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Best road cycling shoes 2024 — get some light, stiff kicks to help you go faster on the bike

Want to be more comfortable and efficient on your road bike? Proper cycling shoes that fix you to the pedals are essential. Here are some of the best to suit all budgets

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Slipping on a pair of the best road cycling shoes, your riding immediately becomes both more comfortable and efficient. While you could cycle in a pair of trainers, we’re going to assume for the sake of this article that you want to ride in dedicated cycling shoes - and rightly so, as they are really a great way to make your cycling that little bit faster. Road cycling shoes are designed to be light and stiff for efficient pedalling, and usually come with mesh panels to keep your feet cool in the summer, and a relatively stiff sole that's designed to be compatible with three-bolt cleats that clip into clipless pedals.

This guide, including the above top picks, consists of road cycling shoes only (check out our full cycling shoe reviews archive for a mix of genres) including unisex, women's and men's options. We have reviewed a lot of cycling shoes, and it appears the bike industry has been on a roll in recent years concerning what they choose to send us because there are a lot of high scores in our cycling shoe archives.

That means we've had to make some brutal cuts to slim down our top picks, with surprising omissions such as the legendary Italian cycling shoe maker Sidi... there's always next year if any missing brands/their PR companies want to send their wares to us for review! 

Before we get into the details about the best shoes, let's unpick some of the general characteristics of road cycling shoes. Road cycling shoes often have a carbon fibre sole, and most manufacturers have a way of rating sole stiffness, though the scales vary drastically between brands. The stiffest shoes are usually best for racing where maximum efficiency is crucial, whereas if you are doing super long rides you might benefit from a little more give. Although you can still get cycling shoes with leather uppers, most shoemakers now use synthetic materials. They're tough, durable and easy to care for.

Dials that you wind up to tighten your shoe, usually from BOA who came up with the concept, are now the dominant closure system, but you'll also find ratchet buckles, Velcro straps and laces on some cycling shoes. 

How we review cycling shoes

As with any other product reviews we publish on, all of the shoes that have made it to this buyer's guide have been thoroughly tested. Our reviewers have years and years of riding experience, and use each pair of cycling shoes for at least a month before writing up their findings and coming up with final verdicts.

Cycling shoes are assessed on their quality, design, fit, durability and value. We'll always consider price when scoring - though it must be said that when it comes to cycling shoes, they can get very expensive but at the same time, last a long time.

We review a range of those from entry-level kicks to race-ready carbon-soled shoes, so we really have a comprehensive insight into what makes a good shoe, and we've included a range of price points here in this guide, too. 

Why you can trust us

All products included in buyer's guides will be things we've reviewed in full, or are highly recommended among multiple members of the team. With such an abundance of road cycling shoes in our reviews archive, all products included here are backed up by full reviews.

Because we've reviewed a lot of cycling shoes, the ones you'll find in this guide will all have scored 8/10 or more to be considered for inclusion. No matter how big the brand is or how many influencers seem to be riding in the shoes, they won't make it into this guide if the score was average or worse. 

Of course, the team members who write our guides are all experienced cyclists too. This means you can be sure we've made carefully considered product selections, and the advice you'll find at the bottom of the page is based on our real-world experience. 

That's quite enough waffling, let's get into our selections. We've started with a best-of-the-best that are previewed in the quick link section above, and if you keep scrolling then there are several extra recommendations that we couldn't leave out. There should be something to suit everyone and for all budgets, with options starting from a little over £50 up to over £300... 

The best road cycling shoes: our top picks

white Quoc Escape Road shoes on wooden background

Quoc Escape Road shoes

Best value road cycling shoe
Buy now for £150 from Sigma Sports
Well priced
Good ventilation
Very comfortable
White is difficult to keep clean
Retention system can loosen after hard efforts

The Quoc Escape Road shoes are a bit of an all-road pair of shoes, excelling in both road and mild gravel riding. 

Constructed with a leather-like polyurethane upper and a carbon composite outsole, they provide comfort for longer rides and enough stiffness for efficiency. With impressive ventilation and a roomy toe box, these shoes excel in warm weather conditions. These are a good cycling shoe option for riders seeking comfort and versatility without breaking the bank.

Light grey DMT KR SL Grey Road Shoes on wooden background

DMT KR SL Grey Road Shoes

Best road cycling shoes with laces
Buy now for £329 from Sigma Sports
Incredibly comfortable upper
Sole is impressively stiff
Great for riding in warm weather
Not so good for wet days

If you can afford the luxurious DMT KR SL shoes, you'll be rewarded with an "unbelievably comfortable upper mated to a stiff sole for the ultimate performance shoe" according to our reviewer, who was blown away by everything but the price. 

The 3D knitted upper is a single-piece construction with no seams, ideal for achieving perfect comfort. It's also hugely flexible, the stretch meaning that the shoe moulds to the shape of your foot perfectly.

The sole is as stiff as you could ever want, and don't be put off by the old-school laces if you think they won't offer secure closure. Instead of holes on either side of the tongue section, there are elasticated loops that run through the knitted upper, so as you pull the laces they tighten the shoe around your foot with even pressure all the way up. 

There isn't really anything to dislike here, apart from the 300 notes you'll need to buy them!

Grey Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes on wooden background

Boardman Carbon Cycle Shoes

Best budget road shoe with a carbon sole
Buy now for £85 from Halfords
Carbon sole is impressive at this price
Fine adjustment is easy
Supple upper aids comfort
Some sole flex from hard efforts

Another Recommends award winner, the Boardman Carbon road shoes offer pretty stonking value at just £85 with a carbon sole. Our reviewer was impressed with the construction, specification and price. 

These shoes offer decent stiffness, are well vented and the upper feels supple for plenty of comfort. You get modern ratchet dials for accurate tweaking, courtesy of Atop rather than Boa.

Overall, this is an uncomplicated, high-quality shoe for a sensible price. The most powerful riders may find the sole isn't the absolute stiffest, but it'll more than do for the rest of us. 

Black Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) Shoes against wooden background

Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) Shoes

Best road cycling shoes for summer racing
Buy now for £299 from Sigma Sports
Heavy venting not always ideal in the UK...

Bagging a Recommends award, the S-Phyre RC9 (RC903) shoes (an evolution of the outgoing RC902s) are light, impressively stiff, secure and super comfortable according to our reviewer. 

The venting makes them ideal for summer racing and long training rides; and if you've splashed out on these and didn't budget for some more wintery kicks, just be sure to add some very good overshoes if you're using them in the off-season. 

There's no denying these are rather expensive, but they're priced fairly compared to other top-end shoes. Go for these if you want pro-level stiffness and efficiency plus plenty of comfort, even on less-than-perfect road surfaces.

white Bont Vaypor 2023 shoes on wooden background

Bont Vaypor 2023

Best road cycling shoes for wide feet
Buy now for £332 from Sigma Sports
Very low weight
Wide range of sizes Great looks
Great looks
Two widths – and wide fit even for small sizes
Compromised durability with the toe guard – since addressed by Bont

The Bont Vaypor shoes are top-tier road cycling shoes offering exceptional performance and comfort, especially if you happen to have wide feet. These shoes are available in both standard and wide fits across the full range of sizes.

With a weight of just 346g per pair, these shoes are among the lightest options on the market, so if you want to shave off grams they are a great option (though, they do cost a pretty penny at that). Not only do these shoes look very good, but they also perform well and can be heat-moulded to fit your feet perfectly.

Overall, the Bont Vaypor shoes are a near-perfect choice for riders seeking high-performance footwear with superior fit and comfort.

White Specialized S-Works Torch road shoes on floor

Specialized S-Works Torch road shoes

Best money-no object road cycling shoes
Buy now for £269.49 from Sigma Sports
Wider through the mid and forefoot
Superbly comfortable
Less aggressive hold on ankle
Easy to keep clean
Silly expensive
Protection at the toe could be better
Dials don't pull to release

"Silly expensive" they may be, but if you want a slightly roomier fit than most high-end performance shoes might offer and are prepared to invest, the S-Works Torch are excellent. 

Offering a secure and comfortable fit, our reviewer said these shoes will be stiff enough for the pros, yet more likely to fit most of us mortals because of the wider fit in the mid and forefoot. Heel retention and comfort is superbly balanced, and Specialized uses its own material in the upper that shapes itself to the foot nicely. Anchor points for the closure dials have extra support, as do the inner sides of the toe box. 

Purple Liv Macha Pro Shoes on wooden surface in studio

Liv Macha Pro Shoes

Best women's performance road cycling shoes
Buy now for £229.99 from Winstanleys Bikes
Bold design
Easy to clean
Toe box shape won't suit all

Released in 2022, the updated Macha Pro shoe has a bold design and is an out-and-out performance shoe for serious road cycling and racing. A refined sole makes this the stiffest shoe our reviewer has ever tested while still being light and super comfortable, meaning they take the prize for our best women's road cycling shoes this time around. 

Our reviewer could sense the superior performance when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle, justifying why these shoes are so popular in the women's pro peloton. On top, the Li2 Boa dials are combined with Dyneema lacing for great closure, and the colourful upper wipes clean easily. Our reviewer didn't fully get on with the toebox, so we'd recommend trying before you buy as always. 

They're not cheap (no top-end road cycling shoes are) but if you want a superb, performance-orientated women's cycling shoe, this is it. 

More top performing road cycling shoes we rate highly

Giant Surge Pro Road Shoes

Giant Surge Pro shoes

Buy now for £274.99 from Winstanleys Bikes
Great stiffness
Improved comfort over the previous model
Great fit
Pro-level price tag
Sizing a little off

Another Recommends award winner, the latest Giant Surge Pro shoes have a refined sole shape, improved aesthetics and plenty of cool colour options available.  

According to our reviewer, the Surge Pro shoes maintain the awesome stiffness and performance levels of the previous versions, but are now even more comfortable. You might want to try before you buy because we found the sizing was slightly different compared to a lot of other popular brands, but when you've got that dialled in you won't be disappointed if you decide to splash out. 

Black Shimano RC7 (RC702) SPD-SL Shoes on wooden background

Shimano RC7 (RC702) SPD-SL Shoes

Buy now for £161.99 from Chain Reaction Cycles
Boa L6 dials don't loosen incrementally

We weren't planning to make this guide a Shimano shrine, but we've no option to add the Japanese giant's mid-range performance road shoe as well as the top-end one, because the RC7s are simply excellent cycling shoes. 

Described as an "excellent all-rounder" by our reviewer, you're getting many of the features that appear on the RC9 but at a much lower price. You'll be happy in these shoes for any riding scenario from riding to work, to races through to cafe rides and big days out/multi-day tours. The uppers really impressed on the comfort front, breaking in straight away and feeling like slippers from the off. 

With two BOA dials you can get plenty of tension, and the soles are stiff enough that no cyclist is realistically going to notice the difference between these and top-of-the-range soles. 

These shoes are ideal and feel more expensive than they are, whether you're new to cycling or an experienced rider. 

White Crono CR1 Carbon Road Shoes on wooden surface in a studio

Crono CR1 Carbon Road Shoes

Buy now for £175 from Merlin Cycles
Very comfortable
Stiff carbon soles
Excellent shaping
Easy adjustment

Bagging a Recommends award in late 2022, these kicks were the most comfortable our reviewer had ever worn, and are light and stiff to boot. 

Twin Boa dials makes getting the right tension a breeze on the CR1s, and the vents on the upper give just the right amount of airflow for a wide range of temperatures. You get some arch support in the footbed, and the super stiff carbon sole - at the top of Crono's stiffness index with a score of 10 - will support your feet for the most furious of sprints. 

They also look great, and with the price competitive compared to other high-end shoes, there's little to dislike. 

Red Giro Empire SLX road shoes pair on asphalt

Giro Empire SLX road shoes

Buy now for £165 from Sigma Sports
Great comfort
Stunning looks
Low weight
Laces won't be for everyone's taste

Impressive comfort, low weight and stunning looks — as close to a pair of slippers as you can get in cycling shoes. The Giro Empire SLX are among the very lightest shoes available, and this is backed up by incredible comfort from the lace-up uppers and a super stiff carbon fibre sole that doesn't waste any of your power when sprinting for the line.

Giro made quite an impact and raised a good few eyebrows when they launched the Empire shoes a good few years ago, successfully reintroducing lace-up shoes to a sport that had largely confined laces to the history books, replaced by buckles, ratchets and dials. They're still going strong way into the 2020s and are probably the most popular lace-up 'proper' road cycling shoes out there. 

The Microfiber Sport laces are designed to remain tied, hold a knot, be light and durable. The best thing about the laces is that you can get the closure pressure across the entire top of the foot just right, with no pressure points that you might get with a shoe that uses two or three focused closure points. Once tied, the laces are contained underneath a 'lace garage' on top of the shoe.

Get these if you want a high-performance shoe that harks back to tradition. They're also available in numerous colour options. 

Giro Republic R Knit Road Cycling Shoes

Giro Republic R Knit Road Cycling Shoes

Buy now for £70 from Evans Cycles
Good breathability
Good looking
Very easy to walk in
Two-bolt only
Standard lack of adjustability with laces

If you're after a two-bolt shoe for general road riding and commuting duties (and some forays off-road), then the Giro Republic R is a sensibly-priced knitted option that offers exceptional breathability.  

Despite the fairly lightweight knitted construction, our reviewer also said they lasted him for a long time with continual, everyday use, with just some scuffs to the toes and sole scratches after 18 months. 

Giro's 'Xnetic Knit' is made up of a blend of nylon and polyester fibres, and provides plenty of comfort across the whole foot. Overall these shoes are hard-wearing, super breathable and ideal for putting in serious miles over time. 

Bont Motion shoes

Bont Motion shoes

Buy now for £52.95 from Bont
Stiff sole
Low stack height
Supple and supportive uppers
Velcro straps won't appeal to all
Heavier than some rivals

They might look a little odd, and don't come with the heat-mouldable tech you get on higher end Bont shoes, but the entry-level Motion kicks have similar unconventional looks and are a great shout for those with wide feet. They're also stonking value and can be found for under £50 at numerous online retailers at the time of writing. 

Bont's 'anatomical design' means that the shoes are shaped more like a foot, so look a bit rounder than most cycling shoes. This being an entry-level shoe the sole is fibreless rather than carbon/anything fancy, but it does the job and provides impressive levels of stiffness. The sole doesn't feature any vents, but you do get some in the toe guard, which is the same as you'll find on other Bont shoes.

This shoe offers a high level of stiffness, loads of comfort, and plenty of durability according to our reviewer. They're a great shout for cyclists of all levels who are on a budget.

White Giro Regime Women’s Road Cycling Shoes pictured on wooden floor

Giro Regime Women’s Road Cycling Shoes

Buy now for £149.95 from Biketart
Dual-Boa closure
No sole vents

Another great pair of kicks from Giro, these women-specific shoes are sleek, comfortable and performance-orientated. 

Our reviewer enjoyed rides of five hours-plus in the Regime shoes, finding them super comfortable thanks to the Synchwire upper design, which Giro describes as an ultralight mono-filament mesh with thermal-welded TPU added for structural support. There are no sole vents, so they might not be quite so suitable for very hot weather. 

The only things our reviewer could fault were that they only come in white and that the women's sizes only go up to a 42. 

Black Lake CX238 Carbon Road Shoe on wooden background

Lake CX238 Carbon Road Shoe

Buy now for £235.99 from Sigma Sports
Stiff sole
Very good Boa dials
Available in a wide fit
Not the lightest

Described as stiff-soled and comfortable by our reviewer, Lake's CX238 shoes offer comfort, toughness and great adjustability. They're also available in wide sizes for those with wider feet. 

While they're not especially light, these shoes could last you years as the upper is made from a 'Fullgrain Water Resistant Premium Leather'. It should conform to the shape of your foot comfortably and our reviewer didn't notice any stretching. Boa IP1-S dials allow you to micro-adjust the tension in both directions, and you get full carbon soles. 

Go for these if you want some hard-wearing road shoes for all seasons. 

Rapha Classic Shoes

Rapha Classic Shoes

Buy now for £200 from Rapha
High comfort
Stiff and durable sole
Not the lightest

The Rapha Classics offer superb comfort, a novel lacing system, good sole stiffness and durability at a price that isn't outrageous at all. It might just be Rapha's best-value product in our opinion!  

Designed entirely in-house by Rapha, this shoe is an all-rounder that will suit most road cyclists. The double wall lacing system sees a one-piece microfibre upper head up from the sole, then in the midfoot area it folds inwards, and heads back to the sole – hence 'double wall'. Our reviewer described them as super comfortable, and best suited to mild climates like the UK. The upper and the tongue are perforated, but some of them don't go right through, so they're not quite as breathable as large mesh panels.

The Rapha Classics are great if you're after an aesthetically pleasing shoe with retro looks and modern tech. 

Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes

Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes

Buy now for £149.99 from Wiggle
Good fit
Great grip off the bike
Fluffy, warm interior
Sharp looks
Single-direction Boa

If you'd rather not have to put on additional overshoes in winter, Fizik's Terra Artica GTX could be right up your street. 

Targeted at gravel or mountain biking (but fine for winter road riding or commuting too), these boots are roomy enough for a thick sock, depending on the width of your feet. The inside is brushed feelce, which adds warmth and comfort, and our reviewer's feet were kept warm for hours on end wearing a single thermal leg layer. They're also impressively waterproof, with no waterproof socks needed to stop water from getting in - these boots will do the job on their own. 

They're not cheap, but for the investment you'll be rewarded with toasty feet for multiple winters right down to sub-zero temperatures. 

Best road cycling shoes: how to choose and what you need to know

What exactly is a road cycling shoe?

Modern cycling shoes differ from conventional ones because they have inserts on the soles that allow you to attach cleats, that themselves affix to a set of cycling-specific pedals so you're clipped into the bike. Confusingly this system, popularised by Look in the 1980s, is referred to as 'clipless', because in the old days cyclists used to slide and fasten their cycling shoes into a set of toe clips instead. Even the most ardent traditionalist would argue that clipless is simply more comfortable, efficient and ergonomic, and there's good reason that toe clips and straps have mostly died out! 

Within the broad church of clipless-compatible cycling shoes there are also more categories and genres. Mountain bike and commuter-style shoes will always run two-bolt cleats, that are easier to get in and out of but arguably less efficient, whereas shoes specifically made for road cycling will always have holes for three-bolt systems (Shimano, Look and Time are the most popular). This wider contact patch should allow you to eke out as much power as possible, although some road cyclists still prefer the more forgiving feel of two-bolt cleats. If you do prefer these but still want lightweight road cycling shoes, look for entry-level shoes that allow you to run two or three-bolt cleat systems. 

Road cycling shoes are not made for walking in, so this means the sole is solid and stiff. How stiff usually depends on your budget and preference, with lower-end shoes featuring more forgiving soles made of fibreglass or nylon, and higher-end options featuring carbon composite soles. 

The upper on a conventional road cycling shoe will be primarily designed to help the foot breathe and relieve pressure points. These days this often means breathable synthetic materials that can include mesh or venting in places, but some more traditional-looking road shoes are made of leather. Road cycling-specific shoes will be sleeker and sportier than commuter-style cycling shoes (which can still resemble trainers from the top) and this often means road shoes have a rather narrow fit. If you have wide feet, look out for wide-fit road cycling shoes and make sure you try before you buy wherever possible. Brands such as Lake and Fizik are known for making wide-fit road cycling shoes. 

Can I wear normal trainers for road cycling?

Of course! But as we've already clarified, it's just a lot more ergonomic and comfortable to be clipped in. Riding on flat pedals without your feet fully fixed to them means your feet are constantly making micro-adjustments while you pedal. If you're clipped in, there are few opportunities for your feet to move, and thus worsen your efficiency. 

If you're just popping to the shops, obviously flat pedals and normal shoes are more practical. But for road cycling, we'd always recommend proper cycling shoes. Go two-bolt with the cleat embedded into the shoe if your riding involves stop-offs and some walking, and three-bolt (or Speedplay-style pedals with a four-bolt pattern) for more uninterrupted road riding. 

How do I find the right size and fit?

Getting a comfortable shoe that fits well is absolutely essential, so it’s really worth heading to a well-stocked bicycle shop to try them on before you buy. Don’t assume that all brands are sized the same. Some are narrower and some come in wider fits.

Some brands, such as Shimano, cater for different foot widths with a ‘wide’ version of its regular shoes. There are brands that are known to suit narrower feet, an example being Sidi.

For this reason it’s really worth trying on a few shoes from different brands to find the ones that best fit you. When you do try on a pair of shoes in the shop, remember to wear the same cycling socks that you would on the bike.

Heat mouldable shoes, as the name implies, are shaped by heat. You warm them up in an oven and then mould them around your fit. This offers a degree of custom fit without the expense of having shoes handmade, which is good for people who struggle to get regular shoes to fit comfortably.

Do I need a carbon sole on my cycling shoes?

The short answer is no. Soles made of nylon or fibreglass can provide perfectly adequate levels of stiffness for all but the most discerning elite cyclists. There was even a study published in 2022 that found sole stiffness had no effect on cyclists' sprinting performance at all; so despite what the 'stiffness index' scales tell you, stiffer doesn't always mean better! Simply go for the shoes that you can afford, you like the look of and most importanty, fit you properly. If the sole isn't the stiffest on the market, it's very unlikely to lose you a race or Strava segment, we promise. 

Arriving at in 2017 via 220 Triathlon Magazine, Jack dipped his toe in most jobs on the site and over at eBikeTips before being named the new editor of in 2020, much to his surprise. His cycling life began during his students days, when he cobbled together a few hundred quid off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story) and bought his first road bike - a Trek 1.1 that was quickly relegated to winter steed, before it was sadly pinched a few years later. Creatively replacing it with a Trek 1.2, Jack mostly rides this bike around local cycle paths nowadays, but when he wants to get the racer out and be competitive his preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking - the latter being another long story.  

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tubasti replied to EM69 | 11 months ago

I bought my first pair of Sidis around 1980. At the time, spending $80 for a pair of cycling shoes seemed outrageous, but they came with bolted cleats and they were the first shoe in my experience to be made on a last that resembled a real foot.