Buying Guide: Cycling Shoes



Historically, cycling companies have made the top women’s product in a given line a step below the top men’s counterpart. Thankfully, that’s started to change, and the best bike shoes of 2017 show that.

1) Fizik R5B Donna BOA Shoe | 2) Mavic Ksyrium Elite Road Cycling Shoe | 3) Pearl Izumi Women’s RD IV Cycling Shoe | 4) Pearl Izumi Women’s X-Project 2.0 Cycling Shoe | 5) Louis Garneau Women’s Cycling Shoe | 6) Giro Junction Women’s MTB Shoes | 7) Sidi Dominator 7 | 8) Smartodoors Cycling Shoes | 9) Shimano Women’s SH-WM53 MTB Shoes | 10) Shimano SH-RP2 Women’s Touring Road Cycling Shoes | 11) Pearl Izumi Select RD IV Cycling Shoe | 12) Gavin Road Cycling Shoe Shimano SPD |

Not sure what sort of shoe is right for you? Check out our cycling shoes buying guide for all the info you’ll need.

Road Cycling Shoes

Road cycling shoes are made to make you go faster. It’s as simple as that.

They have incredibly stiff soles to ensure maximum power output and pedalling efficiency – they’re usually made of plastic or carbon. The sole will be baby-bum smooth and the cleats, when installed, will stand very proud of the shoe.

Both of these factors make them incredibly difficult to walk in when off the bike.

They’ll also tend to have a lot of mesh and holes to keep your feet fully ventilated while you’re riding the Tour of California. Obviously.

Cleats

Most road shoes will have a three-bolt cleat mount, meaning they are compatible with road pedals like Shimano SPD-L, Time and Look. If you want to use a different pedal system, it’s best to read all the information about the shoes you’re buying so you can be sure you’ll be able to make it work. You can read our Beginners Guide to Road Pedals here.

Fastenings

Your road shoes are most likely to be fastened with buckles, velcro or BOA lacing. BOA is interesting because it’s so light and is minimises the amount of contact points. The other options mainly fall down to personal preference. Just make sure to try on a number of different shoes so you know what you prefer.

Mountain Biking Shoes

Mountain bike shoes are all about compromise – maintaining the efficiency of pedalling offered by road shoes, but with extras that enable you to actually walk in them.

For one, the soles won’t be quite so rigid, allowing for more natural walking. Secondly, they have grips on the sole that provide a platform away from the cleat that you can walk on.

Cleats

Mountain bike cleats work with two bolt shoes and are not compatible with road bike systems. The most popular MTB clipless systems are Shimano SPD, Look and Time MTB.

What to consider

MTB shoes have a lot to do with what kind of riding you do – if you ride off-road competitively, for instance, you’ll want a stiffer sole that’s more similar to a road shoe. But if you love getting off your bike to clamber over obstacles, you’ll need to be able to walk like a real person.

The kind of riding you do will also effect the level of ventilation you choose: those who love the mud will probably prefer winter shoes that minimise the likelihood of wet feet!

Triathlon Shoes

Triathlon shoes are essentially road shoes, but they’re designed to be incredibly easy to take off so the transition between your bike and your running shoes.

Look for elements like velcro and loops of fabric on the ankle to help you pull these off at lightning speed!

These are also three bolt shoes, like road shoes, due to the fact they use the same cleat systems.

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Sport Reviewer