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If you want to get the best out of your bike, you’ll need a good pair of cycling shoes.
But when it comes to this part of your cycling kit, it’s an area where we feel that quality genuinely pays off.
With this in mind, we’ve only included high-quality shoes. All of them are road bike shoes with a 3-hole cleat set-up. There are no affordable bargains to be found, so be pre-warned.
Let’s get to it and take a closer look.
- Top 10 Best Cycling Shoes For The Money 2021 Reviews
- 1 Giro Men’s Cycling Shoes, Black
- 2 Fizik R4 UOMO BOA Road Cycling Shoes
- 3 Giro Empire Acc Road Cycling Shoes
- 4 Scott Road RC SL Cycling Shoe
- 5 Sidi Shot (46.0, Matte Black/Black Liner)
- 6 Fizik Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoe
- 7 BONT Vaypor S Cycling Road Shoe
- 8 Northwave Extreme GT Cycling Shoe – Men’s
- 9 Pearl iZUMi P.R.O Leader v4
- 10 Mavic Cosmic Pro Cycling Shoe – Men’s
- Best Cycling Shoes Buying Guide
- Before We Announce Our Top Choice
- Final Thoughts on The Best Cycling Shoes
Top 10 Best Cycling Shoes For The Money 2021 Reviews
1 Giro Men’s Cycling Shoes, Black
The shoe we’re looking at here is the Giro Savix HV+.
Giro makes a wide range of road bike shoes. The Giro Savix HV+ sits somewhere around the middle of their range. They sit slightly above the Treble II shoes.
One of the main differences between this shoe and the Treble II, and shoes of a similar price, is that the Giro Savix HV+ features a Boa dial fastening system. This is a system that you’d normally expect to find on higher-end shoes. You’re therefore getting a decent bang for your buck with Giro Savix HV+ shoes.
The Boa fastening system works by slowly tightening the laces on your shoes as you rotate the dial. It allows you to more precisely fine-tune the fit of your shoes. It also allows you to adjust your shoes easily whilst riding. Not an easy thing to do when you have Velcro or ratchet fasteners.
The soles are made from nylon, as we’d expect at this price point. One of the negatives of nylon is that it isn’t as stiff as carbon fiber. You, therefore, don’t get the same transfer of power as you do with a carbon sole.
Another disadvantage compared to carbon soles is the weight penalty. The Giro shoes weigh 320gms for a size 42. Compared to a carbon-soled shoe, this is about 60gms heavier. Better news, though, is that when you come to checkout, you’re going to save a chunk of change.
One of the big pluses for these shoes is that they accommodate both SPD SL road and SPD mountain bike cleat systems. This offers a nice level of flexibility for any cyclist looking to do some serious riding, together with some easy rides and commuting, mixed in with a bit of walking.
The shoes have a synthetic hard-wearing upper interspersed with large breathable sections. They are available in either white or black. We’d probably choose black. White could be a bit of a problem to keep clean!
Overall, the finish and quality make these shoes look more expensive than they are.
- Dial fastening.
- Compatible with both SPD SL and SPD cleats.
- Great value.
- Nylon sole.
2 Fizik R4 UOMO BOA Road Cycling Shoes
Put your backside, hands, or feet anywhere near a road bike, and the chances are Fizik will be there.
Fizik is an Italian company that manufactures saddles, bar tape, and shoes. Their products are focused on the premium end of the market. Amazingly, despite being in the business for just 20 years, they are without question the largest manufacturer of quality saddles, bar tape, and shoes.
This is a real testament to the outstanding level of quality of their products.
Hardly surprisingly, they’re really good. These are a medium/high-level shoe.
The Fizik R4s are designed for use with SPD SL cleats. They have a composite carbon sole. This doesn’t quite offer the same level of stiffness and lightness as a full carbon fiber sole, but it comes close. One of these shoes will weigh in at around 260gms.
One of the advantages of having a slightly less flexible sole, than full carbon, is that they can feel more comfortable over long and endurance rides. The comfort is further enhanced by the shoes’ highly breathable Microtex laser perforated uppers.
The fastening system uses a combination of a Boa dial and two Velcro fasteners. Frankly, it looks a bit of an odd combination. A single Velcro fastener on the front is fine. We’re not sure about having a second one in the middle, though.
There’s no doubt that these are quality made shoes. However, they are starting to push the price to the point that you might expect to get a full carbon sole and a full Boa dial system. Still, if you’re happier with a slightly more flexible sole, and you don’t mind the two front Velcro straps, they’re a great shoe.
- Beautiful quality.
- 2 Velcro straps.
3 Giro Empire Acc Road Cycling Shoes
These are a beautiful pair of quality shoes.
Laced cycling shoes have seen a bit of a comeback in recent years and for very good reason. One of the advantages of laced cycling shoes is that they allow you to get exactly the adjustment you want over a greater area of the shoe.
Boa dial fastening systems have been touted over recent years as providing excellent levels of fine-tuning to your shoes. However, a humble set of laces is every bit as good as the Boa system, if not better.
This, of course, doesn’t tell the full story as the Boa system has the advantage of allowing you to take your shoes on and off much more quickly. It also allows you to fiddle around with your fastening tension on the fly. But if you’re the kind of person that fastens your shoes and you’re done, then why not laces?
The Giro Empire Acc Road Cycling Shoes feature a full carbon sole and a beautifully finished Evofiber synthetic upper. Even better, the quality of finishing together with the imaginative choice of 8 different colorways undoubtedly make these cycling shoes stand out and demand attention.
These super stiff and lightweight shoes weigh just 225gms and offer great value. If you’re looking for a quality pair of shoes, with a bit of flash, and you don’t mind laces, these are a great buy.
- Full carbon sole.
- High quality.
- Great value.
- Excellent color choice.
- Laces are not for everyone.
4 Scott Road RC SL Cycling Shoe
These are high-end and super stiff cycling shoes.
If you want the best cycling shoes with plenty of stiffness, then look no further. These have pretty much one of the stiffest soles on the market. The Scott Road RC SL Cycling Shoe, in terms of stiffness, is right up there with something like a Sid Wire Vent Carbon shoe.
The soles are, of course, carbon and designed to transfer every single atom of energy into your ride. Rather than full carbon, the soles are made from MHX carbon and Corecell foam cores to further reduce the shoes’ weight. It’s remarkable the efforts Scott has made to shave off just a few extra grams.
It also helps to keep their weight down to a very trim 245gms.
One of the potential problems with the shoes is that if you don’t get exactly the right fit, they can be uncomfortable. They have very little give. What’s more, there’s very little breathability. There’s a small piece of perforated material towards the toe and on the tongue, but that’s your lot.
If you’re thinking of doing any long endurance rides, especially in the warmer weather, we’d advise you against buying them. The level of breathability these shoes have is close to zero. On the plus side, though, the carbon-based Carbitex fabric is incredibly hard-wearing.
The fastening system is a dual Boa dial. It’s easy to operate and smooth. Very much what we’d expect at this kind of price-point. The cleats are three bolts compatible.
The bottom line is that these are out and out racing shoes designed for speed rather than comfort.
- Super stiff soles.
- Super light.
- Dual Boa fastening.
- Not breathable.
- Uppers may feel stiff.
5 Sidi Shot (46.0, Matte Black/Black Liner)
These are one of the most expensive cycling shoes on the market.
They are the same kind of shoes worn by Chris Froome in his Tour de France victories. Although they’re not the lightest road shoe, they offer an excellent balance between stiffness and comfort.
They have an integrated vent that can be altered depending on the weather or conditions. What a great idea! The soles are compatible with a 3-bolt cleat.
The uppers are made from Microfibre TechPro and mesh. They are highly breathable and are designed for long rides and long hours in the saddle. The shoes also have a lightweight removable insole and replaceable heel pad.
The Sidi Shot cycling shoes use dual Techno 3 push system closure devices. It’s a great system that allows you to get your shoes on and off quickly. Better still, it allows you to make micro-adjustments, even on the move, to give you the perfect fit.
But that’s not all; the heels of the shoes also have an adjustable device to ensure a good fit around the back of your feet. The device includes a reflective strip to help you be seen a little more easily.
These are a beautifully made and stylish, high-end cycling shoe that also comes in an exciting range of no less than 21 colors.
Well, yes, pretty much. Though for this kind of shoe, the weight is a bit of a surprise. They weigh 287gms for a size 42. For a high-end carbon-soled cycling shoe, that’s a lot. It’s over 50gms more than a comparably priced shoe.
But despite their weight and price, we think these beautifully made shoes are worth it. If you’re riding over long distances, we think they’re close to impossible to beat. If they’re good enough for Froomey, then they’re good enough for us.
- Well made.
- Super comfortable.
- Techno 3 push system.
- 21 different colors.
6 Fizik Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoe
These are another pair of high-end road cycling shoes that rightly command a premium price.
They are the shoes of choice of Team Movistar, Geraint Thomas, and Philippe Gilbert, amongst others. These are the choice of countless professionals and serious amateurs alike.
You get a pair of full UD vented carbon soles. These are stiff but not as stiff as the Scott Road RC SL Cycling Shoe. They are a great performance shoe that we think treads the perfect balance between being comfortable, whilst still offering a good transference of power.
The uppers are made from beautifully put together laser-perforated Microtex. They’re perforated to offer a high degree of breathability. At the same time, they offer a high level of flexibility and strength. And if all that’s not enough, they have excellent arch support and are supremely comfortable.
These shoes do a lot of things exceptionally well and, in our opinion, are the best looking and most stylish cycling shoes of any currently on sale. We love the choice of eight colorways, we love the cut and design, and we love the positioning of the Boa dial fastening.
The Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoes use dual Boa IP1-B dials, which are combined with steel-coated nylon laces. Getting in and out of the shoes and making mini adjustments is a cinch. Getting them to an optimum level of tightness couldn’t be easier.
The fact is that there’s plenty of competition at this end of the market, but we love these shoes. They give Sidi Shot a good run for their money in terms of comfort. They give all shoes in this category a run for their money in terms of weight, as they only weigh 232gms, for a size 42.5.
The forward cleat position and the slight lack of stiffness from the carbon soles might not be for everyone. However, we just can’t resist their beautiful Italian styling. Fizik knows how to make cycling shoes. No question.
- Highly breathable uppers.
- Beautifully made.
- Beautiful styling.
- Boa IP1-B dials
- Forward cleat position.
- Soles are not the stiffest.
7 BONT Vaypor S Cycling Road Shoe
These Australian made shoes undoubtedly have a square, boxy look about them. They are unmistakably wide shoes.
The Bont Vaypor Cycling Road Shoe differs from all the other cycling shoes we’ve reviewed as they have a heat-moldable sole. Most of you will find the shoes good to go straight out of the box. However, if they don’t feel completely comfortable, you can get a bespoke fit should you need it.
They weigh 241gms each. The soles are also very stiff to ensure a high transfer of power. They aren’t, however, overly stiff to make them an outright sprinter’s shoe.
The good news is that you can happily wear these for long rides in the saddle. In fact, Bradley Wiggins wore these shoes to his historic Tour de France victory in 2012. Testament, if ever you need it, that these are built for endurance as well as speed.
That, together with the suede liners and the ability to mold the soles, makes them supremely comfortable.
These are an expensive high-end shoe, and so they have a Boa dial fastening system that’s in keeping with their premium price. The dial fasteners work seamlessly as you’d expect.
We’re going to have to talk about the styling. These are Marmite shoes that are certain to polarize opinion. Compared to Fizik shoes, they lack flair. However, there’s still plenty of people that like them.
They come in a choice of 6 colors. Unfortunately, we’re reviewing a black pair, which is possibly the worst looking of the bunch. Some of the other colorways are a lot more inspiring, though. We’d probably go for a white pair.
- Moldable carbon sole.
- Wide foot friendly.
8 Northwave Extreme GT Cycling Shoe – Men’s
These top-end shoes have some of the best-ventilated soles on the market.
The cycling shoes are light, due in part to the full carbon soles. One of the key features of the Extreme GT shoes is the high level of ventilation you find in the soles. There are no less than seven vents to keep your feet cool when the going gets hot.
The uppers are made from a super-thin material measuring just 5mm thick. They’re well ventilated and feel soft on your feet. Once fastened, they feel like a pair of comfy slippers. The truth is that these are one of the most comfortable cycling shoes we’ve tried.
The stiffness from all carbon soles makes them perfect for long rides. On Northwave’s stiffness index, they score 12/15. A good indicator of a shoe that will give you plenty of power transfer without being uncomfortable.
It’s a great shoe. We do not doubt that. However, sadly, the use of their own lace dials lets the side down somewhat. Northwave uses what they call a Speed Lace Winch (SLW) system, and we honestly wish they didn’t.
The SLW dial is smaller than a Boa dial, and so is a little harder to grip. This is, even more, the case if you’re riding in cooler weather and wearing full-fingered gloves. Additionally, the SLW dial is not bi-directional.
To tighten your laces, you turn the dial clockwise. However, unlike the Boa dial, when you want to loosen your laces, rather than turning the dial counter-clockwise, you have to repeatedly press a small, recessed silver button next to the dial. It’s fiddly and awkward.
- Well ventilated soles.
- Super comfortable.
- Good power transfer.
- SLW dial system.
9 Pearl iZUMi P.R.O Leader v4
iZumi has been in the business of making cycling shoes for a long time. They make a lot of quality cycling shoes. The Pearl iZUMi P.R.O Leader v4 is one of their premium shoes.
This is because they have a colorful iridescent finish. We’re sure you’ll agree it makes these stand out from any other cycling shoes on the market.
Something else that’s unusual is that they have a very low stack height. Just 5mm, to be exact. This has been achieved through its unibody construction. When riding, it makes you feel almost connected to the pedal.
However, one of the downsides of the low stack height is that it might have you reaching for your hex key to lower your saddle. The low stack height is enough to affect your riding position if you’re already set-up for another kind of shoe.
However, if, like some of us, you have a few different shoes, it’s potentially going to be a problem. And seriously, who doesn’t have a pair of winter shoes that make an appearance along with the foul weather?
The point is that having to frequently change your seat height because you change your shoes is going to be irritating.
The shoes are well made, breathable, and comfortable. They feature a double Boa dial locking mechanism that sits on the tongue of the shoes. We love the Boa dial system, but we would have liked to see the Boa dials on the side of the shoe.
Still, the shoes offer good value and are well priced compared to other premium cycling shoes. However, at 267gms, they aren’t the lightest. Also, they’re not the stiffest. In fact, for a performance shoe, we’d have liked them to be a little stiffer.
- Dual Boa dials.
- Good value.
- Low stack height means seat adjustments will likely be necessary.
- Placement of Boa dials.
10 Mavic Cosmic Pro Cycling Shoe – Men’s
Mavic is best known as a legendary wheel maker, but they make great shoes too.
The Mavic Cosmic Pro Cycling Shoes are one of their medium-priced shoes. They sit below the Mavic Comete Ultimate and Mavic Cosmic Ultimate in the range.
The shoes have a carbon sole but full short of the stiffness for both the Comete and Cosmic Ultimate shoes. On Mavic’s own stiffness scale, the Cosmic Pro shoes score 80 compared to 100 for the other two shoes.
The shoes have a laser cut sole with a microfiber, breathable upper. They weigh 280gms per shoe. This is on the higher end for a full carbon shoe but is still acceptable. If you want to go super light, the Mavic Cosmic Ultimate weighs just 200gms. However, there is quite a price jump for these.
The Cosmic Pro uses a proprietary lace closure system. They use dual Ergo Dial QR closures, which are nicely placed at the sides of the shoe. The Ergo dial closures work in the same way as the Boa dials. Honestly, they’re both great systems with very little to choose between the two.
The shoes use a seamless TPU framed upper with welded mesh panels to ensure comfort. Additionally, they also sport an Endofit tongue, which gives them an almost glove-like fit. These are a comfortable and well-priced pair of cycling shoes.
Finally, the styling is very well executed, and you get a choice of three colors. These are white, black, or red. All the shoes feature the classic Mavic yellow logo, which looks pretty cool.
- Ergo Dial QR Closures.
- Good value.
- Full carbon soles.
Best Cycling Shoes Buying Guide
A lot of the shoes we’ve looked at are at the premium end of the spectrum, and they have a premium price to match. It’s not by accident that we’ve mostly reviewed high-end cycling shoes. The quality is such that any cyclist putting in a lot of miles is sure to get a much longer life out of them than compared to a cheap pair. Bike shoes get a hard life, and we think there’s no doubt that quality is the way to go.
We’ve only featured road bike shoes that use a 3-hole cleat design. This is except for the Giro Savix HV+. These, in theory, can also be used for mountain biking.
Cycling shoe soles can be made of either nylon, carbon composite, or full carbon. By and large, as we move from nylon to full carbon, the price will get more expensive, and the soles will become stiffer and lighter.
Carbon is the stiffest material and will help to increase power transfer through the pedal. There are varying degrees of carbon stiffness. Maximum stiffness and, therefore, maximum power transfer is ideal for sprinters. The Scott Road RC SL Cycling Shoe has the stiffest sole of all the shoes we reviewed.
Although stiffness is a great quality, some degree of flexibility is generally desirable. This is because a high degree of stiffness can be uncomfortable over long rides. A lot of the shoes we reviewed walk this line well.
To increase rider comfort, some of the shoes, like the Northwave Extreme GT Cycling Shoe, and the Sidi Shot, have vented soles. It’s a nice feature to have if you can get it.
Although the soles can help to improve venting and breathability, it’s the upper part of the shoe that will mostly dictate how much the shoe can breathe and how comfortable it will be.
The shoes we’ve reviewed have all favored an artificial upper. Some cycling shoes are still made from real leather, but these are now uncommon. Microtex, Microfibre TechPro, and Evofiber are now all commonly used. These are generally perforated and interspersed with a mesh to ensure maximum comfort and breathability.
Adjustable heels, moldable soles, and one-piece integrated tongues are also employed to get the very best fit. Of all the cycling shoes, we think the Sidi Shot and the Northwave Extreme GT Cycling Shoes are two of the most comfortable.
Full carbon soles will be around 60gms lighter than nylon soles. If you’re looking to save weight, carbon is the way to go. Carbon cycling shoes can get down to below 200gms each, though the ones we’ve featured vary between around 220gms to 280gms. The only nylon soled pair of shoes, Giro, weighing 320gms.
Laces have been around since the hills. Though rather old-fashioned, in the world of cycling, they are beginning to see a bit of a comeback. Laces will allow you to achieve an excellent fit and closure. However, the speed of taking shoes on and off and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments are lacking.
On the positive side, they are cheaper than alternative closure systems. They also have a good life expectancy and a lower failure rate. What’s more, they look kind of retro-cool.
Velcro was the second kid on the block. Often, they will be combined with either a dial or dials and possibly a ratchet system. We didn’t review any shoes with a ratchet, though this is a good and easy system to use.
Velcro is relatively cheap, and they quickly secure your shoes to your feet. They also have the advantage of being able to be adjusted on the move. They don’t create as good a fit and closure as laces or dials, which is why they are often combined with other closure systems.
Dials are mostly, if not always, found on high-end shoes. They have the advantage of achieving the same kind of fit as laces. However, they are easy to take on and off, and you can make micro-adjustments to your heart’s content as your riding.
We think the Boa dials are the gold standard of dial systems. Though Mavic has its own closure system, which is almost as good. Northwave Extreme GT Cycling Shoes also use a proprietary dial, the SLW, but it’s not up to the same standard as the other two.
Before We Announce Our Top Choice
For other great reviews on the best bike accessories and cycling gear must-haves, check out our reviews for the Best Cycling Gloves, the Best Bicycle Seats, the Best Flat Pedals, the Best Bike Helmets, the Best Bike Helmet Lights on the market.
You may also be interested in the Best Bike Computers, the Best Bicycle GPS Trackers, the Best Cycling Heart Rate Monitors, the Best Bike Repair Stands, the Best Bike Racks, and the Best Bike Rollers currently available.
Right, back to cycling shoes…
Final Thoughts on The Best Cycling Shoes
So, there you have it.
A beautiful selection of what are predominantly high-end road bike shoes.
We’d be happy to wear any of these shoes. There’s nothing wrong with the quality of any of them. What’s more, they’ll all give you plenty of wear and throw feeling comfortable into the bargain.
However, there is one bike shoe amongst the best cycling shoes on our list that stands out. We love the…Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoe.
This is undoubtedly our pick of the bunch.
There’s just something about Fizik that you can’t ignore. The shoes they make are superb. The Fi’zi:k R1 Infinito is no exception.
It’s a shoe that’s beautifully made, very comfortable, and durable. It’s also lightweight and features excellent dual Boa IP1-B dials. But as good as all of this is, we adore the Italian styling. We could put these on a stand and look at them instead of the TV.
The only problem is trying to keep our eyes off of them when we’re out on the bike!
Enjoy your bikes, and enjoy your rides.