Best road cycling shoes

The best footwear to suit a range of budgets

Road cycling shoes vary massively in price and performance. But  you don’t have to pay Manolo Blahnik prices to get yourself some decent road riding shoes, and paying a premium won't always get you relative returns. BikeRadar has tested loads of road shoes costing from £40 and £400, and we've compiled the results of these tests to bring you the best shoes from every price range.

We’ve ridden these shoes in plenty of different scenarios – on long, hilly rides on cool spring mornings, in wet weather, and during sweaty, flat-out sessions on the office Wattbike. We’re confident that the selection below can handle anything you care to throw at them.

Budget shoes

At this price, you're not going to find shoes handcrafted from the softest Italian leather, super-stiff high-modulus carbon composite soles or lightweight Boa closure systems. But the best shoes in this range will still provide a blend of comfort, durability and sole stiffness.

If you're looking to get your first pair of clipless road shoes, the sets below will be at home on a sportive, in the daily commute and when you need to get the power down at the start of a signpost sprint. Related: How to use clipless pedals

Specialized BG Sport Road

£74.99 / US$100 / AU$129.95

To our mind a shoe that you can pull on and then forget about until you get off your bike is about as good as it gets. The Sport Roads are that type of shoe. They don’t have the ratchet fastening of pricier shoes, but aren’t left wanting for it. The three straps are asymmetrical for comfort, while the padded tongue and ankle add to a snug feel. There’s plenty of ventilation thanks to the mesh upper, yet they’re not so open as to cause winter blues, and though the sole isn’t the stiffest here, it easily balances power transfer with all-day comfort.

  • Size tested: 45
  • Weight (pair): 564g  
  • Sizes: 39-49
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt  

DHB R1.0

£49.99 / US$55.75 (excluding delivery) / AU$63 (excluding delivery)

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice that DHB’s R1.0s share a sole with Lake’s CX160s. That’s no bad thing, because that sole is stiff and supportive and helps you get the power down. The DHBs are 30 quid cheaper and, to our mind, offer better value than the Lakes. They sport a different upper and are substantially lighter. The upper’s a simple three-strap design and getting a good fit is easy, although the toe box is roomy. They’re not the most breathable shoes around and do get warm on hotter days but at this price they are a highly admirable performer.

  • Size tested: 45 
  • Weight (pair): 670g  
  • Sizes: 40-48  
  • Cleat compatibility: 2- or 3-bolt

 B'Twin Road 5

£49.99 / US$N/A / AU$N/A

Though it would be very easy to be snobby about £50 cycling shoes that come from a sports superstore, don’t disregard Decathlon’s B'Twins. As a first road shoe, or for roadies on a tight budget, they’re hard to fault. It’s a simple shoe – three velcro straps, three-bolt only, a thin tongue and mesh and synthetic upper – but it works well. Fit is on the narrow side, but we didn’t experience discomfort or pressure points. The sole is stiff enough and we wore one while wearing a pricier shoe on the other foot and couldn’t really tell the difference!

  • Size tested: 45 
  • Weight (pair): 650g  
  • Sizes: 41-46  
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt

Mid-range shoes

Giro Trans

£159.99 / US$225 / AU$249

"The Giro Trans shoes perform superbly in all situations. Thankfully, for shoes that encourages performance, they are also really well ventilated."

Read our full review of the Giro Trans road shoes.

Giro Empire ACC

£229 / US$275 / AU$289

"The Empires sacrifice a bit of functionality for classic good looks, but offer WorldTour-level performance alongside brilliant comfort."

Read our full review of the Giro Empire ACC road shoes.

Pearl Izumi Pro Leader II

£229.99 / US$270 / AU$329

"A superior pair of race-day shoes with maximum comfort and minimal weigh: the upper conforms to the shape of your foot incredibly well, and the uni-directional carbon fibre sole is both light and stiff."

Read our full review of the Pearl Izumi Pro II road shoe.

High-end shoes

Shimano R321

£299.99 / US$TBA / AU$419

 

"The R321 excels at every level – it can be fully custom-fitted,  mesh vents and an array of perforations keep things cool, and interchangeable arch wedges fine tune footbed fit. The carbon sole is stiff and generously wide too."

 Read our full review of the Shimano R321.

Sidi Wire Carbon Vernice 

£340 / US$TBA / AU$519.95

"The Side Wire Carbon Vernice shoes are well sculpted, with tough synthetic leather uppers, anadjustable external heel cup and a wide pad at the ankle that can be centred for comfort."

Read our full review of the Side Wire Carbon Vernice.

Lake CX402

£369.99  / US$TBA / AU$455

"Few shoes envelop the foot like these do – they are comfortable all day long, with perfect fit and adjustment, style, quality and epic performance."

 Read our full review of the Lake CX402.

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