10 Best Cycling Shoes Reviewed and Compared
These shoes will help you perform better on your bike by clipping into your pedals so that you and your bike become one. This helps more of your power transfer to your pedals so you can ride faster with less fatigue. They also fit well on your feet, giving you the stability you need so that you don't want to waste power and energy. We've also included a few pairs that don't clip in so that there is an option for every preference.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 16 hrs of research
- Great performance with features packed together for an affordable price
- Comfortable, with a snug and adjustable fit
- Easy to adjust
- Lots of support, especially at the heel
- Fizik R5B Uomo Boa
- Shimano SHR065 Road
- Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II
- Five Ten Freerider Pro
- Giro Empire SLX
- Giro Empire E70 Knit
- Pearl Izumi Pro Leader v4
- Shimano SH-RP2 Touring
- Louis Garneau Multi Air Flex
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Cycling Shoes
1. Fizik R5B Uomo Boa
- Great performance with features packed together for an affordable price
- Comfortable, with a snug and adjustable fit
- Easy to adjust
- Lots of support, especially at the heel
- Not as lightweight as other options
- Micro adjustments slightly lacking
This pair is among the best of the best when it comes to high-quality road footwear. They are easy to adjust, supportive in the heel, are durable, and best of all have a great price. It has all the important features cyclists need including being super comfortable and has the right combination of rigidness and flexibility with a nylon-carbon composite sole. It performs well with keeping a great pedaling technique while transferring max power. Overall, it’s a great option for both beginners and seasoned cyclist who don’t want to sacrifice performance for a mid-range price.Read more
Take a look at this pair and it just has that powerful and sleek appearance. And its look goods is backed up by how well it performs. The R5B has a Microfiber upper that is durable to meet the demands of racing, yet flexible, comfortable and lightweight. This material has tiny, diamond-shaped perforations that provide ventilation so that feet stay dry. It is equipped with Boa did controls, as well as micro straps at the bottom for a more snug fit. It also has a reflective strip on the back of the heel for increased visibility when riding at night or in inclement weather.
Fi'zi:k R5B Uomo Boa has ample padding with a soft liner that is smooth. It is aerodynamic, with a snug and comfortable fit, with the Boa dial on the side to eliminate pressure points. The company’s Cycling Insole has a sculpted footbed and supportive heel. Because the sole isn’t fully carbon, it does make it slightly heavier than other options. However, it isn’t heavy and the weight is a fair trade for its amount of cushioning and flexibility that put comfort in the forefront.
This option has a 4-anchor dual Boa Dial, along with a velcro toe strap. The Boa iP1A closure calls for quick adjustments, and makes the foot really feel secure. Turning the dial adjusts the shape volume-wise, calling for a more custom and tight fit.
It has a carbon reinforced nylon outsole that is designed aerodynamically to transfer the maximum amount of power. Even though it's not made fully of carbon, it is very stiff and stable, great for really sprinting it out on the bike. Along with its rigidness, it provides great support, keeping the heel securely in place to reduce lifting and shifting. This means more power and energy to directed right to the pedals for a more efficient stroke. It also has a low stack height to be close to the pedals
2. Shimano SHR065 Road
- Affordable without sacrificing performance
- Good power transfer
- Compatible with indoor and outdoor bikes
- Super comfortable
- Great for triathlons
- Velcro straps not as adjustable as dials
The SHR065 footwear is known for how well it performs, ideal for both road riding and commuting while offering comfort, durability and a great fit. It has a fiberglass-reinforced polyamide sole that is lightweight, and a dual hook-and-loop closure for easily getting them on and off. This pair is wider, which means it fits wells with various pedals and has a 2- and 3-hole cleat design. Best of all is this footwear is available for an affordable price.Read more
This pair is sleek and stylish, featuring a dual hook-and-loop strap closure. It has a synthetic leather upper that has mesh layers and an integrated air intake and exhaust system for moisture control and breathability. The sole is flexible, making it fit well across different foot shapes. It is compatible with 2- and 3-bolt cleats, with a wider cleat range so it fits nicely with a range of pedals (although best with PD-R550, PD-R540, PD-540-LA, PD-A520 options.)
The Shimano SHR065 have plenty of cushioning, making them score very high on the comfort scale. The insole is flat and there is underfoot cushioning for a more pillowy feel that makes this a great option for beginners. The loop straps are also more comfortable than dials. Overall, there is lots of ventilation keeping the feet nice and dry.
Because of its dual hook-and-loop straps, the consumer can quickly and easily make adjustments. This system also keeps the foot nice and secure, although precise micro adjustments dials provide aren’t available here.
For its affordable price, cyclists will be shocked by how well these perform when it comes to pedaling efficiency. This pair has a fiberglass-reinforced sole that is nice and stiff. It’s intake and exhaust system proves a more energy-efficient upstroke for a smooth ride. As mentioned before it is SPF-SL and SPD compatible for both indoor and road biking, with the cleats sold separately.
Great set for beginners
Well-made for how affordable they are
Some users had durability issues
This is a great pair of cycling shoes for beginners as they are a great value that's a lot less expensive than other options but are still fully featured and comfortable. They are breathable and quick drying and compatible with just about every type of pedal system on the market. Most reviewers liked them and found them to be well made but a few users had durability issues.Read more
These can be used with road or mountain bikes, it just depends on what pedal system you have. They are compatible with SPD, SPD SL, and the LOOK KEO systems.
Users liked how these conformed to their feet and found them to run true to size.
These are well-designed and wearable on long rides. The removeable sock-liner is a nice touch that enhances this factor.
These are about mid-range for this list in this factor, coming in at 21 oz.
Like most clip-in shoes these will enhance your pedaling power and performance, and also allow you to develop a better cadence and rhythm. A couple of users noted that before using them you should be sure to adjust the release tension which comes from the factory set to the lowest setting.
4. Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II
- Carbon fiber soles are super stiff with great perform transfer
- Very comfortable, and ultra-lightweight
- Easy to adjust
- Normally made for wider fit, but slightly narrow fit
This is a supportive shoe that won’t slip once on when taking that spin class. It fits well while keeping the heel in place thanks to its plastic reinforcement. The Cosmic Ultimate II has a Ergo Dial fasteners that makes it easy to adjust without fussing with laces. It has plenty of ventilation in the mid-section, and has a Energy Full Carbon SLR sole, which scores a 100/100 on Mavic's energy transfer index.Read more
Lightweight, thin and a favorite among many professional riders, the Cosmic Ultimate II has an upper section that swaps stitches for bonding to provide for ventilation. It has a supportive instep, with dials on the side to avoid hot spots. It is equipped with a full carbon sole that is super stiff, and has a 3-hole design.
Comfort is in the forefront with this option because of its high-quality Ortholite insole that provides ample cushioning. It has Ergo Fit 3D + with a padding on the tongue. Overall, there is ample breathability throughout the shoe.
This model has two Mavic Ergo Dials that fall off to the sides (with the top one connecting to the padded tongue) that allows for two-way micro adjustment with precise retention. It also has a Smart Release function that makes the dials easy to release. This all adds to a tight fit that is firm and secure.
The Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II has an Energy Full Carbon SLP outsole that is ultra-stiff, performing the best on the Index Energy Transfer scale for optimal power transfer. This is thanks to the think sole that keeps the feet has close to the pedal as possible, while the frame keeps that foot in place, with ample support to lock down the heel.
5. Five Ten Freerider Pro
- Grip the pedal
- extremely well
- No slipping
- Fit well
- Good toe box protection
- Stiff sole
- Weather resistant upper
- Comes with sock liner
- May have ventilation issues
The Five Ten Pro is a great option for riders looking for the certainty in your grip. They are designed to make sure your feet do not slip from the pedals no matter how hard you are pushing yourself and your bicycle. The Five Ten is a comfortable and tough choice that you can rely on.Read more
The design of the Five Ten is really where it shines. Not only does it have some of the best grips out there, but it supplements itself with some really important attributes. The whole upper of the Five Ten is weather resistant, so moisture is less of an issue. The Five Ten also has a reinforced toe box so you can avoid injuries or stray rocks while on the go.
The Five Ten is not only reported as having an extremely snug and comfortable fit, but it also has a sock liner. Including a sock liner in their design means they are a great transition option for a triathlon and you can avoid the discomfort of slipping or ill-fitting socks.
Other than its lightweight design contributino the Five Ten being a maneuverable shoe, the Five Ten doesn’t have much working towards to its overall adjustability.
The Five Ten’s are especially sticky and snug which is great if you are looking for serious power transfer. If your feet are flush to the pedals and aren’t slipping then each push and pump is conveyed entirely to moving the bicycle.
6. Giro Empire SLX
- Great power trader because of its 6.5mm stack height
- Great fit with a sleek look
- Contains antimicrobial fibers to keep bacteria and smells away
- Narrow fit
- Heel tends to slightly slip
- Laces mean adjustability is limited
Two words best describe this pair: stiff and lightweight. The Empire ACC’s are actually pleasantly stiff when it comes to how light they are at just 18.8 oz. With a low-profile a with a carbon sole, they are durable with great power transfer. They also fit great, nice and tightly, for those who don’t mind not loosening the laces during a ride.Read more
This pair has a lace up design that was originally made for Taylor Phinney for the 2012 London Games. It has an overall sleek appearance that just looks like it performs well, and this is so true. The Empire ACC is a lightweight option at about 18.8 oz. It features a Evofiber upper that is light as a feather and breathable, as well as a low-profile outsole.
Lightweight and ideal for road racing, this pair is flexible because of its microfiber upper, and as a more evenly tight fit because of its lace system. The collar is padded for added comfort. These aren’t the best when it comes to its level of comfort, but doesn’t cause discomfort in any way.
Because of its laces, adjustments can’t be made during a race or right before a starting to climb. However, it does feature a SuperNatural Fit Kit in the insoles that allows the athlete to customize support.
The Empire ACC are very stiff thanks to its Easton EC90 ACC Carbon Sole. It has 6.5 mm stack height that makes it one of the press for power transfer since the feet as so close to the pedals. And while its power transfer is impressive, it does lack behind the Fi'zi:k R5B Uomo Boa in this category mainly because the heel can slip a bit.
7. Giro Empire E70 Knit
- Xnetic Knit makes it comfortable and breathable
- Water-resistant finish
- TPU-reinforced toe and heel
- Not has lightweight as other options
- Empire laces means limited adjustments
This pair stands out against others because it is has knit upper. Its Xnetic Knit technology was designed specifically for performance, enhancing comfort to make it feel more like a sock and breathability. There is still ample support with its bonded TPU skeletal structure, with medium arch support. It has empire laces, with a DWR-finish that makes it water-resistant when road biking in the rain.Read more
This footwear is in a league of its own design-wise because of the use of its unique Xnetic Knit upper, which consists of a TPU skeletal system that is bonded to a knit material that process support, comfort, and breathability. It also has other fun features like water repellent DWR-finish and heel guards for added durability. It has a molded EVA footbed, replaceable heel pads, and an overall great “sock-like” look.
They have a stiff sole that isn’t overly rigid, making walking in them comfortably possible. The amount of ventilation here is a major selling point. They have comfortable, resembling more of a sock and feels great on.
This option has empire laces. This means the ability to customize the fit doesn't have much as other options. It also means that adjusting on the fly isn’t possible. However, it does have a secure fit so this might be a major concern.
The Giro Empire E70 Knit has an Easton EC70 carbon composite outsole, and a TPU-reinforced toe and heel that provides the support needed when in motion on the pedals.
8. Pearl Izumi Pro Leader v4
- Very stiff
- Unique unibody design provides comfort and improves pedaling efficiency.
- Comfortable, especially on the top of the foot
- Great option for road biking
- Uses a 3-hole lock system, no 2-hole option so it’s less versatile
This pair is designed from top to bottom to include to best fit and feature for cyclists. This includes a seamless upper that reduces hot spots and its asymmetric dual Boa Dias so the sometimes sensitive top of the foot is not irritated. It has a carbon plate that is stiff, yet light for great power transfer.Read more
This option has a sleek appearance that just looks like it performs well. And that it does. It has a seamless upper for comfort, is lightweight, breathable and a secure fit. It has a an asymmetric closure with an off-center Boa closure system, as well as a unibody construction.
This is a comfortable pair thanks to small features that go a long way. First is its seamless upper that eliminates all stitching. This means it is smooth on the feet. The dials are off center so they don’t rest on the top of the foot that can be sensitive. There is also a replaceable heel bumper.
The Pearl Izumi Pro Leader v4 has a zonal Bi-direction closure that has a great git that is secure and keeps that foot in place. While this is important for power transfer efficiency, it also allows for a semi-custom fit. More importantly is its dual Boa IP1 dials that allows for 1 mm micro-adjustability.
This option has a 1:1 insole system that allows for independent arch and forefoot varus canting adjustment. It has an integrated carbon power plate that is stiff, while still being lightweight. With a stiffness rating of an impressive 13 for the soles, the overall unibody construction proves super low stack height which enhances pedaling efficiency. It also has a 3-hole design.
9. Shimano SH-RP2 Touring
- Great power transfer
- Snug fit, yet breathable
- Great control and stiffness
- Affordable for spin class addicts who don’t want to keep borrowing footwear
- Specifically made for women
- Too narrow for those with wide feet
This is a versatile option since it can be used for both road and indoor spin bikes. It is compatible with two- and three-bolt cleats, with fiberglass specifically sole. It has a hook-and-loop strap closure with a D-ring that gives it a great fit specific for women while minimizing pressure points and increases stability. It is a comfortable choice that is available for an affordable price.Read more
It is great for road biking, indoor and mountain biking. The cleat has a 2 and 3-hole design, and buckle closure. The upper is made of synthetic leather with a nylon mesh that makes it durable, strong, stable and breathable. It is lightweight and has an EVA footbed.
It has a padded tongue to add to its level of comfort. There is added support at the instep, and it features a smaller toe box made with women’s feet in find. Plus there is enough air circulation that helps to keep feet dry and comfortable.
Along with buckle closure, the Shimano SH-RP2 has three asymmetrical straps to reduce pressure and hot sports. As it is specifically designed for women, it has a more secure and narrow fit that feels nice and snug.
It has a fiberglass reinforced nylon sole with a direct connection to the pedal that enhances power transfer to the pedals—with a more efficient upstroke. It is stiff with a low profile, and has SPD and SPD-L compatibility to wear to spin class or when road riding.
10. Louis Garneau Multi Air Flex
- Compatible with most MTB pedals, so a great choice for mountain bikers
- Roomy fit
- Easy velcro closure
- Lots of breathability
- Fixing can be an issue so try on first
A great option for those commuting to work, or for casual bike riding. It has a more roomy fit, with reinforcement on the heel to keep it down. It has a hook-and-loop system that allows the athlete to adjust while riding. It is lightweight, breathable and affordable.Read more
This pair is designed to be worn when riding, commuting or getting around on the bike. Its upper includes synthetic leather and mesh that aids in breathability. The EVA insole also offers ventilation, so expect the feet to stay nice and dry without sweat or causing overheating. The bottom is SPD cleats that fits all major MTB pedals. It also has a reflective heel for visibility in low light situations and when night riding.
The outsole of this shoe provides some flexibility, making it not too stiff to be able to walk. This flexibility is a great feature for those who do triathlons or who want or need to walk around comfortably off their mountain bike. And its nylon fiberglass outsole also prevents heel pressure. This all calls for one comfortable footwear.
The Multi Air Flex’s closure system consists of three velcro hook and loop fasteners straps that not only provide enough support, but it also allows for a more adjustable fit.
They have stabilized heel that keeps it down and in place. This means less lifting to not reduce power transfer. The stiffness isn’t as important here since it is a shoe for mountain biking and the consumer needs to be able to walk. That’s where its nylon. fiberglass sole domes in. It is stiff enough for bike riding and without hindering walking.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Here we looked at what pedal systems the shoes are compatible with.
If you haven't used cycling shoes before you might be under the impression that some are just for road cycling and some are for mountain biking. While each pair of cycling shoes is certainly designed for one or the other it's not something you have to strictly stick to. The main thing to consider is the pedal system that you have and whether or not the shoes you're looking at will work with them or not. Certain shoes are designed to clip into certain pedal systems, which are actually a fairly common customization that people will make to their bikes. Beyond that, there are some differences between cycling shoes for mountain biking and those for the road. Shoes made for mountain biking have smaller cleats on the bottom which make them easier to walk in when you have to dismount to get around obstacles that present themselves while mountain biking. Road bike shoes have larger cleats because this gives the largest amount of power transfer possible and stopping and dismounting is less common so large cleats don't interfere with walking as much. Having said that, some people will use MTB shoes for road biking and vice versa and in the end, the preference is up to you.
In order to do their job and transfer power from your legs to the bike, the shoes need to conform well to your feet.
The main thing to consider when it comes to this factor is the fastening system. Some shoes use velcro closures, some buckles, and some dial systems. Like anything else each one has their pros and their cons.
This type of closure system is usually the easiest one to use and the quickest to put on and take off. Shoes with this type of system are also usually on the less expensive end of the price spectrum. That doesn't mean they aren't good or effective, just that velcro is less expensive to make and install on a pair of cycling shoes than the other types of fasteners and manufacturers like to offer their customers options at several different price points. The downside is that some people have difficulty getting and maintaining as tight of a fit with velcro straps as they do with other options but others find that they work just fine.
Shoes with this type of closure system do a great job of holding your feet really securely and they minimize how much your feet move around so you maintain optimal power. The downside is that they take longer to put on and take off and are pretty much impossible to adjust while you're riding. In fact, trying to adjust them while riding is super dangerous and should be avoided.
These systems are great because they are easy to use, fast to adjust, and can even be adjusted safely while on your bike. The downside is that they're more expensive than other options and can be less durable as well.
If it doesn't feel good when you're wearing it nothing else matters.
For just about any piece of athletic apparel or gear, this is a super important factor to consider. Who cares how breathable, durable, high-performing, or affordable something is if it doesn't feel good while you're wearing it? To determine how each of the product on our list performed in this all-important criterium we looked at its design, materials, and construction using our knowledge of sporting gear. Then we also considered over 1100 reviews from real-world users and found out what they had to say. This is important because we're just a few people so we might try a product and find that it works great for us, but the majority of users don't like it for one reason for another. By considering reviews we're able to get a complete picture of how the product performs for a wide variety of users from all walks of life.
Especially for road cyclists, every ounce counts.
If you buy a pair of cycling shoes, you're probably taking it pretty seriously and riding a lot and at a fairly high level. When you get to that level even just a little bit of extra weight can decrease your effectiveness and increase your times. Because of this we recognize that even a little bit of extra weight can make a big difference in the long run so while we chose a variety of different shoes for this list, with different uses and price points, we did our best to include ones that were at least fairly lightweight. Especially with the more expensive options you'll notice features like carbon fiber soles and ultralight dial systems. All of these things are designed to keep the weight of a shoe to a minimum so that you can bike longer, faster, and more effectively.
Having maximum power transfer and good resposnivness from your shoe makes it easier to pedal and get power to the wheels.
Power transfer is a term used a lot when it comes to finding the best cycling shoe models. The idea behind this is that the shoe should be designed to be as close to the cleat or pedal as possible to reduce the amount of power lost when in rotation. The lower the stack height, the closer the foot is to the pedal for optimal power transfer. Shoes that are designed specifically for road biking typically have the highest amount of power transfer but this doesn't mean that you can't use a pair of MTB shoes on road bikes and vice versa.
Having maximum power transfer makes it easier to pedal because the power created by the legs goes directly to the pedals and not elsewhere in the foot. This allows the athlete to then turn up the resistance, and sprint it out efficiently. When people first try out a pair of clip-in cycling shoes they're often surprised by how much of a difference it makes in their performance. They really are one of those things that are easy not to think about or dismiss as unimportant but that really can make a huge difference.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Remember to consider where you will be cycling. Different cycling shoes offer different features that will give you the competitive edge you need for the terrain and races you use to partake in.
Like all shoes, the fit is everything in a cycling shoe. If you are ordering online make sure size accordingly and look at actual user reviews to gauge how the shoe will probably fit you. If you are able to go to the store and try them on before buying them, we recommend you do that instead--especially if you are purchasing your first pair of cycling shoes.
Other Factors to Consider
Clipping In vs. Cleats
Being able to clip into the bike is distinctive to cycling trainers. Some cycling models provide this feature, while others are also or solely designed to work with clipless pedals. Instead, this option features small holes on the soles that are meant to attach cleats. The cleats then snap into the pedals. Push down on the balls of the feet, and the shoe then clips into the cleat. This allows the athlete to be secured on the pedal.
This is also true for spin classes. Studio spin bikes commonly feature a cage design on one side of the pedal that allows the athlete to wear any sneaker. The other side has the clip that then attaches to the athlete’s cleat.
Cleats are commonly sold separately.
These clipless cycling trainers either have a 2- or 3-hole system. The 2-hole system (SPD or Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) is meant to be used for road cycling, casual riding, mountain biking, indoor cycling, and spin classes and commuting. The 3-hole system (lock-style system) is used specifically for road cycling.
Just like there are different styles of cycling models that include road and mountain bike options, there are different closure systems as well. What determines which is the best system varies among consumers and their own preferences and needs.
This system allows the athlete to really make micro adjustments. It consists of a dial (typically two) on one side with thin wires that keep the foot in place and fit snugly. It helps to maintain circulation and distributes pressure evenly. The IP1 Boa dial is extremely easy to use mid-ride by turning right to make righter, left to loosen and pull up for a quick release.
This system typically features velcro closures. The strap hooks and loops around, allowing the athlete to pull are tight or loosen to find their right fit. Cycling trainers generally have two or three of these straps for a more adjustable fit.
Laces are great for getting an even amount of tightness across the entire shoe. However, they don’t allow for more customized fits or size adjustments. Laces get dirty and come undone.
You may be deterred from owning your own pair of cycling trainers by price alone. Truthfully, they are often not cheap. This is doubly the case if you belong to a gym that offers cycling shoe rentals. It may be more cost-effective in the short run, but there are a lot of benefits to investing in your own cycling shoe. Aside from the hygienic reasons for avoiding rental options, you will undoubtedly see a large difference in your performance if you decide to invest in a pair perfectly suited to your needs rather than just renting the ones they conveniently have on hand. You will really be doing yourself a favor in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
A cycling shoe will differ from your standard shoe in fit in only that the snugness is a much more important factor. A cycling shoe should be especially snug to make sure there isn’t an issue with slippage during cycling. That being said, regardless of the fact that the shoe needs to be snug, it should never be uncomfortable.
Many cycling shoes are designed to have versatility and thus work well as triathlon shoes, including features like quick-drying design and having specialized sock liners. The one thing that you should really pay attention to is how the bottom of the cycling shoe is designed. For a triathlon, you’ll want to avoid things like sticky bottom shoes and cleats.
Most cycling shoes can be sufficiently cleaned with a wipe down from a damp towel or cloth. Beyond that, we at RunnerClick always recommend that you consult the care instructions provided with the shoes for the best way to clean them without accidentally causing damage or unnecessary wear.
This is pretty subjective. The easiest way to gauge is to assess how often you wear your shoes. If you are more relaxed about your riding schedule you could probably go up to 5 years without replacing your shoes. Someone who rides often and usually competitively should look to replace their shoes every year or so.
If you attend regular spin classes then purchasing your own shoes is recommended. Like with anything, having your own personal option will suit your needs better as well as be more hygienic. Cycling shoes will also allow you to perform better than using the cage available at the class.
If you have the option to be fitted for the shoes before purchasing them, this is always recommended. The fit of athletic wear can have a serious influence on their performance so knowing your correct fit beforehand will ensure your shoe is doing everything it can to assist you.
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