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Pushing pedals is comfier with stiff-soled shoes, and they don't have to cost lots

Cycling shoes have stiffer soles than, say, trainers or running shoes, which makes them more comfortable to pedal in. You can pay hundreds of pounds for high-tech shoes with carbon fibre soles, but you can get perfectly usable shoes for under £50.

As Mat Brett discusses at length in our article covering everything you need to know about cycling shoes, there are broadly two types of cycling shoes: road racing style and SPD/mountain bike style.

SPD/mountain bike style shoes have a small cleat (a special stud) recessed into the sole. They're easier to walk in than road racing shoes and because the pedals are usually double-sided they're easier to get into. They're the way to go if you want to get started with clipless pedals.

Road racing shoes have stiff, smooth soles with threaded holes for a cleat that stands proud from the shoe and fits into the attachment mechanism on a matching pedal. They're efficient and secure, but there's a learning curve to getting in to the usually single-sided pedals and the shoes are hard to walk in.

Let's see what we can find by way of shoe bargains.

SPD shoes

dhb Troika — £35

dhb_troika_shoes.jpg

dhb_troika_shoes.jpg

Bargain slippers from WiggleCRC's house brand, it's hard to see how you can go wrong with these three-strap SPD shoes for £35. The upper is synthetic and the sole nylon for a bit of walkable flex. Caveat: they come up big, so you'll need to go down a size fro your usual fitting.

B'Twin 100 road shoes — £29.99

B'Twin 100 Touring shoes.jpg.jpg

B'Twin 100 Touring shoes.jpg.jpg

These shoes from French-based sport store chain Decathlon look like a bargain entry point in cycling footwear. They're billed as road shoes, but have a two-bolt mounting for mountain bike-style cleats, so you'll be able to walk in them easily.

Muddyfox Tour 100 Low Cycling Shoes — £29.99

Thirty quid now seems to be the starting price for cycling shoes and these from Sports Direct brand Muddyfox are typical of what you'll find. You get a padded mesh fabric body, with laces and Velcro strap to cover the knot and lace ends and a cushioned heel outsole for walking.

Shimano MT34 SPD Touring Shoes — £44.99

SHIMANO MT34 MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES.jpg

SHIMANO MT34 MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES.jpg

Shimano invented the SPD shoe and pedal (it stands for Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) and in the 25 years since then the Japanese component giant has got very good at making shoes for the system.

There's a glass fibre reinforced nylon shank in the sold for rigidity, but the whole sole is cushioned for comfort. A lace closure means you'll have to be a bit careful about tying them so that they're clear of the chain.

As well as the black here, they're also available in cheery blue, and there's a women's version too.

If you're outside the mainstream 41-15 size range, you'll have to shop around a bit to find the best price for these shoes. The link takes you to Decathlon, but other sizes are usually a bit pricier.

Find a Shimano dealer

Road shoes

dhb Aeron Carbon — £47.99

dhb_aeron_shoes.jpg

dhb_aeron_shoes.jpg

These shoes from the Aeron performance branch of WiggleCRC's brand dhb are a great deal for the money, with a carbon fibre sole and a ratchet closure. The sole appears to be identical to that of the dial-closure version Mat reviewed recently, so you should get most of that shoe's performance for very reasonable money.

Muddyfox RBS100 shoes — £29.99

Muddyfox RBS100 Shoes.jpg

Muddyfox RBS100 Shoes.jpg

My eyes! It's okay, these budget road shoes from Muddyfox are also available in a snazzy white, red and black colour scheme for those who aren't sufficiently extrovert for screaming neon.

They have a two-strap closure, with a very broad strap across the top to spread the tension over your foot, and Amazon reviewers say the sole is plenty stiff. For just £30, they do the job.

Diadora Phantom II — £24.99 - £34.49

Diadora Phantom II.jpg

Diadora Phantom II.jpg

Italian sports brand Diadora makes a big range of footwear, including well-regarded cycling shoes. For just £30, these two-strap shoes with composite-reinforced soles are excellent value, if the shiny white colour scheme suits your style. At the time of writing, Chain Reaction has a good range of sizes in stock.

B'Twin 500 road shoes — £49.99

B'Twin 500 road shoes v2.jpg

B'Twin 500 road shoes v2.jpg

With a fibreglass-reinforced nylon sole and classic trio of Velcro straps, these road shoes from Decathlon look to be very good value. They'll take either three-bolt cleats or two-bolt SPD cleats.

Shimano R065 SPD-SL Road Shoes — £39.99

Shimano R065 SPD SL Shoes.jpg

Shimano R065 SPD SL Shoes.jpg

These value road shoes from Shimano are widely available on special offer at the moment, but you can still get a full range of sizes.

Shimano describes them as all-round sport shoes and the soles will take two-bolt and three-bolt cleats on the nylon sole.

Up top there's a mix of mesh and synthetic leather, with two broad Velcro straps to snug them round your feet.

Find a Shimano dealer

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The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

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As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

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Road.cc buyer's guides are maintained and updated by John Stevenson. Email John with comments, corrections or queries.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

8 comments

Avatar
ClubSmed [675 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Muddyfox Tour 100 Low Cycling Shoes were what I bought when I wanted to try clipping in but did not want to spend a lot of money to find out it wasn't for me. These shoes lasted just long enough for me to find out that it was for me (2 weeks). Completely false economy, I then got the shimano ones that were £15 more and they are still going strong 2 years later (they are refusing to die and I really want to start wearing the new shoes I bought).

Avatar
Jetmans Dad [44 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

In the interests of fairness, I did exactly the same, and my first pair of Tour 100s lasted well over 2 years, and I was so pleased with them I bought another pair to replace them when they wore out. That second pair is now reaching the end of its useful life (again 2 years or so later) and I will likely get another as they have given me not trouble and no reason to look elsewhere.

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mdava [47 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I own one pair of bike shoes - the cheap(ish) Nike ones that I bought in 2003.  The velcro closures on each shoe came adrift at differnet times, and each was replaced at the local cobblers for a few quid. Admittedly I am a leisure rider but apart from years with a significant injury do about 5,000km a year, all year round.

Perhaps I should treat myself to a new pair this summer?

Interestingly, they came as a package with some Look delta pedals.  I have been through four sets of pedals in the lifetime of the shoes (Cheap Deltas made of plastic wore out, second pair of Deltas got to the point of chronic, uncurable squeaking, switched to SPD-SLs and left the first pair behind on an overseas visit so replaced them with the same).

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Markus [56 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Any suggestions for cheap shoes with laces only? For the vintage ride.

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jterrier [191 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like
Markus wrote:

Any suggestions for cheap shoes with laces only? For the vintage ride.

Dhb make a lace up own brand shoe.

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mtbtomo [260 posts] 3 weeks ago
1 like

Louis Garneau at Evans have a few lace up versions below £100

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JohnnyEnglish [22 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes
Markus wrote:

Any suggestions for cheap shoes with laces only? For the vintage ride.

Shimano RT4.

http://www.shimano-lifestylegear.com/gl/fw/products/explorer/18ss_003rt4...

Widely available for under £70. Road.cc did a test on the velcro counterparts, the RT5 - review at http://road.cc/content/tech-news/227112-first-look-shimano-rt5-road-shoe...

 

Avatar
Markus [56 posts] 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Thx