volume and narrow heel cup for a snug fit, as well as a smaller toe box and extra instep support to cater to a woman’s foot.
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The aerodynamic Sidi Shot Carbon Road Cycling Shoes dazzle in a stunning yellow, blue, red, white, or black, but comes at a hefty price – $300 to $550 on Amazon. Their quality sure matches their price, though – they’re even used among the pros.
These shoes are incredibly lightweight at 580 grams. The upper is made with mesh and Microfiber Techpro with a Techno-3 push system with symmetrical closure dials for a great customizable fit. The heel cup is stabilizing and supportive. The heel pad and toe guard are removable and replaceable when they’re running thin.
Thanks to the Vent Carbon sole and Wire Carbon shoe construction, your feet will stay cool, dry, and snug. You can even adjust the amount of airflow over your feet with a sliding vent at the toe of the shoes.
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The Shimano RP5 is another solid option in the world of bike shoes, running between $120 and $283 on Amazon. They’re sleek and simple with a seamless one-piece upper for comfort during long rides.
These shoes have velcro straps and a Boa L6 dial for adjustments of up to 1-millimeter increments. The outsole is nylon reinforced with carbon, and there are perforations all along the upper for ventilation to keep your feet cool. Wide heel pads allow for stability while biking or walking.
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The Giro Empire E70 Knit Cycling Shoes stick out because of the Xnetic Knit technology to maximize comfort and breathability while cycling. Even while designed to feel comfy like a sock, the bonded TPU skeletal structure of the shoes offers your feet plenty of support. They also won’t get wet the same way socks do with their water-resistant finish.
You can’t customize the fit of these shoes as precisely or as quickly as other models because they use empire laces, but they do stay secure on your feet. There are heel guards for added durability, replaceable heel pads, and a molded EVA footbed for insole comfort.
The Easton EC70 carbon compostie outsole is stiff but not overly rigid, meaning it’s possible to walk around in them comfortably. They’ll run you around $130 to $200 on Amazon.
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For around $150 to $167 you can get the Five Ten Free rider Pro Cycling Shoes. These shoes are great for traction and grip when one of your main concerns is your feet slipping off of the pedals. You’ll get plenty of power transfer with these shoes.
The Five Ten’s upper is weather resistant and has a reinforced toe box to protect your tootsies. These shoes don’t have much in the realm of adjustability, but they are known for being snug and comfortable. They have a sock liner, making them a good shoe choice for a triathlon to avoid the annoyance of poorly-fitting or slipping socks.
So how do you figure out which of these are the best cycling shoes for you?
One of the main deciding factors is where you plan on riding your bike. The choice of best cycling shoes differs based on the location you’ll be cycling. Road bike shoes, mountain bike shoes, and city bike shoes all have different features that optimize their performance for their particular purposes – after all, riding a bike down a relatively flat concrete street is a lot different than riding your bike up a mountain over harsh terrain.
The ideal road bike shoes are lightweight with smooth outsole, good ventilation, and very stiff soles (compared to the also stiff soles of mountain bike and city bike shoes). The cleats should protrude slightly from the soles. These shoes should be paired with pedals that are compatible with clipless 3-hole or 2-hole cleat systems.
Road cycling shoes don’t have a lot of traction on the sole (usually the only traction is from a small rubber pad on the shoe’s heel) and are incredibly inflexible so you don’t want to be walking around in them for long periods of time.
There’s also a subset of road bike shoes for triathlons (tri shoes) for maximized race performance and transitions on and off your bike.
The best mountain bike shoes will also have a stiff sole, but with enough give, flexibility, and a rubber lugged outsole to provide good traction when walking on slick or rough trails. The cleats will usually be recessed into the soles to make walking easier when you’re not pedaling. They use 2-hole cleat systems and should be matched with a compatible pedal.
Because mountain bike shoes also have the ability to function as decent walking shoes (as well as great cycling shoes), they’re the popular choice for mountain bikers, casual road bikers, and indoor cycling bikers. They’re more versatile than road bike shoes.
City bike shoes are ideal for urban cycling, recreational cycling, and indoor cycling classes. They’re somewhat of a hybrid between casual shoes and cycling shoes, and typically have the same features as mountain bike shoes (fairly stiff rubber outsoles and recessed cleats for easy walking). They have the versatility offered by mountain bike shoes, but they’re optimized for city cycling.
Be aware of bike shoe cleats and pedal compatibility. There’s a 2-hole system or the SPD system (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics), which works great for any type of cycling – road, mountain, urban, touring, or commuting. The recessed cleat makes walking easier and less noisy.
The 3-hole system or Look-style system is usually used for road cycling because of its high stability and energy transfer – it applies force widely over the pedal and reduces pressure on the connection points.
Consider the type of closure style you want for your bike shoes. Laces are the most customizable and comfortable, but also get wet and dirty easily. You want to make sure your laces are short enough or tucked away so they don’t get tangled in your bike chains.
Rip-and-Stick (Velcro) straps are easy to use, stretch more than laces, and are more likely to stay on securely. Cycling shoes will usually have 2 or 3 straps. The most secure (and expensive) cycling shoe closures are notched cam straps with buckles.
You’ll want to make sure you choose shoes that are comfortable from the time you try them on because they’ll take a long time to break in due to their stiff soles. You should have enough toe room to wiggle your piggies a little, your arch should feel snug and supported, and your heel shouldn’t be sliding up and down.
Because the soles are stuff and meant to support your foot in a stable position, your heel might slip when you try them on and walk around. If you think the reason is actually that the shoe fits poorly, try going down a shoe size or switching to a different shoe model and see if the problem improves.
Consider aesthetics. If you’re going to be in these shoes for practices and games, you should at least like the way they look. If you don’t care what the shoes look like, then you don’t have to worry about that – put all your focus on the material, durability, and fit of the shoe instead.
And of course, if you’re on a budget, that will play a role in the shoes you ultimately want to buy too.
Consider bike shoe covers for when the weather gets cold or wet – they’ll help with insulation and water resistance. They’re usually made of neoprene or a rubber laminate and should only be worn when riding (not walking).
Keep your shoes clean by wiping them down with a towel or a brush with warm water and soap. To dry, you might want to get a boot/shoe dryer – it’s the quickest way to dry your shoes by using a warm, gentle airflow. You can also do your best by towel drying your shoes and removing the footbeds to dry separately, or you could pack the shoes with newspaper to absorb the moisture.