If you’re a cyclist and you’re having trouble looking for the best cycling shoes and pedals due to the numerous reviews and blog posts online, then look no further because I can make your search easier.
With so many choices available when it comes to cycling shoes and pedals, it’s a trouble to go through each one.
However, your decision should only be based on three vital factors: product features, affordability, and your current skill level.
Buying a pair of shoes or pedals that is appropriate for advanced cyclists would be risky for someone who is only a beginner.
Meanwhile, shoes and pedals designed for beginners could feel dull and inadequate for expert-level riders.
Before going into the product reviews, let me first talk about why you should wear cycling shoes, what the importance of having the right cycling pedals are, and some things to consider before purchasing your first cycling shoes.
Why are Cycling Shoes Important?
Cycling is one of the most popular recreational activities in the world today. In fact, it is not only a pastime but has also been one of the most competitive sporting events.
All over the world, you can find people riding bicycles for a lot of different reasons.
From maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle to using it as a more economical means of transportation, to having it as a professional vocation, cycling has become an effective way to improve the quality of life.
Perhaps the essential thing a cycling beginner should know is how to stay safe while riding.
Safety is always important both for beginners and advanced cyclists. It does not matter how enjoyable your riding experience is if it is not done in the safest manner possible.
A whole afternoon of fun could suddenly turn tragic if safety precautions are overlooked or ignored.
The good news is it does not take very long, and it does not cost too much to ensure safety while cycling. For one, wearing the right kind of cycling shoes is just one of the many ways to promote safety while enjoying the activity alone, with your family, or with friends.
Cycling shoes are not the typical, regular sneakers used for walking, running, or training. Instead, this is a particular kind of pair that is purposely designed for riding bicycles.
Cycling shoes are not in any way a fashion trend just to look cool and stylish. These are essential equipment utilized while riding a bike for the ride to be more comfortable and safe.
However, not all cycling shoes are created equal. That is why there are so many different choices available in the market.
Depending on your skill level, the type of bicycle you are riding, the kind of cycling activity you are engaged in (whether competitive or recreational), and your stylistic preference, there is an available pair of cycling shoes for you.
Apart from the aspect of safety, here are a few more reasons why it is essential for you to wear cycling shoes.
Cycling shoes are uniquely designed to give comfort to the wearer during bike rides. These shoes provide protection to your feet’s pressure points that are over-pressed while riding.
Even though sneakers do have cushioning materials for a more comfortable walk, they do not shield the parts of your feet that are always in contact with the bike pedals.
Moreover, cycling shoes are usually made from breathable fabric and materials to keep your feet cool even during hot days.
This kind of feature is not always available in regular rubber shoes, and so cycling shoes are more appropriate.
Cycling shoes provide a better grip between your feet and the bike pedals. Using regular shoes may make you slip off the pedals frequently, which could result in injuries to your legs, shins, and knees.
The soles of bike shoes have more traction than sneakers, which prevents slipping.
Better traction enables you to focus more on the riding itself rather than getting distracted by a lingering thought of the risk of sliding.
One type of bike shoes called clipless cycling shoes, provide a more secure connection between your feet and the pedals.
Clipless cycling shoes have cleats under the sole that can be clipped into the pedals, forming a solid link.
Because cycling shoes provide better traction, they also improve the way you pedal.
A secure, tight grip between your feet and the bike pedals lets you ride more smoothly and efficiently with a consistent cadence.
Efficient pedaling means less fatigue to the rider. Using clipless cycling shoes will allow you to improve your stroke even more because of the push-pull effect.
Regular shoes that do not have cleats can only transmit power from the legs alternately in a push motion.
Since the cleats are clipped to the pedals, a pulling force is added as you pedal upward with your other leg.
Easier transfer of power from legs to pedals
Speaking of the push-pull motion, this effect also allows easier transfer of power from your legs to your bike’s pedals. This is because cycling shoes have a more rigid sole than sneakers or regular shoes.
The stiff sole and tight connection maximize the power produced by your legs while pedaling, turning almost 100 percent of it into a force to drive the bicycle forward.
You can convert your pedaling effort to power more efficiently by using cycling shoes.
Since your feet are securely connected to your bike’s pedals, you could better concentrate on driving the bike itself.
You do not have to worry about sliding off the bike during sharp turns or harsh terrains.
Steering the bike then becomes more comfortable as you gather more confidence in riding. Physically, cycling shoes enhance dexterity between your arms and legs that allow for better handling.
Cycling shoes are designed in a way that makes it more durable and longer-lasting than regular rubber shoes and sneakers.
They are typically made out of sturdier materials to endure the wear and tear of heavy riding and constant exposure to the elements.
As mentioned above, they have harder soles that could withstand continuous pressure against a bicycle’s pedal.
As long as you properly maintain them, cycling shoes can last quite a while. An added benefit to durability is cost-effectiveness.
Since bike shoes typically last longer than your average rubber shoes, you can save money because you only need to buy a new pair once in a while.
Importance of Having Proper Cycling Pedals
The pedals are arguably the most critical parts of a bicycle. It is one of only three direct contacts between the cyclist and the bike, together with the handlebars and the seat. Of the three, the connection between the shoes and pedals has the most significant effect on your overall safety, comfort, and proficiency while riding.
With the pedals, you can move the bicycle and give it momentum to increase speed. It also provides balance, keeping you upright and helping you avoid crashes.
Thus, the use of proper cycling pedals is important for a lot of reasons.
Some of them are similar to those discussed above cycling shoes.
The first and most important reason for using the right kind of pedals is safety.
Using the wrong pedals is never worth the risk. Keeping your foot on the pedal is extremely vital for a safe ride.
There are so many bad things that could happen if your foot slips off the pedal.
For one, it could strike different parts of your lower extremities, which could cause cuts, wounds, and bruises.
Worse, it may also lead to a crash that can sometimes be life-threatening if it happens in unfortunate conditions.
Proper pedals allow a strong connection with your feet. Clipless pedals are more secure, but some have a hard time getting used to it, and they feel restricted.
Flat pedals give more freedom of movement and are not fastened to the shoes, but they are also reliable as long as you use cycling shoes with excellent traction.
Next to safety is a comfort. Having the correct pedals would improve your comfort level while cycling, resulting in more fun and productive rides.
If you are confident that the connection between your feet and the bike pedals is secure, you tend to enjoy the ride even more and not overthink about slipping or getting hurt.
There are two kinds of pedals you can choose from: clipless pedals and flat pedals.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but comfort depends on the personal preference of the rider. Clipless pedals offer more security, but there is a learning curve to get accustomed to the right timing of clipping your shoes on and off it.
Proper timing is essential to avoid accidents or one to fall over.
Flat pedals are less secure but more convenient as your feet are not literally attached to them.
Some riders prefer the improved efficiency gained by using clipless pedals. They also want the assurance of never slipping off the pedal no matter what happens.
Meanwhile, others prefer the freedom of movement provided by flat pedals in exchange for a little less security.
This is because they want to retain the ability to immediately to plant their foot on the ground when needed immediately.
Finally, choosing the appropriate pedals increases your speed and proficiency by a lot.
The security of contact between the pedals and your shoes cannot be overstated.
If you are using the wrong kind of pedals, then that connection becomes loose, and it all goes downhill from there.
The right pedals enhance the power transfer from your legs to the pedals. Concerning comfort, the proper pedals also give you more riding confidence that allows for better handling and maneuvering.
Again, it is about finding the most comfortable type of pedals for your riding style.
5 Things to Consider Before Buying Cycling Shoes
It is true that anyone can ride a bike using any shoes. Some people use ordinary sneakers while cycling, and there are indeed times when regular shoes are completely appropriate.
For example, if you are riding a bike for transport or leisure without the need for too much speed, then wearing sneakers should not be a problem.
However, those who are serious about getting and experiencing all the benefits that come with cycling should try wearing shoes that are specifically designed for the said activity.
Once you try them, it is likely that you would never go back to wearing your old sneakers or sandals again.
Cycling shoes are entirely different from the average training or athletic shoes. They are designed with more robust, thinner, and more rigid soles that provide more efficient power transfer from your legs to the bicycle’s pedals.
Despite being less flexible, they are still comfortable, especially when you pedal. They are also more breathable and protect the parts of your feet that get banged up and beaten during cycling.
Cycling shoes typically have straps and buckles instead of laces to have a snug fit with your feet.
However, laces seem to be making a return in the market with the latest bike shoes having them aside from straps.
The fastening system is important because loose shoes are quite dangerous when riding bicycles.
The same with bike pedals, some cycling shoes are also called “clipless.” These kinds of cycling shoes have cleats that can be attached to clipless bike pedals that create a locked physical link.
Some bikers prefer to wear these type of shoes as it improves riding efficiency as well as having more security of the connection between the feet and pedals.
Meanwhile, there are many different kinds of cycling shoes to choose from in terms of design and function. Some of them include road bike shoes, triathlon cycling shoes, mountain biking shoes, and city bike shoes. These types of shoes will be discussed in detail below.
If you are looking to purchase cycling shoes, then here are some things to consider before buying.
Fit and Comfort
Proper fit is a fundamental consideration when choosing cycling shoes.
An ill-fitting pair would lead to foot pain in the long run as well as increase the risk of foot slippage that could lead to crashes or accidents.
When buying, pick one with the right length, without any allowances at the ball or the heel.
Unlike running shoes, you do not need to have that extra room inside the shoes as there is no rolling foot motion while cycling. Check the width as well.
Make sure that the front area of the shoe fits perfectly with your foot because it is the part that does all the work when pedaling. Any excess space on the sides would cause blisters.
Also, check the fastening system of the shoe. Straps or buckles should comfortably hug your foot and not be too tight. There should also be no protruding materials that press into parts of your feet while wearing them.
Look at the heel and ankle support. That part of the shoe should snugly hug your entire heel so that it is not moving. Lastly, you should be able to apply uniform pressure on the instep for maximum comfort.
Be careful about picking a pair that is too tight as it may also lead to injuries eventually.
Another consideration when buying cycling shoes is the materials used to manufacture them. Make sure that soles of the shoes are made of stiff materials that do not flex or bend when you wear them.
Rigid soles allow the force of pedaling to be evenly distributed throughout the length of your foot. Using a flexible sole, like those in running shoes, focuses the pressure on the sesamoid bones of your foot, which could cause injuries sooner or later.
Look for bike shoes with nylon or carbon fiber soles. Such shoes are strong, durable, and are made from lightweight materials that are almost impossible to break.
Nylon is cheaper but tends to flex over time as you use it. Carbon fiber is more expensive but is of better quality.
There are also soles that are made of nylon but are reinforced with carbon fiber so that you get the best of both materials.
The top portion of the shoe is commonly made with leather or synthetic materials or a combination of both.
The leather is more expensive but also more comfortable as it tends to follow the shape of your feet as you continue to wear them.
Synthetic fibers and polymers are less comfortable, but they are lighter and easier to clean in case your shoes get dirty after a ride.
As mentioned above, there are four basic kinds of cycling shoes according to design and function: road bike shoes, triathlon cycling shoes, mountain biking shoes, and city bike shoes.
Road bike shoes are the common bike shoes that riders wear. They can be easily recognized because of their thin but durable nylon or carbon fiber sole and a ventilated upper portion.
These pairs are typically lightweight as well. However, these shoes are not suitable for walking or running because of the lack of traction and flex on the sole.
Clipless road bike shoes usually have a three-bolt or four-bolt cleat mounting system. Triathlon cycling shoes are very much similar to road shoes, only that they could be easily removed and could be worn without socks.
These also have softer linings compared to road bike shoes to help prevent blisters when wearing them sockless.
Such a shoe type is specifically designed to improve performance on races, allowing maximum power transfer from your legs to the pedals.
Mountain biking shoes are quite different from the first two as they are usually water-resistant and tougher while also having grips and lugs on the sole.
These grips and lugs enable a rider to walk or run with his bike during muddy conditions or whenever necessary. Mountain biking shoes have a different cleat system than road bike shoes. Basically, the cleats are smaller as it gives way to the sole’s grips and lugs, and to avoid buildup of mud and other debris.
Mountain bike shoes also use a two-bolt mounting system instead of the usual three-bolt or four-bolt cleat mounts used in road and triathlon shoes. Finally, city bike shoes are appropriate for urban or recreational riding.
They look more like casual sneakers than cycling shoes but are generally tougher with more traction on the sole. City bike shoes can also be clipless, but the outsoles are made of rubber with the cleats sunken for easier walking.
Elite Traction Functions
As explained above, traction is important to enhance pedaling power and to ensure safety while riding.
Low traction increases the risk of slipping off the pedals, which can cause accidents and injuries. When looking for cycling shoes to buy, make sure to pick one with elite traction functions for a safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable experience.
Another thing to consider is traction while walking. Standard road bike shoes are not designed for walking; thus they have little or no traction on the soles at all.
For beginners, a pair with rubber outsoles are best as they most often have to walk during rides. Professional and advanced cyclists do not spend that much time walking so standard road shoes should be enough.
Mountain biking and city bike shoes generally have deep threads on the sole to offer maximum traction.
The soles are similar to those in hiking shoes when it comes to style, only that there are cleats for clipless types.
The final thing to consider when buying cycling shoes is performance.
There are different brands available in the market right now, but not all brands are equal. Some of them have been on the market long enough to create customer trust while others are new but provide quality products.
However, many of these brands offer cheap, low-quality ones that could be risky to wear. Some of the quality brands that I recommend will be discussed below. To be sure, check online third-party reviews to learn about a particular brand or product’s performance before buying.
Now that you know more about the importance of cycling shoes and pedals, and the things to consider before buying bike shoes, we will move on to 15 of my personal reviews regarding the best cycling shoes and pedals of all time.
These reviews will be divided into three categories, namely five of the best cycling shoes, five of the best brands of clipless mountain bike shoes, and five of the best clipless pedals for road bikes and mountain bikes. Enjoy!
5 of the Best Cycling Shoes of All Time
Let me first start my review on cycling shoes. There are lots of brands and styles available in the market, but I have compiled here what I think are the best cycling shoes. The shoes I am about to review includes both clipless and standard shoes, and I will mention them throughout the reviews.
Some of them have cleat mounting compatibility as well. With your knowledge about the main factors to consider when buying cycling shoes, you can better weigh which one is right for you. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced cyclist or a professional or a recreational rider, there is a pair that would best fit your specific needs.
Choosing the right pair of cycling shoes is subjective, so at the end of the day, it is still up to you as to what kind of shoes you would want to have. As far as my recommendations go, these five shoes include their well-known features so you can get a better grasp of the best cycling shoes available at the moment.
1. Triseven Cycling Shoes
Triseven is a European brand that offers triathlon products, particularly on the cycling aspect of the sport. Aside from that, they also offer bags and backpacks which can be used every day or when traveling. It is a new and non-traditional brand, meaning the company’s capital to develop products currently comes from the investors themselves.
Despite being a smaller company than their competitors, they offer quality products at a reasonable price. If you are a cycling beginner, then their products could be right for you while you learn more about the hobby. One of their best products is the Triseven MTB Sneaker-Style cycling shoes. This shoe is more of a mountain biking type but could be used for both indoor and outdoor rides. It is compatible with several cleat types, including SPD, SPD-R, and SPD-SL, but pedal cleats are not included in the box.
The shoe has an overall rugged design and has a two-bolt cleat mounting system, which is standard for mountain biking shoes. With an anti-slip heel feature, the soles have additional traction, providing enhanced resistance and stability whether you are on the pedal or the ground.
The Triseven MTB could handle rainy conditions or muddy roads better than standard bike shoes. There are also additional sole paddings to provide you more comfort when walking for long distances. With an ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole and rubber sole, walking is as comfortable as cycling with this shoe. If you are someone who likes to hike a lot and go on adventures in nature with your bike, then this shoe might be perfect for you.
The shoe is lightweight and made out of cool synthetic, leather, microfiber, and breathable mesh that is great for all weather conditions. As a modern cycling shoe, it uses laces as its main fastening system, but there is a wide strap on top of it to keep the laces secured and in place all the time.
When it comes to aesthetics, the combination of the aqua blue body and bright yellow laces is striking. It comes with an extra pair of black laces to use when you are washing the bright yellow ones or as an alternative.
When it comes to the cons, some users commented that they are too narrow and could induce pain when used for long periods of time. However, that could be fixed by making sure that you get the right size that is comfortable for you. Also, check if the size chart you are looking at is for men or women.
Another potential drawback is that the Triseven MTB does not have a protruded cleat on the sole. This is because this shoe is designed mainly for mountain biking with a lot of walking by the wearer in mind.
- Snug fit which helps increase pedaling efficiency
- An anti-slip feature which helps enhance traction
- Great even for walking or running, ideal for nature hikes
- Lightweight despite looking rugged, with a trendy design and free laces
- Could be a bit narrow if correct size is overlooked
- No protruding cleats which mean you have to make sure that you use it with compatible clipless pedals
2. Giro Bike Shoes
The next pair of shoes are mountain biking shoes as well, and they are called the Giro Carbide R. This shoe is a cross-country mountain biking type with a breathable synthetic leather body and injected nylon on the sole. Shoes made out of leather usually make the feet sweat a lot. However, the Giro Carbide R prevents that by having numerous holes around its body; thus, increasing air flow.
The synthetic leather hugs your feet snugly for a comfortable fit that lets air circulate inside but keeps the feet from moving around. Such pair is also lightweight, weighing about 1 pound and 15 ounces per pair.
The pair looks more like regular road bike shoes because of the non-rugged sleek design, but these shoes are practically effective for its purpose. The outsole is made of a mix of nylon and rubber padding for enhanced grip and traction when going through the muddy and rocky terrain.
Also, the outsole is outfitted with a Mid-foot scuff guard to hold its steel toe spikes for maximum grip when walking uphill with your bike. If you like to bring your bike for a hike in any weather condition, then this could be the best choice for you.
Similar to the Triseven MTB, there is an EVA footbed to improve comfort and support, perfect even for walking and running. The fastening system is a three-strap classic closure that allows for easy fit adjustments. You can simply slip in and out of it without taking off the straps.
Again, like the Triseven, it has a two-bolt cleat mounting system that fits well with the most well-known bike pedals available right now. Just remember to check its compatibility with your existing pedals; otherwise, you may have to buy new ones. As for the cons, they are also quite narrow like the Triseven.
My feet began to hurt after a few rides, but also similar to the Triseven; this should be an easy fix by carefully checking your size before buying. It is much better if you buy it in a brick and mortar store so you can try it right then and there before purchasing. During the first few times I used them, the top straps proved to be too tight as well.
However, it eventually loosened to an accepted tightness after breaking in. There are some user comments about the Giro Carbide R’s design. Some people think that the design is too simple with its colors typically coming with all dark gray or all black models. This depends on your personal preference, though. I prefer simple, minimalistic shoe designs over complicated ones, so that is not an issue for me.
- Soft leather upper and classic three-strap fastening system provides maximum comfort
- Great traction for pedaling, walking, or running
- Soles are super comfortable and stable for cycling and walking
- Easy to wear and remove and compatible with most cleat and pedal systems on the market
- Size could come out narrow if unchecked
- The design could be too simple or minimalist for some users
3. Fizik Bike Shoes
Fizik produces American-designed products that are manufactured in Italy. The company has been around since 1996, and they are first known for distributing high-quality bicycle saddles made by Selle Royal. They have recently entered the cycling and triathlon shoe business and have been quite competitive in it.
The Fizik UOMO R5B road bike shoes are one of their latest shoe products and are arguably one of the best entry-level cycling shoes ever made. The uppers are made from perforated Microtex material for temperature management while the outsoles are carbon-reinforced nylon for maximum power transfer from your legs to the bike pedals.
The soles are lightweight but feel rigid and strong. Its aircraft-grade stainless steel construction allows it to remain light while being durable. Its Boa IP1 closure system provides easy slip-on capacity, allowing you to wear it and remove with ultimate ease. When it comes to comfort, the fit feels good, but there are times when it felt too tight on the sides while pedaling, although I could manage. The Boa-styled lacing system lets the upper hug the foot smoothly, allowing an infinite adjusting of fit.
The strap at the bottom of the laces should help secure the toe box, but sometimes I feel like the strap is a little bit out of place. The fit on the heel is not that snug as I could feel some movement. Wearing thick socks should do the trick.
Like the Triseven MTB and Giro Carbide R, the insole is also EVA padded to lessen pressure at various contract areas while cycling. Overall, despite some issues about fit, it is quite comfortable riding with it. For me, this is one of the best shoe designs I have seen. Since I like minimalist designed shoes, I appreciate this pair’s design even more.
The Fizik R5B UOMO definitely has that classic, uncluttered look, which is somewhat the same to what the Giro Carbide R has but only with a single strap. Again, shoe design is subjective, and so some might not want their cycling shoes looking like diving shoes.
There are two colors to choose from the white body with black trims and black body with red trims. The black-red model comes fitted with reflective side panels, which increases visibility when riding at night. Some may think that it is a bit more expensive than its market competitors, but Fizik R5B UOMO’s features, aesthetics, and well-built design makes the price worth it. Overall, it provides good value for money, especially for cycling beginners.
- Perforated Microtex material keeps feet cool even during hot weather conditions
- Adjusts to the shape of your feet the more and the longer you use it
- Strong and durable with aircraft-grade stainless steel construction
- Classic shoe design that looks good aesthetically
- There are some issues with regards to fit, which affects the overall comfort level of the user
- Traction is not that great as compared to the other options
- Slightly more expensive as compared to other entry-level road biking shoes
- The design could be too dull or boring for some
4. Tommaso Cycling Shoes
Tommaso is an American company based in Denver, Colorado. They are bike manufacturers primarily, but they also produce cycling shoes. Their bicycles are designed in Italy but are engineered in Denver. Tommaso started as a road bike brand in 1985. Featured in this next review is Tommaso’s Strada Elite cycling shoes.
This pair is dubbed as the “best value road shoe anywhere, period” by most online reviewers. The claim is well-founded as the Strada Elite combines high performance and affordability into one product. Indeed, for me, the low cost against its effectiveness could be the best benefit from this pair of road bike shoes.
This particular product would not cost you more than $$ , and all that comes with features fit even for the professionals. In terms of comfort, the Strada Elite is one of the most comfortable road biking shoes you could ever wear. The upper is made out of a breathable premium microfiber with ultra-strong nylon mesh supplements, which provides supreme ventilation even on your longest and hottest rides.
There is also an EVA mold on the footbed, which is also breathable. An additional feature is that the insole is removable, which means you can always adjust the comfort level depending on your preference at any time. When it comes to fit, the shoes have a Real Knob lacing system that is similar to Fizik R5B UOMO’s Boa system.
Just like the R5B, there is also a strap at the bottom of the laces that lets you adjust the tightness of the toe box separately. The shoes are lightweight with durable cleat plate made from 100 percent carbon fiber that maximizes the transfer of power when pedaling.
The sole has a nylon composite surrounding that enhances agility and flexibility while riding without compromising strength. The bolts are compatible with almost all cleats available on the market, including SPD-SL, SPD, Look, and Speedplay.
Using the Strada Elite is somewhat surprising because knowing that you did not spend too much on it, it felt like wearing high-end road bike shoes. The build and materials used are Prema for what you spend. The dialed speed lacing feature is especially comfortable for me because I can adjust the tightness on the fly whenever I want to.
Of course, as a road shoe, this pair is not intended for the rigors of mountain biking, which explains why they are not very comfortable to walk or run with.
The shoes are designed for riders who spend most of their time on their bikes. As for the aesthetics, it also has a sleek, minimalistic design that I have always preferred. Colors are all black with white lettering of the Tommaso brand at the sides. One drawback to this shoe is that it is quite difficult to get your exact size because there are no available half sizes.
- Provides good value for money; highly affordable
- Professional-level comfort and fit
- Efficient transfer of power from your legs to the bike pedals
- Tough but flexible uppers with excellent cleat traction
- Not recommended for hiking, walking, or running with your bicycle
- Size availability issues
- Aesthetics could be too boring or simple for some users
5. Venzo Bike Shoes
The Venzo road bike shoes have an entirely different setup from the rest of the shoes I have reviewed here so far. This is because this pair comes with a separate assembly of parts that are designed to be attached on a bicycle’s pedal. The assembly includes bolts, pedals, and hooks that are multi-function depending on your needs.
This feature allows for better traction and movability as the shoes and the pedals are custom-designed to fit and function with one another. They are compatible with SPD, SPD-SL, and Look pedal systems. The shoes’ uppers are made from breathable and fast-drying mesh without any perforation.
The synthetic material is designed to protect the feet of the user against hot or wet weather conditions. It is comfortable to wear and quite aerodynamic while riding. The heel cup design is similar to regular sneakers which provides relief to the ankles when pedaling.
The fastening system is made up of the classic combination of straps and buckles, which ensures stiffness for maximum biking efficiency. Tweaking the tension of the uppers is easy as you can just tighten or loosen the straps and buckles at your liking; quite comfortable, but could be too comfortable as it may loosen while in the middle of a ride. Overall, the Venzo road bike shoes are entry-level shoes that are suitable for beginners only.
The supplementary pedal assembly is not that high quality, which may turn off many advanced cyclists. The quality of the materials used is also not at par with that of the previous shoes I reviewed, but the comfort level is excellent, just be careful of being too relaxed with the fit. Aesthetics are fine with the classic road bike shoe look and the triple strap with a buckle system.
Colors are nice with a white body and a combination of black and red trimmings, which makes you feel like a pro even when you are only beginning with the hobby. However, there is a learning curve when it comes to clipping the shoes on and off from the pedals. While the shoes are fine, the pedals are not good and could be tricky to operate.
- Pleasing aesthetics that could work well with beginners
- Quick-drying materials for the uppers that are ideal for either sunny or rainy conditions
- Free pedal and cleat assembly that comes with the box
- Shoes could come loose during riding if not properly tightened
- Free pedal and cleat assembly is not high quality
5 of the Best Clipless Mountain Bike Shoes
Let me first start my review on cycling shoes. There are lots of brands and styles available in the market, but I have compiled here what I think are the best cycling shoes.
The shoes I am about to review includes both clipless and standard shoes, and I will mention them throughout the reviews. Some of them have cleat mounting compatibility as well. With your knowledge about the main factors to consider when buying cycling shoes, you can better weigh which one is right for you.
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced cyclist or a professional or a recreational rider, there is a pair that could best fit your specific needs.
Choosing the right pair of cycling shoes is subjective, so at the end of the day, it is still up to you as to what kind of shoes you would want to have.
As far as my recommendations go, these five shoes include their well-known features so you can get a better grasp of the best cycling shoes available at the moment.
1. Diamondback Shoes
Diamondback has been one of the most trusted bicycle brands for many decades. The Kent, Washington-based company has been around for a long time, beginning in 1978 initially as a BMX brand.
Its name brand configuration evolved from “Diamond Back” to “DiamondBack” before becoming its current version of “Diamondback.” In 1990, they began to offer road bikes and mountain bikes. Eventually, they started introducing their shoe line to the market as well.
Now, they remain as one of the top bicycle brands and one of the world leaders when it comes to cycling shoes, particularly MTB shoes. I find Diamondback shoes a reliable brand because of the company’s proven track record in the cycling industry. You really could never go wrong with this brand, except for rare occasions when issues occur from the distributors’ side. I have tried some of their shoes, and all of them have delivered as promised in terms of quality, comfort, and performance.
The prices of their MTB shoes are also quite affordable, with most of them ranging from $$ to $$$ a pair. The body of their MTB shoes are mostly made from durable synthetic leather, sometimes supplemented with suede to enhance the aesthetics, which is quite comfortable as it adjusts to your feet the more you wear them.
The soles and outsoles can be made of any combination of nylon, fiberglass, and rubber, which provides high pedaling efficiency, excellent traction, and maximum comfort whether you are on the bike or off it. Insoles are typically EVA padded with most of it being removable and washable.
The toe and heel cups are reinforced for added durability during the toughest rides. As for the fastening system, some of Diamondback’s MTB shoes have the classic three-strap system while others have a combination of laces with a single strap on top.
Both types are effective to provide a comfortable fit. Two-bolt and three-bolt mounting configurations are available and are compatible with SPD, SPD-SL, and look cleat and pedal systems. As for potential cons, you should be careful when taking these shoes on and off as the Velcro straps are not of the highest quality, especially for those that come without laces.
Also, as much as possible, keep these shoes dry as they could be difficult to manage during wet conditions. For shoes without rubber on the outsole, the hard plastic can be a little slippery. I also find that the extra flexibility to improve walking traction affects the clipping in and clipping out process.
There are times when I must wiggle my foot around in order to line up the cleats to the pedals. It is definitely a learning curve and something that I still need to figure out in the long run. Overall, it is worthwhile because of the comfort and traction it brings while I’m walking.
- A trusted brand with a proven track record
- Quality materials used in shoe construction
- Comfortable fit with excellent traction both for pedaling and walking
- Compatible with most bike pedal systems
- Could have durability issues with the straps
- Clipping process could be tricky at first in exchange for sole flexibility and traction
2. Giro Shoes
Giro is the second American bicycle brand featured in this review. The company is based in Scotts Valley, California and has been around since 1985.
They initially focused on providing design solutions for hobbyists and professional cyclists. Giro’s first products were helmets and bike accessories before they moved into designing and manufacturing their cycling shoes in 2010.
They are fairly new in the bike shoe industry, but their MTB shoes have become some of the best on the market right now. Giro’s MTB shoes range from those that are rugged and bulky with traditional mountain biking soles that have cleats to models that have sneaker-like soles that are more appropriate for urban biking and could be used for hiking as well. Generally, though, their shoes are quite durable and aesthetically pleasing.
In terms of the price point, Giro’s mountain biking shoe line is more on the higher side of the spectrum. This is because most of their shoe uppers are made from leather, which expectedly drives up the cost. Shoes made out of leather have their advantages and disadvantages.
As for the pros, Giro’s leather line is extremely comfortable with the uppers adjusting to the shape of your feet in due course. They look stylish as well; when people look at your shoes, they will immediately know that you paid quite a penny for your kicks.
Meanwhile, for the cons, they could be difficult to clean after rides on a dirt road or a hike in the forest. You also need to take care of the leather for it to last longer and to maintain its sleek appearance. However, Giro also offers MTB shoes with uppers made out of high-quality synthetic materials.
One of them is the Giro Carbide R, which I previously reviewed. While they are not leather, they are also quite good-looking and more affordable.
As for the soles, Giro shoes typically have EVA insoles with outsoles made out of a nylon and rubber composite for high traction and maximum comfort. Some of their higher-end, urban leather models even have Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsoles, which gives incredible traction and high walkability when on the ground.
- Some models are made with high-quality leather while others from synthetic leather, which provides incredible comfort and fit
- Soles give great traction and comfort for both cycling and walking
- Excellent aesthetics, urban MTB shoes could pass for casual shoes
- Leather models are pricey, but the value is worth it if you have the budget
- Could be difficult to clean if exposed to the elements
3. Shimano Shoes
Arguably the best brand in the cycling industry, Shimano is a Japanese company founded in 1921. They specialized in iron works and the manufacture of premium bicycle components. As decades went by, the company grew into a multinational firm serving around 50 percent of the global cycling market with a wide variety of cycling products. Today, they are also offering fishing and rowing equipment.
They produced golf and snowboarding supplies until 2005 and 2008 respectively. Like most people who are into cycling, I am also a big fan of Shimano products, especially their mountain bike shoes.
Their shoes are quite affordable, even the leather-made ones, perhaps because of the sheer volume of products they are able to sell every year. I like wearing the Shimano XC31 leather MTB as it gives me everything I need in a mountain biking shoe: comfort, style, security, and efficiency — without being pricey.
They also have MTB shoes with uppers made out of synthetic leather, which is lighter and tougher than natural leather. Soles are typically made from nylon and rubber with some models fiberglass-reinforced in the midsole for added stiffness and traction.
Insoles are also EVA padded. Shimano typically uses straps and buckles as the fastening system for their MTB shoes, but there are also some that utilize Boa laces or a combination with straps. Since the uppers are made of leather or synthetic leather, it also conforms to your feet for a great fit. You could almost never go wrong with a Shimano.
- High performance, strong, durable, and stylish MTB shoes
- Comfortable fit and excellent traction
- Proven brand
- Natural leather models could be difficult to clean and must be maintained religiously
4. Gavin Shoes
Gavin is one of the lesser known brands of cycling shoes out in the market today. They produce different kinds of bicycle products and accessories, including mountain biking shoes. Gavin offers traditional MTB shoes that usually comes with cleats from Shimano as well as sneaker-style, cleat-less MTB shoes that are more appropriate for urban settings.
The uppers of Gavin MTB shoes are typically made of synthetic microfiber leather with a breathable mesh. They are well-built and gives good support to the feet both when pedaling and walking. The soles are made of nylon and fiberglass that offers a good balance of flexibility and durability.
The soles are so flexible that it makes them unique as compared to the mountain biking shoes of the other brands. It’s like you are not wearing bike shoes at all. Thanks to its durability and flexibility, you can even use Gavin shoes for cross-training, such as high-intensity cardio and weight training, without having to switch footwear.
They are virtually all-purpose shoes, a trait that it does not share with the other brands in this review. Gavin’s fastening system usually includes the classic three straps while others use laces. Their shoes are lightweight and have excellent temperature regulation, which is great for any weather condition.
Their shoes are compatible with SPD, SPD-R u0026amp; SPD-SL cleats, even the sneaker-type ones. Overall, they are comfortable to wear and could be effective for recreational and urban cycling. The price is fair for the value you get. Just remember to not expect too much from a $$ TB shoe. However, for professional or racing use, there are other brands more suitable.
- All-purpose shoe; versatile enough to be used for cross-training
- Affordable price for the value it provides
- Great for recreational and urban riding
- Excellent cleats from Shimano
- Overall performance below racing standards
- Could be too flexible, which results in lesser traction
5. Pearl iZUMi Shoes
Pearl iZUMi is a Japanese brand, but the company is currently based in Louisville, Colorado. Pearl iZUMi had its humble beginnings around five decades ago in Tokyo before moving to the United States in 1981.
By 1997, Pearl iZUMi USA became an official brand and trademark. Shimano bought the company in 2008. For me, Pearl iZUMIi’s mountain biking shoes are one of the most comfortable. They are lightweight and durable, which are perfect even for hiking and walking.
The uppers are typically made of synthetic leather with mesh and bonded seamlessly to provide maximum ventilation and long-lasting comfort. The soles are injected with fiberglass for efficient power transfer while the outsoles are lugged with carbon and rubber for enhanced traction.
Midsoles are EVA padded as well, typical for the strong brands of MTB bike shoes. These shoes are designed to be easily slipped on and off with a quick-lace closure system to make sure it always fits whether in hot or wet weather conditions. Some of their models offer a buckle and strap fastening system called Anatomic Buckle Closure system, which takes away pressure from the feet’s insteps, helping reduce hot spots while riding.
Pearl iZUMi also has MTB shoes designed for urban use, such as the X-Alp Launch mountain bike shoes. They have the same materials used for the uppers and soles, but they have no cleats to attach to the pedals. Instead, they are fitted with a premium, dual-compound Vibram MegaGrip soles.
I find Pearl iZUMi shoes really comfortable and effective for any weather. However, the price ranges from medium to high, probably because of the quality of the materials used in fabrication and the noticeable intricacy of design construction.
- Excellent construction, made out of quality materials
- Comfortable, highly ventilated, high-performance shoes
- Quick-lace closure system ensures a perfect fit every time
- Anatomic Buckle Closure system lessens hot spots while riding
- On the pricey side
5 of the Best Cleats & Clip-less Pedals for Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes
This last set of reviews is about five of the best clipless pedals and cleats used for road bikes and mountain bikes.
Clipless pedals have been a staple for professional and advanced cyclists, but are swiftly becoming popular among recreational riders as well.
Some users feel restricted about using clipless pedals as one should get used to the proper timing of clipping the cycling shoes on and off from them.
However, those who have learned the technique have been enjoying its benefits consistently.
Clipless pedals, coupled with the right cycling shoes and cleats, improve control and handling, enhance efficiency and power, and provides freedom and confidence while riding.
The following are what I think are the best clipless pedals and cleats on the market to date.
1. BV Bike Cleats (BV-CT-01-DT)
I find the BV-CT-01-DT model as one of the best cleats I have worn so far. They provide a safe and comfortable ride, and I could feel a noticeable increase in efficiency when it comes to my pedaling.
Also, it seems as if the power from my legs is maximized with every stroke. It really is a wonderful experience every time I use them. The set includes a pair of 9-degree float cleats, which are the red color for added visibility, six washers or gaskets, and six screws for attachment.
The 9-degree float system allows the feet to have some lateral movement, which is important to avoid knee injuries that could happen if the legs are fixed in the same position for a long time while pedaling. These BV bike cleats feel extremely lightweight and durable. Although they are only compatible with the Look Delta cleat set, they can fit with most standard road bike shoes as well because of its three holes.
The set has an adjustable three-bolt mounting system that is easy to install and provides excellent stability. They are also quite affordable for the value they give. One downside, though, is that you cannot use them with the Shimano and Keo pedal systems, so it is not that versatile.
As for the clipping on and clipping off the problem for some users, these bike cleats offer super smooth entry and exit to your clipless pedals. For sure, there is a learning curve, but it only took me a couple of rides before I got completely comfortable with it.
I became irritated the first time I used these cleats because they were sliding from side to side. I thought it was a factory defect or I was given a defective set, but after doing some research, I found out that they are actually designed that way.
As I’ve mentioned before, these cleats use a 9-degree float system, which meant that they are intentionally made to move from side to side to reduce pressure on the knees. Once I understood that it was a benefit, I became more relaxed with the seemingly loose connection with my pedals.
- Lightweight, durable, and compatible with most road bike shoes
- Easy to install
- Smooth clip on and clip off the bike pedals
- Could be annoying at first while learning how to use them
- Not compatible with the Shimano and Keo pedal systems
2. Shimano PD-M324
When it comes to clipless pedals, I highly recommend the Shimano PD-M324. Truly, Shimano products would never let you down when it comes to quality, affordability, and performance. I have been using these pedals for quite some time now, and I must say that they are some of the most versatile I’ve used. They are perfect for my daily leisure afternoon trips as well as for my weekend trail rides.
I don’t need to change bikes or pedals with them around. The Shimano PD-M324 fuses an SPD pedal system on one side and a flat one on the other to make everything convenient, whether you are wearing regular shoes or bike shoes with cleats.
With these pedals, you can bring your bike for a quick errand at the convenience store before going directly to meet your friends on your weekend 10-miler. If you are looking for a reliable multipurpose pedal, then the PD-M324 could be the one for you.
The body is made from high-grade aluminum with a barrel finish. The spindle is Chromium-Molybdenum (CrMo) alloy to enhance overall toughness. It has a two-bolt cleat system and a cleat retention adjuster so you can begin your ride with loose tension and tighten it up as you ride further.
The PD-M324 is quite easy to clip on and off as compared to the other clipless pedals I’ve tried, providing comfort and confidence with every ride. I recommend this for cyclists who are only starting to go clipless.
As for potential cons, they are a little heavy compared to the other clipless road pedals I’ve used. It also turns heavy side up, which is somewhat surprising. It means that the clips are on the top most of the time, which could be tricky if you are using your regular sneakers; so always be attentive.
I figured that the clips are designed to often stay on top in order to make clipping in and clipping off easier when you are using cleated shoes. Overall, it is one of the most versatile clipless bike pedals in my list. Tough and easy to use. Highly recommended for clipless beginners.
- Versatility, can be used for both cleated or regular shoes
- Tough and durable, made from quality materials
- Easy clip-in and clip-on mechanism that provides comfort during long rides
- A bit heavier than others
- Clips often stay on top which could be awkward when wearing regular shoes
3. Shimano PD-A530 SPD
I’ve always been a fan of Shimano and dual platform pedals, and so the PD-A530 SPD is the second one of its kind in this review.
The PD-A530 SPD has almost the same features as the PD-M324, only that the former is lighter in weight. The PD-M324 is about 150 grams heavier than the PD-A530, which for me is a big deal. I prefer the heavy pedals for my everyday bike rides to the market or the store as I feel more secure and stable with them.
However, for those occasional times when I train or ride trails with friends, I use this lighter pair. The PD-A530 SPD is definitely a high-performance bike pedal. This is one of the lightest by Shimano in their dual platform line. It is also made from high-grade aluminum with steel spindles and sealed-cartridge bearing.
Like the PD-M324, one side has Shimano’s classic SPD while the other one is flat for a versatile all-in-one platform. The shape is oval and oversized compared to the square-ish form of the PD-M324 to provide extra comfort for users with bigger feet.
Also the same with the PD-M324, clipping in and clipping off is extremely easy with the PD-A530 SPD. It would not take too much time to get accustomed to it even if you are a clipless beginner. The cup and cone bearing are also serviceable to add to its lifespan, and there is an adjustable cleat tension as well.
You could fine-tune the stress on the cleats even while you are riding. However, one issue for me is that the flat pedal side is slightly slippery compared to my other dual platform pedals. The SPD side works well as always, but the flat side seemed a bit slippery for my preference.
There is no rubber on it or anything that provides grip, which means that traction would depend solely on the kind of shoes you are wearing.
This makes it harder for me to use them when simply running errands or for recreational rides with my sneakers, so I still prefer the PD-M324’s. Still, this pair is worth the investment overall. The SPD side would be too good to pass up. Again, this is highly recommended for those who are beginning to use clipless pedals.
- Versatility, dual platform pedals for both regular or cleated shoes
- Well-engineered, lightweight, and made from quality materials
- Easy clip-in and clip-on mechanism which makes them user-friendly for beginners
- The flat side is a bit slippery
- Slightly pricier than the others with the same features
4. Wellgo Cycling Shimano SPD
These Wellgo-branded cycling Shimano SPD cleats convert your Look style shoes into SPD compatible shoes. With this assembly, you can utilize any Shimano SPD pedals together with any brand of road bike shoes.
The set is made of CrMo steel, which is super tough and has a two-bolt mounting system. They can be used as an adapter to convert three-hole shoes into two-hole ones.
The built-quality of these cleats is excellent; you could feel that it is solid and strong. The box comes with the pair of Wellgo cleats with 16 screws of different lengths. I was a little bit confused about the number of screws included in the package because I was not sure what the purpose of the other ones was.
I just used the screws that worked with my shoes and pedals. I presumed that the other ones could be used for other types of shoes. The cleats felt a little awkward to use at first because they stayed further back the balls of my feet than what I was accustomed to in SPD pedals. I tried to adjust the placement to the farthest it can get forward; still there seems to be something not right about it.
However, once I started pedaling, I could feel why they were designed that way and quickly got comfortable with it. Clipping in and clipping out is fairly easy, although there are cleats that are more user-friendly. I had to look down now and then to make sure that I got my shoes aligned with the pedals.
Perhaps, the most significant benefit I got from these Wellgo cleats is that I was able to standardize all of my cycling shoes to become SPD compatible whether I was using any of my road, spin, and mountain bikes. Overall, these cleats allowed me to use my otherwise unused high-end road shoes. It has been an essential part of my cycling accessories collection that is usable from time to time.
- Quality build, noticeably strong and sturdy
- Allows SPD compatibility on any road bike shoes
- An essential part of any cycling accessories collection to maximize the use of all your cycling shoes
- Clipping on and off could be hard sometimes
- Feels awkward to use at first and might take some time to get used to them
5. Shimano SH51
The Shimano SH51 cleat set is another quality product from Shimano. They are a 4-degree float, single direction release cleats that fit all Shimano SPD pedals — except the PD-M858. You can release the cleat by turning your heel outward.
These mountain biking cleats provide a quick and simple solution to having tattered cleats. The build looks tough and durable, ideal for trail or off-road riding. The SH51 has a two-bolt mounting system, which is typical for MTB cleats and pedals. They are easy to install and fits properly without any issues. Plus, it is quite comfortable and easy to use even for someone who is only beginning to use clipless pedals.
Clipping on and clipping off is quite a breeze, which is an important feature as it makes the rider a lot more confident especially when making sharp turns on tight corners. For me, the simple release system gives an awareness that I could remove my foot from the pedals as quickly as I want to.
It is truly quite handy when riding on harsh terrain as I can plant my foot on the ground anytime I want with ease. The only issues I have with these cleats are they are not compatible with SPD-SL bike shoes, and that the set does not come with cleat nuts. You need to buy them separately if you need to.
Overall, a worthy addition to my bike cleat collection. Price provides high value for money because of its performance. Perhaps the most dependable cleats I have in terms of clipping on and off while riding.
- Great build, tough and durable, could withstand the elements which are perfect for outdoor use
- Easy to install and fits properly, comfortable to use
- Clipping on and clipping off is straightforward and easy, comfortable even for clipless system beginners
- Not compatible with SPD-SL bike shoes
- The box does not come with cleat nuts
Hopefully, my reviews can provide you with enough information and push you to finally decide on a pair you would need for your cycling session. Remember safety first!
Starting on a starter tricycle at the age of 2, Danny has rarely been off a bike ever since. He spends most weekends riding through the woods near his house or taking longer bike trips on the road.