LAST UPDATED: November 6, 2019
Best Bike Shoes: Be Comfortable While Cycling
These cycling shoes will optimize the transfer of power to your pedals and protect your feet from friction
The Review Team
How We Decided
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
PUBLISHED ON November 6, 2019
Cycling shoes are the primary contact point between your feet and the pedals. They determine your overall cycling efficiency and safety, so it is critical to choose the best bike shoes which can be challenging with so many brands and models to choose from. Cycling footwear varies widely in intended use and fit, and it is not impossible to end up with a shoe that doesn't incorporate your unique foot shape. Our buying guide will help you make the right choice to make your cycling enjoyable.
The cleat area is compatible with all cleat types on the market. The flexible forefoot and beveled heel enhance your comfort. The XPEDO brand pedals are made of strong magnesium alloy. The shoes come with a one-year warranty.
The cleat area is approximately ¼-inch shorter than a stock Peloton cleat. The uppers are made of low-quality vinyl and are not durable.
The size chart the manufacturer provides is not accurate and the shoes are two sizes smaller. The lace holes are not very durable.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Bike Shoes
- More comfortable than other shoes. Bike shoes have stiff soles, but their uppers are made from breathable materials like mesh. They also have well-designed vents that allow air to circulate in the shoes as you ride. The stiff soles ensure that your feet do not cramp or get fatigued. They offer enhanced protection.
- They transfer energy efficiently to pedals. Cycling shoes have stiffer soles than running shoes. As they transfer energy to the pedals, less energy is lost. The stiff soles ensure the shoes do not bend.
- No slipping. Running shoes put more emphasis on pushing rather than pulling. They put a lot of pressure on quadriceps. Bike shoes with SPD cleats are compatible with clipless pedals, ensuring your feet don't slip as you push down on the pedals.
- Durable. Bike shoes are specially designed for hard and heavy riding. They feature durable synthetic leather and mesh and their finishing is neat.
Types of Bike Shoes
Mountain Bike Shoes
On the outside, these shoes look more like hiking shoes than biking shoes. This is because they are ideal for both activities. Some mountain biking shoes have soles that are not very stiff. They can flex more and are ideal for walking. These shoes also have rubber soles and offer better traction when walking. Some mountain biking shoes can only be used with clipless pedals while others can only be used with flat pedals.
Road Bike Shoes
Compared to mountain biking shoes, these shoes are not as versatile and are only ideal for cycling. They have very stiff soles that are usually made from plastic or carbon for maximum rigidity. This rigidity allows you to have the best cycling efficiency and power transfer. Road bike shoes have cleats that stick out and are very uncomfortable to walk in. However, they are a lot lighter than mountain biking shoes. These shoes either have a two-hole cleat system or a three-hole cleat system. The three-hole cleat system is more popular as it provides more stability.
Hybrid Bike Shoes
These shoes are very similar to mountain bike shoes and are designed to be suitable for both cycling and walking. They have soles made out of rubber and are very flexible. Their cleats are recessed into the soles to allow for walking. Hybrid bike shoes also go by the name city bike shoes, as they offer the best of both worlds. They perfectly combine action cycling shoes with casual shoes. They also come in a variety of designs.
This company was founded back in 1995 as a road bike brand. It gradually expanded and now produces triathlon bikes, fixed gear bikes, cyclocross bikes, track bikes, and bicycle accessories. Tommaso Bikes is headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Its products are designed in Italy and engineered in Colorado. It makes awesome bike shoes, like the best-selling Tommaso Strada.
This company produces sports apparel specifically for mountain biking, road biking, and triathlons. It was established more than 60 years ago in Tokyo when the founder created the first bicycle racing apparel for his son. Over the years, the company has grown to become one of the world's top brands for quality and high-performing sports apparel. Its cycling shoes, like the PEARL iZUMi Men's Tri Fly Cycling Shoes, are designed to be comfortable and functional.
Giro is best known for its cycling and mountain bike shoes, snow and cycling helmets, cycling and mountain bike apparel, and snow and MTB goggles. It also produces soft goods for snowboarding, skiing, and cycling. The company has its headquarters in Scotts Valley, California. and was founded by Jim Gentes in 1985. If you're looking for mountain bike shoes you can walk in, get the Giro Rumble MTB Shoes.
Bike Shoes Pricing
- $50-$100: Most bike shoes in this price range are lightweight and cool for maximum comfort. Some have airflow vents and easily circulate air as you ride. The higher-priced models work with both two-bolt and three-bolt pedal systems.
- $100-$200: The standout feature of these bike shoes is they are designed to last. They have awesome features like carbon-reinforced nylon outsoles, highly breathable mesh, and synthetic uppers. Some can be used on indoor spin bikes.
Type of Bike Shoe
As we said earlier, bike shoes are categorized into three types: mountain bike shoes, road bike shoes, and hybrid bike shoes. Choose road shoes if you prioritize performance features as cleat/pedal engagement, weight, and sole stiffness. Mountain bike shoes are ideal for mountain biking as they have a recessed cleat, a lugged outer sole, and more tread. Hybrid/city shoes are designed to endure the urban assault of hardcore commuters and bike messengers.
Each bike shoe has a different type of ventilation. For instance, winter cycling shoes have very little mesh or holes to keep water out and to provide insulation from the cold. Shoes meant for warm weather are highly ventilated and have mesh uppers and holes in the soles for enhanced breathability and comfort. Winter bike shoes may be fully waterproof, while summer shoes may be lighter in weight. Get bike shoes with ventilation that suits the weather you like riding in.
Road bike shoes normally have three-bolt cleat mounts and only work with road-style clip-in systems like Shimano SPD-SL. Mountain bike cleats are smaller than road cycling cleats and sit on the sole's grips and lugs. You attach them using two bolts and they don't collect mud and debris. However, it is worth noting that the cleats you use will depend on your pedal system. Since cleats are normally bought separately, it's always important to double-check.
- Size and Fit. Questions related to size and fit usually arise when people are buying cycling shoes. How do you ensure you don't choose the wrong shoe size? Bike shoe brands usually provide personalized size charts. However, it is important to ask if the sizes are for the U.S., UK, or EU, if this isn't specified.
- Sole Flexibility. Mountain bike shoes are more flexible than road bike shoes. They are designed this way to achieve a balance between maximum power transfer and the ability to walk—which is very common with mountain biking. If you have a bigger budget, you can get shoes with carbon fiber soles. They are specially designed for mountain bikers who prioritize power transfer.
Best Bike Shoes Reviews & Recommendations 2020
A good pair of bike shoes are a necessity for anyone who is serious about biking. However, the perfect shoe for you depends on the type of cycling you frequently do. If you’re looking for cycling shoes that are specifically designed for men and have been created with comfort and cycling in mind, get Venzo cycling shoes. They are compatible with every type of cleat on the market.
The shoes perfectly blend comfort and performance and are ideal for touring, road biking, commuting, and even spin class. Unlike other shoes that do not come with pedals, these come with Xpedo magnesium light pedals. They feature highly breathable and quick-drying mesh and synthetic uppers. They only weigh 245 grams so you can wear them all day. Venzo gives a one-year warranty for the shoes, which adds to their appeal.
However, these shoes are not devoid of faults. They are not compatible with stock Peloton cleats, as their cleat area is shorter. The uppers are also made of low-quality vinyl.
Whether you are a veteran or a beginner in cycling, you need the right shoes. And while you can use ordinary shoes, they will have a negative impact on your whole cycling experience. When you get shoes that have been specifically designed for biking, like the Gavin off-road mountain cycling shoes, you completely transform the way you ride.
These off-road mountain bike shoes are compatible with SPD, SPD-R, and SPD-SL cleats. They have hook and loop straps for a secure fit. The body of the shoes is comprised of synthetic microfiber leather and breathable mesh. When you wear them, you will immediately notice how light they are and how cool your feet feel as you ride.
The stiff nylon fiberglass soles excellently resist flex for improved power transfer. However, you will have to purchase cleats separately in order to use these shoes. They also don't perform well in rain and mud.
If you are an avid fan of adventure cycling, you need shoes that can leave traditional roads and venture into mountainous regions comfortably. Giro, a popular cycling apparel brand, has created shoes that keep you comfortable as you walk. They also provide the rapid power transfer of road bike shoes.
Their classic lace-up closure design offers a lot of adjustability. Grippy soles with two-bolt cleat compatibility allow the shoes to be used for every biking activity—from riding around town to venturing into the wilderness. The uppers are fashioned from a mix of mesh and synthetic fibers and offer your feet breathability and protection. Underfoot, molded shanks give the soles sufficient rigidity to efficiently go into speed.
On the downside, these shoes are not true to size, as the size chart Giro provides is not accurate. You have to get two to three sizes larger. The lace holes are also not durable.
- For optimal power, the racier clipless shoes often have the stiffest carbon fiber or carbon composite outsole. Extreme stiffness can cause a heel lift that acts as an impediment to mountain bike hiking. Look for something that isn't too stiff and uncomfortable off the bike.
- Easier and more intuitive engagement is always ideal, and you get it from the more rounded off bolt cleat opening. The position of the cleat box dramatically impacts the entry and exit. The perfect design is easy to disengage and secure down the trail.
- Stray debris and flying rocks can cause significant injury and discomfort when riding. The best bike shoes have reinforced ankle zones and toe boxes as the first layer of protection when riding off road.
- Regardless of the closure system that you choose, the tensioning system should always stay firmly in place without creating pressure points and digging in. An ill-fitting shoe can affect steering and introduce friction. Keep an eye out for solid laces and velcro straps that are rot-free and an adjustability system you can handle with freezing hands. Thick tongues provide comfort and stabilization.
- Ultralight road shoes allow rotation with the cranks with every stroke for efficient pedaling. Unfortunately, the majority of lightweight riding shoes may not be stiff enough to transfer power into the drivetrain.
- Flat pedal shoes boast on optimum friction or mechanical grip. A stickier carbon sole tends to grab the platform and stay put, regardless of the weather. They have better security and control. The combination of Vibram and stealth is standard in the best cycling shoes, with each aiming to best balance durability, stickiness, softness, and damping properties.
- It is critical to find the middle ground between protection from the elements and ventilation. Water-resistant upper material and shock absorbent insoles are ideal for fending off water and moisture when riding. It is also quick-drying should the shoes come into contact with water. Check for mesh panels and holes as the main areas where moisture finds its way inside.
- The grooves on the underside of the outsole combine with traction studs on the pedals to prevent sliding. Bike shoes with specialized deep toe treads improve the climbing capability off-bike up the cliff, which is quite essential for stiffer clip shoes.
Q: How do I know if my bike shoes fit correctly?
A: A comfortable cycling shoe should have a balanced pressure on the instep, good arch support, and a snug and secure fit in the heel cup. The instep should not be pressed against the end, and there should be a little toe room. The shoes should hold your forefoot adequately without restricting or pinching.
Q: Can I use bike shoes for other activities, or are they strictly for biking?
A: The stiff carbon fiber sole is critical in energy transfer to the pedals for comfort and consistent speed. However, it is sometimes too stiff to use road shoes for other activities apart from biking, such as running or walking. But you will still find some people using shoes with indoor cycling and exercise bikes.
Q: Will the cleat get stuck in clipless MTB shoes?
A: Clicking the clipless cleats is not always as easy as it seems. You need to perfect the sideways twisting motion and know when to remove them from the connection when you notice hazards in front of you.
Q: How do I clean my cycling shoes?
A: Since there is a slight difference between the materials, you cannot clean all cycling shoe models the same way. Read the user's manual and any other paperwork that accompanies the shoes for effective and safe cleaning. In most cases, a container of warm soapy water, a toothbrush, and an old rug should be sufficient to clean the cycling shoes.
Q: What are the different types of pedals?
A: The two main types of pedals are flat and clipless. The specialized clipless pedal system consists of cleats that append to the shoe and clip into the pedal. There are several clip-in systems on the market, such as SPD-SL, Shimano's SPD, Speedway, and Crank Brothers. Others include MTB or the mountain bike pedal and eggbeater pedals that are smaller than average and require special shoes.
Q: How do cycling shoes work?
A: They function by inserting or clipping the footwear into the pedal grooves to hold them in place. This keeps your feet in place when riding. Clipping in improves the power and grip for more efficiency, consistency, and speed.
Q: Are mountain bike shoes supposed to feel stiff on my feet?
A: All mountain bike shoes should have a bit of stiffness in them to improve power transfer to the pedals. The rigidity in the road shoes prevents bending and folding to be more effective than normal shoes. However, that does not mean the mountain bike shoes should hurt your feet. They should be comfortable and have some bit of flex for off-bike activities.
Our pick for the best bike shoes are the Venzo Cycling Road Bike Shoes for Men. They are super grippy to keep your feet on the pedals at all times and are comfortable to wear the whole day.The Gavin Off Road Mountain Cycling Shoes MTB are a good option for those that are on a tight budget.