It’s no secret that cycling shoes are the most important cycling accessorie available. They are speciffically designed to enhance the riders perofamcne, comfort as well as overall riding experiennce.
But as a beginner purchasing your first cycling shoe can be quite a daunting experience as there are different types of cycling shoes, cleats and several elements to look out for it can be quite confusing. In order to make this process as easy as possible for you, we listed the top 7 best cycling shoes for beginners in the market both road & mountain bike shoes, as well as a detailed buyers guide explaining exactly what to look out for when shopping for your first cycling shoe as well as what features would be more beneficial for your own specific needs.
We selected our shoes based on affordability, value for price, & durability. So without further ado let’s take a look at the list.
Best Cycling Shoes For Beginners:
First up is the Gavin Elite road bike shoe, first of all these are 2 & 3 bolt cleat compatible providing you the option to ride with recessed cleats which make it easy to walk on or an SPD-SL 3 bolt system which allow for greater power transfer. The shoe also features a micro-adjustable buckle allowing you to easily get a more customizable fit. It’s crafted with a Synthetic microfiber leather with breathable mesh for comfort & breathability. Overall a good option for affordability, durability, performance.
Next up is the Vitoria Zoom road shoes, it features a two hook & loop fastener allowing the straps to distribute pressure evenly over the instep area for a more comfortable fit. Standard 3 bolt system. It’ also features a micro welded and stitched upper for optimal breathability. The Vittoria Zoon is also crafted with a nylon sole for greater pedal power and efficiency. Overall a good choice if you’re looking for a durable, affordable, road cycling shoe for performance.
The Pearl iZumi Men’s Select Road v5 is specifically designed to perform in hot humid conditions. Its design allows for optimal breathability featuring ventilation holes in the lasting board reducing hotspots as well as a Synthetic leather collar lining and a closed-cell foam padding which helps shed sweat and water. It’s also designed with a PE sockliner which contains an anti-microbial top sheet material for bacterial resistance. Overall durable, comfortable, & designed with breathability in mind, the perfect choice for indoor cycling.
The Shimano SH-RP1 are both SPD & SPD-SL cleat compatible, it features a Dual hook and loop strap for a reliable and comfortable fit. It’s also crafted with a lightweight glass fiber reinforced nylon sole for greater performance & efficiency. Reflective print on the heel cup allows for greater visibility when riding.
The Giro Techne Road cycling shoe is another great choice for beginners, equipped with a universal cleat fastening making it compatible with Look, SPD-SL, & SPD cleats. The three-strap closure system allows for a comfortable fit as well as allowing you to make quick adjustments. It also features a nylon outsole for greater pedal power and efficiency.
The Muddyfox RBS100 is another great addition to our list, it’s perfect if you want to try out cycling shoes without spending a huge amount. The MuddyFox certainly offers quality features for its price, equipped with a hook and loop closure system allowing you to secure your shoes as well as adjust it quick and easy. It’s also designed with breathable mesh panels reducing hot spots and keeping the shoe well ventilated. Overall the Muddyfox RBS100 provides a great introduction to spd cycling at an affordable price.
The Giro Treble II offers great features for beginners, such as a universal Cleat Mount that is compatible with both 2- and 3-bolt cleat/pedal systems. It’s also crafted with a Supple, breathable synthetic upper which conforms with the shape of your foot, it features a strap closure system for a comfortable fit as well as easy adjustability. As for performance, it’s crafted with a nylon outsole for greater pedaling power as well as pedal efficiency.
Cycling Shoes Buyers Guide:
Before buying your first pair of cycling shoes there are a few things to consider in order to pick the best shoe for your own specific needs:
When looking for a new pair of cycling shoes it’s crucial that you try them on before you purchase. The reason being is not all shoes fit the same some brands fit differently than others, which can make the shoe quite uncomfortable & in turn will impact your performance as well as your overall cycling experience. It’s important to figure out whether you have wide, narrow, or regular feet to help you determine whether you should look into brands that offer more wide or narrow options.
Compatibility is another thing to be aware of when looking for your first cycling shoe. Ensure that the shoe you want is compatible with the bikes clipless pedals. Let’s take a look at shoe types & compatibility.
Road Bike Shoes
Road shoes features prioritize performance, such stiff soles, lightweight, enhanced aerodynamics. Road bike shoes use a 3 bolt cleat system also known as SPD-SL, the cleats are also wide and they are external allowing for greater pedal power but they are also quite hard to walk in.
Mountain Bike Shoes
Mountain bike shoes use a 2 hole cleat system known as SPD, mountain bike shoe cleats are recessed, making them quite comfortable and easy to walk in. Mountain bike shoes are quite versatile, so if you are going to be riding off & on road mountain bike shoes are the best option for you.
When looking for road bike shoes the stiffer the outsole the better, a stiff sole reduces the loss of energy which is experienced when the shoe bends or twists on each stroke. Therefore Stiffer soles offer greater power transfer and efficiency by eliminating energy loss from the shoe bending.
Entry-level cycling shoes typically come with plastic soles which will still improve performance but if you’re looking to really up your performance then look for a carbon fibre outsole. Carbon fibre outsoles are typically found in expensive cycling shoes as it offer stiffer outsoles as well as lightweight. There are entrey-level shoes that also come with carbon composite which is a mixture of both carbon and plastic, these will cost more than the plastic outsoles but will provide you with a lighter and stiffer shoe.
As a beginner to cycling shoes it’s best to start with plastic or carbon composite (combonation of plastic & carbon) as they will be more than enough to start with and start improving on your performance.
A cycling shoe’s material has an effect on the shoe’s overall comfort. Materials such as real leather conform to the shape of your feet and provide you with a comfortable natural fit. Whereas other materials such as synthetic leather may not be as comfortable but provide other benefits such as being lightweight.
When it comes to the upper ventilation is another important element. Mesh panels offer greater ventilation than holes although they are much harder to keep clean.
There are a wide range of closure systems in the market, such as BOA Dials, Velcro Straps, Ratchet Buckles, & Laces. Let’s take a look at each one individually:
BOA Dials are typically found in high-end cycling shoes and because they allow for the best adjustability, with BOA dials you’re able to make 1mm increments of adjustments allowing you to achieve a perfect fit quite easily. They are also extremely easy to adjust on the fly.
Ratchet Buckles also allow the wearer to adjust the shoe quite comfortably to their liking although they do not offer the same level of adjustability as the BOA dial but you’re still able to get a customized fit just not at 1mm increments.
Velcro Straps are typically used in entry-level shoes, & they are the most durable closure system available although they do not offer increments of adjustments they still provide a comfortable & secure fit.
Laces are the lightest weight closure system available it’s drawback are you won’t be able to adjust them quickly & they aren’t the most practical.
Why Go Clipless?
Going clipless can be quite daunting in the beginning, mainly because of the fear of falling but the pros definitely outweigh the cons & with practice and a bit of time you will be wondering why you didn’t go clipless sooner.
Lets take a look at some of the main benefits of going clipless:
Clipless pedals allow for balanced muscle activation by allowing you to activate your hamstrings when pulling on the upstroke and activating your quadriceps when pushing down thus increasing efficiency dramatically. Clipless pedals also allow you to keep your feet on the center of the pedals enhancing efficiency through power.
Greater Pedal Power
Since you will be activating both your quadriceps and hamstring muscles while using clipless pedals you will be able to generate greater output with the same effort. Overall you use less energy which allows you to accelerate at a faster rate as well as climb hills more efficiently by balancing the workload to your quadriceps and hamstrings.
On uneven or rough roads clipless will keep your feet stable allowing you to put all your focus & effort into just pedaling rather than constantly adjusting your feet.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do Clipless Pedals Help Climbing?
Yes, with clipless you’re able to pull on the upstoke, which allows you to be more effecient while climbing & generating more power without much added effort.
Can You Walk In Cycling Shoes?
You will be able to walk relatively comfortably in mountain bikes shoes (SPD cleat) as the cleats are recessed. With road bike shoes (SPD-SL cleat) the cleat is external making it quite uncomfortable to walk in. So if you are looking for a shoe you can walk comfortably then you should go with the SPD cleats.
What’s Difference Between Mountain & Road Bike Shoes?
Road bike shoes are designed to maximize performance on the road. They use a 3-bolt cleat system which allows for greater power transfer, & the shoe is designed with performance in mind such as aerodynamics..etc.
Whereas mountain bike shoes are designed to bee more durable and support off-road riding, they offer more grip and use a 2-bolt cleat system which are recessed and allows the rider to walk comfortably in.
Can Mountain Bike Shoes Be Used WIth Road Bikes?
Yes, you can use mountain bike shoes with road bikes. In fact, many riders use mountain bike shoes on road bikes because they are more comfortable to walk in. Although they don’t offer the same performance as road bike shoes, road shoe cleats are wider and bigger offering greater power transfer & they come with stiffer outsoles for greater efficiency. Although if you are looking for a shoe for both on-road and off-road riding mountain bike shoes are the better option as they are more versatile.
Does Cycling Shoe Weight Matter?
Weight does impact cycling speed but they are not the best feature to focus on especially as a beginner. Lightweight shoes typically cost more & should be your number one priority especially as a beginner. Although reducing any weight of your bike will improve your cycling speed especially uphill.
So there you have it, our selection of the top 7 best cycling shoes for beginners. When looking for your first shoe it’s important to know what type of riding you will be doing in order to pick the best shoe type for your riding needs. If you’re looking for a shoe strictly for the road & will not be doing much walking on then road shoes are the best option for you, however, if you will be riding off-road or a mixture between off-road and on-road mountain bike shoes may be more beneficial to you as they are more versatile, & allow you to walk comfortably on.
When first learning to ride cycling shoes you first should find a shoe that fits correctly & comfortably, so trying on the shoe before purchasing is a good idea. You wouldn’t want to go for the best features and the highest quality materials when first starting out, select an affordable shoe that offers the features that you require to get started with.
The good news is in today’s market there are plenty of high quality yet affordable cycling shoes in the market that are perfect for beginners, its never been a better time to find a quality yet affordable cycling shoe. We hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading & happy riding!