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 thurst 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.
Why You Should Trust Us
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 lead 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, 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 detailed reviews on each of them which you'll find in the next section.
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 distictive features.
Other Good Brands & Tested Products
During our market research, we came across hundreds of noteworhy 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 lineup- Bontrager Solstice, Bontrager Espresso), Bont (popular lineup- Riot+, Reflex, Helix, Vaypor S), Shimano (popular models- RC7, RP5, RP2, RT4, RC9, RW5, R088, R065 Wide, Dynalast, XC7 and RP9), Vittoria (popular model- 1976 EVO), Venzo, Lake (popular series- CX Wide, CX 176, CX402, CX176 and CX237), Pearl Izumi, Specialized (most popular models- S WORKS 7, and Comp), Sidebike, LIV, Sidi (popular models- Wire 2 Carbon Air, Ergo 4 Shot, 49, and Genius 7), Mavic (Cosmic Pro), Suplest, Gravel, Northwave (popular model- Flash TH), Santic, Scott, and Gaerne.
The Importance of Shoes in Road Cycling
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 persons 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 is 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 with 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. Ensure that you get shoes that makes 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 you bike pedal has a clip or clipless design, certain closure system 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 it’s designed to help you to 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.
The sight and smell of new shoes always brighten your day and make you want to hit the road any time you got 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.
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:
a) Best Bike Shorts
b) Best Bike Computers
c) Best Bike Lights
d) Best Bike Water Bottles
e) Best Bike Trainers