Best cheap road cycling shoes

Our pick of the best sub-£75 road shoes for beginners to use

Premium road cycling shoes are on the increase, with footwear costing £200, £300 and even £400. But you don’t have to pay Manolo Blahnik prices to get yourself some great road riding shoes. We tested together loads of shoes costing between £49 and £75.

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. (Need some clipless pedals? The Shimano 105 SPD-SL offers great value.)

Related: How to use clipless pedals

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

Here, we rate eight pairs of shoes, going from £49 models up to the five-star Specialized shoes at £75.

DHB R1.0

£49.99

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

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

Riva Sport RS

£55

The Riva Sport RS is distributor RSI’s first foray into own-brand footwear. It’s fair to say that these are unashamedly old-school. The heaviest on test, they major on comfort, with a thick tongue and ankle padding and a flexible sole. The result is a shoe built for touring or commuting rather than racing. During out-of-the-saddle efforts there was a definite softness under the toes, while the chunky uppers led to some rubbing on the cranks. They also seem hard to find in stores, but we’ve seen them for £35 on eBay, which actually represents a bit of a bargain…

  • Size tested: 45
  • Weight (pair): 740g
  • Sizes: 41-46  
  • Cleat compatibility: 2- or 3-bolt

Exustar E-SR442

£69.99

The shiny Exustars feel voluminous and our narrow-footed testers had to cinch the three Velcro straps pretty aggressively to get a snug fit. That caused pressure across the top of their feet which exhibited itself as discomfort after a few miles. So, if you’ve got skinny feet there are better shoes at this price. Looks are of course subjective, but we think the Exustars are the most dated looking shoes on test. There are good points, of course, a stiff, well-vented sole, breathable mesh in the uppers and – if you’re wide in the foot – space.

  • Size tested: 45 
  • Weight (pair): 680g 
  • Sizes: 39-48  
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt 

Louis Garneau Ventilator 2 

£69.99

Do hot feet bother you? If so, the Ventilators could be the answer. Airy mesh in the upper, big vents in the sole and a perforated insole mean you can really get the wind in your, erm, feet… We wore them on cool spring rides but didn’t get overly chilly, so they aren’t just for summer. The simple three Velcro strap retention system works well, but even a tester with skinny feet felt some narrowness in the forefoot – so try before buying. Despite the vents, the thermoplastic sole is impressively stiff, but not at the expense of pedalling comfort.

  • Size tested: 45 
  • Weight (pair): 650g
  • Sizes: 40-50  
  • Cleat compatibility: 2- or 3-bolt

Vittoria Twister

£73.99

The Twister is a fairly simple shoe. The synthetic leather upper is the highlight here, with mesh vents and a generous shape in both width and volume. The central Velcro strap is anchored to the tongue to prevent slipping. A nylon sole reinforced with fibreglass isn’t as light or out-and-out stiff as the best carbon soles, but it is amply rigid – and it has a decent lift from the ball of the foot to the heel, putting your foot into a good riding position. It’s comfortable with it too. Sizing is on the generous side though, with our size 44 test pair easily fitting feet a size bigger.

  • Size tested: 44 
  • Weight (pair) 702g 
  • Sizes: 36-49  
  • Cleat compatibility: 3-bolt

Spiuk Uhra 

£74.95

Spiuk’s Uhras include fittings for two-bolt cleats, but if you’re using three-bolt fixings we’d recommend you remove the two-bolt anchor plate; it rattles otherwise. Two broad Velcro straps hold the foot securely, the heel cup is supportive and they’re well ventilated by a combination of mesh panels, a perforated tongue and toe and mid-sole vents. The sole is stiff, although there is noticeable flex when you’re standing hard on the pedals. The toe and heel have a protective layer, and walking bumpers to reduce wear off the bike.

  • Size tested: 45
  • Weight (pair): 636g
  • Sizes: 37-49
  • Cleat compatibility: 2- or 3-bolt

Specialized BG Sport Road

£74.99

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  

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