The 13 Best Cycling Shoes to Buy in 2017

Make sure you have the appropriate footwear when riding your bike

The proper footwear is essential for efficient and safe riding. To find the perfect shoe for your riding style and needs, start with your pedals. Will you be riding a bike built with platform pedals, clip-in pedals, or clipless pedals? If you’re going clipless (pedal-shoe connection systems that click in like ski bindings) there are a few things you need to know. First, most bike shoes work with all clipless pedals via holes drilled into the soles wherein you attach cleats that click into the pedals. Cleats, however, are supplied by the pedals, so make sure your cleats match the shoes for compatibility (always check the shoes specs!). Even if you opt for plain-Jane platform pedals your footwear should be supportive and stiff through the sole for maximum efficiency. Once you dial in your pedal setup you’re ready to find the perfect footwear. We took the top bike shoes for a spin to help you pick the best fit for your cycling style.

The new Prolight SLX III is all about enhancing your connection to your ride through advanced engineering and state-of-the-art materials. Giro partners with Easton for unidirectional carbon fiber outsole for an ultra-stiff, direct connection with the pedal. Next, the shoe adds SuperNatural Fit footbeds for customizable arch support that maximizes power transfer. The whole package is sheathed in a thin, breathable Evofiber for a second skin feel; titanium offset strap D-ring-closures complete the ultra-light package. How light? These svelte shoes weigh just 198 grams.

First time clipping in for a road ride? Start with Shimano’s SH-RP3 (SH-RP5 for men), one of 18 new shoes the bike-centric brand launched in 2016. The RP3 and RP5 are both aimed at recreational riders, but they’re loaded with pro-level features. These shoes are built on a light glassfiber-reinforced nylon sole to maximize power transfer from the foot to pedal. The shoes fit both 3-bolt and 2-bolt cleat systems, so it can transition from the road to spin class. The leather-mesh upper and padded tongue keeps your feet comfy, and the offset strap eliminates hot spots at the high point of the foot. The women’s RP3 weigh 265 grams and the men’s RP5 weigh 275 grams.

Since launching in 2013, this Venzo Road Bike Shoe-Pedal system has racked up rave reviews for its great value. Start with the pedals: they’re a nice aluminum pedal with pindles and ball bearings that weigh 286 grams. They’re Wellgo RC-5 and Look ARC compatible (though only the Wellgo RC-5 cleats are included). Shoes feature a flexible forefoot and running shoe beveled heel for maximum comfort and energy transmission. The uppers are a breathable mesh and synthetic, and there’s also a removable microfiber liner. They’re compatible with all SPD, SPD SL, and Look KEO style pedal systems, so you’re not locked into using only the pedals that they came with. But they’re among the heaviest you’ll find on the road, weighing 586 grams.

The BOA closure system you know from your snowboard boots has expanded to more than 25 million products, including bike shoes. Pearl Izumi’s all-new Pro Leader III makes the best use of the patented system with a zonal bi-directional closure and two IP1 micro-adjustable BOA reels that equally tighten from both sides of the shoe. A seamless .99 mm Second Skin fabric is the thinnest upper on the bike shoe market, according to Pearl Izumi. It not only wraps your foot comfortably, it also eliminates hot spots and breathes to keep you blister free and dry. The Integrated Power Plate is about as stiff as it gets, but the shoe is still ultra light at 235 grams.

Part of Shimano’s 2015 lineup, the Shimano SH-RO65 is an entry-level peddler that’s perfect for spin classes with SPD-style pedals. The fiberglass sole is rigid for perfect power transmission on the down stroke, and the Shimano Dynalast system optimizes a smooth, more energy-efficient upstroke. High-density synthetic leather and mesh upper is designed with air intake and exhaust vents to keep your foot fresh no matter how hard your instructor pushes the pace.

The Holy Grail for bike commuters is a shoe that is functional for the ride to work, yet stylish enough to wear around the office. Enter Giro’s Rumbler VR, a shoe that works with clipless or platform pedals and has a walk-friendly Vibram® outsole. The upper is a synthetic leather and breathable mesh that is tough enough for your commute, and the molded SPD-compatible shank and optimized cleat zone is wrapped in that grippy Vibram® outsole. Inside, molded footbeds and midsoles offer cushioning and arch support. These commuters weigh 425 grams, so they won’t weigh you down on your commute.

Since 1985, this California-based company has designed performance footwear for mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, canyoneering, kayaking, slack lining and many other of the world's most dangerous sports. These Five Ten Freerider Contact kicks feature the brand’s innovative treadless Contact Outsole™ with Stealth® Mi6™ rubber under the ball of the foot for plenty of pedal grip. Meanwhile, a stiff midsole and added toe protection keeps your feet safe and supported for all-day riding. The abrasion resistant textile and synthetic upper shaves weight making the Freerider Contact the lightest Freerider in the line – it weighs under 400 grams.

Until Giro released the Terraduro, mountain bike shoes were divided into downhill and cross-country classifications. The Terraduro bridges the divide with a stiff nylon shank that pedals like a pure XC shoe, combined with a grippy Vibram® rubber outsole when you have to scramble over rivers, rocks and logs. The upper is a sturdy, breathable microfiber and the toe box and sidewalls are reinforced to resist abrasions. Your foot is locked down with Giro’s N1 ratcheting buckle and a couple of offset D-rings at the midfoot. A molded footbed provides medium arch support and is treated with antimicrobials to stay stink-free. For all the support and stability these mountain bike shoes weigh just 420 grams.

At under $50, beginner mountain bikers can’t go wrong with these Gavin bike shoes that are compatible with: SPD, SPD-R & SPD-SL cleats. The nylon-fiberglass sole is stiff enough for efficient power transfer while pedaling, yet it will flex enough for a post-ride walk around town. The synthetic microfiber leather uppers have breathable mesh panels and three Velcro straps lock in a secure fit.

Adding clipless pedals to your mountain rig doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Whether you’re dabbling with clipless pedals on the trail, or just looking for an affordable upgrade, you can’t find a much better bang for your buck than these Venzo Mountain Bike Shoes and Pedals. The Venzo setup starts with the WPD-823 Wellgo Mountain Bike Clipless Pedals that are SPD compatible. The body is Aluminum with a chromoly spindle and ball bearing design and weighs 382 grams. Shoes feature a flexible forefoot and running shoe beveled heel for maximum comfort and energy transmission. The uppers are a breathable mesh and synthetic, and there’s also a removable microfiber liner. These budget mountain bike shoes weigh 640 grams.

Thinking about taking your mountain biking skills to the enduro-racing scene? These backcountry races require the strength and stamina to pedal up mountains and ravines and the guts to speed back down. This brand new Northwave Enduro Mid is a burly-yet-lightweight shoe that works with cleats when you’re powering uphill and flat pedals if you prefer the flexibility to jump off the rig. Northwave developed a dual-zone outsole with Michelin that uses softer rubber in the center for great pedal grip. The thermowelded upper features a reel-style “speed lace” closure, ventilated mesh panels, a high, padded zone to protect ankles and a reinforced toe area to guard against rocks and sticks. For all that rubber and padding, the Enduro Mid weighs just 460 grams.

Pedaling into Aspen to meet a few friends at the bar? Navigate the trail into town and look good once you get there with the new Giro Petra VR. Part mountain bike shoe, part hiking shoe, the upper is a breathable synthetic leather and mesh combo with a lace-up closure for a secure, adjustable fit and street-friendly style. Molded footbeds and midsoles offer cushioning and arch support while Vibram® rubber outsoles are durable and offer traction for light hikes and bar hops. These shoes weigh 405 grams.

A great option for casual rides by the beach, the Shimano SH-SD66 SPD Cycling Sandals are built on a wide rubber sole for just enough flex while walking, and the reinforced shank plate enhances stiffness for an efficient pedal stroke. The upper is mostly natural leather with moisture-control mesh layering to keep your foot cool and dry. A dual strap closure locks your foot down whether you clip in to SPD pedals or cruise on platform pedals.

Disclosure

E-Commerce Content is independent of editorial content and we may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page.