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Who Makes the Best Road Cycling Shoes?

Your feet are one of only three contact points between you and your bicycle. Comfort is therefore crucial, experiencing pain or numbness in your feet while cycling can ruin your ride. The very best road cycling shoes are not only comfortable but also lightweight, breathable and extremely stiff.

There are many shoe manufacturers in the cycling industry, but who makes the best road cycling shoes?

Giro

Giro manufacture some of the most innovative and aesthetically appealing cycling products on the market. Their first road shoe debuted in 2010 and they have since brought out an extensive range of high-performance road shoes. Their most recent models include the Prolight Techlace and Factor Techlace, which feature Giro’s innovative Techlace closure system. Giro have also proved lace-up cycling shoes aren’t just a thing of the past with the extremely popular Empire range.

Taylor Phinney putting on giro empire slx road cycling shoes

Source: Giro Cycling

Best Features of the Giro Empire SLX:

  • The empire SLX is incredibly light at just 175 grams. The one-piece upper is made from a premium Evofibre which is highly breathable.
  • Easton EC90 carbon soles are as stiff as they come meaning power transfer is second to none.
  • Replaceable heel pads are also available should the original ones be worn out over time.
  • The lace closure systems offers arguably the most comfortable and even fit of any cycling shoe on the market. The Empire SLX also comes with footbeds with an adjustable arch support to help maximise comfort.

Sidi

Sidi has been manufacturing innovative sporting footwear for more than 50 years. Thanks to their passion and deep, intuitive knowledge of the sport, Sidi has become a market leader in cycling shoes. Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Marcel Kittel, Rigoberto Uran, the list of World Tour professionals that use their shoes goes on and on. The Shot and Wire Carbon are Sidi’s top models, while they also make more affordable models such as the Genius and the Kaos.

Arnaud Demare on the podium at Milan San Remo in sidi wire road cycling shoes

Souce: Bettini Photo

Best Features of the Sidi Wire Carbon Vernice:

  • The upper of the shoe is made from a highly technological leather called Microfibra Techpro which is light and water repellent.
  • Sidi’s Vent Carbon Sole is incredibly stiff and features an integrated vent channel. The vent channel can be opened when riding in warm climates to prevent overheating.
  • A number of parts can be replaced, including heel pads.
  • A wide, anatomically curved strap paired with Tecno – 3 Push dials evenly distribute pressure across the shoe.
  • An adjustable heel retention device and reinforced heel cup ensure the foot remains secure but comfortable in the shoe, for optimal power transfer.

Pearl Izumi

The Pro Leader III road shoe is designed to transfer every last watt of power to your pedals. BOA dials are common in today’s high-end cycling shoes and Pearl Izumi was the first manufacturer to position them on the top of the shoe, which tightens upper material equally across both sides of the foot. An extremely thin upper is both breathable and comfortable, Pearl Izumi’s Power Web design conforms to your foot shape like a second skin.

Best Features of the Pearl Izumi Pro Leader III:

  • The thinnest upper on the market at just 0.9mm thick. It is not only lightweight but also adapts to your foot shape to eliminate hot spots.
  • Zonal Bi-directional closure tightens the shoe from either side equally, as oppossed to just one side.
  • 1:1 powerplate that is incredibly stiff but also super thin.
  • A 1:1 insole with various arch and forefoot options.

Source: Pearl Izumi


Shimano

Shimano primarily manufactures bicycle components but they also produce an extensive range of durable, high-quality road cycling shoes. Dynalast technology leads to a wider range of hip motion which in turn improves pedalling efficiency and power transfer. Shimano often focuses on sleek and stylish designs, a minimalistic upper avoids the clutter of over-design with a clear focus on function and performance.

red RC7 road cycling shoes resting on a rear wheel

Source: Shimano Road

Best Features of the Shimano RC7:

  • Boa IP1 dials that allow quick, micro tension adjustments.
  • A perforated synthetic leather upper ensure a secure fit and good breathability.
  • While the RC7 isn’t rated quite as highly on Shimano’s outsole stiffness indicator as their flagship model, the S-Phyre, it is still ultra-rigid.
  • The RC7 is a comfortable, durable, high-performance road shoe that is also affordable.

Trying to determine who makes the very best road shoes can be difficult as everyone’s feet come in different shapes and sizes. A high-end model that is perfect for me may not be right for you. The trick is to choose the best road shoe for you.

Steps to choosing the best road shoe for you:

Step 1 – Firstly, choose a shoe that is suitable for the shape of your feet. Are you looking for a shoe with a narrow fit or do you require more volume, i.e. a wider fitting shoe.

Step 2 – Next, decide what type of retention system gives you the most secure, comfortable fit. Manufacturers offer models with an array of straps, dials and ratchets to help you make micro-adjustments to fit and comfort on the fly. Being comfortable on the bike is key; it makes riding more enjoyable and reduces the risk of injury.

Step 3 – Finally, consider what you want from your shoes in terms of performance benefits. If performance is crucial to you then a high-end shoe is the way to go. A stiff carbon sole that will transfer power to the pedals. Breathable uppers to keep your feet cool. Lightweight materials require a reduction in effort for movement. All these factors contribute to better performance on the bike.

Shop all men’s and women’s cycling shoes at ProBikeKit.


Header Photo: Bettini Photo



Tom Bracegirdle

Tom Bracegirdle

Writer and expert

I've been a keen cyclist since the age of thirteen and began racing competitively on the road as a junior. Since then I've spent three seasons racing full time in Belgium, competing in UCI races, interclubs and kermesses. I've always been interested in writing and marketing, especially in relation to the cycling industry and road racing.


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