THE ROAD, THE WHEEL AND THE SHOES – Best Cycling Shoes Buying Guide –
Picking the right cycling shoes can easily turn out to be a very serious task, and it will be. There is a moment when you will become passionate about bicycles, and you would want to improve either the machine or your own gear and efficiency. Therefore, we are here to help you find the best cycling shoes.
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**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
The info you need to know
All cycling shoes have a universal design, and they use “clip-less” or “clip-in” technology, and on the bottom of the shoe is the “cleat” which you clip into the pedals of the bike. Meaning that you will gain more efficiency from every stroke of the pedal, with no matter if the pedal is going up or down. Also, the overall effect comes with the increased speed.
Also, the design of the cycling shoes is different than normal, everyday shoes. The clip-in cycling shoes have stiffer and thinner soles. This solution is giving them the ability to flex less as you ride while increasing the transfer of power through the pedals. To hold your feet firmly to the pedal, straps, laces, and buckles are there to secure that your feet will stay fixed on the pedal without potential slipping.
Take notice – It will take a few tries before you adapt to be attached to the bike in this way. Also, there is an unwritten rule that you will probably fall once or twice while you are learning this type of ride.
Take notice – Every pair of cycling shoes will come without the cleats, and when buying them, be sure that shoes can fit the cleats and pedals.
Further, regarding maneuverability, three types of cycling shoes can fit your needs, and they differ by specific attributes.
Road cycling shoes
The sole on the road cycling shoes is smooth, low-profile plastic or carbon, and usually without lugs. Furthermore, there are also vents on the upper part of the shoes so that your feet could remain cool when riding on a hot day. Finally, a combination of laces and straps is there to keep the feet tight and attached to the pedal.
What to look for when buying road cycling shoes?
Cleats – When you decide to buy road cycling shoes, the cleats will usually have three-bolt mount meaning that they could only fit the road clip-in systems.
Straps, BOA or buckles – This one is related to how to secure and fasten your shoes, and mainly there are three options to do so. The Velcro is traditional and reliable fastening system while being lightweight. Ratchet buckles are providing easy adjustments while you ride, and at the same time giving your feet a stable grip. Finally, the lightest fastening system is BOA which is also easy to adjust. Have in mind that the fastening system must answer your needs and budget.
Ventilation – The last but not the least thing to consider is the ventilation of the shoes. The variety of products is moving from the shoes that are recommended for cold weather, and to the shoes which are mainly for the use during the warm periods of the year. You will have the ability to choose which one will match your ride.
Triathlon cycling shoes
Although this type of shoes can look very similar to the road shoes, they are different in many ways. Firstly, they are designed to be easily removable, even when you drive. Secondly, you can clip them on the pedals before you get on the bike, and leave them hanging on the pedals when you are finished riding. Additionally, because they tend to have a softer liner, you can wear them without socks.
What must you know when buying triathlon cycling shoes?
Strap closure – Many triathlon shoes will come with a single wide Velcro strap which is easy to adjust. Because there are no buckles, these shoes are very comfortable while providing the firm hold of your feet. Also, you should look for the loop on the heel of the shoes because it will make putting on or off very comfortable during the transition.
Ventilation – All triathlon shoes are heavy vented because they need to provide proper drying off your feet after you finish swimming. Therefore, you should look for the adequate mesh on the triathlon shoes that will allow the air to flow over your foot while being very comfortable when you use them.
Cleats – The norm for cleat system is the three-bolt, like with the road cycling shoes but there are also and the four-bolt cleats.
Mountain bike shoes
This type of shoes is fundamentally different from the road and triathlon shoes. The lugs and grips on the sole are there to provide you good traction while you are experiencing harsh terrain. They are made out of tougher, waterproof materials. Finally, the cleat system is also different.
What to look for when buying mountain bike shoes?
Flexibility – Mountain bike shoes have more flexibility in the soles because they need to provide positive transfer of power when you ride and be comfortable when you encounter difficult terrain on which you must walk.
Cleats – The cleats for the mountain bike shoes are smaller than on the road or triathlon shoes. They use just two-bolt fix because they need to stay clean from mud or any other debris.
Closure system – The variety of fastening systems is there to match your need and performance. So, you can choose from ratchet buckles, BOA or Velcro.
Cycling shoes sizing tips
When trying a pair of cycling shoes, take notice that your toes must have enough room to wiggle. There can be some slippage of the heel when you try to walk in them – this is because the soles are stiff and they are designed to provide firm hold of your feet while cycling. If you think that the shoes are slipping because of the poor fit, just try another size until you find the proper one.
Top Cycling Shoes On The Market – Our Reviews
Now, when we have divided the cycling shoes into the categories and see their features, we can move to the market and look for the best cycling shoes. Our pick consists of three road cycling shoes, one MTB, and one TRI shoes.
1. Pearl Izumi Select Road III – the ugly duck of cycling shoe world
● The Velcro straps are very adjustable.
● Pearl Izumi Select Road III shoes are easy to clean and maintain.
● The soles are SPD compatible.
● There is a need for the soles to be a little stiffer.
At first sight, you will probably think that these shoes are not the best looking ones, but the look can be tricky. Of course, you will have high expectations from the shoes that you want to buy, and a pair of these won’t disappoint you.
The fastening system on Pearl Izumi Select Road III shoes is solved through three straps which are excellent regarding comfortability and adjustability. But, if you over-tight them on the first ride, you may feel and experience uncomfortable. When you find the matching point with the fastening, on the open road you will soon experience comfortability of secure fit and hold of your feet. Indeed, with these shoes, you can go and try full throttle.
The addition to the secure fit is nylon composite sole, which is decent. On the other hand, you won’t get so much stiffness as from the carbon soles, but don’t worry. The power transfer is still excellent, and since the soles have a little flex, you will only feel comfortable.
The users praise these shoes to be very practical to take care of. The upper part of the shoe is easy to clean since the material is synthetic leather. Also, the logos are reflective when you ride after the dark.
2. Shimano SHRP5 – odd looking but excellent
● Excellent ventilation.
● They are very stiff and durable shoes.
●The slider system is excellent.
● They are a bit heavy cycling shoes.
The customers usually look for the next pair of cycling shoes when they see the Shimano SHRP5 shoes, but, when you consider their advantages and finally try them well, there is so much to consider.
What first comes across the sight is the strange and unusual fastening system. Yes, it is not like BOA lacing or buckles, but this slide system turns out to be very efficient once you get along with it and adapt to the change. The innovation didn’t cut the overall performance, and you will experience the secure fit when you pull up the pedals.
The sole is very stiff; there is no flexibility present which is a great thing to consider when it comes down to the overall support. These shoes are built to endure, and that is what you will get.
Further, they may look to be entirely locked down, but the ventilation turns out to be very good since there is a big vent on the upper part and there are also vents on the bottom of the shoes.
We can say that Shimano did only one thing wrong when making these shoes a little heavy, 613g for the pair to be precise. On the other hand, they have a respectable price, and they are usually discounted.
3. Giro Empire ACC – the history has a new look
● The thick soles have no flex.
● Excellent ventilation.
● The design is fascinating.
● Sincerely, the laces can’t compete with BOA dials.
● The sizing is tricky, and you must try them before buying.
Do you like minimalistic design which comes with a wide variety of colors? Or, you want to try the laces as many people did in the past? Well, the Giro Empire ACC cycling shoes are there, waiting for your enthusiasm.
The overall retro look of these shoes is no doubt beautiful since the retro design is constantly returning. Therefore, the laces as a fastening system can be intriguing since there are some many other solutions out there, but don’t make a mistake – the laces are the user-friendly solution. Despite that you will have some wiggle space so that you can adjust them correctly, the laces aren’t so precise as the dials, and you won’t get the right fit every time.
Further, the overall fit can move from one ride to another since there is a possibility that your feet could tend to pull out of the shoe. Stopping and securing the laces can do the trick, but it can be annoying.
There is one more thing to consider about the Giro Empire ACC shoes, and that is the sizing. These shoes are generally for the people with skinny feet, but changing the size can help. Once you pinpoint the right size, full carbon sole provides the ultimate stiff, so you can finally enjoy these shoes.
4. Five Ten Freerider – MTB bestseller
● Extremely durable and resistant.
● Incredible traction and grip.
● These shoes are costly.
● They come in only two color variation.
The crowd out there is writing scientific studies about these MTB shoes, and they have good reasons for doing that. The Five Ten Freerider shoes are extremely durable and versatile shoes, and if you want to conquer the dirt, there is no better option.
For the construction of the sole, the manufacturer mixed a variety of materials so that you can experience fearsome traction and excellent grip. What makes the sole above average is the BMX-like leather mixed up together with Stealth S1 rubber. The mixture of these two materials provides high performance when you set out for some mountain biking.
The upper part of the shoes is very breathable, and the addition of the leather makes them very durable and resistant to dirt, dust, and debris. The so-called vamp lacing system turns out to be ideal for securing the feet. Also, the Five Ten Freerider shoes are also doing a great job when you leave your bike and go for a walk.
When it comes down to the price, yes, these shoes will represent an investment, but they are matching the cost with the required performance. Have on mind that these are very versatile shoes which you can use for many outdoor activities.
5. Giro Mele – traditional triathlon shoes
● The sole is stiff enough to answer any triathlon requirements.
● Relatively lightweight shoes with good ventilation.
● They are easy to put on and off.
● No particular feature can stand out.
● Take notice about sizing.
● They can be uncomfortable without socks.
It may sound rude, but the manufacturer didn’t come up with some spectacular and game changing solution for the triathlon enthusiasts. But what makes the Giro Mele shoes is the combining and defining of all triathlon shoes attributes that you could consider.
The carbon sole on these shoes is very stiff, and we can say that the company knows what to offer to a customer. The front and back grips are made out of rubber, but they don’t have the replaceable feature as the other triathlon shoes do. Therefore, although the walking will be comfortable, the grips will be worn out pretty soon.
The upper design is very familiar and already seen. But, some things are certain – the air mesh material together with a good strap and double closure solution represents the features to consider. You will get proper ventilation and grip even when you don’t wear socks.
The overall fit is satisfying, but you have to consider that when you decide to try the Giro Mele shoes ask for a half of size larger than your size. Also, the excellent addition to the fit is the ability to add three inserts under the insole so you can experience the “supernatural fit.” This feature is nothing special, but you will feel comfortable.
We will go very straightforward and assume that you will use cycling shoes mainly on the open road for recreation or simply for the joy of the ride. Therefore, our pick for the best cycling shoes are the Pearl Izumi Select Road III cycling shoes. The overall impression is very satisfying for every road cycling enthusiast that needs a pair of excellent shoes.
The fastening system is secure and reliable. They are easy to use, clean and maintain for many cycling sessions to come. You won’t have to worry if they can fit the cleats, they are quite versatile. Finally, a little flexibility can’t be a significant downside that can reject you from trying them.