The 19 Best Road Cycling Shoes for Narrow, Regular & Wide Feet [2021]

The Best Road Cycling Shoes

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This is a selection of the best road cycling shoes for narrowwide feet based on my 10-hour market research. It only contains road cycling shoes. If you look for mountain bike shoes, check my other article.

I compared more than 50 pairs of shoes, but only a few of them made it into this selection. I also sorted them into 3 price ranges.

The best road cycling shoes for narrowregular feet are:

The best road cycling shoes for wide feet are:

You will also learn the benefits of using road cycling shoes, how to choose them, what fastening systems cycling shoes use, and what road cycling shoes do pros wear.

NOTE: The weight of the shoes is given for one shoe.

Skip to the comparison table…


The Best Road Cycling Shoes for Narrow & Regular Feet

Below, you can find cycling shoes ideal for riders with narrow and regular feet. They feature narrower heel and toe box compared to wide cycling shoes. To further improve your comfort, feel free to use cycling insoles.

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Speed Road Bike Shoes

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Fizik Tempo R5 Overcurve

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Sidi Genius 10

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Best Budget Narrow & Regular Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains narrow road cycling shoes under $100. They are suitable for beginners and casual riders.

Speed Road Bike Shoes

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Main Features

  • Available in 8 colors (including one color that is reflective in the night)
  • Fastening system: dial combined with a velcro strap
  • Well ventilated
  • Modern design

These Speed road bike shoes may remind you of the Fizik R5. They are very similar. The fastening system combines a dial (not a BOA dial) with a velcro strap. It is relatively precise but not as good as certified BOA dials.

The upper is well-ventilated thanks to a large number of small air vents. The sole also has a few air vents, so these road shoes are good for hot summer months.

Compared to the Santic road bike shoes, the rubber on the shoes’ toe is much smaller, so it is not as protected when walking.

Overall fit is good, especially for narrow feet. Speed shoes are also compatible with SPD cleats so that you can use them for mountain biking too. Yet, I would recommend them for road cycling only.


Santic Road Bike Shoes

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Main Features

  • Available in 3 colors (black, red, green)
  • Fastening system: a ratchet buckle combined with 2 velcro straps
  • Well ventilated
  • Modern design

Santic road shoes are one of the best road cycling shoes for beginners with narrow feet. They are affordable yet modern-looking and durable.

The fastening system combines a ratchet buckle and 2 velcro straps. The fastening system is good but not as accurate as the Speed road bike shoes below. On the other hand, this one is more durable.

The Santic road cycling shoes offer good support and stability to prevent twisting your ankles. The shoes are ventilated thanks to ventilation holes in the sole and the upper, so your feet won’t get too sweaty during hot days.

The sole is made of plastic, and it contains rubber on the heel and on the toe of the shoes to protect the sole and slip prevention.


Best Value for Money Narrow & Regular Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains shoes for narrow & regular feet at $100 to $300 price range. These shoes offer a good price to value ratio and are suitable for most riders.

Fizik Tempo Overcurve R5

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Main Features

  • Weight: 246 g / 0.54 lb (size 42 / 9 US)
  • Available in 5+ colors
  • Fastening system: 1 BOA dial combined with a velcro strap
  • Clean and modern design
  • Balanced comfort and efficiency

The Fizik R5 Tempo are one of the best-looking road cycling shoes. They immediately caught my attention when I was looking for a new pair of road shoes.

They are relatively affordable yet offer a BOA dial fastening system combined with a velcro strap that allows precise fit. Overcurve R5 are perfect for narrow feet riders because they tend to run narrow.

Their sole is made from nylon composite that provides a good balance between comfort and efficiency. Unfortunately, the sole has no air vents (which also serve to drain water when it rains). But, here is a hack for you that I got from a pro rider. Feel free to drill 1-3 holes in the sole. When it starts to rain, it allows water to drain away.

One minor downside is the velcro strap. It does not allow you to adjust the fit as well as the BOA dial.

Overall, Fizik Tempo Overcurve R5 are nice-looking, comfortable shoes and pretty stiff shoes for an affordable price.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk


Vittoria Alisè

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Main Features

  • Weight: 241 g / 0.53 lb (size 41 / 8 US)
  • Available in 1 color
  • Fastening system: 1 BOA dial
  • Excellent price/value ratio
  • Clean design

These road bike shoes offer an excellent price/value ratio. They are relatively lightweight, and the fastening system is made of the BOA dial (without any velcro strap).

They are practical because they are easy to clean. If you want to keep them shiny, make sure you don’t forget to clean them from time to time.

I also like their minimalistic design that is very similar to the Fizik R5 Infinito. The stiffness and ventilation are not as good compared to other models in this category. The nylon reinforced sole has one air vent only.

The Alisè road cycling shoes are pretty flexible thanks to the upper made from Synthetic PU. This means they are very comfortable yet not as stiff when riding out of the saddle.


You may also be interested in my selection of the best road bike pedals.


Giro Empire E70

GREHEAYL
Giro Empire E70 for men | Source: competitivecyclist.com
BERPK
Giro Empire E70 for women | Source: competitivecyclist.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 250 g / 0.55 lb (size 42.5 / 9.5 US)
  • Available in 3 colors
  • Fastening system: laces
  • Original design
  • Very comfortable
  • Breathable knitted upper

Personally, I am not a huge fan of cycling shoes with laces. But based on my research, people who used them are very satisfied with this fastening system. The laces don’t untie, and the feet hold well in the shoes.

Giro Empire E70 are the best road cycling shoes with laces. Their owners highly praise their comfort and good fit. Just remember, they are suitable for narrow feet.

The sole of these road shoes is made of carbon, so it is stiff and ensures good energy transfer to the pedals. The rubber on the heel and toe of the shoe protects it from damage when walking.

Especially in summer, you will appreciate a breathable knitted upper. It ensures good airflow, so your feet won’t get too sweaty. On the other hand, the sole has only 1 air vent.

Their main disadvantage is that it takes you longer to put them on and take them off because of the laces. Shoes with BOA are more convenient, and you can tighten them while riding.


Best Performance Narrow & Regular Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains narrow & regular road cycling shoes above $300. These are high-end cycling shoes that are used by pros and the most demanding riders. They are designed to be stiff, lightweight, and comfortable.

Sidi Wire 2

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Main Features

  • Weight: 323 g / 0.71 lb (size 44.5 size)
  • Available for men and women
  • Fastening system: Tecno-3 Push and Single Tecno-3 Push dials
  • Adjustable heel retention and instep closure system
  • Replaceable pads
  • Stiff & ventilated soles

Wire 2 are one of Sidi’s highest-end models available. Yes, they are pricy. But, let me explain what you get for your hard-earned money.

Wire 2 use two Tecno-3 push dials that work on a similar principle as BOA dials. They tighten a steel cord to fasten the shoes. The difference is that Tecno-3 dials allow you to do micro-adjustments, so if you have narrow, regular, or wide feet, you always get a perfect fit.

Speaking of a fit, you can also tighten both sides of the heel retention. It is nice to have a feature that ensures the heel cups will hold your heels securely and won’t slip during sprints or ride out of the saddle.

Sidi 2 Wire are durable so that they will last you for years. And if you walk more than usual in your cycling shoes, you can replace the pads that protect the super-stiff carbon sole when they wear out. 

Yes, these shoes are stiff to maximize the power transfer you put into every pedal stroke. So if you like to compete and hunt KOMs, you know what to do. 

Wire 2 are pretty comfortable. They have a ventilated sole which is ideal for hot days. Their upper is perforated to provide ventilation for your feet. The perforation could be better, so if you live in a hot area, you may consider getting Sidi Wire 2 Air (also available for women). They are almost the same but better ventilated. 

But, Sidi Wire 2 are not only about benefits. They have their flaws too. Their weight is higher than other high-end cycling shoes (Giro Imperial weight just 430g/pair in size 42.5). Honestly, I also think that Sidi Wire 2 are a little bit overpriced.


Sidi Genius 10

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Main Features

  • Weight: 313 g / 0.69 lb (size 45 size)
  • Available for men and women
  • Fastening system: Tecno-3 and Single Tecno-3 dials
  • Adjustable instep closure system
  • Replaceable heel pads
  • Stiff & ventilated soles

Sidi Genius 10 are similar to Wire 2, but they are more affordable and use different dials. 

Genius 10 shoes come with Tecno-3 dials that don’t have the iconic red “push” button. It means you release the fastening by “unclipping” the whole dial. It doesn’t seem to be the most user-friendly way, but it works well.

Another different thing is the heel retention system. You can’t adjust it with Genius 10. On the other hand, the shoes are maybe even, thanks to the lack of this mechanism, a little bit lighter. 

Most of the other features like stiffness, comfort, and ventilation are very similar. So if you want performance-oriented Sidi shoes that are not as expensive as Wire 2, go for Genius 10.

The good news also is they are available in multiple colors (white, black, red, grey, fluoro), so you can match them with your kit or bike. 

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


S-Works EXOS

BLA
S-Works EXOS | Source: competitivecyclist.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 170 g / 0.37 lb (size 45 size)
  • Fastening system: BOA dial
  • Super-lightweight and comfortable
  • Stiff and ventilated sole

If you look for super-lightweight cycling shoes, you should not miss the S-Works EXOS. They weigh just 340g per pair in the 45 size!

EXOS were designed with simplicity in mind. But they will still provide you with enough stiffness (stiffness rating of 13), so you won’t lose precious watts during your KOM hunting. 

They are also well ventilated, so they are perfect for hot summer days. You will appreciate their ventilated sole. Keep in mind that they are not very suitable for spring or autumn without toe or shoe covers. And even with them, you may feel cold.

S-Works EXOS are very comfortable. Thanks to their thin upper and BOA dial, they will wrap around your feet to ensure a snug fit. But, if you prefer shoes that feel more durable, these are not for you.  

Do they have any downsides? Yes, they do. They are pretty expensive and not as durable as other high-end cycling shoes. It doesn’t mean they won’t last. Just the feeling you get from them is different.


Garneau Course Air Lite II

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Garneau Course Air Lite II | Source: competitivecyclists.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 235 g / 0.52 lb (size 42 / 9 US)
  • Available in 3 colors
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Very comfortable (3 adjustable arch wedges included)
  • Well ventilated
  • Excellent price/value ratio

If you look for top-end road bike shoes, you should not miss the Garneau Course Air Lite II. These shoes are super stiff and lightweight because the sole is made of carbon and titanium inserts.

Yet, thanks to the X-Comfort Zone upper and 2 BOA dials, they are very comfortable. The toe tip is reinforced to improve durability as well as the heel retention that supports your heels.

Course Air Lite II are very well ventilated because the upper and the sole have enough air vents that allow good airflow. So you don’t have to be afraid of riding in the warm summer months.

The shoes also offer good arch support. The insert contains 3 adjustable arch wedges, thanks to which you can adjust the arch support as you need.

Compared to other high-end road cycling shoes, Course Air Lite II offer an excellent price/value ratio and are often pretty underrated.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com


Giro Imperial

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Main Features

  • Weight: 215 g / 0.47 lb (size 42.5 / 9.5 US)
  • Available in 3 colors
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Very comfortable (3 adjustable arch wedges included)

As the name of these road shoes suggests, the Giro Imperial are high-end road shoes for the most demanding riders. They are super lightweight yet stiff and comfortable.

The fastening system is made of 2 BOA dials that allow you precise and quick fastening. The sole ventilation is very weak. On the other hand, the upper is so thin in some parts that you can see through (choose your socks wisely!).

SuperNatural Fit System will allow you to choose low, medium, or high arch support. This is perfect because you can adjust it and improve your comfort.

The main downside of these shoes is the thin outer material that can scrape up relatively easily. Groupama-FDJ riders wore the Imperial shoes in the 2020 season.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, jensonusa.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


TIP: Read my selection of the best road bike helmets.


The Best Road Cycling Shoes for Wide Feet

The shoes in this part feature a wider heel and toe box than narrow cycling shoes. They are suitable for riders with wide feet that need shoes that tend to run wide.

TIP: Make sure to check the selection of the best cycling insoles to support your arches and improve your riding comfort even further.

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Tiebao Road Cycling Shoes

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black one big
Bont Riot+

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CX332 WHITE
Lake CX322 (Wide)

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Best Budget Wide Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains wide road cycling shoes under $100. They are good for beginners and casual riders.

Tiebao Wide Road Cycling Shoes

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Main Features

  • Available in 3 colors
  • Fastening system: 3 velcro straps
  • Good price/value ratio
  • Durable

The Tiebao road cycling shoes are good entry-level for riders with wide feet. So if you’re just getting started with road cycling, you’ll appreciate that they don’t have as stiff soles as more expensive models. This means it will be easier for you to get used to them.

The sole is made of plastic and nylon. It is protected when walking thanks to rubber pads. It also contains several air vents for better airflow and ventilation.

Their disadvantage is the relatively poor ventilation of the synthetic upper. Therefore, they are not as good for riding on hot days.

You will appreciate their durability. The toe cup is reinforced to protect your feet against rock impacts because these shoes are compatible with MTB pedals so that you can use them for mountain biking too.


Best Value for Money Wide Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains wide road cycling shoes between $100 to $300. These shoes offer a good price-to-value ratio and are suitable for most riders.

Bont Riot+

black one big
Bont Riot+ | Source: bontcycling.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 272 g / 0.6lb (size 42)
  • Fastening system: BOA dial and velcro strap
  • Very comfortable
  • Stiff and ventilated sole
  • Heat moldable 
  • Good arch and lateral forefoot support
  • Replaceable heel pads

Bont Riot+ shoes offer an excellent price-value ratio. Bont even claims that these are “the world’s first carbon composite heat moldable entry-level cycling shoe.”

The truth is that if you take advantage of their heat moldability, you get a perfect fit. But Bont takes the fit and comfort even further.

The whole shoes were designed to copy the anatomy of human feet. This means that they are shaped a little differently than regular cycling shoes. They provide lateral forefoot support, anatomical heel cup, and medial longitudinal arch support.

Your feet will get enough support, which is essential for long road training and races, thanks to these features.

You can also replace the heel pads once they wear off and further improve their longevity.

Keep in mind that even the regular fit Bonts are pretty wide, so I recommend them for riders with wide feet.

Riot+ shoes are a huge competitor for Shimano RC7. Furthermore, they are available in plenty of color options.


Shimano RC7 (Wide)

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Main Features

  • Weight: 245 g / 0.54 lb (size 42.5 / 9.5 US)
  • Available in black, white, or red color
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Stiff and comfortable
  • Good ventilation

Shimano RC7 are nice-looking modern road bike shoes that feature a stiff sole made of carbon fiber. Yet, they are still comfortable enough so you can enjoy your bike rides.

The upper is perforated, so you get better ventilation and airflow. On the other hand, the sole has only one air vent. But overall ventilation is pretty good.

The main advantage of these shoes is the fastening system made of 2 BOA dials. They provide you with a very precise fit. Usually, road shoes in this price range have only 1 BOA dial.

If you have wide feet, the Shimano RC7 are one of the best road cycling shoes you can get in this price range.

Their main downside is that you can’t heat mold them as you can the Bont Riot+.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, jensonusa.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Sidi Alba 2 Mega

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Main Features

  • Available in black only
  • Fastening system: Tecno buckle combined with 2 velcro straps
  • Stiff and comfortable

Sidi Alba 2 Mega are perfect shoes for riders with wide feet. Yet, they are also available in the narrow version (they are called Sidi Alba 2).

The carbon sole provides enough stiffness, but the insert is comfortable enough so that you won’t experience any excessive pressure.

A replaceable heel pad protects the sole. The upper is perforated, so your feet will get proper ventilation even during hot days. On the other hand, the sole is not ventilated at all.

In Alba 2 Mega, your feet won’t slip because of the Tecno buckle and 2 velcro straps that ensure a good fit. Furthermore, if you manage to damage the buckle, it is easy to replace it.

Overall, these shoes provide great value for their price and will satisfy even demanding riders.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, jensonusa.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk


Venzo Wide Road Bike Shoes

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Main Features

  • Available in 2 colors
  • Fastening system: 3 velcro straps
  • Breathable
  • Look Delta cleats included

The fastening system of Venzo road cycling shoes is made of 3 velcro straps. It is not very precise, but it is durable.

They are available only in 2 colors. The first color variant is more suitable for men (in the picture above), the second for women (white/red/black combination).

These shoes’ main benefit is the mesh upper that allows enough airflow during the hot summer days. This means your feet won’t sweat as much.

The sole is made of plastic, so don’t expect the highest standards of stiffness. They are relatively flexible, so they are easy to get used to if you have never ridden with road cycling shoes before.

The packaging includes Look Delta cleats that is often used on indoor bikes such as Peloton. So, if you look for shoes for indoor training, these are the right choice.


Best Performance Wide Road Cycling Shoes

This category contains wide road cycling shoes above $300. These are high-end cycling shoes that are used by pros and the most demanding riders. They are designed to be stiff, lightweight, and comfortable.

Lake CX332

CX332 WHITE

Main Features

  • Weight: 233 g / 0.51 lb (size 42 / 9 US)
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Upper made from kangaroo leather
  • Stiff and very comfortable
  • Moldable carbon heel cup

The Lake CX332 are high-end road cycling shoes that have their upper made from kangaroo leather. Thanks to it, they are durable and very comfortable. The leather molds to your feet so you will feel like in heaven.

The fastening system consists of 2 BOA dials that ensure a tight and precise fit. You also won’t experience excessive pressure or hotspots on your forefoot.

You can also mold their carbon heel cup to adjust fit your heels for a better fit.

CX332 are well-ventilated thanks to the perforated upper, so they are suitable for hot weather.

Lake did not sponsor any World Tour cycling team in the 2020 season. It is pretty interesting because their shoes belong to one of the best on the market.

I tried to find some downsides, and I could not find any. Maybe their price which is above the $400 mark. But if you want a premium product, it comes with a price.


Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (Wide)

BL

Main Features

  • Weight: 282 g / 0.62 lb (size 46)
  • Available in 4 colors
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Very stiff yet comfortable
  • Well ventilated

The Shimano RC9 are one of the stiffest road bike shoes on the market. They are available in both narrow and wide versions and in various colors including blue, red, white, and black.

The sole is made from carbon, so it is very stiff and lightweight. You will also benefit from the guidelines that are on the sole that help you to place the cleats in the right position.

Although the Shimano S-Phyre RC9 are not the lightest pair of road cycling shoes on the market, their energy transmission to the pedals is unrivaled.

The shoes are also equipped with a drainage hole that drains water away. This is especially useful if you ride in the rain. The RC9 are well-ventilated thanks to the 3D mesh upper, so they are perfect for summer.

Pro riders like Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and many more wore these shoes in the 2020 season. It is proof of their high quality and great performance.


Bont Vaypor S

pearl white one big
Bont Vaypor S | Source: bontcycling.com

Main Features

  • Weight: 243 g / 0.54 lb (size 46, regular fit), 230g / 0.51 g (size 42, regular fit)
  • Fastening system: 2 BOA dials
  • Very comfortable
  • Stiff and ventilated sole
  • Heat moldable 
  • Good arch and lateral forefoot support
  • Replaceable heel pads

Vaypor S are the highest-end cycling shoes by Bont. They are perfect for demanding riders with wide feet.

They are heat-moldable to ensure you get the best fit possible. Simply put them into the oven for 20 minutes (160°F / 70°C), let them cool down a bit, then put your feet in and tighten the straps (learn more). And if they deform over time, repeat the process to maximize the fit.

Bont Vaypor S offer much more than “just” heat molding. They provide your feet with good arch and lateral forefoot support for even better fit and comfort. They are also well ventilated, so they are perfect for hot summer days.

Another thing I like about them is the replaceable heel pads that wear out over time if you often walk in your cycling shoes. 

Vaypor S use 2 BOA dials instead of a BOA dial + velcro strap (typical for Bont Riot+), providing you with quick, fast, and convenient fastening.  

Bont Vaypor S are even lighter than Sidi Wire 2 (not as surprising because they are on the heavier side) and Shimano S-Phyre RC9 (282g, size 46).

The only two things I don’t like about them are their look and price. But this is my subjective opinion that shouldn’t influence your decision.

Also available at wiggle.co.uk

Sidi Ergo 5 Mega

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Main Features

  • Weight: slightly under 300 g / 0.66 lb (size 42.5 / 9.5 US)
  • Available in 2 colors (black and white)
  • Fastening system: 2 Sidi Tecno buckle combined with a velcro strap
  • Stiff yet comfortable
  • Durable and water-resistant

Sidi is one of the most popular cycling shoe brands out there. They offer high-end road cycling shoes that are popular among pro riders.

Their model Ergo 5 Mega is suitable for riders with wide feet. It is not the most expensive model from Sidi. Yet, the Ergo 5 Mega are stiff and still very comfortable.

These shoes’ main downsides are slightly higher weight compared to other shoes in this selection and worse ventilation (their sole has no air vents).

On the other hand, the sole guidelines are very useful when mounting cleats, and the rubber heel pads are replaceable. I cannot forget to mention the soft instep system that doesn’t put pressure on the top of your foot.

Sidi Ergo 5 Mega are durable cycling shoes that will meet the demands even of the demanding riders.

Also available at competitivecyclist.com, performancebike.com, and wiggle.co.uk



My Verdict

I’ve selected the best pair of road cycling shoes from each price range (budget, value for money, performance) and category (for narrow and wide feet).

The best road cycling shoes for narrow & regular feet:

  • Best budgetSpeed Road Cycling Shoes feature dial fastening system combined with Velcro, perforated upper, air vents in the sole, and large color selection.
  • Best value for moneyFizik Tempo Overcurve R5 look like premium, high-end road cycling shoes but cost a fraction of the price. Thanks to the perforated upper, they are well ventilated. They provide good comfort and fit thanks to the BOA dial. You can choose from 5+ different colors.
  • Best performanceSidi Genius 10 combine two Tecno-3 dials fastening to ensure a great fit for narrow or regular feet. They are very stiff so that you won’t lose any precious watts. You can also replace the heel pads once they wear out to extend their longevity.

The best road cycling shoes for wide feet:

  • Best budgetTiebao Wide Road Cycling Shoes are good entry-level shoes that include 3 Velcro straps for a good fit. They are durable thanks to reinforced toe cups, and available in multiple colors.
  • Best value for moneyBont Riot+ (regular) and Bont Riot+ (wide) are both perfect for riders with wide feet. You can adjust their fit thanks to their heat-moldable capability. They also provide you with enough arch support and lateral forefoot support for even better comfort. And, you can also replace the heel pads once they wear out.
  • Best performanceLake CX332 have upper made from perforated kangaroo leather that is durable and flexible at the same time. You can mold their carbon heel cup to secure your foot. The leather upper also adjusts to your feet so you will experience a whole new level of comfort on your bike. They feature 2 BOA dials for precise and quick fastening, and they are stiff and well-ventilated.

Why Should You Get a Pair of Road Cycling Shoes?

Road cycling shoes can get costly. If you are a beginner, you probably don’t even have road clipless pedals. Depending on your budget, you can spend tens to hundreds of dollars on pedals and shoes.

But why should you invest in road bike shoes in the first place? The answer is simple. If you want to ride regularly, enjoy your rides, and be competitive, you won’t be able to meet these goals without a pair of cycling shoes.

The study shows that using stiff-soled cycling shoes combined with clip-in pedals improved the maximum sprint power by 10.2% compared to running shoes with classic aluminum quill pedals with toe clips and straps.

Pros and cons of road cycling shoes compared to non cycling shoes.

ProsCons
• They improve pedal stroke efficiency thanks to the stiff soles and fixed position on the pedal.
• They improve comfort. Road cycling shoes are made to be lightweight, ventilated, and comfortable.
• They improve your safety because your feet won't slip off the pedals and you can control your bike more easily.
• It takes a while to get used to clipping in and clipping off.
• They tend to be more expensive compared to non cycling shoes.
• They are not suitable for walking.

Source: Richard’s 21st Century Bicycle Book


How to Choose the Best Road Cycling Shoes?

Before you buy a new pair of road cycling shoes, let me explain what you should be aware of. I am also going to explain to you the important features that road bike shoes offer. If you are not sure whether or not road cycling shoes are right for your riding style, read my How to Choose Cycling Shoes guide first.

Price Range

As I outlined above, you can spend a lot of money on road cycling shoes. Before I started riding, I bought one of the cheapest pairs on the market for about $50. And I didn’t even have pedals at the time, so I had to buy them too. My wallet was down for another $50.

Let me remind you that these were some of the cheapest cycling shoes. Yet, they improved my riding experience A LOT. In this selection, you can choose road bike shoes from 3 price categories:

  • Budget (Under $100) – these shoes are suitable for beginners. They usually only offer velcro strap fastening, but you can also find models with a ratchet buckle. Shoes from this category are heavier and not as stiff compared to more expensive models.
  • Value for money ($100 to $300) – an ideal compromise between cheap and high-end road cycling shoes. This category is ideal for most road cyclists. The shoes in this category offer an excellent price/performance ratio. They are relatively light and comfortable. They use a combination of velcro straps and ratchet buckle, velcro strap and BOA dial, or BOA dials only.
  • Performance (Above $300) – this price category offers high-end shoes that pros and the most demanding riders wear. The soles of these shoes are made of carbon, so they are very stiff. The shoes are lightweight and fit well, thanks to BOA dials or similar fastening systems.

Fastening System

There are 4 main types of fastening systems used on road cycling shoes. Velcro straps, laces, ratchet buckles, and BOA dials (or their alternative).

cycling shoes fastening systems
Cycling shoes fastening systems (click to enlarge) | Product images credit: Giro, Vittoria

Velcro Straps

Velcro is used on the cheapest models of road bike shoes. My first road shoes had 3 velcro straps. This system is relatively simple and inexpensive, but it is not as convenient as other fastening systems.

On the other hand, velcro straps are lightweight and not prone to damage. For example, if you crash, you don’t have to buy a new pair of shoes because your fastening system will break.

Laces

Giro introduced its first cycling shoes with laces for the first time in 2012. Laces are a stylish and cool-looking fastening system that we know from noncycling shoes.

Laces are the lightest fastening system. They are also not prone to damage. However, their main disadvantage (and this one is a no-go for many people) is that it is almost impossible to tighten them while riding.

Ratchet Buckles

Ratchet buckles are a compromise between velcro straps and BOA dials. They are used in combination with velcro straps. They can be tightened while riding and provide relatively good tightening of the shoe.

On the other hand, they are heavier than other fastening systems and are also prone to damage if you crash. They are very difficult to replace because they are attached to the shoe.

From my experience and discussions with fellow cyclists who used ratchet buckles and BOA dials, I would recommend paying more for road cycling shoes with BOA dials.

BOA Dial(s)

High-end road cycling shoes are nowadays equipped with BOA dials. This technology is the most effective fastening system on the market. And, of course, the most expensive one.

Did you know that every ‘click’ adjust the fit by 1 mm? This feature makes BOA dials the most precise fastening system on the market.

I also like how the system works. To engage it, you have to push the dial. Then you can tighten or loosen the lace. To quick release, simply pull up the dial. How cool is that?

BOA dials may be prone to damage. On the other hand, you can replace them easily, so you don’t have to buy new shoes.

Some brands don’t use BOA dials but their own mechanism. For example, Sidi uses the Tecno buckle/push system.

Pros & Cons of Different Types of Fastening Systems

The following table shows pros and cons of individual fastening systems.

Type of Fastening SystemProsCons
Velcro straps• They are cheap and you can fasten them while riding.
• They are not as prone to damage when crashing as ratchet buckles or dials.
• They don’t provide you with as precise and comfortable fastening as BOA dials.
Laces• They look cool.
• They provide you with effective fastening.
• It is the lightest fastening system.
• It takes time to tie them.
• It is almost impossible to tie them while riding.
Ratchet buckles• You can fasten them while riding.
• They provide you with relatively effective fastening.
• They are heavier compared to other types of fastening systems.
• They are prone to damage when crashing.
• The buckles are hard to replace.
Dials (BOA, Tecno...)• Quick, effective, and precise fastening also while riding.
• They are easy to replace.
• They are lightweight.
• They are more expensive compared to other fastening systems.
• They are prone to damage when crashing.

Comfort, Fit & Ventilation

Road cycling shoes have to provide you with enough comfort. If you spend more hours in the saddle, which is common in road cycling, your shoes should not push you anywhere or be too loose.

It is always better to try them in person to make sure you buy the right size and fit. If you shop online, make sure you measure your foot before you order the selected size. If the shoes don’t fit, return them and try a different size or model.

TIP: Use cycling insoles. They will support your arches and improve your overall comfort.

Proper ventilation is important, especially during hot summer days. The ventilation helps to cool your feet so you won’t sweat as much.

You will also feel much more comfortable, and you will perform better because you won’t feel like your feet are burning.

Pedal & Cleat Type Compatibility

The MTB shoes are manufactured in a 2-hole configuration. They allow you to attach MTB cleats, which are much smaller than road cleats and compatible with the MTB clipless pedals.

Unlike MTB bike shoes, road cycling shoes are usually manufactured in a 3-hole configuration (see the picture below). This allows you to attach cleats compatible with road bike pedals like Shimano-SPD SL, Look Keo, Time Xpresso, etc.

A separate category consists of 4-hole configuration cycling shoes that were designed specifically for Speedplay pedals. You can use a 3-hole configuration for Speedplay pedals, but you have to use special adapters to make a 3-hole configuration look like a 4-hole configuration.

cleat hole configuration edited
Cycling shoes cleat hole configuration (click to enlarge)

Sole Stiffness

Cycling shoes, especially those for road cycling, have much stiffer soles compared to noncycling shoes. The stiffness is important—the higher the stiffness, the lower energy losses with every pedal stroke.

Did you know? During a four-hour road ride, you do 21600 pedal strokes in total if you pedal an average cadence of 90 RPM.

Riders that experience painful or inflamed balls of their feet (metatarsalgia) or lack of oxygenation of the toes due to blood shortage (ischemia) should be careful when using stiff shoes. The study showed the shoes with carbon sole increase peak plantar pressure, which may aggravate these foot conditions.

Every bike shoe manufacturer uses its own stiffness index. It isn’t very easy to compare them. Yet, the higher the number, the higher the stiffness. You can check this Shimano stiffness index chart.

Top-end road cycling shoes are stiffer compared to cheaper models. Their sole is made from carbon fiber that is 42% stiffer in longitudinal bending and 550% in three-point bending than plastic.

The cheapest cycling shoes have a sole made from plastic. It is heavier material compared to carbon, and of course, much softer.

There are also road cycling shoes that use a combination of carbon and plastic. They are a good compromise between the above-mentioned 2 categories.


Road Cycling Shoes FAQ


BONUS: What Shoes Do Pro Road Cyclists Wear?

The following table shows an overview of pro riders and their cycling shoes in the 2020 cycling season.

Rider NameTop ResultsRoad Shoes
Peter Sagan3× Road World Champion
7× Points GC winner at Tour de France
12× winner of stages at Tour de France
14× winner of stages at Amgen Tour of California
S-Works 7
Primož Roglič1/2× La Vuelta GC winner
3× winner of stages at Tour de France
5× winner of stages at La Vuelta
3× winner of stages at Giro d'Italia
Shimano S-Phyre RC9
Chris Froome4× Tour de France GC winner
2× La Vuelta GC winner
1× Giro d'Italia GC winner
Sidi Shot
Alejandro Valverde4× winner of stages at Tour de France
12× winner of stages at Vuelta a España
1× La Vuelta GC winner
1× Road World Champion
Fizik Infinito R1
Tadej Pogacar1× Tour de France GC winner (he was 21 y.o)DMT KR1
Egan Bernal1× Tour de France GC winner (he was 22 y.o)
1× Amgen Tour of California GC winner
Sidi Shot
Wout van AertOne of the most talented riders of these daysShimano S-Phyre RC9
Diego Ulissi8× winner of stages at Giro d'ItaliaGaerne G. Stilo
Mathieu van der PoelOne of the most talented riders of these daysShimano S-Phyre RC9
Julian Alaphilippe1× Road World Champion
1× Amgen Tour of California GC winner
S-Works 7

This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up to date tips on products. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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