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
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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.
- Best OverallFive Ten Men's Freerider MTB Bike ShoesSummarySummaryAggressive riding deserves the best grip, which you pretty much get from these bike shoes. They are stiff and durable yet comfortable.ProsPros
These cycling shoes are super grippy and comfortable for everyday cycling. They have good breathability and are available in sweet color options. The shoes are also quite stylish.ConsCons
These road cycling shoes can become a bit warm during the hot summers. They can also get waterlogged when crossing any streams.
- Best ValueGavin Off Road Mountain Cycling Shoes MTBSummarySummaryStylish, ultralight, and comfortable is what is these cycling shoes are all about. The synthetic microfiber leather is robust, and the mesh allows an adequate flow of air. The fiberglass sole is stiff to resist flex.ProsProsThese road cycling shoes are aesthetically appealing, super comfy, light, and affordable. They are durable, protective, and breathable. The stiff carbon sole resists flex, and the shoes are compatible with several cleats.ConsConsYou must purchase the cleats separately. This pair of shoes doesn’t do very well in the rain and mud.
- Honorable MentionTommaso Montagna 200SummarySummaryThe Montagna 200 combines high performance and comfort for optimal spinning, mountain biking, touring, and commuting. The cycling shoe is durable and comfortable.ProsProsThe shoes combine performance and comfort for mountain biking, commuting, spinning, and touring. The bike shoes are available in various sizes, have breathable mesh and a practical fiberglass sole, and are budget-friendly.ConsCons
The clasp mechanism and ratcheting are not adequate. The quality of the buckle may also be lacking.
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- 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 Five Ten Men's Freerider MTB Bike Shoes. 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.