9 Best Women’s Cycling Shoes for Road and Mountain Bike

July 8, 2019

Finding shoes that fit your feet, and your needs, will make every ride better. While there are lots of unisex options out there, these are the best women’s road and mountain bike shoes we’ve tried. See quick reviews of five top options below, or scroll deeper for helpful shopping advice and longer reviews of these shoes and more great options.

Mountain Bike Shoes

1. Bontrager Tario

Best for: Protecting your feet on the trail

Bontrager Tario Women's Mountain Shoe

The Tario has a comfortable and supple upper that is covered by a material that resembles fish scales. It’s called GnarGuard and is there to protect your feet by acting as a layer of light armor.

A higher cut in the back of the shoe protects your ankles but reduces breathability slightly, making them feel warmer than some trail and XC models. The overall fit feels snug and hugs the shape of the foot well.

A Boa dial keeps your foot in position without feeling tight and leaves plenty of room for your toes. The sleek look stands out amongst other enduro shoes and makes it more attractive. It’s a great shoe for rowdy enduro rides.

2. Five Ten Women's Freerider Pro Bike Shoes

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

FiveTen redesigned its legendary Freerider Pro to keep the same level of grip and durability while being less bulky. It keeps the freakishly grippy Stealth S1 rubber sole that made it famous and gets a new synthetic upper, which is weather resistant and quicker to dry than older models. The toe box now offers more protection via a four-layer, impact-resistant foam.

Five Ten Women's Freerider Pro Bike Shoes

Gravel and Commuter Shoes

3. Pearl Izumi X-Road Fuel-v5

Best for: casual riders who like a sneaker style fit

This may look like a casual sneaker, but it has cycling features that make it great for about-town riding and light-duty mountain biking. The sole will flex 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 Select Road v5 Cycling Shoe

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.

Road Cycling Shoes

4. Pearl Izumi Women's Sugar Road Shoe

Best for: Finding the ideal fit

The soft upper of these wraps seamlessly around your foot without any hard buckles or lumps pressing in to potentially create hot spots. The laces allow you to customize the fit in a way that’s more precise than a Boa or ratchet strap. (There’s an elastic loop on the tongue where you can thread the laces through to keep them out of the way.)

The nylon composite sole has a carbon plate at the forefoot that the company says adds stiffness. And the stiffness of the sole is great, especially for a shoe at this price.

Pearl iZUMi W Sugar Road

Plus, these shoes look great—they’re sleek and stylish enough that you’d think they cost way more, and they come with an extra set of contrasting laces (they’re kind of a hot pink/red color) to help you match whatever you’re wearing.

5. Giro Empire ACC Women’s

Best for: Racers with style
Type: Road

These Empire ACCs allow you to take your #sockdoping game to the next level. The Evofiber upper provides a lightweight, comfortable fit and Easton’s EC90 carbon outsole is plenty stiff when sprinting for points in a local training crit.

Ventilating perforations will keep your toes cool this summer and the women’s contoured fit hugs your heels without being too tight. Part of the fun of wearing these shoes is finding the perfect pair of socks to complement them (especially if you go with one of the bright iridescent options.

Giro Empire Acc Cycling Shoe - Women's

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.

6. Liv Macha Pro

Best for: Anyone with a narrower midfoot and smaller heel

Macha Pro

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 are built from a women’s mold with a narrower midfoot and smaller heel, and are best suited to a rider who prefers a narrow fit. 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.

7. Giro Factress Techlace

Best for: narrower feet

The Techlace hybrid system has woven laces that are secured and tensioned with Velcro straps and complemented with a Boa system. It features an ultralight, microfiber upper designed to be highly breathable and durable; a stiff and light Easton EC90 SLX carbon-fiber outsole; insoles with adjustable arch support and an anti-microbial topsheet.

Giro Factress Techlace White Black Ladies Road Bike Shoes

The Factress is slightly lower volume and narrower in the heel than the men’s version. Pedaling efficiency felt excellent, as the shoe doesn’t flex under hard efforts but isn’t overly stiff as to cause discomfort. The Techlace combined with Boa makes this a very easy shoe to get in and out of.

8. Mavic Echappée

Best for: road riders on a budget

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 (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 Elite Shoe After Dark/White

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.

9. Fi'zi:k R4B Donna

Best for: riding hard and looking good

Type: Road Bike

Underneath their striking looks is serious performance. The carbon-injected sole is stiff enough that I’m convinced all watts fire directly into the pedals, yet not so rigid as to be uncomfortable. Air circulates noticeably through the laser-cut uppers, front and rear vents in the sole, and perforated insoles. 

Fizik Women's R4 Donna BOA Road Cycling Shoes

The Boa dial closure cinches tight and makes adjustments easy even when I’m churning along in a pack, and the supple microfiber upper feels like a second sock. The tongue, clad in glossy teal, is sewn in place so it doesn’t shift around and chafe.

How to Find the Right Shoe

While all shoes across both genders share similar features construction, materials, cleat patterns, closure systems, soles it’s what you don’t see that makes many women’s shoes unique.

They’re built around a woman’s last, which results in a shoe with a more tapered fit that’s narrower around the ball of the foot and in the heel. Sizes typically run smaller, too.

How Stiff of a Shoe Do You Need?

A higher-end shoe often has a stiff, carbon sole for maximum power transfer to the pedals, but they can often cause discomfort due to hot spots if they don’t fit perfectly.

Lower-cost shoes often use nylon to give the sole more flex, but at the expense of pedaling efficiency. Midrange shoes typically use carbon-composite materials for a sole that falls somewhere between stiff and comfortable.