A great road bike shoe has to tick a lot of boxes. It needs a stiff sole for good power transfer. A great closure system so your feet aren’t sliding around. It has to be comfortable enough for long days in the saddle. No matter what kind of shoe you’re looking for, you’ll find it here in our picks for the best cycling shoes of the year.
And, in many cases, it needs to versatile enough to go from spin class to the local coffee shop to a gran fondo.
Best Cycling Shoes 2020
The Giro Factor Techlace system includes three different closures: a Boa dial, two velcro straps, and laces. It seems like overkill, but this combination provides the most secure, customizable fit you can get. And it still weighs a scant 210 grams in a size 42.5.
Easton’s high-modulus carbon fiber sole makes for a very stiff shoe, which road racers will appreciate. Above that sole is Giro’s Super Natural Fit Kit, which gives you three options for levels of arch support.
The low stack height, stiff carbon sole, and minimal design make the Giro Factor Techlace a race-focused shoe. But whether you’re a racer or not, it will help you go faster when you hit the road.
Pearl’s ELITE series pulls no punches. This gear is light, fast, and ready to race. Their road cycling shoes fit the mold.
The Pearl Izumi ELITE Road V5 is the stiffest shoe that Pearl Izumi makes, so if you’re looking for power transfer, you’ve found it. 5mm stack height puts your foot super close to the pedal, keeping everything else out of the way. And with the Boa dial, you won’t lose any power to your foot slipping around.
The small ventilation holes spread all over the shoe are another nice feature. They don’t look like much, but you’ll appreciate them on those super-hot summer days when you’re in the saddle for hours.
Yes, that says “knit.” These are knit cycling shoes. And if they’re as revolutionary as Giro hopes they are, you’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
By bonding a TPU skeletal support structure to a knit material, the Giro Empire E70 Shoe provides support where you need it and comfort everywhere else. The knit material is a lot like a sock—so you get more breathability and fewer hotspots than you would with a more traditional shoe. The Easton composite sole gives it stiffness for power transfer, but the upper adds comfort. It’s the perfect blend.
And don’t worry, you can ride them in the rain.
Bont doesn’t mess around with their road shoes, and the Vaypor S is the flagship model. They put everything they have into this shoe, and it shows.
The Bont Vaypor S features a carbon sole, ergonomic last design, double-Boa retention system, heel and toe guards, and even toe protection for walking make this shoe one of the best all-around cycling shoes you can buy. Bont doesn’t tout the stiffest sole ever or anything like that—but small touches like lateral forefoot support and medial arch support let you know they really thought about the design of this shoe.
Plus the stack height is 3.6mm. Didn’t think you could get that close to the pedal, did you?
This is the stiffest shoe that Scott makes, and it has one goal: go fast. That’s it. The Scott Road RC all about speed. The low-volume, slim fit sheds weight while giving you as much power transfer as possible.
Scott’s stiffest sole maximizes your wattage, though they build in a bit of flex to keep your knees safe. The dual-Boa, asymmetric fit keeps you locked in tight. Adjustable arch support helps tailor the fit to your foot, too.
If you want a lightweight shoe that fits really snug and helps you put out as much power as you can, these Scott road shoes are a great choice.
When you see “ergo” on a cycling product, you expect it to be comfortable. You won’t be disappointed with the Sidi Ergo 4 Carbon shoe.
Sidi packed all of their comfort technology into the Ergo 4. It starts with a carbon shank running down the sole of the shoe, which transfers power along the important axis but gives you some lateral flex to reduce hot spots. Two Boa-like dials and a velcro strap customize the fit to your foot. The heel retention system lets you get the right amount of pressure in the heel to keep your foot secure without rubbing too much.
In short, these are the best cycling shoes for long-distance days in the saddle. It won’t disappoint.
In a size 42, this shoe weighs 243 grams. Yes, you read that correctly. A size 9-ish shoe weighs just over half a pound. If you’re looking for a lightweight shoe, you found it.
Of course, Shimano road bike shoes pack a lot more features. It starts with a Dura-Ace-level carbon sole. On top of that, you have a highly ventilated upper and two Boa dials for getting a secure fit. And you can customize the fit with Shimano’s heat-and-vacuum custom fitting system.
If you want to ride a shoe that makes you feel like a pro, the Shimano S-PHYRE (your guess on why they spelled it like that is as good as mine) is a safe bet.
Like Pearl did with the ELITE V5, Specialized S-Works 7 has raised the bar with their stiffest carbon sole yet. You’ll get almost no flex at all from this shoe—but you will get a ton of speed.
Specialized’s attention to detail shines in the S-Works 7. They chose higher-end Boa dials that are made of alloy instead of plastic (and supplemented them with a velcro strap). They included a non-slip, replaceable heel tread. They added ventilation on the toe box and tongue.
The Specialized S Works 7 is a pro-level race shoe, and if you’re serious about getting every watt of power you can out of your bike, it’ll help you meet your goal. One of the best road bike shoes on the list.
There’s one thing that stands out about every fi’zi:k shoe: they’re all extremely good-looking. And the fi’zi:k Tempo R5 Powerstrap is no exception. It’s eye-catching for its retro styling, but also because it has a rather weird closure system. So, what’s going on with these unique looking mens road bike shoes?
Basically you have two elastic straps that cradle your foot. The fact that they’re also velcro gives you infinite adjustability. It’s a snug, comfortable fit that won’t make the top of your foot feel like you’ve been riding over it all day.
The nylon composite outsole isn’t as unrelentingly stiff as some of the other options here, but it will give you solid power transfer. It’ll also give you just a touch more comfort on long days.
If the other shoes in this article make your feet hurt just looking at them, you may need the Genius Shadow Mega. Sidi’s Mega line features more width for higher-volume feet.
Beyond that, this shoe is pure Genius. The line has been around forever, and Sidi keeps adding to it for good reason: the Sidi Genius Shadow Mega is a phenomenal shoe. A caliper buckle and two velcro straps keep your foot in place. A carbon composite soles give you maximum power to the pedal. Sidi’s heel cup keeps your heel locked to the bottom of the shoe. And it’s designed to minimize pressure on the top of your foot.
Of course, there are non-Mega versions of the Genius. But if you’re looking for something a bit roomier, this is your shoe.
Cycling Shoe Price Comparison
- Giro Factor Techlace – ($350)
- Pearl Izumi ELITE Road V5 – ($240)
- Giro Empire E70 Knit – ($200)
- Bont Vaypor S – ($380)
- Scott Road RC – ($350)
- Shimano SH-RC9 S-PHYRE – ($400)
- Sidi Ergo 4 Carbon – ($300)
- Specialized S-Works 7 – ($400)
- fi’zi:k Tempo R5 Powerstrap – ($120)
- Sidi Genius Shadow Mega – ($260)