Top 9 Cycling Shoes for 2024: A Comprehensive Review

19 March 2024 2902
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Regardless if you're an avid Peloton fan or an outdoor weekend cyclist, one thing is certain: the quality of your cycling shoes significantly affects your ride. Shoes that are too tight can cause numbness and discomfort, while ones too loose pose the risk of slipping out and resulting in injury. Ease of clipping in and out of the bike isn't even considered here. Similar to Cinderella though, the right pair of cycling shoes can propel you further, faster — particularly if you’ve been using athletic shoes with toe cages prior.

After consulting with cycling experts, 22 pairs of cycling shoes were tested and analyzed, being scored on comfort, fit, value, and overall performance. After numerous rotations, these nine were selected as the best cycling shoes on the market.

Sizes range from 5 to 16.5 for women | Cleats used are Delta | Closure style is the Boa dial

The Shimano IC501 Women’s Indoor Cycling Shoe was chosen as the top overall cycling shoe. Its clever design and use of odor-fighting, sweat-wicking materials left a positive impression on our testers (because nobody likes smelly shoes). The breathable sock mesh upper, which adjusts to toe movement and provides great ventilation, stood out. The shoes' feature a dial adjustment over Velcro or laces for personal fit preference and are SPD-compatible for easy walking off the bike as needed. The material is high quality, durable and the shoes tend to be a slim fit, which may not suit wider feet.

Sizes range from 5 to 11 | Cleats used are SPD | Closure style is Velcro straps

In-studio cycling classes' biggest struggle tends to be moving around off the bike due to protruding cleats. However, this hassle can be avoided with Tiem Slipstream indoor cycling shoes which have recessed, SPD-compatible cleats and a rubber outsole that resembles regular gym footwear. In fact, testers wore them outside of cycling classes often due to their comfort.

The design differs slightly in these shoes due to a more sneaker-like construction. While many indoor cycling shoes have a firm solid sole, Tiem Slipstreams offer more flexibility where you might feel it most when applying pressure through your foot's sole. However, testers didn't find this discomforting. They were also happy with the breathable upper that prevented overheating even when attending cycling lessons in an infrared studio.

Sizes range from 5.5 to 11 | Cleats used are Delta | Closure style is Velcro straps

For a cost-effective option, try Venzo women’s cycling shoes. They come in an array of colors with cleats included and were described as firm, supportive, and well-structured by testers. The shoes are light and breathable and provide a budget-friendly option for indoor cycling shoes. However, cleats have to be attached manually, which Venzo provides instructions and an Allen wrench for.

Sizes range from 5 to 11 Women's | Cleats used are Delta | Closure style is Boa dial

If frequenting SoulCycle is your thing, you might be drawn to their shoe style which is designed for those long rides in the saddle. Apart from their stylish yellow design, these shoes come with clips that could make up for their price. But besides their aesthetic appeal, these shoes didn't offer much more than other high-end indoor cycling shoes (like the Shimano women’s cycling shoes). Our tester used a SoulCycle At-Home Bike Powered by Equinox+, which could have improved the overall experience.

Sizes range from 26 to 43 (EU) | whether Delta or SPD Cleats are used | Closure style is Velcro straps.

If you are a Peloton enthusiast able to clip in easily, the Pearl Izumi Quest Studio Cycling Shoe offers everything needed for long climbs, tap-backs, or 20-minute Tabata sessions. In terms of comfort, our testers gave these cycling shoes top ratings. They found them to be a rare mix of lightweight, flexible, and sturdy. The soles felt sufficiently firm to handle climbing out of the saddle with ease. The shoes were also roomy in the toe area, which helped to avoid the numbness that long rides can cause. The shoes were also easy to put on and take off. However, for one of our testers who was new to clipping in, aligning her cleats with the pedals was a challenge. It's important to note that these shoes do not come with cleats - these have to be purchased separately and attached.

Sizes offered: 6 to 11 | Cleats: Delta or SPD | Closure: Velcro straps

The Tommaso Pista indoor cycling shoes were able to impress us with their low cost, endurance, and comfort. Moreover, they can be pre-ordered with cleats installed, which eases one of the key hassles when shopping for indoor cycling shoes. The soles are robust and provide support, making them comfortable for high-intensity cycling classes. These shoes were a tad rigid initially but did not result in blisters during the breaking-in period. According to our tester, these shoes are best suited for those with small, narrow feet. Therefore, it is recommended to read sizing reviews and measure your foot accurately to get the best fit.

Sizes: 4 to 15.5 women’s | Cleats: Delta | Closure: Velcro straps

The firm support of the Adidas indoor cycling shoes was appreciated by our testers. The shoe is designed with a fiberglass-reinforced midsole plate to facilitate power transfer from your legs to your pedals. The shoe is also designed with additional ventilation at the instep and outside to minimize sweating in hot studios. Dr. Splichal noted, 'Cycling is an endurance sport, and with rides potentially lasting several hours, shoes need to be well ventilated to reduce foot sweat, odor, and risk of fungus.' Although the fit largely matched the size, one tester mentioned that the heel felt a bit shallow, which might cause discomfort for some riders. There is also a loop on the heel's top for easy put on and put off.

Sizes: 39 to 49 (EU) | Cleats: Three-bolt | Closure: Boa Dial

Specialized is known for its high-quality and intelligently designed cycling gear. As expected, these cycling shoes were remarkably well designed. They were lighter than other options tested, with numerous ergonomic touches for prolonged comfort. A feature that stood out is the metatarsal button that lifts and separates the foot bones, molded arch support, and a wedge for optimal alignment. According to Dr. Splichal, this intelligent feature supports foot stimulation and boosts circulation in the toes. These shoes also do not come with cleats, implying the need for separate purchase and installation. The website does not clearly indicate which types of cleats to buy, so it's advisable to do your homework before checking out.

Sizes: 6.5 to 15 | Cleats: Two and three-bolt | Closure: Boa Dial

The Giro Cadet Road Cycling Shoe is highly recommended for cycling fans who want outdoor cycling freedom. These shoes received high ratings for comfort. They are lightweight yet sturdy, due to carbon-reinforced firmness on the sole, and laser-perforated venting to prevent overheating indoors and outdoors. The shoe is compatible with both two-bolt (such as SPD cleats) and three-bolt cleats (such as Delta), providing options depending on your ride preference. Reflective details also enhance visibility to others on the road. However, the upper part of the shoes was noticeably flexible, almost to the verge of feeling flimsy, although this ultimately made the shoe more comfortable. Our tester also found clipping in and out of their indoor bike challenging, which might be solvable by using a different type of cleat.

Kristen Geil is a senior fitness editor for Shape with 10 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She’s been cycling since 2011, trying dozens of bikes and shoes in her hundreds of rides. As a NASM-certified personal trainer, she understands the physiology of the human body and how cycling shoes can impact biomechanics and thus, performance. She recently led Shape’s Best in Fitness Awards, where she helped determine nearly 170 of the best fitness products in the market (including the best cycling shoes). She’s an avid Peloton rider who’s never met a Club Bangers theme ride she didn’t love. Beyond her own personal knowledge, Geil researched all of the products tested and conducted expert interviews to learn more about cycling shoes.


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