BUYER'S GUIDE

10 of the best cheap cycling shoes — footwear for the street & the lanes for under £50

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

Triban RC 100 road shoes — £29.99

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 — £26.00 - £35.99

Thirty quid or thereabouts is 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 ME2 — £32.00-£39.99

The sole of these mountain bike shoes has a deeper tread than the MT34s, for grip on dirt, but there's a continuous raised section around the cleat for easy walking. The sole is reinforced with glass fibre for stiffness.

Find a Shimano dealer.

Triban RC 500 — £44.99

The latest shoes from Decathlon, these have a two-bolt sole for mountain bike style cleats so you can walk in them easily. They look just the job for touring, commuting and even club runs. They're also available in all black, or with blue or red in place of orange.

Road shoes

Merlin RC1 road shoes — £35

The Nylon soles of these entry-level road shoes from Merlin will take either two-bolt or three-bolt cleats and there are blocks on the heel and toe for easier walking. The three-strap upper is made from synthetic leather and is padded for comfort around the heel and ankle. Unlike many of the budget shoes here they're available in a full range of sizes from 41 to 47, which makes them an accessible bargain unless you have very large or small feet.

If you've got a bit more to spend, the Merlin RC2 shoes are very similar, but with a dial closure, for £49.99.

Northwave Core Women's Road Shoes — £35

If your feet are too small for the Merlin RC1 shoes above, then chances are you're a woman, in which case may we commend these carbon-reinforced numbers. The three-bolt sole is vented for warm conditions and the moulded one-piece upper reduces pressure points.

Shimano RP2 — £49.95

These three-strap shoes from Shimano are compatible with both two-bolt and three-bolt cleats. The sole is glass fibre reinforced nylon and is designed for indoor cycling as well as riding outdoors. The upper is made from mesh and synthetic leather and has extra cushioning for comfort.

Mavic Aksium II — £59.50

Built on a fibreglass-reinforced sole for stiffness, these three-strap shoes have reflective highlights for visibility. Mavic's shoes are known for their comfy fit and durability, so this is a decent deal for entry-level Mavic kicks, though we have seen them for under £50. They're compatible with two-bolt SPD and three-bolt Look-style cleats.

Shimano RP1 — £49.99

Wiggle customers are very happy with their RP1 shoes, praising the fit, comfort, sole stiffness and faff-free two-strap closure. The sole gets its stiffness from fibreglass reinforcement and there's a reflective patch on the back for visibility. They're compatible with two-bolt SPD and three-bolt Look-style cleats.

Muddyfox RBS100 shoes — £26.00 - £35.99

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.

Van Rysel 500 road shoes — £49.99

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.

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

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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