Cyclist riding with clipless pedals

How to find the best road bike shoes

Whether you are a pro or an amateur. The one thing connecting your body and your bike are your shoes. And to find the best road bike shoes for you can be a difficult task due to the large selection and often massive price differences.

Up to 2000 watts. That’s what sprinters like Marcel Kittel push out in the final meters. Every single one of them has to be transferred to the pedal – the highest demands on the material. Not so extreme are the strains on amateur athletes, but of course, they also benefit from the best road bike shoes.

The fit is the most important part.

The decisive criterion when buying shoes, however, should not only be the price but also the fit – after all, the shoes have to go through several thousand crank turns on every trip you and your friends take.

But some feet are wider, others higher, and in many people not even the right and left feet are identical. Models that are too long do not guide the foot properly, and it may happen that the cleats cannot be pushed back far enough, as would be necessary for an individually correct setting.

As a general rule, a cycling shoe should provide a good grip even with the buckle open. It is important that there are several fasteners to be able to adjust the shoe to the different areas of the foot. All common systems can be found in the “middle class“ of shoes: the classic Velcro fastener, the ratchet, and the Boa twist lock. Our experience shows that all systems can deliver satisfactory results – if they are well done.

The 3 different closing mechanisms.

The most common problems with Velcro fasteners (Tommaso Strada 100) are too inflexible flaps and a too stiff upper material. For example, the flap cannot be tightened enough or the upper material wrinkles. A ratchet (Sidi Genius Ratchet) can also cause problems:  if a flap that is slightly too short it can get caught in the upper shoe. The ratchet is usually accompanied by 2 Velcro fasteners, but these are only useful if their straps are flexible enough and the shoe can be tightened at this point without wrinkles. Shoes with Boa fasteners (Northwave Revolution Boa) achieve the top result in this discipline. Especially because of the pleasant and even pressure distribution.

At the end of the day, the best cycling shoe will be the one you can put on and completely forget about while riding for hours. Check out our top picks for entry or mid-level shoes (link to top 5 beginner road shoes).

Still undecided if road bike shoes are even your thing?

If you are still new to road cycling and are asking yourself „should I switch to clipless pedals“ then read our article on transferring to clipless and why it will change the way you ride.