How to choose the right cycling shoes for your rides

Cycling shoes are one of the most important pieces of equipment for any cyclist, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro. They provide the support and stability you need to pedal efficiently and comfortably, and they can even help improve your performance on the bike.

But with so many different types of cycling shoes available, it can be tough to know where to start. That's why we've put together this guide to help you choose the right cycling shoes for your rides.

Know Your Riding Style

The type of cycling shoes you choose will depend largely on the type of riding you do. Do you primarily ride on the road, or do you prefer off-road trails? Are you a casual rider or a competitive racer? These are all important factors to consider when choosing your cycling shoes.

Road Cycling Shoes

If you primarily ride on the road, you'll want to look for shoes that are designed for road cycling. These shoes are typically lightweight and aerodynamic, with a stiff sole that helps transfer power from your legs to the pedals.

Some popular road cycling shoe brands include Shimano, Sidi, and Giro. Look for shoes with features like carbon fiber soles, BOA closures, and breathable uppers to keep your feet cool and comfortable on long rides.

Mountain Biking Shoes

If you prefer off-road riding, you'll want to look for shoes that are designed for mountain biking. These shoes are typically more rugged and durable than road cycling shoes, with a grippy sole that provides traction on uneven terrain.

Some popular mountain biking shoe brands include Five Ten, Specialized, and Pearl Izumi. Look for shoes with features like reinforced toe boxes, ankle protection, and a sticky rubber sole for maximum grip on the trails.

Indoor Cycling Shoes

Indoor cycling shoes are designed specifically for use on stationary bikes, such as those found in spin classes or at home. These shoes typically have a stiff sole and a breathable upper, and they often feature a two-bolt cleat system that attaches to the pedals on the bike.

Some popular indoor cycling shoe brands include Shimano, Pearl Izumi, and Louis Garneau. Look for shoes with features like a comfortable fit, good ventilation, and a secure closure system.

Consider Your Foot Shape and Size

Just like with regular shoes, it's important to choose cycling shoes that fit your feet properly. Ill-fitting shoes can cause discomfort and even lead to injuries over time.

Foot Shape

The first thing to consider is your foot shape. Do you have narrow or wide feet? Do you have high arches or flat feet? These factors can all affect the fit of your cycling shoes.

If you have narrow feet, look for shoes with a narrower toe box and a snug fit around the heel. If you have wide feet, look for shoes with a wider toe box and more room in the forefoot. And if you have high arches, look for shoes with a supportive insole to help distribute pressure evenly across your foot.

Foot Size

The next thing to consider is your foot size. Cycling shoes should fit snugly without being too tight. You should be able to wiggle your toes, but not so much that your foot slides around inside the shoe.

It's also important to consider the length of your foot. Cycling shoes are often sized differently than regular shoes, so be sure to measure your foot and consult the manufacturer's sizing chart before making a purchase.

Choose the Right Closure System

Cycling shoes come with a variety of closure systems, each with its own pros and cons. Here are some of the most common closure systems you'll encounter:


Laces are a classic closure system that offer a snug, customizable fit. They're also easy to replace if they wear out or break. However, laces can be difficult to adjust on the fly, and they can get tangled in your bike's drivetrain if they come loose.

Velcro Straps

Velcro straps are a simple and effective closure system that allows for easy adjustability. They're also lightweight and affordable. However, they can wear out over time and may not provide as secure of a fit as other closure systems.

Ratcheting Buckles

Ratcheting buckles offer a secure and precise fit, with easy adjustability on the fly. They're also durable and long-lasting. However, they can be more difficult to replace if they break, and they may be more expensive than other closure systems.

BOA Closures

BOA closures use a dial system to provide a precise and customizable fit. They're also lightweight and easy to adjust on the fly. However, they can be more expensive than other closure systems, and they may not be as durable over time.

Consider Your Budget

Cycling shoes can range in price from less than $50 to well over $500. While it's tempting to go for the most expensive option, it's important to consider your budget and choose shoes that fit your needs without breaking the bank.

If you're a beginner or casual rider, you can often find affordable cycling shoes that offer plenty of comfort and performance. Look for shoes with features like a breathable upper, a stiff sole, and a secure closure system.

If you're a competitive racer or a serious cyclist, you may want to invest in higher-end cycling shoes with features like a carbon fiber sole, a customized fit, and a lightweight design.

Look for Additional Features

In addition to the factors we've already discussed, there are a few other features you may want to consider when choosing your cycling shoes:


If you live in a hot climate or plan to do a lot of riding in the summer months, look for shoes with good ventilation to help keep your feet cool and dry.

Reflective Details

If you plan to ride in low-light conditions, look for shoes with reflective details to help increase your visibility to motorists.


If you plan to do a lot of walking in your cycling shoes, look for shoes with a more flexible sole and a recessed cleat that won't interfere with your stride.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right cycling shoes can make all the difference in your riding experience. By considering factors like your riding style, foot shape and size, closure system, budget, and additional features, you can find shoes that provide the support and comfort you need to pedal your way to success.

Remember to try on several different pairs of shoes before making a decision, and don't be afraid to ask for help from a knowledgeable salesperson or fellow cyclist. With the right pair of cycling shoes, you'll be ready to tackle any ride that comes your way.

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