Who chooses pro riders's shoes?

We demystify the bewildering choice of footwear in the pro peloton

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Look carefully at a bike race and the sheer diversity of footwear used by riders is evident. There’s a range of top spec shoe models and colours on display even within a single team.

Many teams let riders choose their own shoes. But there’s an increasing trend for pro teams to be kitted out in a single manufacturer’s shoes – although even then there are exceptions.

Gaerne provides its shoes, including its new range topping G.Stilo+ to the whole Bardiani CSF team and to all of Lotto-Soudal’s riders – except one. Other teams, like UAE Emirates let riders choose their own shoes; Gaerne says half choose its brand. And it has riders on a number of other teams in its footwear too.

Another brand providing shoes to a whole team is Shimano. LottoNL-Jumbo riders are kitted out with its new Boa dialled S-Phyre shoes.

Sidi mades a custom version of its Shot shoe for Bahrain-Merida (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Like Gaerne and Shimano, Sidi has followed the whole team route, producing a special version of its new Shot shoe in colours to match Bahrain-Merida’s kit. It also provides shoes to individual star athletes, with Chris Froome wearing a prototype of the Shot in last year’s Tour de France.

Philippe Gilbert uses Fizik's R1B shoes (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

But not all the big footwear brands are signing up whole teams. Fizik says that it prefers to partner with individual athletes, based on their profile, attitude and willingness to work with it to innovate.

“We feel people realise brands can pay to ‘force’ a team to use their products, but we believe individual endorsements are more a choice and so they can better represent the company.

Watch: The coolest shoes of 2017

“For now we prefer to build individual relationships. We are definitely open to signing a full team, but only when we find the right one in terms of visibility and in terms of an R&D approach, a team must be open to innovate and test new products.”

Fizik’s key sponsored athletes include Geraint Thomas and Philippe Gilbert, who has posted shots of his Fizik R1B shoes on his Facebook page.

Dan Martin test rode Mavic's Comete Ultimate shoes before launch (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Mavic too partners with individual riders. Dan Martin tested its new range topping £900 Comete Ultimate shoe in races, prior to its launch in March.

Rocket7 shoes are the choice of Greg van Avermaet (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

And there are some more esoteric shoe choices out there.

The American-made Rocket7 shoes are used by Greg Van Avermaet. Rocket7’s fully customised shoes start at $1450, plus a further $500 for lighter soles and uppers. They have a claimed weight from 125 grams per shoe in a size 8.

Adam Hansen makes his own ultralight cycling shoes (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

We mentioned above that one member of Lotto-Soudal doesn’t wear Gaerne shoes. That’s because Adam Hansen makes his own extra-light shoes to fit his odd-shaped feet.

They average 95 grams each and some have come up as light as 76g a shoe. You can buy a pair from his website for 2000 to 2500 Euros.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.