Best cycling shoes 2023

The best cycling shoes can make a big difference to your riding, helping you go faster while being more comfortable and looking great at the same time

Image shows a rider putting on a pair of the best cycling shoes.
(Image credit: Future)

The best cycling shoes are an essential piece of kit for anyone who is serious about their riding - but which is best for you will vary depending upon the type of cycling that you do.

Cycling is a forefoot sport. Whilst the foot itself doesn’t generate any power, all of the watts produced elsewhere pass through your digits. So not only do poorly fitting shoes create pain, they can also limit performance.

Former British Cycling physiotherapist and bike fitter at the eponymous Phil Burt Innovation, Phil Burt told us: “If you’re in a wrongly fitted shoe it would manifest as rubbing around the little toe, pain underneath the first and second toe where a lot of people get numbness or pins and needles.”

Touching on the performance element, he added: “The foot and ankle don’t generate any power. All the power comes from your quad and your glute. But you can lose a hell of a lot through badly fitting shoes – for example, if your foot is moving around or over pronating, you can waste a lot of energy.”

The key variables when it comes to cycling shoes are the fastening system, the sole, the cleat style, and of course the fit, although that does depend on whether you've teamed with a pair of good cycling socks (opens in new tab).  

If you're looking for shoes that will serve both on the bike and for walking around when off the bike, check out our guide to the best commuter cycling shoes for urban and gravel use. We've got a guide to the best gravel bike shoes as well.

We only pick out the products we know and trust – often the biggest discounts aren't the best buy. Quality shoes on modest reductions always trump overpriced and underperforming ones at half price. 

What you'll find on this page

We've broken our guide into sections: best entry level cycling shoes, best performance cycling shoes, and best cycling shoes for wide feet. At the bottom of the page, you'll find a guide to help you choose the best cycling shoes for you.

Entry level cycling shoes

For more low-cost models, check out our best budget cycling shoes guide.

Image shows DHB DORICA ROAD shoes


(Image credit: Paul Grele)
Best cycling shoes on a budget

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 39-48
Colours: 1
Weight: 255g (size 44)

Reasons to buy

+
Carbon sole
+
Lace closure for exacting fit
+
Comfortable for long rides
+
Lightweight shoe 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heel cup needs tightening 
-
Colour choice limited 

We were really impressed with the retro race shoe blend of laces and carbon sole, especially at the price point that these dhb Dorica road bike shoes come in at.

On test we found the power transfer to be excellent, and on a par with other shoes found at three times the price. The heel cup wasn't as snug as more expensive options, but heel slip wasn't too noticeable when out of the saddle climbing.

The insoles are on the thin side, and the fit of the overall shoe is relatively wide and flat, so riders with stability issues might want to consider aftermarket footbeds or insoles.

At this price point there is some stiff competition in the form of the Shimano RC3 shoes and the Specialized Torch (see below), but the carbon sole, light weight and overall looks make the dhb Dorica shoes hard to beat and a perfect cycling shoe for anyone no matter the size of their budget.

Read more: dhb Dorica Carbon full review

Image shows Shimano Cycling shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best cycling shoe for performance vs price

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 35-50
Colours: 4
Weight: 275g (size 45)

Reasons to buy

+
Adequate stiffness for multi-hour rides
+
Simple, single BOA retention
+
Good looking aesthetics
+
Broad size range including wide fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Fiddly to get tongue to sit comfortably

Shimano has trickled down the tech of its range topping S-Phyre, featured below as another, if pricier, great cycling shoe, to give a happy equilibrium of low cost and high performance.

To reduce the price, one of the BOA dials has been swapped out for a Velcro strap and the dials are the L6 model which only ratchets tighter, unlike the IP1 dials on the S-Phyre which allow you to loosen the tension in 1mm increments.

However, this has not been at the sacrifice of functionality. The comfort of these shoes was impeccable, with no hotspots forming on long rides outdoors or indoors. The cooling effect of the many perforations that pepper the upper is certainly palpable; you can really feel the air flowing in.

Just whether the extreme breathability of these shoes counts as a good or a bad thing will, of course, depend on when and where you are riding.

There are multiple sizes available and men's and women's fit options as well as wider fit versions, but colours are limited to just two in each range, white or Shimano blue (as pictured) for the men's and white or navy blue for women's.

Read more: Shimano RC5 cycling shoe full review

Giro Savix II

(Image credit: Future)
Best sensible, comfortable and practical cycling shoes

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 40 - 48 (whole sizes only)
Colours: 3
Weight: 310g (size 42)

Reasons to buy

+
Stiff nylon sole 
+
2 and 3 bolt cleat compatiblity
+
Good ventilation
+
Boa closure

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too much ventilation for cooler rides

The Giro Savix II shoes provide plenty of functionality at a reasonable price. They may not have flashy carbon soles, sitting on a nylon composite sole unit, but they're stiff enough and should be more durable than a carbon sole. Versatility is increased by both two bolt and three bolt cleat mounting options.

On the top is a synthetic upper with plenty of ventilation via mesh panels, which coped well with hot summer rides. It's also well padded for comfort. Closure is via a single Boa L6 dial and a front velcro strap, which work together well.

The fit is roomy, which we reckon makes the Savix II a good option for a wide variety of foot shapes, and the soles held up well during our testing, protected by front and rear TPU pads.

You can find more of the best entry level options in Cycling Weekly's dedicated guide to the best budget cycling shoes.

Read more: Giro Savix II road cycling shoes full review

High end cycling shoes

Image shows the Specialized S-Works Lace road cycling shoes

(Image credit: Andy Turner)
Best value for comfort and stiffness combined

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 39 to 49 (half sizes from 39 to 46)
Colours: 3
Weight: 242g (size 45)

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Highly adjustable
+
Super stiff
+
Looks great

Reasons to avoid

-
Material can rub on ankle
-
Difficult to really tighten the fit for sprinting

The lace model of the S-Works line is the most affordable in the range - and also notably comfortable.

Laces are excellent for distributing pressure evenly for achieving a comfy fit for all day rides. Plus the shoes also benefit from the superb FACT Powerline carbon sole, which is one of the stiffest platforms on the market. 

That said, the S-Works 7 Lace do also suffer from the same problem as all lace up shoes - there's no scope for adjustment on the fly and it is difficult to get them really tightened down for sprint efforts. Our tester found that his feet would still end up moving a little inside the shoes, no matter what. But for long rides and anything that doesn’t involve maximal sprints, the 7 Lace are even more comfortable than the regular S-Works 7, and make an excellent choice.

Overall, these are stylish, supportive and lightweight shoes that combine a stiff sole with all-day comfort. They’re comparatively good value, too, being cheaper than both the Giro Empire SLX and the DMT KRSL.

Read more: Specialized S-Works Lace road cycling shoes

Image shows the Fizik Tempos Decos Carbon which are some of the best cycling road shoes

(Image credit: Adam Jones)
Best all-rounder with head-turning colours

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 36 to 48 (half sizes from 37 to 47
Colours: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Versatility for different types of road riding
+
Light weight
+
Comfort and true-to-size fit
+
Easy, in-ride adjustment
+
Simple, uncluttered, elegant design with four colour choices
+
No pre-moulding required
+
Vented upper plus outsole air intake and exhaust port optimise cooling

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one Boa dial at this price point

Following Fizik’s philosophy of creating product series that reflect the varying needs and uses of the target customer base, the Tempo Decos Carbon provides a midpoint between the Italian marque’s flagship Vento range (from $369.99 / £349.99) and the ‘entry-level’ Tempo Powerstrap R5 model (retailing from $129.99 /around £134.99). 

With typical design flair and innovative engineering, these exceptional shoes can do it all; from long training rides and sportives, to TTing and flat-out local crits, the Tempo Decos Carbon offers comfort without compromising performance. This is in large part due to the polyurethane-laminated material combined with mesh upper, single bi-directional Li2 BOA dial, the super-stiff R2 carbon sole, featuring wide vents which our tester found provided efficient cooling. The rows of rubberised dimples on the inside of the heel further help to keep your foot secure in the shoe and eradicate in-ride slippage.

At 228g (sans cleats) they’re also lighter than many of their class rivals and by locating the (3-bolt compatible) cleat position slightly further back from standard settings, Fizik claims the resultant improved pedalling efficiency and reduced knee compression, makes this shoe better suited to riders with a more aggressive riding position.

Read more: Fizik Tempos Decos Carbon full review

Image shows the Giro Regime Road Cycling Shoes

(Image credit: Riley Missel)
Best cycling shoes for blend of comfort and support

Specifications

Size : Women's EUR 36 - 43, Men's 39 - 50
Colours: 3
Weight: 230g (size tbc)

Reasons to buy

+
High end features in a mid-priced shoe
+

Reasons to avoid

-
Empty List

We reviewed the women's Regime, although there's a men's version too and there are half sizes in the middle of each range, so you can get your perfect fit. 

The Regime shares many of the features of Giro's top spec Imperial shoe, such as twin Boa dials and a non-stretch Synchwire upper, despite its lower price tag. You get plenty of ventilation as well.

We rated the sole's combination of stiffness, durability and light weight, as well as the grippy heel and toe pads. The footbed is swappable to suit the height of your arch.

We found the Giro Regime shoes mixed great foot comfort with the right level of support for fast riding.

Read more: Giro Regime road cycling shoe full review

Image shows the Gaerne Carbon G cycling shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for power transfer

Specifications

Sizes : EUR 39-47
Colours: 5
Weight: 296g (size 43)

Reasons to buy

+
Very stiff sole
+
Good heel lift prevention

Reasons to avoid

-
No mesh sections lead to lower ventilation

These shoes from the Italian brand Gaerne are the top of their range with a price tag to match. Stiffness is right up there too and there's a rigid heel cup with a cat's tongue inner surface to help prevent heel lift. 

The uppers are punched extensively, but there are no mesh sections so they run a bit hotter than shoes which include mesh.

Read more: Gaerne Carbon G.STL shoes full review

Image shows Specialized S-Works Vent Cycling Shoes.

(Image credit: Andy Turner)
Best for staying cool and comfortable while pushing hard

Specifications

Size: EUR 36 - 49
Colours: 2
Weight: 273g (size 45)

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Supremely comfortable
+
Stiff
+
Well ventilated

Reasons to avoid

-
Some of the ventilation is lost with an arch support fitted
-
Expensive (at retail price)

Excellently ventilated and wonderfully comfortable to wear, the Specialized S-Works 7 Vent build upon the very popular S-Works 7 shoes which have been ever present at the top of the world tour podiums, and among the amateur peloton. 

The shoes lose some weight compared to the regular 7s and although they also lose a little bit of stiffness this is not noticeable. 

The upper is the same non-stretch Dyneema but with mesh panels that not only deliver on better ventilation but also provide additional give in the upper for increased comfort around areas prone to hotspots. 

The additional ventilation is noticeable, and so expect to get cold feet on chillier rides. However the big game changer is the mesh panelling which allows for foot expansion in heat and improved comfort when riding hard!

Although they come at a very premium price ($425 / £399) they are readily available online at a discount which makes them very good value.

Read more: Specialized S-Works 7 Vent road cycling shoes full review

Shimano S-Phyre SH-RC 902


(Image credit: Wiggle)
Best cycling shoe for comfort and adjustability

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 36-48
Colours: 4
Weight: Not specified

Reasons to buy

+
Wide toe box
+
Adjustability of fit
+
Venting for food breathability 
+
Low profile Boa closures 

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to get fit right

There's no doubting the racing credentials of the Shimano S-Phyre SH-RC902, with its low profile design and sole stiffness rating at the top of Shimano's own ranking.

While this level of rigidity might put some folk off and they might question the comfort, rest assured that while you gain maximum reward on sprinting and climbing, this isn't at the total sacrifice of comfort.

Shoe stiffness rankings are far from standardised, with the top-of-the-line Bontrager shoe 14 out of 14, and Fizik's 10 out of 10 for stiffness within their own respective internal rankings. Shimano calls the RC9 carbon sole "rigid and responsive" and rates it level 12. However it's the shoe's ability to be comfortable as well as harnessing pedal power that is important - and this is an area where they excel. 

The double Li2 Boa dial system is the newest and smallest from the highly regarded closure brand, and nestles as close as possible to the side of the shoe. This does help to minimise the overall profile of these performance shoes, a clever design when you factor in the wide toe box. However the wrap over design can be tricky to get just right when putting them on and takes a while to get the knack of.

There's no doubt that at this price point they are a considered purchase, but when compared to their peers at a similar price they stand out with impressive details such as the undersole venting. One of the best cycling shoes you can get, if you're willing to pay for it.

Read more: Shimano S-Phyre SH-RC 902 road cycling shoes full review

Image shows the Pearl Izumi PRO Air Shoes.

(Image credit: Riley Missel)
Best ultra light cycling shoe

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 39-49
Colour : Black only
Weight: 150g (Size 42)

Reasons to buy

+
Uber lightweight
+
High breathability 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in black 
-
Laces mean no mid-ride adjustability 

Once limited to the, no pun intended, sole use of the professional peloton, lightweight shoes are becoming more popular for any riders looking to shave a healthy few grams off their overall cycling set up.

While the crazy nano weight of the Specialized S-Works EXOS 99 was limited to just 500 pairs of the sub-100 gram shoe, the Pearl Izumi PRO Air shoes are available to purchase for anyone and weigh just 51g per shoe more.

The ultra featherweight shoes feature a full carbon sole, a laminate-coated mesh upper and a lace-up closure which all add up, or should that be down, to a minimal score on the scales.

The end result is not only low weight, but ultra-stiff and highly breathable footwear.

While the construction of the Pro Air shoes has been kept to the fundamentals, this hasn't reduced the performance. On test we found them to offer an incredible ride feel, balancing stiffness, support and comfort, although while we totally appreciate the laces assist in keeping weight to a minimum, they did prevent on the move adjustment.

If you want the crème de la crème of cycling shoes, these are it, but expect the high price tag to go with the performance.

Read more: Pearl Izumi PRO Air road cycling shoes full review

Image shows the Lake CX403 cycling shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best for custom fit

Specifications

Sizes : EUR 39-50
Colours: 4
Weight: 315g (size 39.5)

Reasons to buy

+
Heat mouldable 
+
Very stiff
+
Wide fit options available

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be uncomfortable if you make changes
-
Not as light as other shoes at this price

The Lake CX403 shoes are heat mouldable, a popular feature on many cycling shoes. They're designed as a race shoe rather than an all-rounder and we found them a bit stiff and with a low volume for everyday use.

A mix of soft leather and stiff carbon fibre in the uppers aims to provide comfort along with support. They're easy to mould both at a dealer and at home and you can repeat the process multiple times, making them a good option if your feet are an awkward shape for off-the-peg cycling shoes.

Read more: Lake CX403 shoes cycling shoes full review

Image shows the Specialized S-Works Ares cycling shoes.

(Image credit: Future)
Best for comfort

Specifications

Sizes : EUR 39-49
Colours: 6
Weight: 225g (size 44)

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
Firm hold on the foot

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive

If you're heading into the money-no-object realm of cycling shoes, the Specialized S-Works Ares shoe is designed for the pro level sprinter. It sits on the same footbed as the S-Works 7 shoe, but comes with an upper that includes a deep, rigid heel cup. There's no separate tongue either, the upper fitting like a sock to avoid overlaps and shave a little weight. 

The Ares shoes don't work for everyone though - your feet need to be the right shape and they work best if your arches are high.

Read more: Specialized S-Works Ares cycling shoes full review

Image shows the Shimano S-Phyre RC903 shoes

(Image credit: Andy Turner)
Best for heel retention and mid-sole support

Specifications

Sizes : EUR 38-48, half sizes 41.5 - 46.5; wide fit 40-46
Colours: 4
Weight: 225g (size 42, claimed), 252g (size 45, measured)

Reasons to buy

+
Firm heel retention
+
Quality instep support
+
Plenty of sizes and wide fit options

Reasons to avoid

-
Standard fit might be too narrow

Shimano's top-of-range S-Phyre RC 903 is an upgrade to the RC902 that has reduced the weight a little, altered the lower Boa Li2 dial's lacing, integrated the heel cup more and increased ventilation. 

Shimano makes the shoes in two widths. We found the standard width a little narrow, but the wide fit, although only 3 to 4mm wider, worked well for us. The arch support is adjustable and supports the foot well and the quite narrow toe box and secure heel cup mean that feet feel planted when sprinting. 

Read more: Shimano S-Phyre RC903 cycling shoes full review

Best cycling shoes for wide feet

When brands create cycling shoes, they will typically cater for the “average” individual in order to accommodate the largest segment of the market. However, with cycling shoes being both incredibly rigid and fixed in place via cleats and pedals, those who fall outside the norm can struggle to find shoes that fit.

Several brands do offer ‘wide fit’ options - these include Sidi, Bont, Shimano and Lake. The latter provide wide toe boxes as well as custom moulded heel cups to ensure a good fit all round for those with a wide forefoot and narrow ankle.

We’ve had one wide-footed tester - Cycling Weekly's Owen Rogers, put three pairs of the best cycling shoes for wide feet through their paces. However, former British Cycling physio Phil Burt advised that those looking to solve foot pain ensure they’re solving the correct problem before purchasing.

“You may not have wide feet. It could be that your foot is collapsing, and therefore splaying. A lot of people think they have wide feet, but given an off-the-shelf corrective insole, the problem goes away because they have the support their foot needs.”

You can buy arch supporting insoles in your local chemist, and of course there are many brands out there who will create you a custom version should you want something more bespoke.

If you're sure you do have wide feet, and not a need for an insole, then read on.

Image shows the Lake CX 332 road cycling shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best wide fit cycling shoe for all round use

Specifications

Sizes: EUR 36 - 47
Colours: Multiple (Inc custom)
Weight: 311g (size 46)

Reasons to buy

+
Multiple size options
+
Leather upper
+
Mouldable carbon heel cup
+
Stiff carbon sole
+
Custom colour option

Reasons to avoid

-
None! 

The entire Lake road shoe range has wide fit options, with extra wide available in some models, making the company’s shoes essential for this test. Despite the name, the CX332 is definitely a road shoe, sitting third from top of the range.

They are beautifully made, with Lake’s Klite kangaroo leather upper both strong and supple, however, the plain black pair I was sent look more like a school shoe than one made for speed. Luckily they come in three other colour schemes, including a striking chameleon blue and a black-white graphic fade.

There’s a natty patch of shiny carbon weave on either side of the heel, which is heat mouldable to minimise any chance of slip. The moulding process is simple enough on your own, though the instructions in the box recommend having help, preferably from a Lake dealer.

If you do it yourself follow the instructions closely, do not tighten the shoes too much immediately after heating or risk disfiguring the toe box, reducing the space available for your feet and detracting from the look. Do it right and the process works well, and I experienced no heel slip out on the road.

The sole is a thing of beauty, its glossy carbon weave glints in the sun and is drilled for ventilation. Chris Reid, the Retül fitter at Rutland Cycling even noted how the graphics struck the perfect balance between simplicity and detail for cleat positioning.

On the bike is where the sole really shows its colours though. It’s hugely stiff, directing all your effort into the pedal, and while the stiff sole of the Bont can cause discomfort, the Lakes are so comfortable they feel like slippers.

Initially I experienced a little bit of tightness on my wider, right foot, but this eased and though there is plenty of room in the toe box, there is no unwanted movement on the upstroke.

This is helped by the shoe’s Boa IP1 dials, which make tightening and loosening easy at any time, even through overshoes.

They not be the most radical looking shoes, but these CX332s are meant for racing and are even sold with a two year crash replacement guarantee, with a 50% discount on a new pair in the first year of ownership and 25% in the second.

Read more: Lake CX332 road cycling shoes full review

Image shows the Fizik R4 Tempo Overcurve road cycling shoes

(Image credit: Future)
Best wide fit cycling shoes for comfort

Specifications

Sizes : EUR 36 - 48 (half sizes from 37.5 to 46.5)
Colours: 6
Weight: 230g - size 42 (claimed)

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, wide fit with large toe box
+
Adequately stiff
+
Good airflow through mesh panels

Reasons to avoid

-
Only a single dial adjuster
-
More expensive than the competition

There's now a wide fit option to the Tempo Overcurve, which we tested, so Fizik has a wide range of foot shapes covered. The R4 range is designed to bridge the space between performance and comfort-oriented cycling shoes. Their mesh uppers provide good ventilation and there are more vents in the carbon/nylon composite sole.

There's loads of room in the toe box, unlike many cycling shoes, and the Overcurve design of the uppers fits comfortably. They're secured by one Boa IP1 dial, although we reckoned that a second would improve adjustability. The sole unit isn't that stiff, which we felt added to foot comfort. We felt that the R4 Tempo Overcurve shoes were a little overpriced relative to the competition.

Read more: Fizik Tempo R4 Overcurve road cycling shoe review

The best cycling shoes: buyer's guide

What are the best cycling shoe fastening systems?

There are basically four different systems used to tighten cycling shoes: Velcro, ratchets, laces, and dials.

Almost all budget cycling shoes use Velcro straps for fastening, basically because it's a cheaper option. For the rider, Velcro straps do a good job of holding the shoe firmly in place but can be difficult to adjust on the move and it can also be a little tricky to get the precise fit you might want.

The other benefit of Velcro straps is that they are light. This means that they can also be found on very expensive lightweight shoes designed specifically for climbers. Over time, the Velcro can lose its effectiveness though, so that the hold on your foot can diminish.

The next step up in the fastening system food chain is ratchets, so look out for some of the great cycling shoes that offer these at a lower price point. A ratchet offers more precise adjustability than Velcro straps, gives a really secure fit, and can also easily be tightened while riding. However, loosening a ratchet is not quite as easily, often requiring two hands. Ratchets are generally found on mid-price shoes, and usually combined with a Velcro strap or two further down the shoe.

At the top of the tree you have dial closures, the fastening system used on most high-end shoes. In general, these are very secure, are easy to adjust, and can be dialled in (excuse the pun) to give a very precise hold. However, there are differences between different brands of dials. Boa dials offer the current gold standard with higher-end Boas providing incremental tightening and loosening, while those from other brands and lower spec Boas can't always be loosened quite so easily. 

The other option on a few other high-end shoes such as the Giro Empires and Specialized S-Works Sub 6 shoes (as well as a few retro-style shoes) is laces. For those interested in marginal gains, laces are very aerodynamic but are also generally very comfy as there's wider distribution of pressure across the top of the foot and the laces self-adjust to help even it out. However, of course, laces are nigh-on impossible to adjust on the move.

best cycling shoes

What are the best cycling shoe soles made from?

As with the fastening systems, there are various different types of soles that come on different cycling shoes, and of course the more you pay, the more you get.

The main thing that you are looking for with the soles of your cycling shoes is for them to be stiff. This means that when you press down the sole won't bend, meaning that all of the power that you generate is transferred through the sole and into the pedal. The second consideration is weight, with more expensive shoes coming with lighter soles.

Entry-level cycling shoes will generally come with nylon soles, but if you pay a bit more you will get shoes with carbon composite soles (i.e. a mixture of carbon and plastic), while at the top of the scale you will find carbon-soled shoes. The only thing with some really high-end shoes is that some people will find that the ultra-stiff sole may cause discomfort on longer rides, so it's worth reading some reviews before parting with your cash.

As ever, weight is also important, with top of the range carbon shoes often being much lighter than entry level models.

best cycling shoes

Which cycling shoe cleats are best for me?

While you're looking at the material of the soles of your prospective new cycling shoes, it's worth looking at the type of cleats that they will accommodate, as some will take two-bolt cleats while others will take three-bolt cleats. Some, particularly lower priced models, let you fit either. Your choice really depends on what type of riding you're doing.

If you're riding off-road or want to have a pair of shoes that are easy to walk in, then go for a pedal system that uses two-bolt cleats such as Shimano SPDs or Crankbrothers Eggbeaters.

However, for road riding, you really want three-bolt cleats which will give you a wider platform for improved power transfer through the pedals. For that reason, mid and high-end shoes will only come with three bolts patterns.

What should I do to look after my cycling shoes?

Even if you're riding in warm, dry conditions, your cycling shoes are likely to get sweaty inside. Once you take them off, don't just leave them sitting in a plastic bag, but put them somewhere dry where they can air and dry out. It's a good idea to pull out your insoles too, to make sure that the inside of the sole unit dries out. Many more expensive cycling shoes will come with a net storage bag to keep them in.

If your shoes get wet, you should take out the insoles and pack the inside of the shoes with scrunched up newspaper to help soak up the moisture.

Most cycling shoes can be wiped down with a damp cloth, but don't try anything more aggressive to clean them unless the maker's care instructions advise this.

If you're regularly riding in poor conditions, a pair of the best cycling overshoes will help keep your shoes clean. Overshoes tend to wear quickly though; a dedicated pair of winter cycling shoes like the Gaerne Icestorm boots might be a better bet. They will have a fully enclosed, waterproof upper and sole, usually with a breathable membrane and insulation, to help keep your feet dry and warm.

Heel support and heel lift are often an issue with this type of winter boot though, so make sure that the fit is good if you go this route. Also consider swapping to winter boots and pedals for two bolt cleats for their better walkability in the wet or when it's icy - you're less likely to take a spill on a tile floor at the coffee stop.

Do I need custom insoles in my cycling shoes?

Cycling shoes, even pricey ones, often come with fairly basic flat insoles. Since your feet are held in a static position, this can cause discomfort over time. It's worth considering an insole upgrade. Some aftermarket insoles will have an adjustable level of arch support, most will be made of more substantial material than the insoles that come with your shoes and often there will be other extra features like a less flat profile and a midfoot bump to help support your feet better. You can also buy bespoke insoles made to match your feet.

There are a number of different shoes on the market such as the Bont Riots and the Lake CX402s that can be customized through heat moulding to fit the shape of your feet. This means that the shoes should perfectly support the arch of your foot, ensuring that you should be very comfortable and power transfer should be improved too as your foot won't move around at all. If you have flat feet or arch-related problems, heat mouldable shoes could be the solution.

How do triathlon cycling shoes differ from road cycling shoes?

Triathlon shoes are different from road shoes. If you fancy the idea of doing some triathlons, it might be worth getting a triathlon-specific pair.

Tri shoes are designed to be put on and off quickly while cycling and consequently use an easy to open retention system. They often feature a loop on the heel that you can grab for easier access. However, if you ride in cold weather, be aware that tri-shoes often also feature drainage holes for wet feet. If you definitely want road shoes and not triathlon shoes, be sure to check with the retailer that you're getting what you want.

Should I try cycling shoes on before I buy them?

The best way to check the fit of a shoe is to try it on in your local bike shop before purchasing (hopefully you'll make the purchase in the shop too!). It is better to do this in the afternoon or evening as your feet can expand slightly during the day.

Shoe sizing is pretty consistent across brands, particularly when compared to other pieces of cycling clothing – but just because your old and worn-out size 46 shoes were comfortable, it doesn't necessarily mean you can jump straight into a different brand in the same size.

Arch heights, shoe widths, and different fastening systems can all mean that you may find yourself going a size up or down when buying new cycling shoes. Flashier shoes usually come in half sizes, so you can get a good match for your feet. Lower priced shoes, however, tend to be sold in whole sizes only - they are usually more roomy to start with as well. If your feet are between sizes, that can make choosing the right size tricky. IF you're not sure, we'd suggest sizing down.

How we score stars

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5 - Superb, best in its class and we couldn’t fault it
4 - Solid product, could be improved
3 - Fine, but a few niggles let this down
2 - Acceptable, needs improvement
1 - Extremely poor, barely worked

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.


Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 


Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.


Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.