Cycling Shoes Guide
Summary / Key features
- There are cycling shoes to suit all kinds of cycling
- Road cycling shoes and mountain bike shoes can be very performance orientated
- Other bike shoes are designed for comfort and style as much as performance
- Some cycling shoes are compatible only with certain pedals
- Clipless pedals can only (properly) be used with a pair of compatible cycling shoes
Cycling Shoes suitable for?
- Road cyclists
- Mountain bikers
- Cycling to work
- As an important point of contact between the rider and the bike, a good pair of cycling shoes can make a big difference to your ride.
- Clipless mounting systems (Shimano SPD and Look for instance) are only suitable for a compatible cycling shoe. It will be apparent in the description.
- Clipless mountain bike shoes tend to be a little less stiff than most road shoes (although high end mountain bike shoes are as stiff as any road shoe), and some grip for walking, for those moments when you’ve got to push!
- Road bike shoes are not designed to be walked in at all. The cleats and on bike ergonomics will turn your walk into a waddle
- Entry level mountain bike shoes and touring shoes offer a good all round performance and are suitable for commuting and general cycling as well.
James at Tredz: “My mountain bike shoes are used for everything. Off road, cycling to work, little bit of road sometimes too – if you’re looking for a good all-rounder – entry level MTB shoes are a good bet.”
Choosing the best cycling shoes
What are different bike shoes good for
- Road shoes: Performance road shoes are only really suitable for the road. You can’t walk on them properly (although you’ll waddle just fine), thanks to their on bike ergonomics and large cleats. Stiff for pedalling efficiency and light – they’re the most comfortable (and fastest) thing over long distances on the road.
- Mountain bike shoes: High end clipless mountain bike shoes are not too dissimilar from their road counterparts. Performance orientation means that they are designed very stiff and light to get the most out of each pedal stroke.
Entry level shoes are a little less rigid and much easier to walk in, although all mountain bike shoes have some kind of grip (sometimes studs at the front of the sole too) to help grip when the mountain (or the supermarket security guard) makes you have to get off and walk.
- General/Touring clipless shoes: Touring shoes offer a good 50/50 balance between walking and riding. The clipless touring shoe recognises that you want to get the most out of your pedal stroke, but not at the expense of being able to walk comfortably when you unclip.
- Tri bike shoes: Are only really good for tri. Similar to road shoes, but with triathlon specific features like being very easy to get on and off and superior venting.
- Winter cycling shoes: A small category, but an important one. Winter bike shoes are designed to be worn when the going gets very cold and wet. They are mostly designed for mountain biking, but thanks to their ability to keep feet warm and comfortable, you’ll find them used on the road and commute too.
Staff picks entry level mountain bike shoes
Chris Shimano MO77 shoe: An entry level shoe that is just as happy on the trail as it is cycling to work. A classic and possibly our best seller.
Aled Specialized BG Sport shoe: Very similar to the MO77 in terms of performance. We usually recommend the BG Sport to customers who have slightly wider feet.
Staff picks performance mountain bike shoes
JT Time MXC shoe: A stiffish race shoe maybe, but not at all delicate. Good for almost all conditions.
Gideon Specialized BG Pro Mountain Shoes: Very pricey, but probably our ideal ‘race’ shoe. Stiff, but thanks to the BG technology, they are comfy too. You won’t find any hotspots no matter how long you ride.
Staff picks road cycling shoes
James Shimano RO87 Road shoe: A step up from the entry level, it’s worth the little bit extra for the adjustability you get from the buckle closure.
Stuart Giro Trans Road shoe: Quite new but we already really like the Giro shoes. This is stiff and very comfy. Looks very nice too!
Staff picks general cycling shoes
Gideon Specialized Tahoe: Seems to have been around for ages – the Tahoe is the walk/ride shoe that we’d always turn to first. Ideal for commuting in summer.
Chris Shimano AM45: The bike/walk skate style shoe we all want. Our favourite SPD compatible ‘normal’ shoe.
Staff picks winter cycling shoes
Gideon Specialized Defroster: Specialized have got this winter bike shoe down to a fine art. A waterproof and windproof shoe that you’ll wear all winter.
Chris Shimano MW80: Possibly the ultimate winter cycling shoe. The gore tex used mean that Shimano can make the MW80 that little bit warmer without restricting breathability.