15 Best Men’s and Women’s Cycling Shoes You Can Buy Right now

July 10, 2019

Cycling shoes come in different styles, with different features, and for different types of riding. There are dedicated cycling shoes for everyone from commuters to roadies, mountain bikers to BMXers, indoor spinners, even those among us who dare wear sandals that clip in.

For the sake of keeping this collection of our favorite cycling shoes focused, however, we’ve included only traditional road and mountain bike shoes for both men and women.

See at-a-glance reviews below of our top-rated men’s and women’s shoes, or scroll deeper for more helpful buying info and full reviews of these and other high-ranking options.

The Best Cycling shoes for Men/Unisex

1. Louis Garneau Men's Course Air Lite 2 Road Bike Cycling Shoes

Best for: Roadies who want top-end features at a slightly lower cost
Type: Men’s road

The Course Air Lite II shoes offer weight, features, and performance comparable with the highest-end road shoes, but cost a bit less. They’re not exactly a value, but they’re at least a better deal.

The shoe is pretty standard fare for high-end road shoes these days: two Boa dials, thin and stiff carbon sole, insoles with adjustable arch support, and a slotted cleat mount for more fore/aft positioning range though we do wish the heel retention was a bit better.

Louis Garneau Men's Course Air Lite 2 Road Bike Cycling Shoes

The LG’s standout feature is a window on the outside of the shoe that’s covered with a flexible material, which allows the shoe to accommodate B to D+ feet. Take note: These shoes fit slightly large.

2. Five Ten Freerider Pro Bike Shoes

Best for: Riding flat pedals hard—then wearing them to the after-party

Type: Men’s mountain

Ever noticed all those people riding flat pedals—the ones in bike parks, downhill races, even on your local trails? These shoes (and earlier versions of them) helped make that happen.

Though 5.10 didn’t invent bike shoes for riding with flat pedals, with this shoe it pretty much perfected the category. The Freerider Pro is light and comfortable, has the right amount of stiffness (good for riding, okay for walking), and sticks to your pedals as if the sole were made of glue.

Five Ten Men's Freerider Pro Bike Shoes

The latest version is well ventilated, dries quickly, and has extra protection on the toe as well as some modest protection around the heel. Bonus: It looks almost like a street shoe, so your significant other won’t cringe when you wear yours to dinner. And at $150, they’re pretty reasonably priced.

3. Specialized S-Works Recon

Best for: Racing off-road
Style: Men’s mountain
The magic of the Recon is largely in the materials. At the bottom, where your foot meets the pedal, Specialized uses its stiffest, lightest FACT carbon footplate. The insanely light and strong upper is made of Dyneema Mesh, a super strong material that’s light enough to float on water.

Specialized S-Works Recon Shoes

The shoes have a nice roomy toe box and incorporate Specialized’s Body Geometry design, which the company claims reduces injury risk, improves efficiency, and, of course, boosts power. At $425, the Recons are not cheap. At all. However, they’re extremely durable, and should last last several seasons of seriously hard wear.

4. Fizik Infinito R1 Cycling Shoe

Best for: Keeping your feet cool during hot road rides
Type: Men’s road

I want to call out my favorite thing about this shoe: The sole vents actually work. It’s one thing to claim to have sole vents—which a lot of shoes do—and another for those vents to work, which the R1’s do.

I could feel air flowing in under my feet. As a profuse sweater, I was immediately smitten (though these vents might be a problem on cold and wet days).

Fizik Fi'zi:k R1 Infinito Cycling Shoe

As far as the rest of the shoe is concerned, it’s pretty standard high-end shoe fare: light and really stiff. The Boa closures were more comfortable than most, and the forefoot volume adjust system lets this shoe fit a wide range of foot shapes.

5. Gavin Elite Road Cycling Shoe

Best for: New riders looking to go clipless and casual riders on a budget
Type: Men’s road

The Gavin Elite Road Cycling Shoe proves that you don’t need to spend a lot to get a good pair of cycling shoes. The sole is an ideal level of stiffness for casual riding. It has very little flex, so you get good power transfer, but it’s not so stiff that it causes discomfort even after multiple hours of riding. 

Our tester found it difficult to distinguish the soles from those on shoes that cost twice as much. The fit is true to size through the toe box and mid foot, although the instep is a little roomy; we found that the strap needed to be pulled all the way into the buckle to get a close fit.

Gavin Elite Road Cycling Shoe

That means you get a fit that isn’t too tight, and anyone familiarizing themselves with road shoes may appreciate the extra room. It’s an affordable and well-performing road shoe that would suit those new to the sport or casual road riders.

6. Specialized Torch 2.0

Best for: Riders who prefer comfort but still want performance
Type: Men’s road

Comfort was the first word that came to mind when one of our testers slipped into the Torch 2.0 for the first time. Padding around the heel is soft and holds the foot in position while riding, plus there’s plenty of room for your toes. The sole feels stiff but still has some flex, and the rubber heel doesn’t slip when your walking.

specialized torch 2.0 Road Shoes

The Boa dial creates a snug and supple feel around the foot. The mesh construction used for the upper is comfortable and cool, even on some hotter days. The wire closure wraps around hooks and can come off when you loosen the fit, so make sure to lace them correctly before you put them on again.

7. Sidi Wire 2 Carbon Cycling Shoes

Best for: Racers who spare no expense to win
Type: Men’s road

It’s tough to enumerate all of the great features of this shoe in a condensed format, but the Wire 2 Carbon, which was Sidi’s top road shoe until the Shot was released, gets some upgrades over previous versions. The instep strap is narrower and padded to avoid pinching your foot when cinched down.

The lower buckle was moved from the side of the shoe to the tongue so it pulls more evenly on the wire closure. The Techno 3 dials remain the same, with the option to adjust or release tension quickly by spinning the dials or micro adjust tension by pushing the side buttons one at a time.

Wire 2 Carbon Road Cycling Shoes

The instep also received an update, with a little more support and padding over the previous version. The unbelievably stiff carbon sole, with venting, replaceable heel guards, and Heel Security System remain the same.

8. Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa

Best for: Shredders who prefer the fit of Boa
Style: Men’s mountain

This is the second iteration of the original Kestrel that used a Boa dial, and the new shoe uses a hook-and-loop closure in the forefoot. It also features a stiff sole and a Stealth C4 rubber outsole that has the perfect balance of grip, stiffness, and comfort. The Kestrel Pro Boa shares its grippy Stealth sole and basic shape with the Kestrel Lace.

The Boa version has a seamless welded-on toe reinforcement while the Lace model looks more traditional and uses a leather overlay to fortify the forefoot.

Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Mens Mountain Bike Shoe

The shoes also feature a durable synthetic upper material that sheds moisture and stands up to abrasions. An added bonus for the Boa model is that it features a grippy heel cup to prevent heel lift when pedaling.

Best Cycling shoes Women’s

9. Bontrager Tario

Best for: Protecting your feet on the trail
Type: Women’s mountain

A fish-scale-like material over the front half of the upper, called GnarGuard, helps protect your feet on rowdier rides. It also gives you the sense that you’re wearing a light layer of armor over your feet while remaining comfortable and supple.

Bontrager Tario Women's Mountain Shoe

A higher cut protects your ankles, the sacrifice being a little less breathability. The Boa dial is secure, the toe box is pleasantly roomy, and the shoe hugs the foot well. It’s also attractive, with a relatively sleek profile for an enduro shoe.

10. Giro Empire ACC Women’s Cycling Shoe

Best for: Racers with style
Type: Women’s road

I’m a huge believer in #SockDoping, and these Empire ACCs allow you to take that game to the next level. The Evofiber upper provides a lightweight, comfortable fit with an EC90 ACC carbon outsole that proved to be plenty stiff when sprinting for points in a local training crit. They’ll keep your toes cool this summer with the added perforations for ventilation. 

Plus, the women-specific contoured fit hugs your heels without being too tight. With iridescent logos and bright color options available, part of the fun is finding the perfect pair of socks to complement them.

Giro Empire Acc Cycling Shoe - Women's Black

You’ll spend a few extra minutes lacing them up before your ride, but it’s worth it to get that custom fit. Just make sure to use the lace-securing tab before riding off.

11. Liv Macha Pro

Best for: Anyone with a narrower midfoot and smaller heel
Women’s road

Fresh, white road shoes are undeniably awesome. The Macha Pros are that and everything else you want in a performance road shoe: breathable, comfortable, and lightweight. They were built from a women-specific mold with a narrower midfoot and smaller heel, and are best suited to a rider who prefers a narrow fit.

Liv Macha Pro

The double Boa system cinches tight and the grippy material in the heel cup stops your foot from slipping. The carbon soles are extremely stiff. That, paired with the adjustable upper, gives a stable pedaling platform while still feeling relatively comfortable and flexible. The plastic heel and toe pieces help keep you from slipping on the coffee shop floor and protect the carbon bottom from wear.

12. Giro Sica Techlace Cycling Shoe - Women's 

Best for: Quick and easy adjustment
Type: Women’s mountain

The Giro Sica Techlace is a sharp-looking shoe with a high-tech closure system. It employs one Boa dial, which tightens the upper in 1mm increments, as well as two Velcro-like tabs that cinch up the laces on the lower half of the upper.

The carbon soles help maximize your power transfer, but aren’t so stiff that they’re uncomfortable after a few hours on the pedals. The soles are coated with Vibram tread for excellent off-the-bike grip and durability.

Giro SICA Techlace Cycling Shoe - Women's

The upper is generously perforated for ventilation, so your feet stay comfortable even when it’s hot out. The holes also help your socks dry faster if you happen to get them wet crossing a stream.

Rubber reinforcements on the heel and toe box help protect your toes from rocks on the trail. They’re available in half-sizes, and in black and red.

13. Bontrager Sonic

Best for: Riders who like to be able to wiggle their toes
Type: Women’s road

Snugging down the hook-and-loop strap across the top and twisting the Boa L6 dial on the Sonic women’s road shoe tiny turns at a time until ideal snugness is achieved around the midfoot is not unlike the oddly satisfying feeling of having your blood pressure taken (there’s just something about that cuff slowly conforming to your arm).

Up front, the inForm Race last leaves plenty of room for toes to wiggle without feeling squeezed, and the PowerTruss sole is said to be about halfway between stiff and comfortable.

Bontrager Sonic Women's Road Shoe

The Sonic is two- and three-bolt cleat compatible. As for your blood pressure, a ride in these perforated, purple beauties will no doubt keep your numbers in check.

14. Mavic Women’s Echappee Shoe

Best for: Entry-level riders who like the look of laces
Type: Women’s road

Most lace-up cycling shoes are blingy, premium-priced models. But Mavic’s bringing laces to the people. “Most entry-level shoes come with Velcro straps,” says product manager Aaron Walker. “We wanted to offer something that actually looks cool.”

The fiberglass and nylon outsole on the Echappée women’s shoe (and its men’s counterpart, the Aksium) is the least stiff that Mavic makes, but we found it rigid enough for everyday riding. It shares the same low profile a 7mm thickness as the company’s high-end carbon outsoles, keeping your foot closer to the pedal spindle (Mavic says this transfers power more efficiently).

Mavic Women’s Echappee Shoe

Combined with the supple synthetic leather upper and even pressure from the laces, this is an exceptionally comfortable shoe. The laces hold tension well and, once tied, stay flat thanks to an elastic keeper.

15. Pearl Izumi Women's X-Road Fuel-v5 Cycling Shoes

Best for: A casual look but with cycling features
Type: Women’s mountain

This may look like a casual sneaker, but it has cycling-specific features that make it great for about-town riding. The sole flexes to make walking easier, but X-Road nylon plates makes sure you get a decent level of power transfer when pedaling.

Pearl iZUMi Women's W X-Road Fuel v5 Cycling Shoe Port/Midnight Navy 36.0 M

The two-hole recessed cleat system makes it easy to walk in them, and the built-in lace-retention design ensures your laces don’t get stuck in the spokes when riding. They provide good support, are comfortable, and don’t look out of place off the bike. 

Cyling Road Shoes

Road-shoe soles are typically stiff (for maximizing pedaling efficiency) and smooth (no tread equals lighter weight). Many road shoes—mostly higher-end models—utilize a triangular, three-bolt cleat-mounting pattern that is compatible with the most common road-pedal systems—Look, imitation Look, and Shimano.

Some road shoes offer a four-bolt sole compatible with Speedplay pedals. Low- to midrange road shoes often have a two-bolt pattern, in addition to a three-bolt pattern, to also accommodate mountain bike-style cleats.

This allows the rider to use dual-sided pedals (easier to step into) as well as pedals that have a platform on one side (for shorter rides in regular shoes) and a clipless mechanism on the other.

Uppers are light and made from soft and supple leather or synthetic materials that provide a comfortable and snug fit. They can have nylon mesh to keep your feet cool. A stiff, reinforced heel cup will stop your foot from slipping out while pedaling. Knit uppers are also starting to become popular for their comfortable fit and ventilation (check out the Giro Empire V70 Knit below).

Mountain Bike Shoes

Mountain shoes come in two styles: clipless and flat. Compared with road shoes, clipless mountain shoes have grippy lugs and are built exclusively to accept two-bolt cleats. While top-end mountain shoes can have carbon soles and be every bit as stiff as a road-racing shoe, many clipless mountain bike shoes have a bit of toe flex to make hiking easier.

Mountain shoes usually use heavier-duty upper materials to withstand more rugged conditions—dirt, mud, rocks, roots—and often have armoring on toes and heels to reduce the pain of rock strikes and to add durability.

Flat shoes don’t have clipless cleat mounts, and like skate shoes have a sticky rubber sole. You ride them with platform pedals, and the absence of cleats means you can get on and off easier—good for stop-and-go commuting or bailing on downhill runs.

And since you’re not locked in, the feeling is freer and more surf-like. You’ll pedal differently with flat pedals because you can’t pull up on them. Brands like Five Ten and Vibram make extra-grippy soles that better stick to pedals.

Stiffness Is Important, but It’s Not Everything

A very stiff sole will make power transfer feel more efficient, but the lack of give can cause hot spots and discomfort. Nylon is used in lower-cost shoes and has more flex, which may feel less efficient, but may be more comfortable, especially on bumpier terrain.

Midrange shoes include some carbon-composite-enhanced materials, and the stiffest, high-end soles will be entirely carbon. Because carbon is so stiff, less can be used and the shoe will also be lighter. Most companies will agree that stiffness is important but only when the fit is correct.

Choose the Right Closure

Laces: After being spotted in the professional road-racing peloton, the trend for lace-up uppers on the highest-end road shoes has grown. The retro look has its fans, plus laces are light. Laces are also found on entry-level shoes and almost all flat-pedal shoes.

Laces provide a simple, effective, and easy-to-repair/replace closure. Another benefit to a laced shoe is that it tends to be very accommodating to unique foot shapes. The only downside: Laces are difficult to fine-tune midride.

Hook and Loop: This Velcro-type closure system is found on shoes at all prices. It’s light, easy to adjust, easy to fine-tune midride, and can be placed at multiple points to provide zonal snugness. Downside: Over time, hook and loop can lose its grip and get clogged with mud.

Dial: Boa is the king of dial closures, and you’ll find this system on mid- to high-end shoes from many companies. There are other dial-closure systems besides Boa: Atop and Northwave’s SLW2 system.

Dial closures usually offer the most closing force, and are micro-adjustable, weather- and mud-resistant, secure when locked in place, and easy to adjust on the fly. They can get jammed, or damaged, rendering them unusable (though they are often repairable or replaceable).