For serious bikers, cycling shoes are one of the most essential gear. Since your legs and feet generate and transfer the power for the bike, this creates tons of strain on the 'metatarsal' bones of the toe. So, if you are not wearing the right footwear, your feet will suffer.
Besides, these types of shoes can transfer the thrust energy on the pedal without putting much pressure on any specific part of the feet, enhancing your riding performance as a result.
However, if you’re a beginner, the process of choosing the right pair of shoes could be difficult. That's why we did extensive market research and a series of field-testing sessions on the most popular pairs of today in a bid to track down the best road cycling shoes for you to choose from. Let's get to know them in detail.
Gearbikesreview consists of a team of professional bicycle racers, veteran engineers and mechanics in the bicycle industry who dedicate months doing extensive market research and field tests on every bike gear category before coming up with all inclusive reviews. We enjoy being the highest rated website for our authentic bike and bike gear reviews that are often cited by industry analysts.
Our unbiased objectivity leads us to produce impartial reviews and how-to blogs that are packed with research backed facts. Our mission is to equip our audience with the maximum amount of useful information regarding our recommended gear and bikes, so they can make informed buying decisions.
How We Picked These Products
In case you’re keen to know how we ranked these choices, we’ve got your answer here. First, we spent over 30 hours online to dig out the 20 highest rated cycling shoe pairs with the most outstanding features. Then we carried out a series of tests on them over the next couple of weeks. We couldn’t test all of them ourselves and so we had help from a team of volunteers.
During the testing session, we closely monitored the quality of the shoe materials, the level of comfort they offered, their weight, ergonomics, designs, and durability. Based on these criteria we championed 10 out of the rest.
We also met with other expert cyclists, mechanics, and industry experts to get their views and recommendations on these products. They reassured us about our final choices and made some recommendations which we followed in ranking them. Then we proceeded to write our detailed road bike shoe reviews.
Our 10 Best Road Cycling Shoes List
So, what shoes are best for cycling? We have just the right models for you to choose from. Please read the features carefully. They've been ranked according to their distinctive features.
This Gavin Elite model is the product to buy when considering comfort, quality, and performance. It comes with an artificial microfiber leather upper which is lightweight and feels soft on the foot. The top also features a mesh design that serves as an escape route for air and moisture.
The soles are made from fiber nylon glass meaning that they’re very light and strong. There are even vents on the soles to ensure that you stay cool and comfortable.
What’s more, these shoes have two straps and an adjustable buckle to ensure you’re getting the right fit even when on the ride. Besides, the buckle is equipped with a ratcheting system that allows you to tighten or release with little effort.
The sole is compatible with SPD, SPD-R, and SPD-SL cleats for easy attachment and transfer of energy from the shoes to the pedals. It's available in sizes of 38M, 39M, and 40M to 45M.
As for the price, it values a little below $70 - great for those who’re trying out a pair of cycling shoes for the first time. However, a few users complained that the ratchet fastener broke too soon though that didn't happen in our case.
Available in many sizes
Vents on leather and sole
Compatible with cleats
Leather quality could've been better
This Gavin model has everything you’ll need for comfort and fit. It’s perfect for both beginners and expert riders. We were happy with almost all its features and it should perform superb in cyclocross events. We’ll recommend it to anyone in search of the best road cycling shoes.
If you’re looking for a nice pair at an affordable price, this model is for you. The Gavin Velo is classic, with a blend of black and red colors to attract the attention of other road users. It features three straps on the upper for quick closure and adjustment. Like our top pick, this model also accommodates SPD, SPD-R, and SPD-SL cleats (Although they’re sold separately).
Besides, the breathable mesh on the upper and the tiny holes on the nylon fiberglass sole help to keep your feet cool when riding. You’ll appreciate the molded heel cup which stabilizes the foot providing better comfort and confidence.
Since the manufacturers have your safety in mind, they include a reflective cup on the heel to make you visible to other road users (especially when riding at night).
About size, it’s only available in sizes of 42, 43, and 44. We’ve noticed that our top pick offers more choices by size. Also, unlike our first choice, it doesn’t come with any adjustment buckle which was a major turn off to most users.
But, this is not a deal-breaker to us considering its excellent fit and fastening speed compared to other types of cycling shoes. The price is a little under $60, which is a good bargain if you’re looking for a budget choice.
Compatible with cleats
Three Velcro straps
Lightweight and sturdy
Great fit and support
No adjustable buckle
Relatively limited sizes available
This is a great choice for beginners who wouldn’t want to spend much on shoes until they have enough conviction of what they want. You may not get some of the top features that are common with our high-end boots. Yet, it has some of the best reviews and ratings on Amazon, indicating its usability to its buyers.
This pair is mostly recommended for road biking because of its smart form-fitting construction. It’s designed to be appealing while delivering a versatile performance to enhance your riding experience. The carbon-reinforced sole is stiff and offers smooth and easy power transfer to the pedals.
The Fizik R5 is equipped with a Microtex upper which is strong and durable. The power strap system that envelops your foot helps to distribute the pressure smoothly when providing a secure fit. Like our first two models, this pair has holes on the upper to ensure that you don’t feel too hot when riding.
Although it’s available in many sizes to suit almost any foot, it measures 12 x 9 x 6 inches, which is a standard size for all cycling boots. It has a clean look making it an eye-catcher for the enthusiastic rider. It features the BOA closure system which works better than the Velcro straps featuring in our top pick.
However, we’ve seen that the sole doesn’t have air outlets, so you’ll experience some heat spots if the weather is extremely hot. This isn’t an issue since you’ll not feel any heat change because of the sole’s material on normal weather or in the winter.
This item is within the price range of $60 to $450. Of course, it’ll likely be on the high-end side depending on the option you select. It comes with a good 2-year warranty, which indicates the part of the manufacturer to provide you with a superb aftermarket benefit. Also, this warranty coverage is the longest you’ll find on this list, which is a plus to its value.
BOA closure system
Not recommended for use in hot weather
This is a wonderful pair which you’ll enjoy for long. It has good specs with comfort, ease of use, and durability as its strong assets. It offers reliable performance for road riding even though it’s not ideal for use in hot environments. The price could be high for some, but it's worth a try considering its superb fit and durability.
This model is designed to offer great excitement and comfort for the ladies! It features a classic three-strap closure system for quick adjustments. These straps deliver quality fits across varying leg widths and are also very easy to use.
What’s more, it measures 12 x 9 x 5 inches which are almost the same with the Fizik R5 shoes. Note that this company uses the EU standard sizes, which is the reason you need to get in tune with the size chart on its website before paying.
Besides, the synthetic upper is designed with mesh and holes to keep your feet dry and warm. The sole is made from carbon composite with special cuts for a smoother and easy ride. It’s available in black, white, and gray colors and looks super cute on the road.
Although some users may have issues with the sole since they’re more optimized for road bikes than mountain bikes, it’s lighter and more durable than many products on the market in its price range. Fortunately, you’ll get it around $80 to $100, which is competitive enough.
Good quality build
Quick Adjustment straps
Suitable for all cleat types
Soles aren’t very strong
Although this item only features the Velcro straps, it’s still a great option for women and new riders. They feel very cool on the feet and suitable for women who will spend hours riding every weekend. Its features are pretty similar to those of our top picks, although it’s a little pricier. We'd say it offers a good value for money and is definitely worth giving a shot.
This product is optimized to provide the greatest comfort for both men and women. First, it’s equipped with three hook and loop straps that offer the best fit possible. Also, it allows micro and quick-adjusting, so you can put on and also release with ease.
The heels have carbon fiber cup construction to enhance the foot’s stability. Still, it features the fiberglass injected nylon sole for extra rigidity and performance. Also, the sole is perforated to ensure that you stay dry always.
The tongue and the heel have pads that are meant to prevent the intense pressure on the foot while offering better support when riding. Since the material has extra stitching, it’ll be easier to maintain and you have more assurance of its durability.
Many people who’ve bought this item have attested to its extreme comfortability and ease of use but you’ll only get size 42 or 43 for now. The price is reasonable in comparison with its peers, around $50. But, you’ll need to buy the cleats separately.
Easy to put on
Not many choices for the size
This Bellelli product is perfect for various outdoor and indoor rides with a stylish black color to match any biking outfit. It has lots of features you’ll like but your choice of size is only between 42 and 43. It’s very affordable and yet transfers great power from your legs to the bike. These cheap cycling shoes cost way less than the Giro Techne pair, but have the same closure system and breathable upper design.
Giro is one of the fastest-growing cycling shoes brands on the market with each release gearing towards better customer satisfaction. Ideally, this model is studded enough for better comfort and support.
The Apeckx II comes with a welded and bonded upper which means it doesn’t have many seams making it more durable, lighter, and comfortable than the Giro Techne. You don't have to worry about the perfect fit because it combines two straps, adjustable buckle, and ratcheting for that exact purpose.
The footbed features an antimicrobial Eva support that protects your feet from germs and odor while maximizing comfort. The design team ensures that you feel the stiffness of the sole by using a lightweight Zytel nylon material. We’ve noticed that the narrow width is a little turn off to users with a wide foot. Yet, this isn’t an issue, since they already offer many sizes.
Its availability in many colors is a bliss too. But, you’ll pay more for the aesthetics, so prepare for something between $50 to $250.
Available in many sizes
This model is recommended for all biking activities, especially for tri biking. The combination of different closure systems helps create a perfect fit. Unlike our 5th pick, it comes in many sizes to choose from. However, the price (under $150) may differ depending on the size. It’s many closure system styles compared to other options on this buying guide makes it more gluing to the feet.
This product is rugged and stiff enough for a smooth and comfortable riding experience. Because of the value it offers for the price, it stands at the 7 th position on our list. It features a breathable mesh upper that protects your feet from excessive heat and discomfort.
The sole is made from a combination of rubber and fiber-reinforced nylon that allows you to walk comfortably and enjoy better pedaling results. There’s also a bonded toe and heel cup to reduce weather effects that gives it durability.
This Diamondback model comes with a lace closure system that provides the needed grips. You’ll appreciate the Velcro strap at the top that holds the extra laces. Also, it’s SPD compatible, but you’ll still use it with platform pedals.
Although it offers a nice fit, it’s a little heavier than most of the products on this list. Also, you’ll observe that it’s hard to adjust the laces while riding compared to the Fizik R5 (3rd choice) which has both BOA dial and strap.
Yet, this doesn’t matter to us considering its quality-to-price ratio. The price is about $60 despite the size you pick. The sizes are rated in both EU and US standards so that you’ll easily find your preferred choice.
Great with platform pedals
Reinforced toe and heel cup
Plastic and carbon outsole
Suede body with breathable upper
Not suitable for competitive rides
We’ll recommend this pair of shoes for mountain biking, long distance touring, and indoor spin classes. It’ll enable you to have more control when pedaling. You can enjoy a custom fit with the lace closure system, although it’ll be a little hard to adjust when riding. Other than some of the issues we’ve highlighted here, this item is a good choice for daily use considering its ruggedness.
Almost all cycling enthusiasts will fall in love with this one. It’s sleek, classy, and attractive making it the perfect choice for road biking. It features a classic lace closure system with seven adjustments spots for a sustainable fit.
The Giro Empire ACC comes with an Evofiber synthetic upper with holes to enhance its comfort. To complement its comfortability, the manufacturer introduces a supernatural Fit kit with adjustable arch support to reduce pressure on the feet.
The collaboration between Giro and Easton ACC results in a carbon fiber sole to deliver unrivaled performance and comfort when riding. Its greatest advantage is the one-piece seam which reduces its rate of maintenance, making it more durable than other brands on this list.
You may experience a bit tightness at first but this wasn’t a big deal to us. We noticed that you’ll get a suitable fit over time; especially if you ride often in the rain. Also, it’s equipped with a small lace garage at the tongue to prevent it from dangling into the chain.
It’s available in standard EU sizes of 41 to 44. Besides, it comes in different color combinations for you to choose from. The price ranges from $80 to $400 depending on the size you choose. It might be one of the most expensive among our top road cycling shoes, but don’t expect anything less from a product with such quality.
High-quality leather upper
One-piece upper design
Lightweight, durable and tight-knot laces
Carbon fiber sole
Superb fit and comfort
Takes time to put on
This pair is in fact, the most attractive for sale coupled with its availability in many colors. It’s mono seam design makes it the envy of almost all the models on this top list. It’s only concern is the laces which could get caught in your chain, but you shouldn’t worry since the threads can be tucked into the small loop at the tongue. Also, it’s made of high-quality materials and you'll be definitely using it for long.
Looking for the perfect blend of comfort, lightweight, ergonomics, and superb power transfer, the Fizik R4 is here for you. This model boasts of a unique volume control technology which is the reason for its name ‘the fire of competition’. The controls pull the upper across the foot instead of the sides. Besides, you can change the shape of your boots to suit your foot by adjusting the BOA control.
Added to the BOA system, are two adjustable micro-straps to ensure that it sits snugly and securely to the feet. The straps are spaced to boost its grip at the top of the foot, providing better comfort and confidence.
The heel is given a cuplike shape to relieve pressure while enhancing fitness and security. Also, it’s equipped with a carbon fiber outsole which is stiff enough for optimum performance. The cuts on the sole create better aerodynamics for an easy ride. It’s meant for use with road cleats/pedals. So, it may not work with most SPD pedals.
The upper is made from microfiber which is light and flexible enough for the perfect racing experience. Still, the diamond-shaped perforations help to stabilize the inner temperature. It’s also available in sizes ranging from 44 to 48.
It also costs around $100 to $240 - relatively more expensive than our top pick.
BOA and straps closure system
Light and flexible upper
Vented sole and breathable top
Shaped heel cup and insole support
Quick and easy adjustment
Unsuitable with SPD pedals
This item represents beauty, speed, and passion, making it ideal for competitive cycling. Another great thing with this one is the advanced closure system that adapts to the foot size for better comfort and output. Although it was not highly rated like our top pick, you’ll always be happy for its superb craftsmanship.
If you’re interested in a pair of clean, modern, and versatile cycling shoes; this pair is for you. It comes with a cleat mount system that’s universal, letting you use 2 or 3-bolt cleat patterns.
Its upper part is made of high-quality synthetic fiber with breathable mesh that helps to prevent moisture accumulation on your feet. It has the same strap design with the Giro Techne (4th pick). The three wide straps offer a precise fit and adjust quickly when putting on.
As with other top cycling shoes, this model is equipped with an anti-microbial Eva footbed that helps enhance your hygiene for better living while reducing pressure on the foot. Besides, it delivers a comfortable feel on both indoor and road rides. However, you may not have many choices by size, since it’s only available in sizes 41 and 42.
It's only disadvantage is that the green covering on the upper scrapes off with any minor scratch or abrasion. However, this is by no means a deal-breaker since it’s a matter of handling and care. It’s sold around $60 to $100 - the same as other mid-range shoes on this list.
Aegis anti-microbial treatment
Universal cleat mount
Molded Eva footbed with medium arch support
Classic 3-strap closure
Injected nylon sole
The green color peels-off when it rubs on the road.
With every release from Giro, you’re certain of getting a good quality product. Although it may not come with the popular BOA dial like other top models we’ve got, it fits well and looks good on feet. Its comfortability and dependability make it the ideal choice for both new and advanced riders.
During our market research, we came across hundreds of noteworthy road cycle shoe manufacturers and not all of them made it to our final list. However, here is a list of mentionable brands and their popular models to look for if you are in to further market research:
Trek (popular lineups- Bontrager Solstice, Bontrager Espresso), Bont (Riot+, Reflex, Helix, Vaypor S), Shimano (RC7, RP5, RP2, RT4, RC9, RW5, R088, R065 Wide, Dynalast, XC7 and RP9), Vittoria (1976 EVO), Venzo, Lake (CX Wide, CX 176, CX402, CX176 and CX237), Pearl Izumi, Specialized (S WORKS 7, and Comp), Sidebike, LIV, Sidi (Wire 2 Carbon Air, Ergo 4 Shot, 49, and Genius 7), Mavic (Cosmic Pro), Suplest, Gravel, Northwave (Flash TH), Santic, Scott, and Gaerne.
So, why should I get a pair of cycling shoes? Let’s quickly check the benefits.
Improve cycling experience
Better foot to pedal connection
Enhanced control on rides
Increased pedal stroke power and efficiency
Many believe that good cycling shoes are only by appearance and comfort. Yet, you can’t enjoy the perfect ride if there’s no efficiency. Riding with a fashionable pair of shoes will help to boost your confidence and sense of attractiveness but will not improve your performance. As I mentioned earlier, your footwear can determine your biking efficiency since it transfers your leg movements to the pedals and the wheels.
Also, if you’re a type that prefers endurance to speed, using the perfect boot will help you to cover more distances with little effort compared to wearing a less comfortable pair. This also means that shoes that are either too tight or loose will slow down your abilities on the road as well as your growth in skills.
Road Cycling Shoes - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
You will get the best out of your purchase only if you can choose the right cycling shoes when buying. Keep the following things into account and make an informed buying decision.
1. Comfort & Color
Don’t forget that you’ll be wearing this pair for at least 3 or more if you’re on a distant tour. So, you’ll need one that'll deliver the right fit and comfort despite the distance, duration of the training, and weather. The shoes should have mesh or holes to keep your feet warm or cool depending on the environment.
Besides, it mustn’t have specific hurting points and must be adjustable to suit conditions like hill climbing, temperature change, and sprinting.
Getting your perfect fit shouldn’t be a problem since you easily google the size charts when in doubt. Make sure your shoes that make your toes free, snug your mid and forefoot while keeping your heel down when on an upstroke. Besides, the wrap and closure system should be good enough to support your arch effectively.
Color is another important aspect you should focus on. Your get up and bike color should match the color of your shoes for a better visual appeal. Most common colors include white, blue, red, green, pink, yellow, black, orange and chrome.
2. Sole Material
Many cycling experts use carbon soles since they’re light and stiff, resulting in better performance. Since many beginners want comfort more than performance, their cycling shoes feature cheap plastic soles with less stiffness but extra weight.
It’s important to strike a balance between stiffness and comfort when buying because extreme stiffness causes numbness and discomfort. You’ll have the opportunity to choose the stiffness level of the sole by looking at its carbon rating.
3. Closure System
You may wish to know why closure systems are different? It’s simply to help you to tighten and loosen in a manner that suits your cycling style. While you’ll wear some shoes with ease, you’ll spend more time before getting a good fit with others. For example, if you’re racing, you’ll want to get on fast, so, you’ll need one with an easy closure system. Depending on whether your bike pedal has a clip or clipless design, certain closure systems may work better than the others.
The four major closure system types include:
BOA Dials: Most high-performance and expensive shoes come with dials which you’ll turn to tighten or loosen the ropes. They’re very useful for competition and also easier to replace.
Velcro strap: you’ll want to buy the Velcro strap types since they’re lightweight and less prone to damage even after repeated use. It’s more durable than BOA dials; but not very accurate.
Laces: They may not be as popular as others but they’re very light and easy to replace. However, it’s only suitable for recreational use since you’ll spend more time on adjustments.
Ratchet buckles: These are being replaced by BOA dials although they’re more durable and sturdy. You’ll likely experience a little delay when preparing to hit the road. Also, it’s replacement upon damage is very difficult and you might need a new one each time.
4. Cleat & Pedal System
This one is very important. There’re three types to choose from depending on your pedal.
SPD (2 holes): These are ideal for tours, commuting, and mountain rides. They’re similar to regular shoes since they're designed to help you walk with ease.
SPD (3 holes): Many biking enthusiasts prefer them since they’re more stable and efficient. It’s wider in design to help convey more power from the legs to the pedals.
Speedplay (4 holes): This system is very scarce on the market and if you already have a 3-hole cleat, you’ll need a base plate to help convert it to 4 holes.
Almost all biking shoes have small holes for the escape of moisture from the feet which in turn helps to cool your feet when the weather is hot. These holes are found on both the upper and the sole.
The cheapest bike shoes are around $70 while the expensive one falls into the $300 range. So, when looking for a good bargain, you can opt for mid-range boots which are made with both plastic and carbon soles which cost between $100 to $290.
Caring for Your Cycling Shoe
The sight and smell of new shoes always brighten your day and make you want to hit the road any time you get the chance. However, the frenzy wanes when your boots start losing those sparkling looks due to accumulation of dirt. Yet, you can enjoy that new buy for long if you keep the following cleaning tips.
Step 1 – Cleaning
Luckily, cleaning your shoes is pretty simple. First, remove dirt and dust using a soft toothbrush (new or old can perform the task). Don’t rub the surface too hard, to keep it from damaging. Then, apply a leather cleaner, but ensure it’s completely dry before polishing.
Step 2 – Conditioning
This is very important since it’ll soften your leather shoes and prevent cracks that might mar its looks. Rub the piece with the conditioner and then leave it for about 10 minutes to dry. Also, you may wipe off any leftover lotion using a soft cloth.
Step 3 – Polishing
Dip a damp cloth into the polish and then rub the boot slowly, moving in circles to create more layers. Ensure that the color of the polish is the same as your shoes. You may use a colorless polish if you can’t find a suitable one for your footwear. Then, leave it in the open for a few minutes to dry.
Step 4 – Buffing
After the polish is completely dry, make a final wipe on the shoes using a clean soft cloth. This will give the surface a new and shining look.
Step 5 – Water-resist coverage
This will help to shield your cycling shoes from water as it’ll form a thin film on the surface.
A Word from GearbikesReview
This buying guide is packed with lots of information to show you the proper way to navigate the worlds of cycling shoes. You can compare their features, prices, and ratings to know which product to buy depending on your needs and budget.
If you’re new to biking and would want to advance in skills before spending much on a boot, our budget choice is the preferred option. Our women’s choice is also great. But, if you’re yet to decide, our number one choice is always around to satisfy your needs.
However, you can’t go wrong when choosing any of our top 10 best road cycling shoes, since they’re unique in many ways. So, always pay attention to your desires; because when you know what you want, choosing the product(s) will be easy.
Here at Gearbikesreview we also reviewed other bike accessories that you might want to check out:
Here at Gearbikesreview, we believe that biking is an expression of who we really are - a group of fanatic riders, bike designers, professional mechanics, and adventurers who’ve been riding different types of bikes and experimenting on improving the overall experience for the past two decades. We use this platform to share our professional insights, riding skills, and industry expertise with the serious cyclists out there.Read More