Hit the road and realize your feet aren’t as happy as they should be? The right cycling shoes can make or break your ride. But in the ocean of options, which ones step up to the mark?
I’ve taken the guesswork out, putting the pedal to the metal in a range of road bike cycling shoes, and also tapped into the wisdom of seasoned cyclists. The aim? To lace you up with the best road bike cycling shoes that blend comfort, performance, and style.
In a hurry to upgrade your ride? The Fizik R3 Aria is where your search ends. They’re stylish but practical and have everything you could want from a road cycling shoe.
Ready to explore the details and discover why these shoes are a cut above? Let’s gear up and dive in! 🚴♂️👟🚴♀️
In A Rush? Summary of the Best Road Bike Cycling Shoes
Detailed Reviews of the 6 Best Road Cycling Shoes
The performance matches the look of these cycling shoes, and that’s a good thing because they look the business!
Fizik uses the same Microtex material on the wrap-over upper on these shoes as found on their saddles, so you can be sure it’s durable and practical. It also makes them easy to clean, a bonus when you forget to pop your overshoes on (guilty!), and they provide reasonable protection against poor weather.
The gloss finish on the panel adds that extra bit of Italian character; you can’t help but love it.
These shoes aren’t just a pretty face. Ventilation has been thought about. On the flanks, there are plenty of tiny laser-cut perforations so your feet can enjoy a nice constant cooling effect.
You also benefit from air being channeled through the sole toe vents and insole, so when I say Fizik thought about ventilation, they had this covered.
When pedaling with these shoes on, you should find the experience excellent. The stiffness balance is spot-on and ensures you can transfer every watt to those pedals.
These shoes should be comfortable for riders who like to spend hours in the saddle. Although these favor the narrower feet in Fizik fashion, it’s worth checking the sizing guide.
For riders looking to dip their toes into dedicated road cycling shoes, the Shimano SH-RP1 shoes are the ideal entry-level performer.
Designed to give you optimal support, the toe-spring section features Shimano Dynalast. This will help you improve your pedal stroke, making it smoother and more efficient. Overall, saving you energy. All good things for a cyclist!
The Shimano SH-RP1 road cycling shoes have dual hooks and loop straps to secure them within seconds. This also allows for micro-adjustments so you can get the perfect fit.
Even though this cycling shoe is aimed at the entry-level market, corners haven’t been cut. For example, a reflective heel cup print increases your visibility on the road – little things like that make these shoes a great purchase.
Comfort-wise, you’re in for a bit of a treat. The soles are lightweight, thanks to the fact that they are fiberglass-reinforced carbon. You should find that Shimano has the balance right between stiffness and comfort.
Plenty of cleat options are available with the SH-RP1 shoes. You can use either SPD-SL or SPD cleats, so this could be perfect if you want to use cleats for indoor cycling classes.
The Vaypor is offered in various versions, but the S is the latest and greatest. Throughout the Bont range, you’ll see a few common themes present in the Vaypor S, too.
Firstly, the bathtub-shaped sole is one of Bont’s standout pieces. It gives you a fantastic amount of foot support. This is achieved through the shape, but it also uses incredibly thin and uni-directional carbon construction to accomplish this.
For those interested in slack height, this one will be very low, so your connection to the pedals will be great.
Bont uses a heat-moldable upper to get the right fit for your feet. You pop your shoes in the oven for 20 minutes at 70c. Give them time to cool down so you can handle them, and then place your feet inside (pop your cycling socks on first) and tighten the Boa dials.
The idea is that once they’re cooling, the soles will set around your feet, giving you a unique fit that will be perfect for your feet.
I’ll be honest: when riding with the Bont Vaypor S, you can’t get much better for stability. You feel like you’ve got a bond with your bike, so the power transfer is perfect.
I don’t know what it is about Fizik, but so much of their range oozes style, and the Tempo R5 cycling shoes are no different. They are exactly what you’d expect from a company steeped in Italian heritage.
The soles on these shoes are reinforced carbon fiber, and the upper is one single piece, totally seam-free and nicely plushy.
When it comes to ventilation, there are a good number of perforations on both sides, though you won’t find any at the toe, nor will you find any vents in the sole. This shouldn’t be an issue for most riding conditions, but if you ride in particularly warm climates, then it’s worth noting!
One thing I do love about Fizik products is their durability (I’ve had my Aliante saddle for years, and you wouldn’t be able to tell!). With the Tempo R5s, you get substantial heel and toe bumpers, so the heels should see you through many years – they also make walking easier, which is always a nice bonus.
With the Fizik Tempo R5, you get one Boa dial on each shoe, complimented with a velcro strap.
I understand some people may be disappointed with this setup. However, in my book, it’s a good combination. It’s quick and easy, so you’ll be ready in no time. Sure, it’s not as adjustable as having a twin dial set up, but it’s pretty close.
Next up, we have the Tommaso Strada 200. These shoes are a solid all-rounder.
The stiff fiberglass sole is reinforced with polyamide, allowing you to achieve a power transfer level often only associated with premium shoes.
We’ve established that power transfer is excellent, but that doesn’t mean much without comfort.
Fortunately, Tommaso knows this too, and the fit system on the Strada 200 has had an upgrade, so for those of you who spend hours in the saddle, this should appeal!
Even the smallest adjustments can make a big difference, so the ergonomic velcro straps placed on the lower and toe box are welcome. The ratcheting buckle system dials things up (or down! 😁) when you need to make those micro-adjustments to give you that perfect fit every time.
If you want to get the most out of every pedal stroke, then the Strada 200 is there to help you do that.
Tommaso has brought premium performance and comfort at an affordable level with the Strada 200.
Better still, these road cycling shoes are designed to fit all 3 and 2-bolt cleat systems (that includes Shinano SPD, SPD-SL, Look, and Speedplay), opening up the uses for these shoes.
The Shimano RC7 is superbly ergonomically designed, using Dynalast technology. The toe and heel have rubber bumpers to provide that comfortable yet stiff fit.
Things get more traditional by way of design with the upper part of this cycling shoe. The construction means it’s stretch-free and conforms to your foot perfectly.
Ventilation is adequate as there are hundreds of small perforation covers in the uppers above the toes and on the side of the shoes. However, the slight downside is that the uppers are thicker, which means less airflow there.
You get two BOA L6 dials on the Shimano RC7 road cycling shoes. One adjusts the forefoot volume, while the other changes the tightness of the broad ankle strap. You also get an additional wire guard at the bottom, which provides a decent amount of tension.
Boa dials are great, and let’s be honest, they’re a bit fancy, too! With the L6 dials, you can tighten them just fine. However, when you want to loosen the fit, pop up the dial, release all the tension, and start again. This is slightly different from other Boa dials found on more expensive shoes.
The obvious downside is that if you overshoot your tightening, you have to start the whole process over again, but honestly, it’s something you get used to, and it’s not a big issue.
Overall, the RC7s has all the makings of cycling shoes that can perform as well as the premium ones. They’re roomy and stable and make for a decent purchase!
Are Top-end Road Cycling Shoes Really Worth The Money?
Generally speaking, spending more money on better cycling shoes usually gives you a better performance. That can’t be said for every cycling product, though!
Now, I’m not saying find the most expensive road cycling shoes you can find and buy them because you’ll squeeze a few extra watts out of them (although you might…). Things can be taken too far.
I think the thing to remember with cycling shoes is that you tend to get what you pay for. There are other types of cycling equipment, where you can spend $100 to $200 and see no performance gain.
That isn’t the case when you choose the right road cycling shoe. Want to know more?
Are Men’s And Women’s Road Cycling Shoes Different?
A large proportion of cycling shoe manufacturers produce gender-specific shoes.
Having said that, it can be difficult to tell the difference! Women’s road cycling shoes are often a bit narrower and smaller in the sizes available. The color ranges tend to be different, too, with manufacturers choosing colors that appeal to women.
The good news is that many cycling shoes out there are unisex. These are commonly available in gender-neutral colors: black, white, and dark blue/grey. While also being made in half sizes, narrow widths, and wide widths. All this means that these shoes will cater to various male and female riders.
What Makes Road Cycling Shoes Different?
When you compare road cycling shoes to mountain biking shoes, you can see that road shoes have stiffer soles.
This stiffer sole is achieved using either carbon or plastic, enhancing rigidity.
Why is that a good thing?
The rigidity provides greater power transfer and increases efficiency.
On the sole of a road cycling shoe, the cleat is also different, and they can be challenging to walk in, but they are lighter when compared to mountain bike shoes, which makes a difference in performance!
Want to know more?
Related article – Is Cycling Good For Plantar Fasciitis?
What Are The Benefits Of Road Cycling Shoes?
If you’re just starting on the road, you could wonder if there are benefits to getting a pair of road cycling shoes.
There are many benefits!
Comfort is going to be a big one. Road cycling shoes offer your feet some much-needed breathable features and a stiffer sole. These shoes also come with air vents so the air can circulate.
Your feet will be more comfortable, dry, and largely sweat-free.
Energy transfer is another benefit. If you’re looking to improve your performance on the bike or simply conserve energy, upgrading your shoes can be an effective way to do this.
Road cycling shoes provide brilliant energy transfer from your feet to the pedals. The stiffer soles also mean the shoe doesn’t easily bend, improving performance.
The durability of cycling shoes is a benefit worth having. Road cycling shoes are designed to handle the expected wear while out and about on your bike. This means that the quality materials will last longer than an ordinary shoe.
How Should Cycling Shoes Fit?
Getting the right fitting cycling shoes is vital. They should be a nice and snug fit, though they shouldn’t be restricting.
When you’re trying new cycling shoes, your toes shouldn’t be at the end of the shoes, and it shouldn’t feel like your feet are being squeezed in. However, you don’t want the shoes to be too roomy either!
Just like other shoes, road cycling shoes can be pretty personal and budget-dependent. However, there is merit in spending a little more to eke out a few extra worthwhile features.
My favorite goes to the Fizik R3 ARIA. They’re stylish and tick all the boxes in terms of what you need from cycling shoes.
What’s your FTP? Want to improve it?