Road cycling shoes give you major benefits
There are road bike shoes for both cycle racing and mountain biking. The fit is individually tailored for the specific discipline. The shoe needs to fit snugly around the foot, but without causing unwanted rubbing, strong pressure or pain. Sole standard, closures, material and weight are also important factors when choosing road cycling shoes. Depending on what you will be using them for and how often, these factors will guide you to the ideal footwear.
What should be considered when choosing a suitable road cycling shoe?
Before you decide what road bike shoes to buy, you need to be clear about your user behaviour. A novice racing cyclist has different requirements than a high-performance semi-professional racing cyclist. It’s also important to know that women’s road bike shoes are different from men’s road bike shoes. Here is a quick guide to the most important criteria.
Pedals, cleats and sole quality need to match
Choosing a particular clipless pedal affects your choice of road cycling shoe, as not all clipless pedal systems are compatible with every sole standard. The best-known sole standard systems are:
- 3-hole system compatible with Shimano SPD-SL / Look Kéo
- 2- hole system compatible with Shimano SPD / SPD-R
- Speedplay 4-hole system
The most common clipless pedal system is Shimano SPD-SL, whereas the Look Kéo is a pioneering clipless system, and the Speedplay system delivers excellent power transfer with a minimalist design. There is also the Shimano SPD clipless system (minus the “SL” suffix), but this is specially designed for MTBs and trekking. Hybrid pedals are also available, with one side fitting to your road bike shoes and the other side for using with regular shoes.
Lots of clipless road cycling shoes are compatible with many of the above systems. If required, you can also use cleat adapters to make a road cycling shoe compatible with a particular pedal. And all clipless pedal systems allow you to fit release mechanisms yourself. You get to decide how much force you need to use to click out of the binding. For beginners this needs to be possible with rather little force, so they can react quickly during the familiarisation phase.
Road bike shoes soles and closures
Road bike shoe soles are mostly carbon or a hard plastic mixture. Some models have a heel section that can be replaced when it wears. With regard to closures, each type has its own pluses and minuses. But, whatever else happens, the road cycling shoe should always fit the foot snugly and pressure needs to be spread evenly over the arch.
Carbon offers the best rigidity for little weight – giving you optimum efficiency. But you shouldn’t do any great distances in carbon-soled shoes: for one, this stresses the material unnecessarily, and riding in stiff carbon soles isn’t too comfortable, either.
Road bike shoes with plastic soles are heavier and less rigid, but making them cheaper and less prone to wear. Walking is also at least a little more comfortable.
Popular closure solutions for road cycling shoes include the Boa® twist closure system, hook and loop closure - often combined with a buckle closure - and classic laces. If it’s important for you to be able to adjust the closure easily while riding, you should go for the Boa® system.
Road cycling shoes for winter and good ventilation in summer
Well ventilated road bike shoes are really important in the summer months to prevent moisture build-up in the shoe. Breathable uppers allow air to circulate. Waterproof overshoes keep your feet dry when riding in summer showers.
There are also winter road cycling shoes for low temperatures: these have a waterproof membrane (e.g. GORE-TEX®) and extra insulation, keeping your feet warm – and dry – in cold and wet weather. Alternatively, you can make your summer road cycling shoes more waterproof in winter by wearing water- and windproof neoprene overshoes. With our high-quality bike wear, you’ll be ready for the not so fine days, too.
Road cycling shoes with special features
The ergonomic qualities of road cycling shoes should also play a part in your choice. There are road bike shoes with a really wide forefoot. They are designed to be more comfortable for cyclists with a wide forefoot. Compared to men’s road bike shoes, women’s road bike shoes are fitted to the shape of a woman’s foot and often come in smaller sizes from around size 36. Some Sidi models have a special knob for fitting the heel area of the shoe to your foot even better.
For increased safety, you can choose road bike shoes with fluorescent uppers and special applications that make you more visible to other road users.