Best Cycling Shoes in 2020: What Pro Bikers Wear

Last updated: February 03, 2020
BEST OVERALL
Ergonomic, Powerful, Innovative Features
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BEST BUDGET
Affordable, Comfortable, Versatile
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BEST FOR WOMEN
Stylish, Breathable, Ergonomic
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BEST FOR MEN
Convenient, Powerful, Versatile Settings
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BEST FOR KIDS
Affordable, Comfortable, Light
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Your guide

A good pair of cycling shoes can have a huge impact on performance. You can immediately tell if a pair of shoes is a good fit for cycling or not – but specialized cycling shoes with cleats are in a league of their own.

Cycling shoes, among other essential bike accessories, are a great way to take your cycling performance to a higher level. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of shoe, don’t worry – we’ve done the research to help you along.

Top 5 Cycling Shoes

Cycling is a beloved hobby enjoyed by millions worldwide. From spin class to trail and mountain biking, everyone can find a way to take part in this healthy pastime.

cycling shoe front

If you’re getting serious about cycling, there are no two ways about it – you need a dedicated pair of cycling shoes. These aren’t anything like your regular gym sneakers – they feature cleats for clipping onto pedals and are designed from the ground-up for the best possible performance. Whether you own a mountain bike, or a touring bike, a good pair of cycling shoes really makes a difference.

We’ve selected five great shoes that fill different niches in cycling. All of them are durable, comfortable, and high-performance products – the only question is, which is the right one for you?

1. Best Overall - Tommaso Strada Elite

Specifications:

  • Weight →  2.55 lb
  • Bolt compatibility → 2 and 3-bolt
  • Closure method→ 3 velcro straps
  • Cleats included → No

Key Features:

  • Nylon mesh inserts
  • Carbon fiber cleat plate
  • Quick lacing system 
  • Molded EVA insole

Tommaso Strada Elite Review

A pair of well-fitting, comfortable shoes with cleats is the best and easiest way to take your cycling game up to a higher level. Outside of the actual bike you use to cycle, your shoes are the most important piece of equipment you have.

Tommaso’s Strada Elite are made from the highest quality materials and feature a lot of smart design choices, all of which converge to form a premium product that deserves your attention.

Materials and Design  

The Strada Elite is made from a combination of premium microfiber with ultra-durable nylon mesh inserts. The shoes are surprisingly light when compared to most cycling shoes.

The tongue of the Strada Elite, as well as a huge surface area on the sides and outer layer are perforated, making the shoes quite breathable and even lighter. The shoes also feature a unique airflow vent near the tip of the sole.

These shoes make use of the innovative reel knob quick lacing system. Simply turning the knob allows you to achieve a fit that is perfect for you each time. The lower part of the shoes is secured with a single, durable, simple to use velcro strap.

The shoes feature a 100% carbon fiber cleat plate, as well as a nylon composite sole. These are premium materials – they won’t show even the slightest sign of wear and tear for years.

Speaking of cleats, the Strada Elite is both 2-cleat and 3-cleat compatible, allowing you to use them with a wide variety of platforms. It’s a convenient feature – saving you the trouble of getting a new pair of shoes for different purposes.

As far as materials and design go, the Strada Elite deserves high marks overall.

Comfort and Performance 

The inner part of the shoes is made with a breathable molded EVA insole, which can be removed if you so wish. The liner of the shoes is moisture-wicking, comfortable and durable, but still manages to feel solid and firm.

As we’ve discussed, large portions of the Strada Elite are perforated and breathable. It provides a lot of ventilation, so sweat won’t pose an issue, even with high-intensity workouts.

This is a pair of comfortable shoes – the reel knob lacing system offers a tight, reliable fit on the upper portion of the shoes, while the velcro strap easily secures the toe box section.

A pair of non-skid walking strips at the heel provides additional grip, which is beneficial when cycling, but an even greater boon when off the bike.

The 100% carbon fiber cleat plate is rigid without being too heavy, allowing you to transfer a maximum amount of power into your pedal strokes. The nylon sole is flexible, strong, durable, and comfortable at the same time.

So, all in all, this is a well-designed, light, comfortable pair of shoes that makes use of the newest materials to provide maximum performance. What’s not to like?

Pros
  • Highest quality materials
  • Very breathable
  • Comfortable
  • Cutting edge performance
Cons
  • Slightly expensive
  • Lacing system takes a while to get used to

2. Best Budget - Tommaso Montagna 100

Specifications:

  • Weight →  2.55 lb
  • Bolt compatibility → 2-bolt
  • Closure method→ 3 velcro straps
  • Cleats included → No 

Key Features:

  • Removable climbing spikes
  • Fiberglass reinforced sole
  • Breathable tongue 
  • Durable synthetic leather 

Tommaso Montagna 100 Review

Even the most basic cycling shoes can make a lot of difference. But you’re not after basic cycling shoes – even if you might be on a tight budget, you still want real, tangible performance.

Tommaso’s Montagna 100 shoes recently went on a long holiday sale. Although they aren’t exactly  high-end, they are a great, affordable upgrade that will make your cycling experience even more enjoyable.

Breathable, High-Quality Materials 

Tommaso’s signature design is easily recognizable from the get-go. Simple, practical, and form-fitting, the Montagna 100 shoes aren’t flashy – but leave an impression.

The shoes are made from a number of premium materials. Strong, firm synthetic leather forms the upper end of the shoes. It’s highly durable and firm but isn’t restrictive. 

Together with the three low-profile hook and lock Velcro straps, comfort won’t be an issue. The straps are easy to adjust, making it simple to achieve a safe, ergonomic fit that is exactly to your liking.

The tongue of the shoes is made from a breathable, perforated material that will help reduce sweating. The toe box has been reinforced for added durability, and a pair of mountain bike style outsoles guarantees a blend of comfort and performance in all terrains and conditions.

On the inside of the Montagna 100, a breathable liner wicks away moisture, while the sides of the shoes are made with breathable mesh inserts for maximum ventilation. 

On the whole, this is an extremely comfortable pair of shoes. They will help keep you cool even in the warmest summer months, while the simple-yet-ingenious triple velcro strap system offers maximum comfort and safety without putting too much pressure on the foot.

Solid, Versatile Performance 

Let’s move on to the meat of the matter. Comfort is an important metric with cycling shoes – but comfort does not a pair of cycling shoes make. How well do the Montagna 100 perform?

To start off, these are SPD or 2-bolt compatible shoes. They do not support any other cleat system, so factor that into your purchase. Cleats are not included with these shoes. So, is that a dealbreaker or a drawback? Not by any measure.

For starters, the 2-bolt system of the Montagna 100 is compatible with a vast majority of brands’ cleats and pedals. And while 3-bolt systems may have certain benefits, the Montagna 100 can easily handle the needs of a spin class, daily commute, or light mountain biking. Even if you’re already using a 3-bolt system, cleats aren’t a major purchase.

The Montagna 100 also features a pair of removable climbing spikes near the toe section. They add a nice amount of versatility – if need be, they provide added traction, especially on trails and in muddy conditions.

The nylon sole is reinforced with fiberglass – it’s durable and comfortable, offering just the right amount of stiffness. This helps transfer power to the pedals – making for easier, more energy-efficient cycling.

A great entry-level product, all in all, the Montagna 100 offers comfort, performance, and great design at a modest price point. If you’re in the market for a replacement or looking for your first pair of cycling shoes – consider the search concluded.

Pros
  • Ergonomic
  • Affordable
  • Versatile
  • Breathable
Cons
  • Slightly heavy overall
  • Only compatible with 2-cleat systems

3. Best For Women - TIEM Slipstream

Specifications:

  • Weight →  1 lb. 5.2 oz
  • Bolt compatibility → 2-bolt
  • Closure method→ Single strap
  • Cleats included → No

Key Features:

  • Classic sneaker design
  • Rubber outsole
  • Recessed cleat channel 
  • Slip-on design

Tiem Slipstream Review

Cycling is the go-to method of keeping fit and healthy for millions worldwide. We’re all on the lookout for new, effective ways to make our workouts better – but in all that confusion, we often overlook the basics.

Getting a good pair of cycling shoes and clipping in can help you get more out of cycling – whether we’re talking about outdoor biking or spin class. The TIEM Slipstream shoes are a new, exciting product that will feel familiar – let’s go over the details that made it our pick for the best for women category.

Fantastic Design 

Shoes made for cycling, particularly those with cleats, oftentimes get a bad rap as far as comfort goes. When it’s all about cutting-edge performance, comfort is a secondary priority. But regular people don’t need the same features and benefits as professional athletes – and that’s where shoes like this one come in.

Right off the bat, the TIEM Slipstream shoes don’t even look like cycling shoes – in fact, they look like your ordinary, if slightly stylish and modern sneakers. 

They feature a really simple and user-friendly slip-on design – no laces to be found here. Instead, the shoes are secured with an elegant single-strap design. If that sounds too minimalistic, then don’t worry – the strap forks out into two separate segments, allowing it to cover a larger surface area.

The shoes are made from a specially engineered breathable mesh that works well in tandem with the comfortable textile material. The shoes offer just the right amount of comfort and breathability, while the strap system ensures a good fit that won’t be too restrictive.

When all is said and done, the Slipstream shoes pass these tests with flying colors. You’ll get all the benefits you can expect from a normal pair of workout shoes, along with the benefits of cycling shoes, with no drawbacks.

Ergonomic and Convenient

One of the features that we like the most with the Slipstream is the recessed cleat design – the cleats sit in a recessed part of the sole, allowing you to walk around as you normally would even when you’re not clipped in. This is a very convenient feature – if you’re so inclined, you can walk to the gym or even just use these as everyday shoes.

Attaching cleats to the shoes is quite simple, and shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Cleats are sold separately, but that’s more or less the standard and isn’t an issue, as cleats are very affordable.

Even though the cleats sit in the recessed channel, clipping in is no more difficult than with regular cycling shoes. The clips hold quite firmly, and unclipping won’t be an issue – at most, you might have to occasionally realign them, but nothing major.

The Slipstreams run a bit large, so heed the manufacturer’s warning and when in doubt, go half a size smaller than you usually would. This might seem like a question of comfort, but it isn’t – to ensure optimum performance, you need a tight grip. The single velcro strap can do its job perfectly, provided you pick the right size.

The solid grip, comfortable materials, and light weight of the shoes make for enjoyable and stable cycling. Well-padded, breathable and highly ergonomic, the Slipstreams are a fantastic pair of shoes specifically designed for women – and it shows.

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Stylish
  • Great fit
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Sole could be far more rigid

4. Best For Men - Gavin Elite

Specifications:

  • Weight →  2 lb
  • Bolt compatibility → 2 and 3-bolt
  • Closure method→ Micro-adjustable buckle, 2 velcro straps
  • Cleats included → No

Key Features:

  • Airflow vents
  • Nylon fiberglass sole
  • Breathable mesh sides 
  • Durable synthetic microfiber leather

Gavin Elite Review

Purchasing a pair of cycling shoes is almost like a rite of passage – once you do it, you’re in the big leagues. The performance edge that they provide can you put you in a league of your own – so it’s important to make that purchase count.

For the best for men category, we’ve picked the ergonomic, reasonably priced and versatile Gavin Elite shoes. Well-designed and offering top-notch performance, they are a great addition to any cyclist’s kit.

Durable and Breathable

The upper segments of the Gavin Elite are made from high-quality synthetic microfiber leather. This material provides a great balance of weight and durability. This is supplemented by a number of breathable mesh panels that are both comfortable and highly breathable.

The sole of the Gavin Elite is made from a strong, rigid nylon fiberglass sole. It’s quite a robust sole – one that guarantees both durability and top-notch performance. The soles also feature a

The shoes also feature unique airflow vents near the tip and middle section of the sole. It’s a rigid sole, but not so stiff as to impede comfort.

The low-cut design of the shoes is very form-fitting. They fit remarkably well – the toe box and midfoot sections are true to size, although some may find the instep a little roomy. However, this isn’t necessarily a negative – as the fit can easily be adjusted to your liking.

When all is said and done, the choice of materials and design philosophy behind the Gavin Elite pays off – the result is a long-lasting, light shoe that is comfortable to wear even for hours on end.

Versatile, Cutting-Edge Performance 

One of the most attractive features of the Gavin Elite is the shoes’ versatility. The shoes are compatible with both 2 and 3 bolt cleat systems – including Look Delta, Look Keo, SPD, SPD-R and SPD-SL cleats. 

Whichever system you might be using, chances are that the Gavin Elite can handle them. Cleats are not included in the purchase, but this has been the industry standard for a while now.

Once clipped in, the shoes provide a great foot-to-pedal connection and allow you to maximize the power and efficiency behind every single pedal stroke. The rigid nylon fiberglass sole works wonders – providing a perfect degree of stiffness and resistance. 

The sole also features a pair of slightly ridged rubber surfaces near the heel and tip, allowing for better traction overall, but particularly off the bike.

The Gavin Elite shoes are secured with a micro-adjustable buckle and two hook and loop velcro closure straps. The three-piece system allows you to customize your fit to a very large degree. In particular, the buckle allows you to incrementally tighten the fit until it’s just right.

The snug fit and rigid sole work incredibly well together – there’s no doubt that this is a high-performance pair of shoes. Durable, highly adaptable, light, breathable, comfortable and designed with performance in mind, the Gavin Elite is a serious pair of shoes. 

To further sweeten the deal, they’re available at quite a reasonable price point – if you’re in the market for cycling shoes, they might be just what you’re looking for.

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Breathable
  • Compatible with all major cleat systems
  • High-quality materials
Cons
  • Roomy instep
  • Sides could stand to be more rigid

5. Best For Kids - WETIKE Kids Shoes

Specifications:

  • Weight →  1.65 lb
  • Bolt compatibility → N/A
  • Closure method→ Laces
  • Cleats included → No

Key Features:

  • Foam sole
  • Breathable mesh
  • Pull-ring lacing 
  • Crease-resistant

Wetike Kids Shoes Review

To round off our review of the best cycling shoes, let’s take a look at a product that is aimed at a younger audience. Cycling is one of the best forms of physical activity for children – it’s healthy, low-impact, and fun.

You might be thinking that clip-in shoes with cleats are overkill when it comes to children. We agree – the edge that such shoes offer really isn’t called for when it comes to kids. 

There’s no need to make things complicated – for the best for kids category, we’ve chosen a simple, well-made multipurpose shoe that can be used for a variety of purposes – but shines when it comes to cycling.

High-Quality Materials, Good Comfort

WETIKE’s fashionable sneakers were made with the needs of active, growing children in mind. Naturally, comfort was one of the bigger priorities.

The high-top design of the shoes helps provide a lot of ankle support, meaning that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for stability and safety. The upper part of the shoes is made from a durable, breathable elastic mesh material, while the insides are well-padded and comfortable.

Speaking of the upper part of the shoes, one of the most interesting and unique features of the WETIKE sneakers is the slip-on design. The laces can be dealt with one of two ways – either the laces can be tied and adjusted manually, or pulled tighter with a simple pull-ring mechanism. It’s the best of both worlds – tie the laces to your liking at the beginning, and adjust when needed.

The foam sole and rubber outsole allow for a lot of traction and disperse pressure evenly. Even after wearing them for hours on end, kids won’t feel any numbness in the ankles.

All in all, this is a very comfortable very practical pair of shoes. We’re also very impressed with the number of different styles and sizes available – the differences aren’t exactly major, but still allow you to more easily find a product that meets your or your child’s needs.

Great All-Rounders 

As we’ve said, these shoes don’t feature cleats. There’s just no need for them – kids are much better served with a simple, comfortable, and versatile pair of shoes. The WETIKE kids’ shoes are great for everyday use, jogging, and sports in general – but also offer a lot in the way of cycling performance.

The shoes use lightweight and flexible foam soles which are almost completely crease-resistant. The tip of the shoes is also slightly reinforced to protect toes. The foam soles offer a lot of cushioning that will last for a long time, while vertical and horizontal flex grooves help with traction and flexibility.

The lightweight rubber outsoles are made from a non-slip material, which is great in particular for cycling – you won’t have to worry about your child’s foot slipping away from the pedals. At the same time, the breathable and skin-friendly materials do a fantastic job of wicking away moisture and dissipating heat.

Pros
  • Lots of styles available
  • Comfortable
  • Breathable
  • Great traction
Cons
  • Sizes run small
  • Average durability

Cycling Shoes: Frequently Asked Questions

Do Cycling Shoes Make a Difference?

Yes - and a very large difference at that. Simply put, there’s no way to achieve the level of stability, firmness, and efficiency that cycling shoes provide by using regular shoes. The materials, fit, and design of cycling shoes have very little in common with that of regular gym footwear.

Can I Use Cycling Shoes Without Cleats?

You shouldn’t do this, although you technically can. The cleats are more or less the main selling point of cycling shoes - all of the other features and design elements come to light only when you clip in. Walking around in cycling shoes is generally uncomfortable - and the tight fit and weight of these shoes make them pointless to use without cleats.

How Often Should I Replace My Cycling Shoes?

On average, a good pair of cycling shoes can last for years. However, when you start noticing that the fit has changed, or that it’s much more difficult or easy to clip and unclip, you should look into getting a new pair. If clipping is the issue, you might be able to resolve it simply by purchasing a new pair of cleats.

How Do I Install and Maintain the Cleats?

Installing cleats is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. Align the cleats with the ball of your foot, then tighten the screws until the cleats no longer slide or rotate in relation to the sole.

As for maintenance, check if the screws need to be tightened again once or twice per week. If needed, re-grease the screws as well. However, we recommend asking your local bike shop to install the cleats for you - most will happily take care of it free of charge.

Best Cycling Shoes in 2020: What Pro Bikers Wear — Bike Hacks