Your road shoes, just like the saddle and handlebars, are an important contact point with your bike. They transfer your power to the pedals, so good road shoes are made to be lightweight and have a stiff sole to enable efficient crank revolutions. Road cycling shoes are designed to optimise your performance on the bike. Unlike mountain biking shoes, tread-less road cycling shoes are not suited for covering distances on foot or even walking off-road. On the soles, there are screwed-on and slightly-protruding cleats, which ensure optimal grip to clipless pedals. Read further and discover more.
Road Cycling Shoes for Winter and All Seasons
The focus of road cycling shoes is on sport and speed. That's why they are narrow, flat, barely ankle-high and highly breathable. The upper material is usually made of a soft microfibre imitation leather or knit textile. This makes road shoes perfect for summer, but if you also want to ride in the colder months, designs with warm insulation, a rubber sole and a waterproof membrane are a worthwhile investment.
Alternatively, you can equip your road shoes with toe caps or shoecovers that protect your feet from wind while also being waterproof.
What Should You Look for When Shopping for Road Cycling Shoes?
A good fit is crucial when looking for the right road shoes. They should feel snug-but-comfortable and provide enough support even when you rise out of the saddle for a sprint. You can also influence the fit of your road shoes with one of a variety of closures – which one you choose is a matter of taste and your comfort preferences. The sole is also an important aspect to consider when shopping: it should be as stiff and light as possible to offer you optimal power transfer. For this reason, some manufacturers provide a "stiffness index" to describe the soles of their road shoes, which serves not as an official standard, but rather as a guide. Carbon soles are particularly suited for road shoes, although this makes them somewhat more expensive than shoes with conventional composite soles. Make sure that the clipless pedals of your bike are compatible with the sole of your new shoes, and that you actually like the look of your new road shoes as well. Whether you’re using our colour filter to find a design in classic white, or if you’re looking for an understated knit look or a sleek professional model, we have something to suit every taste.
What Size Should Your Road Cycling Shoes Be?
Sizing for road shoes varies depending on the manufacturer. In terms of length, you can usually take your normal shoe size. If this is not the case, the manufacturer will usually include a note as part of the item’s description. Your foot shape, or more precisely the width of your feet, plays an important role when choosing new road shoes. Women often have slightly narrower feet, and many brands, such as Shimano or Giro offer road shoes specifically for women, which usually feature a slightly narrower cut. If your feet on the wider side, you can find designs that accommodate extra width from brands such as Sidi, Shimano and Fizik.
You will find a corresponding note on our product pages.
How Much Space Should Road Cycling Shoes Offer at the Front?
Try on new road shoes in the evening, when your feet are a little bigger than they are in the morning, and put on the socks that you also wear for road cycling. Your feet should find firm support in the shoes and not be able to slip out at the heel. Your toes should have hardly any play in the toe box, but they should not press against the shoe. Keep trying out different pairs until you find one that fits well.
Insoles for Road Shoes
Separately available insoles allow you to adapt your road shoes to the needs of your feet. The insole supports the arch of your foot so that your pedalling movements are clean and fluid, and you can build up even more speed on the road. Insoles with a carbon core let you tune your road shoes with composite soles, thus allowing you to increase their stiffness.
Road Cycling Shoes and Clipless Pedals
The sole standard states which pedal system your road shoe is compatible with. The most common is the 3-hole system, which is suitable for SPD-SL (Shimano) and Kéo (Look). The 2-hole system fits both SPD and SPD-R clipless pedals from Shimano. Depending on the system, you screw the matching cleats for your clipless pedals onto the threaded insert in the sole. You can find more on this topic in our comprehensive clipless pedal guide.
What Closure Systems Are Available for Road Cycling Shoes?
There are different closure systems for road shoes. For a retro look, models with laces are available from brands such as Giro or Specialized. Entry-level designs usually feature a quick-release fastener with a ratchet closure. You will also find road cycling shoes with hook-and-loop fasteners as well as with a BOA® quick-release fastener, which can be opened and closed via a turn screw closure, even while riding. Manufacturers often combine screw and ratchet fasteners with additional hook-and-loop fasteners for a better hold.