If you’re a road cyclist or looking to get started with cycling on the road, then you must, must, must get some clip-in shoes. Not only does this helping with maximising power transfer but will also improve your speed in the process. Those using regular shoes will have to put in a significantly greater amount of work in order to achieve the same power, with the best road cycling shoes today providing excellent comfort, durability and breathability.
I have put together a list of some of the best road cycling shoes on the market, which will cater for a range of budgets, styles and performance needs. With the feet being one of the most important tools when cycling, it has never been more important to find the right pair of shoes to aid your performance.
Let’s get things started by taking a look at my first product.
The latest offering from Specialized in their S-Works range has seen major changes in terms of the upper in particular, with a Dyneema mesh having been added in order to improve their breathability. I also found that the S-Works 7 is stiffer than previous models, as well as being lighter, which helped my power transfer during testing.
A new powerline sole features both carbon and pressure mapping offering fantastic durability, whilst also aiding the lightweight feel of the shoe. Specialized have also made improvements in the heel, with their PadLock technology aiding the shoes comfort and traction during testing in wet conditions.
Boa dials have been used in order to ensure maximum lock-down of the feet, which also tie in with the S-Work 7’s modern and minimalistic design. These dials feature spring-touch internals and one-millimetre micro adjustments, which work together in order to bring about the perfect fit.
These shoes are one of the more expensive products on the market, meaning that they are likely to suit serious road riders looking for high-quality in order to aid their performance.
Available in a range of colours, I definitely found the S-Works 7 to be a significant improvement on the previous model, which was also an excellent product.
For those looking for a high-performance shoe at a slightly cheaper price point, the Factor Techlace from Giro is a great option. These shoes are made slightly more flexible thanks to their Techlace lacing system, while I found the EvoFibre one-piece upper to be both comfortable and breathable.
Replaceable heel pads can be found on the outsole, while steel hardware provides excellent durability. Easton® EC90 SLX2 high-modulus carbon is also utilised in this area of the shoe, which I found helped achieve a lightweight feel during testing, with the Factor Techlace weighing in at just 210g.
Adjustable arch support means that these shoes cater for riders with different shaped feet, while a Boa IP 1 dial provides efficient adjustment in 1mm increments, perfect for quick fastening or loosening of the shoes.
The quality of the materials used, and the affordable price point makes the Factor Techlace a viable option for both beginners and experienced road cyclists. They are available in a range of colours, including a standout yellow option, which will help you with visibility to other road users on darker nights.
The SH-RP400 cycling shoe is another that uses a Boa L6 dial to allow for quick adjustment. It comes with a combined fore and aft cleat-adjustment range of 22 mm meaning that I was able to find the perfect fit during testing of these shoes. Weighing in at around 516g per pair, the SH-RP400 is both relatively lightweight and durable too.
Matching brake levers provide maximum feel in this area, while I found that the curved last of the shoe helped to adapt to the shape of my foot. A Velcro fastener is also available along with the Boa dial, while these shoes are suitable for 3-hole cleats.
A synthetic leather upper provides excellent comfort and durability, while ventilation across the upper ensures for breathability at all times. A reinforced glass-fibre and nylon sole allows for excellent power transfer and I also found that the wide heel pads allowed for comfort when walking to and from my bike.
The price point of these shoes makes them excellent value-for-money, especially for those looking for a long-lasting option for road biking on an intermittent basis. The simplistic design should not take away from the range of features involved, which aid both comfort and performance.
The Surge Pro from Giant is undoubtedly one of the best-looking road cycling shoes on the market today, offering insane comfort to accompany its good looks. The thermoset carbon outsole provides excellent durability, with the Boa closure system ensuring a seamless connection to the bike at all times.
The reinforced high-density upper provides both comfort and ventilation, while I found that the slip-last construction allowed for crucial stiffness in the forefoot, helping to allow for rotation in the rear of the foot also.
A removable sockliner also features, allowing users to adjust the arch support on offer and the ExoBeam technology really helped to relieve unwanted stress on my knees and ankles during testing. Available in both white and black, the Surge Pro is simplistic in appearance, despite coming with a range of performance-enhancing features.
Giant is well-regarded within the industry, with these shoes being among the more expensive when compared to other products on the market at present.
Before you make your final decision regarding which road cycling shoes to buy, there are some important factors to consider, which may even potentially change your mind regarding your preferred product.
Fit is perhaps the most important factor to consider when looking for a new pair of road cycling shoes, with this certain to have an impact upon their ultimate comfort. Some cyclists will have wide feet, while others have more of a narrow shape, with many manufacturers catering for such styles in their products nowadays.
There is a range of closure systems when it comes to cycling shoes, including Velcro, ratchet and dial. It is important to find a system that suits your needs, with many of the best-performing shoes today coming with a dial system or a mix of dial and Velcro. Traditional lacing systems are still found on occasion, however, they rarely provide the lock-down required for maximum performance.
The materials used on the sole of a cycling shoe are likely to determine how durable they are, as well as their stiffness. Both are important when it comes to road cycling, with many of the best shoes now being made out of carbon in order to maximise performance. This is likely to make them more expensive, but they will undoubtedly last longer and aid your power transfer.
Experienced road cyclists will be all too familiar with the heat caused by constant pedalling on tough rides, with today’s shoes offering the ventilation needed in order to ensure that this is no longer an issue. Mesh holes are often found in the upper, keeping enough warm air in to ensure you stay comfortable during the winter months.
As you will see from the list of products discussed in this article, prices vary significantly when it comes to road cycling shoes. As a result, it is important to set yourself a budget beforehand, which will be determined largely by both your financial situation and how often you intend to take your bike out on the roads.