In this guide, we’ll review the nine most competitive cycling shoes on the market and explain their strongest and weakest points. Of all our favourites, the Garneau Granite II shoes topped the list for their multitude of features and functions
Why Cycling Shoes?
Cycling shoes are essential to keep your feet protected and maximize the transfer of energy from foot to the pedal. In some models, the innovative closure system protects pressure points on the top of the foot. Additionally, the soles are more stiff to aid in the effective transfer of energy as you ride.
Best All-Around Cycling Shoes
Designed for the road and packed with features, the Giro Savix shoes are our best all-around cycling shoes. The uppers are made from seamless PU leather, giving the shoe a sleek and attractive design.
Like many other Giro shoes on this list, the Boa L6 knob system can be easily turned for micro-adjustments to the fit. We also loved the extra padding near the collar, which provides ankle support and prevents irritation.
- X-Comfort zone expandable & prevents numbness
- Ergo Grip on the outsole
- MTB-pedal compatible
- Not as sturdy as past models
Best Affordable Cycling Shoes
Packed with value at an affordable price, cyclists of all levels should add the Giro Riela RII’s to their collection. The three hook and loop straps make them effortlessly simple to take on and off. Also, the synthetic uppers are breathable and comfortable. The interior fabric lining is also breathable with a “next to skin” feel.
Our customers also thought the cushiony EVA footbed provided excellent all-day support. The bottom of the shoe is made of a moulded nylon and rubber outsole, making the Riela RII’s versatile and durable.
- SPD-pedal compatible
- Supportive EVA insole
- 3-strap system for comfortable wear
- Not as many advanced features as other cycling footwear
Best For Beginners Cycling Shoes
Updated from its previous iteration with patented X Comfort Zone technology, the Garneau Copal II shoes are perfect for new cyclists. The synthetic leather and nylon meshed uppers are thermo-bonded for a seamless design, which eliminates pressure on the top of the foot.
Meanwhile, the dual hook & loop closure system and the ratcheting strap provide locked-in security for long rides. The shoes also come equipped with a reflective hit back, and Ergo reinforced nylon outsoles. Overall, these shoes are endowed with plenty of protective and comfortable features.
- Thin, comfortable tongue
- Signature Garneau removable insole
- SPD-cleat compatible
- May run a bit small
Best For Commuter Cycling Shoe Cycling Shoes
Highly functional and comfortable enough to be worn off the bike, the GIRO Rumble VR shoes are an all-time favourite among commuters. Their casual style is both comfortable and visually appealing. The recessed cleats and flexible rubber soles make them perfect for walking, unlike road cycling shoes.
Also, they’re made of remarkably high-quality materials like the EVA midsole and are reasonably priced. Our customers also loved that they come in relatively big sizes for those with larger feet.
- Breathable uppers
- Versatile for off-bike purposes
- Not as much weather protection as other cycling footwear
Best For Mountain Biking Cycling Shoes
If you’re looking for a shoe to take you all over mountains and trails, the durable Giro Cylinder Mountain Bike shoe is our first choice. The sporty EVA insole keeps your foot comfortable, and the synthetic microfiber uppers add breathability and moisture control.
Customers also remarked that the single cross strap, paired with the Boa L6 dial, allowed for easy tightening and removal. Lastly, these wouldn’t be mountain biking shoes without the beefy lugs that can power through various terrain.
- Compatible with SPD cleats
- Durable nylon & rubber comb-moulded outsole
- Snug, secure fit system
- A bit expensive
Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes
Specially made for triathlons, the Garneau Tri X-Speed IV shoes offer cyclists superior comfort and dependability. The uppers are made from synthetic leather, which is durable and stylish. Also, the breathable mesh inserts throughout the shoe keep the feet dry.
One of our favourite features is the two or three-hole outsole, which can fit virtually any SPD or road-bike pedal clip system. The two thick hook and loop straps make transitioning a breeze, and the inside collar and tongue are super padded to help with endurance.
- Dual hook and loop closure
- Removable footbed
- Energy-efficient carbon composite sole
- A bit stiff for some users
Best Mid Range Cycling Shoes
Outfitted with all the advanced features that Garneau has to offer, the Garneau Platinum II cycling shoes are a fantastic mid-range shoe. They come with the classic removable insoles, perforated for maximum breathability. Besides, the mesh panels on the uppers make them ideal for all-day riding.
The Boa lace-up closure system helps them fit most feet precisely, and the textile lined interior increases airflow. The outsole has durable steel inserts, so they fit most major road and SPD pedal systems.
- Outsole fits most major pedal systems
- Boa closure system enhances the fit
- Mesh panels near toes provide breathability
- Limited colour choices
Best For Wider Feet Cycling Shoes
If you struggle with the narrow design of most cycling shoes, the Garneau Carbon LS-100 III shoes will fit like a dream. Thanks to the patented X Comfort Zone technology, the foot can swell up to 5 millimetres and still fit comfortably.
Like other Garneau shoes, the Boa lacing system tightens to your foot size accurately without hitting pressure points. Also, the carbon composite outsole allows for maximum power transfer while stabilizing the foot simultaneously. Lastly, the air channel technology on the outsole dries the feet fast.
- X Comfort Zone excellent for wider feet
- Air channels help keep feet dry
- Energy maximizing outsole
Best For Narrow Feet Cycling Shoes
As the Gold Award recipient at Eurobike 2017, the Garneau Course Air Lite II shoes are renowned for their features. The neat expansion zones allow for a variety of foot shapes, thanks to the X Comfort Zone technology.
The arch area also gets plenty of support due to the Power Zone insert, which keeps the foot from collapsing inward while cycling. The whole back of the foot is surrounded by a cat’s tongue style material, ensuring stability in the foot. The padded tongue of the uppers also protects pressure points.
- Superior protection of the foot
- Narrow feet won’t slip and slide in the footbed
- Extra arch support
- Not as stylish as other cycling footwear
What to Look For When Buying Cycling Shoes
What is it for?
As with all types of footwear, you must consider the type and vigour of cycling you plan to do. Different shoes are tailored to diverse terrain, weather conditions, and cycling intensity.
Road cycling shoes are made for maximum energy efficiency on long, smooth rides. Some road routes will have downhill slopes and uphills, but the majority of road competitions will be on smooth pavement.
For this reason, road cycling shoes have the stiffest soles for the ultimate energy transfer. The smooth soles with rubber pads are best for rides with minimal standing and walk time.
Since mountain biking trails can have rough and unpredictable terrain, MTB shoes are built to be rugged and protective. The uppers will usually be made of impact-resistant material that can withstand the elements. Also, the soles often have heavy lugged treads to power through thick mud or dirt.
Casual or commuter cycling shoes will have softer soles than road shoes. The soles are less stiff since commuters may be walking in their cycling shoes more than road cyclists. You can expect a tennis-shoe like design complete with moulded midsoles.
Recessed vs Protruding
Recessed cleats are standard in mountain bike shoes. They recess into the pump so that the user can walk or hike anywhere off the bike.
On the other hand, protruding cleats (or ones that extend out from the sole) are most common in road bikes. They connect to the pedals through a clipless mechanism.
Pedal & Clip Compatibility
The two-hole or SPD system makes it easier to walk around in your cycling shoes. They are more commonly found in mountain bike or commuter shoes. They are smaller and more flat than the three-hole system, but new riders may find it difficult to clip in at first.
The three-hole or Delta system is prevalent in road cycling shoes. They provide superior energy transfer, which is beneficial for road cyclists. The three-hole system is larger and thus easier to clip into the pedals.
To make sure the cycling shoe fits properly, make sure it feels snug but not too tight. You should have enough room to splay your toes and wiggle them around in the forefront of the shoe. However, the heel area should be the snuggest part. Since cycling shoes won’t stretch over time, they should fit comfortably from the beginning.
It’s good practice to try on shoes in the afternoon after your feet have had time to swell. Also, cycling shoes will be stiffer than running shoes but still shouldn’t cause irritation or discomfort.
Since cycling shoes are specially engineered for cycling, they will be more expensive than multi-functional running shoes. That being said, the price range can vary significantly from USD 60 to USD 550.
The old saying, “you get what you pay for,” is accurate when appraising cycling footwear. The technologies, materials, and designs are specially crafted for biking.
FAQ FOR CYCLING SHOES
Do cycling shoes make a difference?
Cycling footwear can undoubtedly make a big difference in your workouts and training. They can allow you to ride more swiftly and comfortably. Also, they’re engineered to reduce pressure in the upper part of your foot and maximize your energy transfer.
Are cycling shoes worth it?
The stiff soles of cycling shoes allow the power from your leg muscles to go directly into the pedals instead of the shoe’s cushion. In this way, cycling shoes get you farther, faster and let you amp up the resistance while cycling.
What shoes do pro cyclists wear?
Most pro cyclists use cycling shoes with SPD or Shimano cleats. Though there are many different brands used by professional cyclists, most are lightweight and breathable for faster cycling.
Can you wear running shoes for cycling?
It’s entirely possible to wear running shoes while cycling, it’s just that the energy transfer won’t be as efficient. Your feet will also feel less comfortable without the clip-in mechanism you find with cycling shoes. Overall, you’ll get more out of cycling with proper biking footwear.
Although you can bike in any shoes, cycling shoes can benefit anyone who cycles regularly. We hope that this comprehensive guide helps you find the ultimate cycling shoes for your next ride.
Browse our extensive range of Garneau, Giro, and other cycling shoes on Altitude Sports and find one you love.