Best Mens’ Cycling Shoes for the UK 2019
Serious cyclists need a shoe which will keep you warm & dry in cold, wet conditions; cool & comfortable on hot days; and which clips onto your pedal to increase control and power.
Cycling shoes increase comfort, efficiency, control and safety. They are essentials for anyone interested in racing and beating personal goals for speed and distance; but also a worthwhile investment for anyone who rides frequently.
Our choice of the best shoes came down to three main factors.
- We want shoes that are dedicated to road cycling – stiff-soled, vented, and well-fitting.
- We want shoes that look good.
- We want shoes that offer value for money.
What to Look For in a Road Cycling Shoe?
Not all cycling shoes are created equal, and not all are made for the same purpose or type of user.
You’ll want to look at the stiffness of the sole, the quality of the pedal connection, the weight of the shoe, the type of fastener system, cleat mount, and any reflective safety features the shoe might have.
Stiffness of the Sole
It might be counter-intuitive, but the stiffer the sole of your cycling shoe, the more comfortable it is likely to be – especially on a long ride. Walking around in a cycling shoe shouldn’t be treacherous, but it won’t be as comfortable as a good trainer.
Unlike other sporting activities, your feet won’t be on the ground while you cycle, and so the shoe itself provides the stability and foundation for your foot.
Connection to the Pedals
The clips that attach your shoes to the pedals have several purposes. They increase efficiency by allowing you to pull one pedal upwards while you push the other downwards. They also keep your feet in the optimum position for efficiency in general, power when you need it, and aerodynamics throughout your ride.
Being clipped to your bike will feel restrictive and even a bit scary the first time you try it, but you’ll learn very quickly that a simple twist of the foot will release it and free up your feet.
It will be second nature in no time at all.
In the world of cycling, less is more. You want a lighter shoe – and the lighter they get, the more you’ll need to pay for them. Shoes that are even ten or fifteen grams heavier sometimes won’t even have their weights listed.
Unless you’re a pro cyclist though, a few grams here and there aren’t going to noticeably affect your ride times. A few seconds over a mile are not likely to make the difference between enjoyment and disappointment, nor will they feel that much heavier than their more-expensive, lighter cousins. If you have the money to spend, and want to do so, that’s great – but if you don’t, you really aren’t missing out on much.
Laces? Velcro? Ratchets? The choice is up to you really.
Many prefer the uniformity of tightness achievable with laces. Others don’t want the risk or hassle of laces coming untied during a ride, and prefer Velcro for easy, reliable fastening that won’t come loose mid-ride. A kind of functional hybrid of these is the ratcheting system. These allow targeted, accurate tightening of various points along your foot, but without the risk of coming loose while on the road.
For the most part, choosing a type of fastener boils down to personal preference.
External or Internal Cleats
Regardless of the length of your ride, you’ll still need to walk to and from your bike. If you’re a recreational rider, you’ll probably have plans to stop at a pub for lunch, check out a scenic spot, or even go in to a shop to pick up a few items before returning home. Commuters will need to walk from the bike storage area to the office, and vice versa – maybe even complete a leg of the journey on a bus or train.
External cleats, though capable of greater performance for certain styles of riding, are generally unsuited to walking. Most riders will want recessed, or internal clips. Other than a little extra stiffness, they won’t feel a great deal different than walking in a regular shoe.
Very hard soles are common on road bike shoes, but can also cause problems. Slips and falls are not uncommon, especially on smooth surfaces, like marble paving stones, and hard-plastic soles can be outright treacherous on wet pavement and stairs.
Most of us have seen them: the hypnotic rising and falling of foot reflectors on a bicycle at night. Unlike most front and rear reflectors on a bike, reflectors on shoes and pedals really arrest the attention of others, due to the rapid rise and fall of the reflected light. Flashing lights on seat posts or packs are a necessary feature, as are good-quality headlamps and side reflectors on your wheels, but nothing attracts attention with quite as much efficacy as the bobbing up and down of reflective shoes.
Cycling Shoes Reviewed
This road bike shoe, by Venzo, has a mesh and synthetic upper for water resistance and easy cleaning. They are quick-drying and the inner lining is comfortable and breathes well, with a split in the top edge of the tongue to prevent uncomfortable chafing against the front of the ankle. They are low cut and light, with great feel of movement and support.
When the shoe arrives, you will want to loosen the tension adjuster to your desired tension, as it comes with a pretty tight setting, and you want to make sure your foot comes loose at a pressure that is both functional to you when riding, and suitable for both regular and emergency disengagement.
The shoe uses a Shimano SPD SL Look pedal, included with the purchase, and is also compatible with all SPD, SPD SL, and Look KEO style pedal systems.
The cleats are hard plastic and will wear out eventually, but are easily and cheaply replaced. The shoe is reasonably comfortable to walk in for short distances.
There are no added reflective features on these shoes.
This is not the shoe for a very experienced rider who will use them on long, high-performance trips. That said, it is an excellent entry-level product at an attractive price.
We like the look of these shoes. They aren’t particularly aerodynamic, but they have a pleasing design and colour scheme.
Diamondback Century Clipless
These Century, clipless road cycling shoes, by Diamondback, are made of synthetic leather and breathable mesh. They are true to size, so if you are used to buying a slightly smaller fit to facilitate a quick release and a stiff feel while riding, there is no need.
The cleats are not recessed, which is not ideal and, though cleat covers are available, the covers don’t function particularly well and do not hold up for long before needing replacement. You’re better off buying replacement cleats when you need them – but this still doesn’t remove the annoyance of having them stick out when walking to and from the bike.
The Velcro fasteners are reliable and well-placed for a snug fit.
The bottoms of the shoes are hard plastic, with very little grip, so though they are great on the bike, they are not a good choice if your commute includes much walking on either side of the ride. There are no additional visibility features on these shoes.
We love the look of these shoes. The matt black synthetic leather looks great with the texture of the breathable mesh, and these are set off by the white branding and the flash of red accents. The hint of colour in the stitching is a nice detail as well. The overall look is high-tech, solid, and classic at the same time.
Giro Rumble VR
The Rumble VR, by Giro, is a great shoe for the rider who spends a lot of time on and off the bike during a ride. If you are running errands, doing deliveries, or simply taking breaks to view the scenery, a good hybrid shoe is the right choice – and this one fits the bill. The comfort it achieves for walking comes at the cost of some stiffness while riding, but the lace-up design allows you to tighten it to compensate a little for the loss.
It is constructed of a rubber outer that really stands up to the elements, and the breathable synthetic upper and medium arch support make this quite a comfortable shoe. The soles have rubber grips that make walking on pavement safe and comfortable, and when not cycling, they look almost like a regular shoe.
These are heavier than other (road) cycling shoes, but they don’t feel unnaturally heavy or cumbersome.
The Pearl Izumi cycling shoe is classically-styled to make a statement, and technically designed to ensure an efficient, comfortable ride. The synthetic leather construction is durable and light, while the venting holes and mesh panels promote freer flow of air while riding. The sizes fit a bit small, so don’t try to buy a lower size thinking it will result in a better fit – even your regular size may be a bit too tight. The best strategy is to go one step larger than you normally would.
The cleats are recessed, and the heel is made of Eva foam and rubber for comfort, though the hard sole makes walking in very smooth or wet surfaces a bit treacherous. This is a shoe made for the bike, and few compromises were made for non-cycling comfort or function.
The diagonal Velcro closures are designed to eliminate pressure points, spreading the pressure of contact over the whole surface of the foot to avoid blisters or raw areas, and to allow the most efficiency of movement. It works very well.
There are no additional visibility features on this shoe.
There is something about the styling of this shoe that says ‘cycling.’ It doesn’t look like any other kind of shoe, and doesn’t evoke images of any other sport. It’s a classic look, the white and black contrast highlighting the design of the panels, and the crisp, clear logo on the strap is simple, yet sophisticated. The shoe’s overall look is not exactly understated, but it doesn’t try too hard either. It is simply an excellent balance between classic lines and technical construction. We love it.
Muddyfox Mens RBS100
The RBS100, by Muddyfox, features an upper made of several materials that serve to keep your foot secure and in control, to allow breathability and cooling, and to draw the eye. It also has a cushioned insole, and the added comfort of a padded ankle area, shaped for providing gentle support during the repeated motions of long-distance pedalling.
The shoe can be mounted with various cleats (not included), including Shimano, KEO and SPD styles. The cleats are recessed, and there can be some difficulty in aligning the shoe correctly. Due to the very hard sole, we found getting started without the cleats engaged is also difficult. We’re pretty sure it would become second-nature in time, but there will be a learning curve.
The shoe is fastened with two hook-and-loop fasteners, rather than the usual three, but the fit doesn’t seem to suffer. The width of the top strap and the cut of the upper and toe box work together quite well to create a snug, uniform fit throughout the shoe. No pressure points, and no ill-fitting gaps.
There is a flash of reflective tape at the back of the shoe, for increased visibility, and it is also available in a high-visibility yellow design.
This shoe is not one to blend into the pack. If you’re interested in making a statement with a unique style, the RBS100 will get the job done. With the shiny panel along the side of the toe, the bright orange teeth at front and rear, the retro-futurist line designs along the top of the upper, and the batwing-like plastic guard alongside the heel, this shoe should look disjointed and over-busy. But it doesn’t. It all comes together as a modern, intentional whole. A very nice effect.
Muddyfox Mens TRI100
A different type of offering, but also from Muddyfox, is the TRI100 cycling shoe.
It is constructed of synthetic leather and plastic for the upper, with very hard plastic soles. Like its cousin, above, it features extra padding around the ankle to prevent skin injury from repeated pedalling motions, and the sole is stiff for support, control, and to reduce fatigue. This model has more ventilation, and seems slightly lighter, though no exact weight is listed for either shoe.
The TRI100 is made to be compatible with standard, three-hole cleat configurations, but does not come with the cleats themselves.
Each shoe is fastened with a single hook-and-loop system that is secure and comfortable once on. The opening to this shoe is a little more restricted, so for riders with wider feet, it might not be a good choice.
Unusually, the Velcro strap secures toward the inside of the foot, so the end of it can sometimes protrude far enough inward to tap against the pedal crank when riding. It’s a minor inconvenience – at first – but after a few thousand clicks, can get quite annoying. If this shoe is on your short list, take it for a clean test run, and make sure this isn’t a problem for you on your bike… you’ll be thankful you did.
There are no additional visibility features on these shoes, and as the ones reviewed are black (they also come in white), they won’t be of much use in helping you to be seen at night.
The style is classic and understated – a far cry from its louder, attention-seeking cousin, the RBS100 – but the TRI100 has a nice general appearance. It doesn’t look comfortable to walk in, nor is it, but it looks aerodynamic and professional while riding. We don’t particularly like the inward-clasping strap, but the overall shape of the shoe is streamlined and pleasing.
and lastly…one for any MTB fans
If your dreams of cycling glory tend more toward the roughness of off road and mountain biking, consider this mountain and indoor cycling shoe by ZOL. Its leather and mesh body provide the best of durability and breath-ability and the no-stitch toe construction really does provide the comfortable fit as promised. They aren’t as light as a sleek road shoe, but considering the ruggedness of them, they’re not bad either.
It has two-bolt clip compatibility with SPD, Crank Brothers, and MTB pedals. The cleats are not particularly recessed, but the deep treads keep them out of the way in most walking situations, so other than feeling like you’re walking on a bit of a platform, they are reasonably comfortable for short trips away from the bike.
The fastening system is loop and Velcro, and holds well. The shoe opens wide, too, so for those with wider feet, you needn’t struggle to pop into them and will still have a snug fit for riding control and efficiency.
There are some silver-embroidered highlights on the shoe, but to say they aid in visibility would be overstating it. They aren’t reflective enough to call them a safety feature.
The chunky grips on the sole of this shoe stick out like shark teeth – rugged and aggressive beneath a softer, outdoorsy upper. The flash of white on the straps words well with the subtle grey-and-black interplay on the upper, and the Z logo just below the Achilles’ tendon is a nice touch. Overall a good-looking shoe for rugged riding.
Amazon Cycle Shoes BEST Sellers
- Two hook and loop tape straps
- Cushioned insole
- Shaped and padded ankle
- Breathable mesh panels
- MuddyFox branding
- Single hook and loop tape strap
- Pull tab
- Cushioned insole
- Shaped and padded ankle
- Breathable panels
- 9 UK
- Using the highest quality components available, the VC Elite Road Shoes have been developed to offer a traditional feel but with modern, cutting-edge performance for long days in the saddle.
- The shoes use the highest quality PU material, a soft but highly durable material specifically developed for our shoes. The upper material is super lightweight, supple but has a superb tensile strength, its gloss finish helps repel water and grime as well as being very easy to clean. Combined with Mesh panels and strategic perforated areas your feet will stay cool in hot conditions.
- To further help keep your feet cool we've incorporated vents into the outsole and created a 'Waffle' insole foot bed which as well as helping to cool your feet creates a cushioned footbed.
- Main ratchet closure with micro adjustment allow for a perfect fit whilst the 2 lower velcro straps help keep weight to a minimum.
- The composite polymer outsole incorporates both a 3 bolt and SPD cleat attachment which is great should you wish to do a little indoor 'spin' training. Weight: 300g per shoe.
- All Shimano shoes must be ordered a number greater than their usual number.
- 8 UK