These days, the amount of cycling shoes on the market can be overwhelming. Here’s some of our recent favorites, the best cycling shoes on the market, to help you cut through the noise. Some are flashy (gold, anyone?) with a price tag to match, some are ridiculously light, and others deliver impressive performance at a friendlier price. Tarmac or gravel, fondo or race day – there’s a pair here that will help you tackle your next adventure.
Cycling Shoe 411
• When trying on cycling shoes, don’t try to judge the fit right away. Let the upper material warm up with your foot before deciding.
• If your feet swell on long days or in the heat, look for a shoe that can be easily adjusted from the saddle with one hand and without looking.
• A super stiff sole is not better for all riders. While it will transfer power more efficiently, many riders will get more benefit from a sole that provides more comfort over the long haul, especially if they suffer from ‘hot foot’.
• Cycling shoes can be very expensive, but remember that uncomfortable shoes can ruin a ride very quickly. These shoes are comfortable because they are hand made and labor intensive.
SIDI DRAGON 5
Designed as a mountain bike shoe, the Sidi Dragon 5 will also serve you well on all your gravel, ’cross and MTB adventures. Find your precise fit with Sidi’s Tecno 3 Push Dial Adjusters across the mid and upper foot and a Velcro strap that provides security across the toe. Those with wider feet can opt for the Mega version that adds an extra 4mm across the toe, along with a wider heel cup. The new Soft Instep 4 closure along with the breathable, padded tongue ensures comfort all around. And the carbon-composite sole provides stiffness while the fully replaceable sole tread inserts ensure your shoes will stay ready to tackle mud and gravel for seasons to come. Available in red, black or white/black. $400; ciclista-america.com
LOUIS GARNEAU COURSE AIR LITE II
When Canadian national champ Louis Garneau wanted a better kit for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, he decided to design one himself. The passion for performance that led to the founding of his company, Louis Garneau, is alive and well today in the Course Air Lite II shoe. Ultralight and ultra-stiff, this shoe provides race-ready performance with a fit that adapts to more riders than any other in production. The outsole improves power transfer by wrapping the foot for more stability, while the injected-nylon reinforcement at the heel stabilizes the foot in all phases of the pedal stroke. Louis Garneau’s integrated stretch panel X-Comfort Zone, Eurobike Award winning tech, adapts to almost any foot width and provides three levels of adjustable arch support at the insole. At just 235 grams for a size 42, it’s among the lightest and stiffest shoes on the market—and, in our experience, the best at adapting to multiple foot shapes. $370; garneau.com
GIRO PROLIGHT TECHLACE
When Giro released the original Empire shoes, the company unleashed a laces revolution. Most other companies quickly followed suit. Although many of those lasted only a season or two, Giro has stuck to its guns, attempting to improve on the benefits of laces with modern technologies. The company has kept the Empire line, yet the Prolight Techlace is a carbon-soled shoe that elevates both the technology and aesthetic of racing footwear. This top-of-the-line shoe marries laces to Velcro fasteners with the Techlace closure system, solving the lack of in-the-saddle adjustability facing the Empire. Giro uses its proprietary Ultralight Techmesh for the upper. It creates improved ventilation and results in a lighter shoe overall, claiming that a size 42.5 weighs a mere 150 grams! The Prolight Techlace comes with an adjustable arch-support kit and travel bag. $400; giro.com
SHIMANO XC7 OFF-ROAD
As the road transitions from tarmac to dirt, having the right shoe becomes critical. A pure cross-country shoe emphasizes stiffness for maximum power transfer over comfort. By contrast, a set of adventure-cycling kicks balances that stiffness with subtle give for endurance comfort. It will also have strategically positioned rubber on the soles for those critical hike-a-bike sections. Shimano’s XC7 Off-Road shoe works well for both 90 minutes of lung-searing XC racing and long off-the-grid adventure riding. The shoes have a rigid carbon reinforced midsole, a vented synthetic upper, a toe strap and single BOA dial for easy fit adjustment. The rubberized Michelin outer sole provides superior traction. After a 4-mile uphill bike march on Los Angeles’ Idlehour trail, we can attest to its incredible durability as well. $225; 335g (size 42); shimano.bike.com
DL KILLER KS1
The DL Killer KS1 shoes bring comfort through customization in a sleek Italian design. That customization comes in the form of the latest HMS technology that allows you to heat-mold the shoe’s upper and carbon-fiber outsole. This one-piece carbon-fiber hull and sole is designed to give lateral as well as arch support to the foot, making for a superbly comfortable fit. When you’re on the bike, the AT OP lace system allows for quick and easy adjustment; and ample ventilation in the shoe’s upper and carbon outsole regulate temperature and allow proper draining in wet conditions. The shoes are available in a variety of colors, including gold, silver and red, but if you plan to wear these ultra-flashy shoes you best have the legs to back them up. £325 (British Pounds); dlkiller.cc
Italian shoe brand Sidi, ridden by current Milan-San Remo champion Vincenzo Nibali, is a go-to for high-quality, handmade cycling shoes that also come with a high price. Sure, you can drop a few extra dollars on the Sidi Shot and sport the same kicks as the Shark of Messina, but Sidi’s more affordable Alba shoes are worth a look for more budget-minded riders. The Sidi Alba features a Millennium 4 carbon sole and an external, reinforced heel cup to give the shoes good power transfer and durability. A Tecno 3 Precision ratchet closure and two Velcro straps curate that signature Sidi comfort-fit, and a replaceable heel pad means you can stomp around the coffee shop all you want and not worry about scuffing that beautiful carbon sole. Our favorite feature of the Sidi Alba is the price—at $200, it is $350 less than the Shot. With all the dough you’ll save, you can even buy an extra pair in a different, beautifully crafted color scheme to diversify your cycling kit. $200; ciclista-america.com
PEARL IZUMI P.R.O. LEADER V4
Pearl Izumi’s P.R.O. Leader shoes have been some of our favorite climbing shoes for the last few seasons and the latest, the V4, is the best yet. The tech—no lasting board, seamless upper, new bi-directional closure wrap, superstiff carbon outsole—is all great, but it’s the bling that hooked us. The outsole’s rainbow electroplate may be tough to see in the saddle and may not be very practical but if you have some soul it’s a flashy addition you’ll love, and they go uphill just as fast, or faster, than any boring, naked carbon outsole. $350; pearlizumi.com