Road cycling is an excellent way to stay in shape, get to work or see the world, and save the planet all at the same time, but to ensure you can handle such long distances in total comfort and stability, you need the best road cycling shoes to make every ride the best one yet.
Road cycling is not the same as the cycling you did when you were a kid, and you can’t just throw on your sneakers and hit the road. Just like if you wanted to get serious about running, you need the right gear, and as much as having a great road bike is essential, so is having the right cycling shoes. These specialized shoes provide arch support, they are secure and breathable, and they’re, comfortable, too. Without them, you risk falling far behind the leading pack.
The Best Road Cycling Shoe
The pacesetter for the best road cycling shoes is the Gavin Elite which is affordable for beginners but still suitable for experienced riders, even if they just want a casual practice pair. These shoes promote breathability with air flow vents, and are easy to adjust with the micro buckle. They are also compatible with Look and SPD cleats, making them almost universal for all clipless pedals. Make sure you also check our guide to the best running shoe for shin splints.
Micro adjustable buckle
Nylon fiberglass sole
- Weight2.2 pounds
Compatible with Look, SPD, SPD-R, and SPD-SL cleats
True to size
Easy to put on and take off
Ratchet strap is not durable
The durable Shimano SH-RP2W Women’s cycling shoes use velcro straps for easy wear and removable and boast a scratch-resistant upper to handle miles of wear. Like the Gavin Elite, they are an excellent entry-level option and they also offer a comfortable fit for most foot widths. They look and feel a little cheap, but if you’re going fast enough, who’s going to care?
Removable foam insole
- Weight1.75 pounds
Ideal for entry-level cyclists
Fit neither too narrow nor too wide
Cheap look and feel
The highly versatile Louis Garneau Women’s Multi Air Flex delivers fantastic performance for both spin classes and the real thing through vented breathability and a roomy toe box among a plethora of other features. The deep treads enhance traction, making them more than a mere road bike and suitable for walking, too. The clips don’t come included, but they’re on the cheaper end of cycling shoes, so we’ll let this slide. You may also like to check our guide to the best golf shoes.
- BrandLouis Garneau
- Weight4 pounds
Suitable for spin class, road biking, and walking
Roomy toe box
Clips not included
Although the Shimano SH-RP1 Men’s uses a simple velcro closure, it still provides an effective and reliable experience with comfort and stability. The ergonomic fit is one of the finest around, while it’s intake and exhaust system keeps your feet cool and dry on long rides. It may run a little narrow for some, but for the lucky ones it fits just right, you can get a lot out of this, and the included clips are just a bonus, but we’re sure you’ll take it.
Hook and loop closure
Intake and exhaust system
- Weight10 ounces
Compatible with SPD and SDL-SL
Run slightly narrow for some
Attempting to defy science itself, the Fizik R5 provides balanced comfort and a consistent fit that your cycling spandex could only dream of. This modern, sleek cycling shoe is perfect for those who want to turn heads but it’s also effective with perhaps the smoothest power transfer around and a durable construction to hold up for ride after ride after ride, although you might find it isn’t as breathable as other options around. Our handy guide to the best running shoes for wide feet features more great products like this.
Carbon reinforced nylon
- Weight8.8 ounces
Accomplished, high-quality feel
Smooth power transfer
Not as breathable as other options
The Giro Apeckx II uses a combination of ratchet and velcro fastening to provide an excellent fit, even if it might be a little too tight in the toe box. The welded and bonded upper ensures durability and the Dupont Zytel nylon sole boasts a 3-bolt mount for clipless riding at its finest, even if you prefer spin classes to road biking. However, it’s one of the most popular cycling shoes around, so get it while you still can.
Welded and bonded upper
Medium arch support
Dupont Zytel nylon
- Weight3 pounds
Ideal for spin classes
Tight fit in the toe box
With an array of features you’ll only find in the best of the best road cycling shoes around, the Specialized S-Works 7 is our premium pick and the perfect option for experienced riders looking to add the final piece to their riding puzzle. The BOA dials ensure easy adjustment, while the arch support is arguably the greatest around. It delivers exceptional power transfer and with a secure fit (perhaps too secure) you’re guaranteed marvelous control. Be sure to also check out our list of the best running shoes for wide feet for more great items like this.
Longitudinal arch support
Built-in foot, knee, and hip alignment
Pressure relief system
- Weight15.8 ounces
Exceptional power transfer
Slip-proof Padlock heel
Fit might be a little too secure
If you’re a beginner looking for road bike shoes that won’t set you back too much, the Tommaso Veloce 100 Triathlon are an excellent place to look. They are breathable, lightweight, and help to increase your power with every push. Ideal for the triathlon, they are also one of the more versatile options around, further proving their fantastic value. The sole is a little slim, which makes them hard to adjust, so make sure they’re secured tight before setting off.
- BrandTommaso Veloce
- Weight2.55 pounds
Excellent price and great value
Compatible with SDL-SL cleats
Slim sole makes it a little difficult to adjust cleats
With thick lugs, the Pearl iZUMi Men’s All Road V4 look as if they might weight you down, but you’ll find it’s very much the opposite. These lightweight shoes provide superb comfort without sacrificing breathability and also help to minimize the pressure around the foot for all-day wear. These shoes are excellent for beginner cyclists with a basic design, but such a design also means they’re probably a little below more advanced riders. Love this product? Check out our review of the best running shoes for flat feet for our top picks.
Bonded seamless upper
Longitudinal arch support
- Weight1 pound
Lugged rubber outsole for traction
May be too basic for advanced cyclists
Another excellent entry-level shoe is the Louis Garneau Women’s Jade which delivers everything first-timers need from their cycling shoes. The Jade is comfortable, breathable, and aerodynamic and a cheeky reflective heel ensures safety if you’re riding at night. Some may not enjoy the lack of flexibility, but with clipless cycling, this is a good thing.
Improved arch support
- BrandLouis Garneau
- Weight1 pound
Compatible with SPD pedals
Secure velcro closure
Offer little flexibility
The Giro Techne are another option on the lower end of the price scale, but this shouldn’t cause you to turn your nose up at them, and they represent fantastic value for money, especially if you’re looking for a shoe that delivers great power transfer. There’s more to it than this, though, and the universal cleat compatibility is our favorite thing about them, while the secure fit and nylon sole rounds off the who thing. However, they aren’t as durable as we’d like and may fall apart quicker than you expect. If you are into sports, check out our guide to the best running sandals.
Hook and loop strap closure
Universal cleat compatibility
Injected nylon sole
- Weight1.9 pounds
Good value for money
Increased power transfer
Seam is not as durable as other options
Using a hybrid of mesh, TPU, and synthetic materials, the Specialized Torch 3.0 provides a lightweight and ergonomic fit perfect for passionate road bikers who are not yet willing to make the leap to the premium options. They come with a 3-bolt cleat pattern and ensure excellent power transfer, while the BOA system makes them easy to wear and remove. However, while they are good, they aren’t anything too special, and you’re likely to find similar quality elsewhere at a more affordable price.
3-bolt cleat pattern
Mesh, TPU, and synthetic upper
- Weight8.7 ounces
Excellent power transfer
Good, secure fit
BOA closure system
You can find similar quality at a cheaper price
With a BOA closure and 3-bolt cleat system, the Fizik UOMO BOA are efficient and high performing to maximize your enjoyment whenever you get onto the streets. We’ll tell you now they run half a size too large so you make no mistakes ordering and enjoy all the benefits of a lightweight, durable, and breathable shoe that could make others mistake you for a pro. They’re also easy to adjust, and the aerodynamic construction allows you to glide past everyone else with ease. For the sporty ones among you we have prepared a selection of the best cross training shoes so check them out.
3-bolt cleat system
Laser perforated Microtex
- Weight8.8 ounces
Easy to adjust
Run half a size too large
The Scott Men’s Road Comp BOA is one of the coolest shoes we’ve come across, and here at Shoe Hero, you can trust we’ve seen quite a few. They’re more than just a pretty face, though, and the BOA strap makes them easy to adjust, while the wrap fit design conforms to your foot to provide optimal comfort. They run half a size too large, so be careful of that, and when you do, you’ll get a stable and lightweight shoe that will complete your look like little else.
BOA closure strap
PU and 3D mesh upper
Wrap fit design
- Weight2.37 pounds
Easy to adjust
Stiff but not too stiff
Runs half a size too large
The Fizik Women’s R4 is one of the more secure options around thanks to the dual closure design for top quality control and performance on your bike. The carbon vented outsole ensures a lightweight feel to reduce fatigue, and the laser perforated Microtex upper ensures a breathability that will keep your feet feeling fresh. Even though they’re white, they’re easy to clean if you know what you’re doing, and the fit is superb, even if the sole feels like it curves a little too much.
BOA and micro strap closure system
Laser perforated Microtex
3-bolt road cleat system
Carbon vented outsole
- Weight8.8 ounces
Easy to clean
True to size fit
Bottom of shoe curves too much
If you’re looking for the perfect pair of cyclocross shoes, the Sidi Genius 7 MEGA may be the answer. Unlike other options, these wide cycling shoes accommodate our bulkier-footed friends so no one feels left out the next time we all head out on a bike ride. The high-quality construction means you’ll get plenty of mileage out of them and they’re comfortable enough to wear all day. You may need to swap out the insoles for something better suited to your foot, but if that’s the only problem we can find, we’d say you’re onto a winner.
Ratcheting buckle and hook and loop closure
3-bolt road cleat compatibility
Millennium 4 carbon composite sole
- Weight3 pounds
Suitable for all day wear
May need to switch out insoles
Our final pick of the finest bike shoes in the land are the Venzo Cycling SH-R01 which are great for hot and sweaty days thanks to their quick-drying design and breathable mesh to ensure all day comfort. They are also compatible with SPD and Look pedal systems for those looking to get into clipless riding and even come with a set of cleats to get you started.
Compatible with SPD, SPD-SL, and Look KEO pedal systems
- Weight2.5 pounds
1 set of cleats included
Easy to adjust
A little on the heavy side
Road Cycling Shoes Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of Road Cycling Shoes
Brand - A quality hobby such as road cycling demands quality shoes, and by researching which brands are the best around, we identified products for our selection suitable for both experienced cyclists and beginners. The brands we chose deliver superb specialized shoes no matter your experience level.
Reviews - We don’t have the time to try these shoes for over 100 mile rides, and even if we did, we never seem to get around to fixing our punctured tyres. It’s a good job we have reviews to give us the ins and outs of what makes a road cycling shoe worth having while also letting us know any issues to look out for.
Price - Yeah, cycling can be an expensive hobby, but if you’re serious about getting started, you need to cough up the dough. However, we want to appeal to as many riders old and new as possible, so we ensured we selected products with a range of prices to fit all budgets and demands.
Features To Look For In Road Cycling Shoes
Comfort - Whether you need casual or touring cycling shoes, comfort is a massive factor to think about. Just like any shoe, it’s likely you’ll wear your cycling shoes all day, and if they are not comfortable, it can ruin your ride and hinder your performance, look for padded collars and insoles and you’ll never struggle.
Fit - It’s important your shoe is snug around the heel but also offers some room around the toe box to prevent cramping and to increase stability. Also ensure there is no large empty areas or overlapping of the material when bent, as this shows the shoe is too large for you and will not provide the performance necessary. A bad fitting shoe is almost as bad as wearing no shoes at all, so don’t just accept the wrong shoe because you don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning it.
Width Sizes - To achieve the right fit, check the width sizes of your potential cycling shoe to best accommodate your feet. These sizes are B, C, D, E, EE, and EEE.
B is the slimmest shoe width, whereas EE and EEE are the widest. You will find these shoes are often referred to as MEGA shoes and add an extra 4mm to the width to ensure comfort for wide feet.
Fastening System - There are a variety of fastening systems your shoes might have, and each of them has their advantages but also their disadvantages, too.
Velcro - A velcro closure system is fast, efficient, and straightforward. It saves you time and makes it simple to put on and take off. However, some cyclists believe it doesn’t provide the security of other fastening systems, and the velcro can be difficult to clean or even be inefficient if it gets wet or dirty.
Velcro is sometimes used as a secondary fastening system to complement ratchet and BOA or Dial closures.
Ratchet - The ratchet style is a clip that fastens the top of your shoe near the tongue to keep it secure. Sometimes, this system is combined with velcro. It is quick and easy, however, if your shoes are too small to begin with, it could end up with your foot cramping during longer rides.
Laces - The traditional lacing system allows you to tie the shoes to your preferred comfort, but it is not very efficient. This is fine if you are taking a casual ride, but for competitive road cycling, you will lose time if you need to re-tie your laces if they come undone. The loops of the laces can also get caught in the bike frame or chain, which you certainly don’t want to happen.
BOA / Dial - The BOA / Dial fastening is the premium system and if possible is the style you should get with your preferred cycling shoe. It allows you to wind the dial to find the right comfortable fit without being too tight or too loose, while also being easy to adjust the longer your ride goes on. This is essential for maintaining comfort and will make your ride much more enjoyable.
If you’re taking a break, you can simply unscrew them to give your feet a breather, and the straightforward system means you won’t hold the rest of your group up when everyone’s ready to continue.
Soles - Most cycling shoes have flat soles, but for clip in bike shoes, the soles are more textured to accommodate cleats. There’s more to it than this, though, so also look for soles that provide a little flexibility but not too much as you will miss out on energy transfer. The quality of the sole will affect the price, and stiffer soles crafted with carbon fiber are the premium level.
Material - Lightweight synthetic materials are most common, but for better quality options, carbon fiber is widely used. Depending on where you ride, consider how waterproof the shoe is while also thinking about how the material will make your foot feel during and after a long ride.
Breathability - Much like comfort and fit, breathability is another vital factor to consider when searching for your next pair of bike shoes. To prevent hot spots and overheating, the shoes must have vents to regulate air flow and keep your feet cool and dry, which will not just keep your energy up but also ensure better comfort in the long run, or should we say the long ride?
Durability - A durable shoe will save you spending money on replacements every other month. This durability is down to the construction and is necessary for ensuring miles upon miles of successful rides without worrying whether your sole will fall off before you reach the end of your street.
Compatibility - It’s imperative the shoes you selected are compatible with the bike cleats you use. There are some shoes which boast universal compatibility, whereas others will only be suitable for specific cleats. To ensure you find the correct pair to match your cleats, check the product descriptions or contact the manufacturer if this information is not available.
Types Of Road Cycling Shoes
Flat Pedal - The standard pedal you find on mosts bikes you’ve used since you first learned to ride, the flat pedal is the more traditional design. These are the pedals that spin around on the bar and have grip along the foot area to keep your feet secure.
Clipless - Let’s just get one thing straight, clip in and clipless cycling shoes mean exactly the same thing. Don’t ask us why, we don’t make the rules, but we get how it can be confusing, especially to beginners. Also, don’t be fooled by the name, despite the -less suffix, they do actually clip in, hence why you might sometimes hear people talking about clip in shoes while discussing clipless. Are you confused? Don’t be, you’ll get it, eventually.
Anyway, clipless cycling shoes work using a dual system that first uses a small pedal with a locking system and then a cleat which you attach to the sole of your bike shoe. These connect, and you get a secure, comfortable connection to keep you stable on your bike.
Unlike flat pedals, there’s no chance of your foot slipping when it’s wet, and despite the smaller surface area of the clip-in (or clipless, or whatever) pedal, you also get better stability.
Road Cycling Shoe FAQ
Q: Are clipless pedals and shoes better for cycling?
A: If you’re new to road biking and want to know the ins and outs of which style of shoe and pedal is better for you, there’s a chance you are wondering whether clipless pedals and shoes are better for cycling. To give you a better idea of what’s what, we’ve identified the three things you should think about when trying to decide whether clipless pedals and shoes are for you.
Power Transfer - The power transfer of clipless pedals is far greater than that of flat pedals. Because your foot is secure to the pedal, there is always a consistent amount of power focused in that area with no loss of energy you get when your foot leaves the flat pedal.
Efficiency - This power transfer ties in with efficiency perfectly. Unlike flat pedals, which can only utilize the down stroke to generate energy, clipless pedals allow you to maximize the strength of your legs - particularly your hamstrings - on upward strokes, too. This increases efficiency by enduring none of your motion is wasted, and while it may take a while to master, you’ll never want to go back once you do.
Bike Handling - By being clipped-in you’re granted better stability on your bike, allowing you move even control to improve the bike’s handling and ensuring a smoother ride. Because the bike becomes what is essentially an extension of yourself (like skis or snowboards) you can maneuver more efficiently to avoid sudden hazards.
Clipless bikes are not entirely perfect, though, and we wouldn’t recommend using them in heavy traffic as you risk holding up those behind you as you need to unclip every time you stop. They can also be difficult to master, so when you do make the switch, practice somewhere you won’t hurt yourself when you topple over, and trust us, you will topple over.
Q: Do cycling shoes break in?
A: Road cycling shoes do not break in much compared to other shoes like hiking boots or runnings. However, we still advise you to wear them around the house as this will give you a chance to get a decent idea of how they will feel when you finally hit the streets.
Some cycling shoes have an anti-stretch design, which prevents them expanding too much, but considering you want the shoes to feel secure (more on that soon), this is a good thing rather than a bad thing. If your shoes are not stiff enough, you risk losing the energy transfer required for a successful ride.
Q: How tight should cycling shoes be?
A: To provide the necessary stability, security, and control, your cycling shoes should be tight, but not too tight. The golden rule is to look for shoes which have room in the toe box but still feel secure around your heel. This gives you the optimal performance necessary for rides both long and short,
The last thing you want is for the shoes to be too tight when you’re already on your way and it’s too far for you to turn back and call it a day.
A: Do cycling shoes run true to size?
As with all shoes, how close they run to size will vary. Some shoes are a size too small, others a size too big, while there are some shoes which sit somewhere in between too large or small and just right. If you’re unsure about the fit, it’s advised to look at the fit description on the product page and also consult reviews to compare how other customers rate the fit.
- Anatomy Of A Cycling Shoe - MapMyRun
- Flat vs Clipless Pedals - Experience Plus
- Why You Should Switch To Clipless Pedals - Gizmodo
- How Should A Well Fit Cycling Shoe Feel And Other Considerations - Fitwerx