Your feet are your most important tool when cycling, and that means that the shoe you choose has to be just right. Choosing a cycling shoe can take a little bit of research because there are many types out there – and they all work best for different types of feet, different styles of riding, and different preferences. We’ve done the work for you, rounding up the 10 best road cycling shoes on the market today. At the end of this article after we dive into those, we’ll take a look at what it takes for a cycling shoe to be considered the best.
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The Best Road Cycling Shoes
Now let’s take a quick look at the top 10 cycling shoes we reviewed.
A Closer Look at the Best Road Cycling Shoes
Venzo Road Cycling Shoes
If you are a beginner with road cycling and you don’t know what type of shoe you want, the Venzo R096 road shoes, which come with attachable pedals, are an excellent option to get your feet wet. They aren’t the most high-quality shoes you can find, but they do have many features that can teach you what you like and don’t like in a cycling shoe. They have both a two-hole and a three-hole system so you can use them on other types of bikes, such as mountain bikes. They do have plastic cleats, so you can start to get a feel for how to use cycling shoes before you buy a more expensive sole material. They are ventilated to keep your feet comfortable, and the included pedals are actually of pretty great quality.
Fizik R5 UOMO BOA Road Cycling Shoes
If you are looking for the top of the top cycling shoe, this Italian brand is considered one of the best. But not everyone can afford to drop $500 or more on one of their more advanced styles. The R5 UOMO shoes are their version of an entry-level, but that still makes this pair of shoes miles ahead of any other “entry level” shoe. To start with, they are extremely sleek and stylish, made of perforated leather and a carbon-reinforced nylon sole. You can get a lot of power through the sole, but it’s still flexible and affordable. These shoes are very adjustable, with multiple fastening systems, and this shoe also boasts a fix to a problem many riders used to have with Fizik. This shoe has a much lower arch than the brand’s typical extremely high arch, so you can more easily find the right fit for you. Overall, you’re still paying more for the looks than the performance with this shoe, but it’s a great way to dip your toe into the world of high-end racing shoes.
Giro Men’s Apeckx II Cycling Shoes
If you have struggled to find cyling shoes for your wide feet, Giro has the answer. This shoe is made to offer you all the features of a quality cycling shoe, while still giving your feet room. The soles are extremely stiff for power transfer, thanks to DuPont Zytel nylon. This material offers similar stiffness and power as high-end carbon, but doesn’t have the same hefty price tag. It has a hook-and-loop fastener system to keep it adjustable, and that also helps eliminate pressure on your foot – especially in the toes – that you may have felt from other cycling shoes.
This is a three-bolt road cycling shoe that is made with microfiber and mesh to keep your feet cool and comfortable while you ride, and has medium arch support. It also has anti-microbial treated insoles as well.
Giro Men’s Treble II Bike Shoes
This is another budget-friendly option if you want to try out a high-end shoe brand. Where it lacks in things like a great fastener system for full adjustability, or in carbon soles, it makes up for it in features such as ventilation for breathability, and the ability to be used on both road cycles and mountain bike. This shoe isn’t great for walking around in, because there’s just no tread in the forefoot, and it is only a two-bolt cleat system. But it’s great for indoor spin classes and riding around outside when you won’t be doing a lot of walking.
These are very stylish shoes, and they do have both a men’s and a women’s specific model. The arch is medium height, and the width is medium width, so these shoes will fit a wide range of riders.
Giro Carbide R Bike Shoes
Here’s another good shoe for beginners at clipless cycling. This is a budget shoe, but they still have plenty of great performance features. They aren’t very good at walking, especially not on slick surfaces, but they are great for riding. They do have just a basic Velcro strap, but that also means the shoe is nice and light for riding. The sole is injected nylon that is the best you could get at this price point, and the shoe is compatible with all two-bolt systems. It also has a removable foot bed for a little bit of added arch support, and the shoe is medium width.
Fizik R1 Infinito Cycling Shoes
This is a more unique option on our list from the luxury Italian brand Fizik, but we added it for a specific reason. If you ride your bike in cold or wet weather, this shoe could be ideal for you. The knitted design keeps your foot nice and warm, although it does also mean the shoe is a bit heavier. But the sizing and comfort is ideal, so if you’ve had a hard time finding a shoe that is comfortable above all else, you may want to consider shelling out the bucks for this one. This shoe looks something like a pair of slippers, with eight vents to keep your foot dry without losing warmth. These shoes have the high-end carbon sole that make your ride easier as well.
DiamondBack Men’s Century Clipless Road Cycling Shoe
This shoe was designed to keep your foot cool, dry, and comfortable during your ride. It has aggressive vent design all the way around, and an innovative closure that includes both buckles and straps to make the shoe easy to adjust to your perfect fit. The sole is a nylon-fiber composite, a good choice for a mid-range shoe. These are ideal for longer rides when you want to get a great shoe without breaking the bank. This is a three-bolt shoe.
Gavin VELO Road Bike Shoe
A more affordable option for comfort on the road is the Gavin VELO. This shoe features a more flexible sole that isn’t as efficient, but is easier to walk with. It’s very breathable and offers a great system for adjusting the fit with buckles and straps. It also has a lot of breathable mesh to keep your foot cool, and a three-bolt cleat system that works with Shimano and Look pedals. These do tend to run a bit smaller than other shoes, so it’s a very good idea to try them before you buy.
Shimano Women’s SH-RP2W Road Shoes
Finally, we’ve got Shimano’s female-specific shoe. This is a tried and true design that riders of all skill levels turn to when choosing a quality cycling shoe. It is breathable, comfortable, and offers mid-range features like a rigid insole for energy transfer, padded by a flexible insole for comfort. It is a three-cleat shoe and comes in a design and size range specifically for women.
Shimano RP1 Road Shoes
Do you want an affordable cycling shoe that can be used for outdoor riding, as well as indoor training? Our first choice for the top road cycling shoes is the Shimano RP1. This shoe is a durable, sleek option that won’t break the bank. It has hook-and-loop fasteners, a glass-fiber reinforced nylon sole for durability, and a very breathable design. This all spells comfort for you while riding. But the cleats, which are SPD and SPD-SL compatible, make this entry-level shoe stand out. That is what allows you to use this shoe indoors as well, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. This shoe is comfortable, versatile, and durable – and at a beginner-friendly price point.
What We Look for in Cycling Shoes
There are several things that make up a cycling shoe’s performance, and all can have an impact on how you feel riding in them. We looked at features such as:
- The shoe’s fastening system
- The material of the sole
- The types of cleats
- The ability to be customized through heat molding
- If the shoe can double as a triathlon shoe
In order to determine what specifications you need from each of these features, consider what conditions you’ll be riding in. Do you need a shoe that offers a lot of power transfer because you spend your riding time doing races? Then you’ll want to pay close attention to the sole material. If you are doing things like commuting or cross-country riding, you’ll probably be more interested in the shoe’s ability to withstand weather.
The fastening systems that cycling shoes come with include Velcro, ratchets, laces, and dials. Velcro is very popular for affordable cycling shoes, and it can do a good job – but it tends to be harder to get the most precise fit with a Velcro strap. However, they are also very lightweight, which can be a benefit to someone who rides long distances. Ratchets are a little bit more secure, but dials are the most commonly found on high-end cycling shoes. These give you a very precise hold.
The sole of the shoe is what is primarily responsible for power transfer, but keep in mind that the foot needs to flex when walking. If you choose a very stiff carbon sole for lots of power on the bike, you won’t have a comfortable time walking or running in the shoe off the bike. Most affordable cycling shoes have a plastic sole, which is the most flexible option.
The cleats on a cycling shoe will determine if the shoe will be more stable on your bike, or easier to walk in. Three cleats is far more stable on the bike, and gives you more power transfer. Two cleats is easy to walk in.
Some cycling shoes can be customized to fit your foot to a T through a process called heat molding. This will be the most comfortable riding shoe with the most support for your foot shape, but it can be very expensive.
If you race in triathlons, you’ll need a pair of cycling shoes that can also work for running and swimming. These usually have drainage holes so your feet don’t stay wet in them, and a loop on the heel so you can adjust on the fly.
Check out more bike gear guides with our round ups of the best cycling gloves and cycling sunglasses.
Always Remember to Try Before You Buy
It’s a great idea to do some research before you shop for cycling shoes – but it’s much better to try on a pair of cycling shoes before you buy them. Everything from the arch support to the fastener to the cleat design and more could make the shoe work – or not work – for you. If you do try on a shoe before buying, do it in the afternoon. Your feet tend to expand a little as the day goes on.
Choose the Best Shoe for You and Hit the Road
These shoes are the best on the market today. Choose the right shoe for your riding adventures and hit the road!
Brad grabbed up his first bike when he was a kid and never looked back. He is an avid BMX rider and mountain biker.