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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

Triban RC 100 road shoes — £29.99

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 — £26

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 MT34 SPD Touring Shoes — £37.99

Shimano MT-34 shoes black

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 blue, and there's a women's version too.

Find a Shimano dealer.

Shimano ME2 — £32.00-£47.50

Shimano ME2 SPD Mountain Bike Shoes

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

Triban RC500 shoes

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

Diadora Trivex II — £39.95

Diadora Trivex II

With a simple three-strap closure and composite-reinforced sole, these racing shoes from top Italian brand Diadora are perhaps a shade pricey at their £90 RRP. For £40, though, they're an absolute steal.

Shimano RP2 — £49.95

Shimano RP2

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 — £58.08

mavic Aksium II shoe

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 — £48.45

Shimano RP1 shoe

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 — £29.99

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.

B'Twin 500 road shoes — £49.99

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.

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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.

14 comments

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ClubSmed [781 posts] 1 year 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).

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Jetmans Dad [178 posts] 1 year 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 [48 posts] 1 year 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 [65 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

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

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Jimthebikeguy.com [260 posts] 1 year 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 [290 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

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

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JohnnyEnglish [24 posts] 1 year 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...

 

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Markus [65 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Thx

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BetterNever [24 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Mavic Aksium II aren't 2-bolt SPD compatible, they only take 3-bolts.

The tour versions of the Aksium and Ksyrium shoes are, but they seem to have stopped making them, annoyingly as they're pretty much my go-to shoes - decent road shoes that work properly with 2-bolt SPDs and have enough of a tread that you can actually walk with them. I've yet to find anything as good.

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Zebra [48 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I have the DHB aeron carbons, and I'm happy with them.  They are a big size, as Wiggle say on thier website, so most people will need to go a size down.  My existing shoes were 43 and a bit tight, so I stuck with 43 and the fit in the aerons is good.  My only criticism is that the inners offer no support at all to the instep of the foot - they are very flat. I have just ordered some superfeet carbon inners to go in them, which I am hoping will provide some more support on longer rides. 

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alexb [202 posts] 11 months ago
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I've done a few 100km+ rides wearing the new dhb Dorica lace-up shoes (I'm using the ones with the MTB sole). In my opinion Wiggle missed a trick as they should have been marketing these for Audaxers or "Gravel Riders", these are great shoes at a really good price point. They're not overly stiff, but as a result, "hike a bike" or walking is reasonably comfortable and the cleats are fully protected. My white shoes have a few scuffs and dirt on them, but have cleaned up OK and look great on the bike.

My only criticism is that the tongue presses on my foot a bit at the front of the shoe, but I'm expecting that, as the padding beds in, this will disappear,

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Zebra [48 posts] 11 months ago
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Alexb: My only criticism is that the tongue presses on my foot a bit at the front of the shoe, but I'm expecting that, as the padding beds in, this will disappear,

I found the same thing with my DHB Aerons. I has improved with wear, but the biggest improvement was after I started listening to my coach's advice, and dropping my heels instead of riding very toe-down.

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Cam77 [6 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

such a pity that the BTwin shoes only cater up to size 11/46. Most other makes now cater up to and beyond size 14 so why wont they?

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Lefty [4 posts] 1 month ago
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Looking to buy any of shimano rp1, rp2, rp3. I always wear 10.5 US. But when i re-measured my foot, it’s 10.5 inches (27 cm.) which is size 10 US. What fits me best, 45 or 46? I’ve read that you need to go a size up with shimanos.