Best indoor cycling shoes: breathable shoes for pedalling inside

There are indoor cycling shoes designed for indoor cycling classes as well as virtual racing

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from wearing your normal cycling shoes when riding indoors, however, an increasing interest in virtual racing and online cycling fitness classes has lead to the availability of specific indoor cycling shoes, that are more tailored to the vigours of this hot and sweaty pursuit.

There are two quite distinct styles of indoor cycling shoes:

  • shoes designed to cater for riders attending indoor cycling classes or using exercise bikes which often come with SPD style pedals, these are easier to walk in and usually use a two-bolt SPD cleat with a more flexible sole
  • shoes designed for indoor racers, these typically have a three-bolt clear design, a stiff carbon sole and plenty of ventilation

For more information around cycling pedal and cleat systems, check out this guide to clipless pedals.

We've rounded up some of the best indoor cycling shoes below. We've included some shoes designed specifically for indoor cycling, as well as 'outdoor' cycling shoes, which we believe would make for an excellent choice for indoor racers due to their plentiful supply of ventilation.

With each product is a ‘See More’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Shimano IC1 indoor cycling shoes

best indoor cycling shoes

  • Best for: versatility, indoor classes or indoor racing, value
  • Closure: Velcro
  • Sole: Glass fibre reinforced nylon
  • Cleat: two and three-bolt compatible
  • RRP: £69.99 / $90

The IC1 shoes from Shimano come in sizes 36-50, and unlike the IC5 and IC3 shoes, these are unisex, as opposed to using a female specific last.

These shoes offer fittings for both two-bolt cleats as well as three-bolt cleats, which offers versatility for those who may attend fitness classes where the bikes use SPD pedals, or train on their own bikes at home with Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo style pedals.

The sole is glass-fibre reinforced nylon, so it won't be the stiffest but should offer plenty of comfort inducing flex whilst the velcro strap offers a firm closure without creating pressure. Plenty of ventilation at the upper can only be a good thing, too.

Shimano IC5 women's indoor cycling shoes

best indoor cycling shoes

(Image credit: Hannah Bussey)
  • Best for: indoor cycling classes
  • Closure: Boa
  • Sole: Glass fibre reinforced Nylon
  • Cleat: two-bolt compatible
  • RRP: £99.99 / $125
  • See full review of the Shimano IC5 women's cycling shoes

The IC5 shoes from Shimano are designed specifically for women, using a women's foot last and available from a size 36. Shimano made this decision based upon the high percentage of women attending indoor cycling classes.

The shoes use a two-bolt cleat system, to make walking across a studio floor easier (when compared with a three-bolt road system). Two-bolt compatible pedals are popular on the bikes used for these classes, so it's a sensible choice.

There's plenty of ventilation and a Boa closure system. The sole is a little more flexible than a full carbon option, which could represent comfort for some but isn't conclusive to sprint efforts.

For those who are after a style more suited to walking to and from spin classes, Shimano also offers the IC3 which has a more trainer-like aesthetic.

Specialized S-Works Vent Cycling Shoes

best indoor cycling shoes

The S-Works 7 Vent shoes from Specialized take most of the technology from the very popular S-Works 7 shoes, such as the "stiffness index 15" sole (like all cycling shoe brands, Specialized has its own scale - so it's not comparable to other brands but we can confirm these are stiff) which promises optimum power transfer.

You also get the benefit of 'Body Geometry fit' which ensures a firm hold of the foot, again optimising power transfer.

What's different about these is the added features designed to prevent over-heating, such as extra cooling vents on the sole as well as extra perforations within the lightweight upper.

Nike SuperRep Cycle indoor cycling shoes

best indoor cycling shoes

  • Best for: versatility, indoor spinning classes and racing
  • Closure: Velcro
  • Sole: Nylon
  • Cleat: two and three-bolt compatible
  • RRP: £104.95 / $120

Nike is a household name when it comes to fitness gear, so its entry into the indoor cycling shoe market was big news. The brand certainly isn't new to cycling shoes, having supplied footwear to the likes of Mark Cavendish and Laura Kenny in the past.

The shoes are compatible with both two and three-bolt cleats. The sole is not carbon, with Nike opting for nylon instead. However, there is plenty of ventilation.

These shoes also put a focus on providing stability during some of the more adventurous 'moves' used in cycling fitness classes, such as out the saddle 'figure 8s', with the Velcro straps promising a firm hold and a carefully designed heel cup.

Giro Prolight Techlace cycling shoes

  • Best for: indoor racing
  • Closure: 'Techlace' - lace with Velcro
  • Sole: Carbon
  • Cleat: three-bolt compatible
  • RRP: £349 / $399
  • See review of the Giro Prolight Techlace shoes here

Giro didn't make these shoes specifically for indoor cycling, but they did make them to be ultra lightweight and breathable - and that they are.

The brand has combined laces with Velcro, this provides tons of adjustability in the upper, to ensure you get the fit just right. The upper is 'barely there', whilst the sole is made from the same stuff Easton Carbon used elsewhere within Giro's range.

This is a racing shoe, so uses a three-bolt only cleat fitting for Look or Shimano SPD pedals.

What to look for when choosing indoor cycling shoes

Cleat compatibility

The first step when choosing shoes for indoor cycling is to ensure that the shoes offer the right cleat compatibility for your riding.

Most road riders use three-bolt cleats with Look Keo or Shimano SPD-SL pedals (the exception being Speedplay). So, if you're using your own bike on a turbo trainer - or swapping pedals from your bike to an exercise bike - it's likely that you'll want to stick with shoes that are compatible with a three-bolt system.

Bikes used at exercise classes quite often use SPD style pedals, with a two-bolt cleat system. SPD cleat styles also make walking easier, as the cleat is recessed - reducing the chance of slipping on a studio floor. Some venues offering indoor cycling classes offer interchangeable pedals, with two and three-bolt cleat systems available.

Breathability and closure

Cycling indoors can become a hot and sweaty business, as you don't have the cooling effect of movement.

Therefore, ventilation is important - look for shoes with perforations on the upper and vents in the sole.

A firm closure and good fit is also important if you'll be getting out the saddle and sprinting, or moving around - some indoor classes include upper body work, so you want assurance that your feet won't move around. Boa dials, of which there are varying levels of performance, cinch the shoe in and offer a firm hold. However, Velocro can be very effective and also tends to spread out the pressure.

Sole

Carbon is by far the stiffest material choice, so this will be the go-to if you plan to be racing hard and fast indoors. However, shoes with carbon soles are more expensive. Nylon and carbon-reinforced soles have improved in recent years, and are stiff enough for most riders.

Those looking to prioritise comfort may prefer a little more flex via a nylon sole, and this choice is also better if you plan to walk to and from a session in shoes with a recessed SPD cleat.