12 Best Cycling Shoes in 2018

Whether you are serious about cycling or go for the occasional ride, having the best cycling shoes can make all the difference. These, however, can be difficult to shop for.

You already know what to look for when buying sneakers or dress shoes, but this performance wear is different. Some aspects deserve much more attention than you might be used to.

This is why we have developed a comprehensive buying guide. Here, you can browse through our shortlist of the 12 best cycling shoes and use our helpful shopping tips to help you find the right pair.

Top 12 Cycling Shoes Comparison Chart

DesignNameGenderColor OptionsRating (1-5)
  1. Shimano 2017 Men’s XC Off-Road Sport Cycling Shoes Men 1 4.6
  2. Shimano SHR065 AllAround Sport Shoe Men’s Cycling Men 1 4.4
  3. Fizik R5 UOMO BOA Road Cycling Shoes Both 8 4.4
  4. Shimano SH-RP2 Women’s Touring Road Cycling Synthetic Leather Shoes Women 2 4.4
  5. Pearl Izumi Men’s X-ALP Seek VII Cycling Shoe Men 3 4.4
6. Louis Garneau Men’s Carbon LS-100 Cycling Shoes Men 3 4.3
7. Giro Rumble VR Cycling Shoe Men 4 4.2
8. Pearl Izumi Women’s Tri Fly V Cycling Shoe Women 3 4.2
  9. Giro Riela Bike Shoe Women 2 4.2
  10. Louis Garneau Women’s Multi Air Flex Fitness/Mountain Cycling Shoe Women 7 4.2
  11. Pearl Izumi Women’s All-Road III Cycling Shoe Women 2 4.1
  12. Giro GF22180 Womens Sante Road Bike Shoes Women 2 4.0

Better Shoes, Better Ride

Choosing cycling shoes is not as simple as spending more money to ensure higher quality. These shoes are unique in that price is not necessarily the best way to judge them. The following features are much more important:

  • Closures – Cycling shoes will either come with laces, ratchet buckles, wire dials or Velcro straps to keep them in place. Choosing which one is best is a matter of personal preference.
  • Style – Most cycling shoes will come in standard white, black or a combination of the two. This doesn’t mean that there are no colorful options. Once you research the best cycling shoes for performance, you can consider the accent colors and the sleekness that suits you.
  • Fit – This is the most important thing to look for in cycling shoes. The fit will determine how secure you foot is within the shoe, how comfortable you feel when you ride and can have an effect on performance too.

Your Biking Style Says it All

Your biking style is something that will determine the style of cycling shoe you should buy before you dig deeper into the other features.

  • Road Cycling – Requires cycling shoes that have a low, smooth profile without grips. These shoes should also be vented to keep your feet cool. For this type of cycling shoe, the most important features are cleat compatibility with the pedal, a secure closure mechanism, and good ventilation.
  • Triathlon Cycling Shoes – Are very similar to road cycling shoes. The difference is that they can be more easily removed and put on and that they are made with a soft liner so you can decide whether or not to wear socks. The most important feature with these shoes is how easily they can be removed.
  • Mountain Biking Shoes – Are different in that they have grips and lugs in the sole. They also have a different cleat system that is compatible with all mountain bike pedals. The design of these shoes is more rugged to deal with debris and dirt while you ride and they are also more wearable when you need to dismount. Sole flexibility is the unique feature to look for with this kind of shoe.

In Your Sole

While some styles of riding require sole flexibility and others require stiffness, the quality of the sole has a huge effect on how you ride. If you were going to assess one physical feature of the cycling shoes for quality, then it should be the soles.

  • Material – Plastic, composite or carbon – These two materials provide stiffness and durability to the sole of the cycling shoe. Shoes with a carbon sole are generally more expensive but not always better. The kind of material will affect the price, but the quality is what really needs to be assessed.
  • Stiffness – This is something that helps enhance power transfer and make for more efficient pedaling. Generally stiffer, thinner soles are better for enhanced performance when cycling but you should have some flexibility for mountain biking. This does not mean you should not have any stiffness, just that power and the ability to walk in the shoes when not riding is balanced.
  • Attachment – The sole will either have clip-less or clip-in compatibility. The cleat bottom gives you the ability to pull and push on the pedals to propel yourself while the clip-less shoes offer more versatility.

NOTE: You can cycle in any athletic shoes, but having the best cycling shoes means you become a more efficient rider. Cycling shoes are highly recommended if you ride regularly or for longer distances.

Top 5 Best Cycling Shoes Reviews

1. Shimano SH-XC31L

Shimano SH-XC31L is a top of the line cycling shoe that really makes a difference in how you feel when you are riding. First off, these shoes are made of synthetic leather so you know that they are long lasting right from the start. This material also means that you are able to easily break in the shoes to suit your feet perfectly.

Every aspect of the sole has been designed to ensure balance, stiffness and stability. With lighter shoes that will last, your feet will thank you. These shoes have a cleat style that lets you secure yourself to the bike easily.

It should also be noted that the sizes are true. If you wear a 10 on average with all of your other footwear then you will wear a 10 in these cycling shoes too. The higher end quality is reflected in the higher price, but this is something you will have to pay few times as these shoes last.

2. Shimano SHR065

The best thing about the Shimano SHR065 cycling shoes is the fact that they are low-profile and lightweight. These are the kind of shoes that give you the security and the appropriate stiffness for control without compromising comfort in the process.

The way this shoe has been designed is to not only make your feet comfortable when cycling but also to ensure your foot is in the exact right position to make every effort you put into pedaling count. The shoes are a little snug when you order them in your usual size but due to the material, they mold nicely to your foot.

These are clipless shoes but the cleat style gives you grip without leaving you dangerously attached to the bike should there be an accident. With both the down and upstroke supported, you will feel a difference when you ride with these proper cycling shoes as opposed to anything else.

3. Fizik R5 UOMO BOA

The Fizik R5 UOMO BOA cycling shoes are made to enhance your performance rather than just be something that you wear on your feet. The stiffness of the material as well as the durability combine to give you additional strength and power when you pedal.

This shoe has a unique volume control feature that lets you get a better fit than with most other cycling shoes on the market. This controls the shape of the shoe to suit your exact foot size and level of comfort.

Along with the supportive heel and the stiff foot beds, the microfiber material and the strap closure make sure that every ounce of effort you exert goes into the bike to propel you forward. It should be noted that these shoes are very lightweight and resilient. They feel incredibly comfortable and airy but can withstand racing and high performance demands easily.

4. Shimano SH-RP2

The Shimano SH-RP2 shoes are made to last and made to support your feet when cycling. The synthetic leather material is lightweight and breathable without having too much give either. Your feet stay totally secure within the shoe and to your bike as these shoes have cleat compatibility with 2 and 3 bolt options.

The design of these shoes has been made to specifically enhance the effort you put into the upstroke. This is due to the narrow heel cup and to the way the shoe should be placed on the pedal.

The shoes come in both black and white, which gives women more options in terms of style. This is something many of the best cycling shoes on the market lack. Due to the material, there is also an air intake and exhaust system that lets air flow so your feet stay dry and fresh.

5. Pearl Izumi X-ALP Seek VII

The Pearl Izumi X-ALP Seek VII cycling shoes are made to look rugged and perform in rugged conditions too. The makeup of these shoes is focused on comfort as well as traction. The cushioning makes the shoes wearable when you are not riding but it isn’t so padded that you lose efficacy when you pedal either.

The carbon rubber lugged outsole is one of the best features of this shoe as it provides the traction you need. The style of these shoes is to look like a sneaker without losing performance-enhancing features. They are still lightweight and will fit your feet like a glove.

The fact that this is a lace up shoe instead of a Velcro or strap closure shoe is also a good feature if you prefer adjusting the fit with the laces. It is worth noting that these sneakers can run slightly small. It is recommended to order the next size from the one you normally wear. This will give you the right fit.

What to Take Away

All of the features are important when choosing a cycling shoe, but the one that you should give the most time and attention to is the fit of the shoe. This will have an effect on the comfort and thus your overall performance as a rider.

The best cycling shoes should be the ones that enhance your performance, not hinder it. The color of the shoes, the style of riding you do and the quality of the materials all mean nothing if the shoes are not secured to and supportive of your feet.