In this guide, we’ll review the nine most competitive cycling shoes on the market and explain their strongest and weakest points. Of all our favourites, the Garneau Granite II shoes topped the list for their multitude of features and functions
Why Cycling Shoes?
Cycling shoes are essential to keep your feet protected and maximize the transfer of energy from foot to the pedal. In some models, the innovative closure system protects pressure points on the top of the foot. Additionally, the soles are more stiff to aid in the effective transfer of energy as you ride.
Best All-Around Cycling Shoes
Designed for the road and packed with high-performance features, we found the Shimano SH-RC300 to be the best cycling shoe overall. The upper is made of micro-perforated faux leather which gives them a sleek look.
Like many other Shimano shoes on the list, these have a Boa L6 closure system that allows you to make micro adjustments for optimal comfort. We also liked the generous padding in the shoe's cuff that provides good support and prevents chafing.
- TPU Outsole
- Fiberglass reinforced nylon sole
- Only compatible with one Shimano pedal
Best Affordable Cycling Shoes
Packed with performance features at an affordable price, the Shimano SH-RC100 is a great choice for cyclists of all levels. The SH-RC100 has a 3 hook and loop closure system that allows you to easily put it on and take it off. The upper part is made of synthetic material and is breathable and comfortable. The inner lining is breathable and thin for added comfort.
Our customers love the EVA footbed which provides excellent foot support. The base of this cycling shoe is made of nylon and fiberglass making it both versatile and durable.
- SPD-pedal compatible
- Supportive EVA insole
- 3-strap system for comfortable wear
- Not as many advanced features as other cycling footwear
Best For Beginners Cycling Shoes
An improved version of their previous design, Garneau's Multi Air Flex II cycling shoes now feature the patented X Comfort Zone technology and are perfect for new cyclists. They are made of synthetic leather and a welded nylon mesh upper for a seamless construction that eliminates pressure points on the top of the foot.
The hook and loop closure system with straps offers a great fit for long rides. These shoes also feature a reflective back and a reinforced nylon sole. All in all, these cycling shoes have many features that enhance your protection and comfort.
- Thin, comfortable tongue
- Signature Garneau removable insole
- SPD-cleat compatible
- May run a bit small
Best For Commuter Cycling Shoe Cycling Shoes
Functional and comfortable, Shimano's SH-CT5 shoes can be worn for both cycling and walking, making them a popular choice for cyclists who ride their bikes for daily commutes. Their casual style is both comfortable and attractive. The flexible rubber outsole makes them ideal for walking unlike traditional cycling shoes.
Made with high-quality materials like an EVA midsole, the SH-CT5s are priced very affordably. Our customers also liked the wide footed construction.
- Breathable uppers
- Versatile for off-bike purposes
- Not as much weather protection as other cycling footwear
Best For Mountain Biking Cycling Shoes
If you're looking for mountain biking shoes, the rugged Ranger from Giro is our first choice. It has an EVA footbed that keeps your foot comfortable and a synthetic upper with mesh panels that provides breathability and moisture control.
Finally, the rubber outsole sticks to the trail surface for when you need to put your foot down.
- Rubber outsole
- Precise and comfortable fit
- Some prefer laces
Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes
Specially made for triathlons, the Garneau Tri X-Speed IV shoes offer cyclists superior comfort and dependability. The uppers are made from synthetic leather, which is durable and stylish. Also, the breathable mesh inserts throughout the shoe keep the feet dry.
One of our favourite features is the two or three-hole outsole, which can fit virtually any SPD or road-bike pedal clip system. The two thick hook and loop straps make transitioning a breeze, and the inside collar and tongue are super padded to help with endurance.
- Dual hook and loop closure
- Removable footbed
- Energy-efficient carbon composite sole
- A bit stiff for some users
Best For Wider Feet Cycling Shoes
If you're having trouble finding something to fit your feet in all those narrow cycling shoes, look no further than the Carbon LS-100 III from Garneau. They are specifically designed for wide feet and feature the innovative X Comfort Zone technology that expands the shoe for up to 5 extra millimeters of comfort.
Like many other Garneau models, these cycling shoes feature a Boa lacing system, which offers a precise fit without pressure points. The carbon composite outsole is ideal for efficient energy transfer and stabilizes the foot simultaneously. An air channel ventilation system keeps your feet cool.
- Outsole fits most major pedal systems
- Boa closure system enhances the fit
- Mesh panels near toes provide breathability
- Limited colour choices
Best For Narrow Feet Cycling Shoes
Garneau's Platinum XZ shoes are well known for their many features. First is the award-winning X Comfort Zone technology that allows for expansion to accommodate all foot sizes.
The foot's arch area is not overlooked with a Power Zone insert providing superior support that prevents the foot from being crushed while pedaling. The back of the foot is surrounded by a cat-tongue like material. Designed to keep the foot in place. The padded tongue also protects you from pressure points.
- Superior protection of the foot
- Narrow feet won’t slip and slide in the footbed
- Extra arch support
- Not as stylish as other cycling footwear
What to Look For When Buying Cycling Shoes
What is it for?
As with all types of footwear, you must consider the type and vigour of cycling you plan to do. Different shoes are tailored to diverse terrain, weather conditions, and cycling intensity.
Road cycling shoes are made for maximum energy efficiency on long, smooth rides. Some road routes will have downhill slopes and uphills, but the majority of road competitions will be on smooth pavement.
For this reason, road cycling shoes have the stiffest soles for the ultimate energy transfer. The smooth soles with rubber pads are best for rides with minimal standing and walk time.
Since mountain biking trails can have rough and unpredictable terrain, MTB shoes are built to be rugged and protective. The uppers will usually be made of impact-resistant material that can withstand the elements. Also, the soles often have heavy lugged treads to power through thick mud or dirt.
Casual or commuter cycling shoes will have softer soles than road shoes. The soles are less stiff since commuters may be walking in their cycling shoes more than road cyclists. You can expect a tennis-shoe like design complete with moulded midsoles.
Recessed vs Protruding
Recessed cleats are standard in mountain bike shoes. They recess into the pump so that the user can walk or hike anywhere off the bike.
On the other hand, protruding cleats (or ones that extend out from the sole) are most common in road bikes. They connect to the pedals through a clipless mechanism.
Pedal & Clip Compatibility
The two-hole or SPD system makes it easier to walk around in your cycling shoes. They are more commonly found in mountain bike or commuter shoes. They are smaller and more flat than the three-hole system, but new riders may find it difficult to clip in at first.
The three-hole or Delta system is prevalent in road cycling shoes. They provide superior energy transfer, which is beneficial for road cyclists. The three-hole system is larger and thus easier to clip into the pedals.
To make sure the cycling shoe fits properly, make sure it feels snug but not too tight. You should have enough room to splay your toes and wiggle them around in the forefront of the shoe. However, the heel area should be the snuggest part. Since cycling shoes won’t stretch over time, they should fit comfortably from the beginning.
It’s good practice to try on shoes in the afternoon after your feet have had time to swell. Also, cycling shoes will be stiffer than running shoes but still shouldn’t cause irritation or discomfort.
Since cycling shoes are specially engineered for cycling, they will be more expensive than multi-functional running shoes. That being said, the price range can vary significantly from USD 60 to USD 550.
The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is accurate when appraising cycling footwear. The technologies, materials, and designs are specially crafted for biking.
FAQ FOR CYCLING SHOES
Do cycling shoes make a difference?
Cycling footwear can undoubtedly make a big difference in your workouts and training. They can allow you to ride more swiftly and comfortably. Also, they’re engineered to reduce pressure in the upper part of your foot and maximize your energy transfer.
Are cycling shoes worth it?
The stiff soles of cycling shoes allow the power from your leg muscles to go directly into the pedals instead of the shoe’s cushion. In this way, cycling shoes get you farther, faster and let you amp up the resistance while cycling.
What shoes do pro cyclists wear?
Most pro cyclists use cycling shoes with SPD or Shimano cleats. Though there are many different brands used by professional cyclists, most are lightweight and breathable for faster cycling.
Can you wear running shoes for cycling?
It’s entirely possible to wear running shoes while cycling, it’s just that the energy transfer won’t be as efficient. Your feet will also feel less comfortable without the clip-in mechanism you find with cycling shoes. Overall, you’ll get more out of cycling with proper biking footwear.
Although you can bike in any shoes, cycling shoes can benefit anyone who cycles regularly. We hope that this comprehensive guide helps you find the ultimate cycling shoes for your next ride.
Browse our extensive range of Garneau, Giro, and other cycling shoes on Altitude Sports and find one you love.