From road and gravel racing to mountain biking and urban riding, our experts have tested the best cycling shoes for every style and budget.

For athletes whose feet don’t pound the ground like runners, kick balls like footballers or jump and land like basketball players, cyclists are surprisingly dependent on wearing the best cycling shoes. Although riders often neglect new shoes in favour of a stylish new jersey or a snazzy set of eyewear, they may be the most important kit investment a rider can make.

Cycling journalist Mark Bailey and MF bike expert Laurence McJannet tested an eclectic mix of shoes, from speedy road-racing and innovative gravel shoes to off-road winter boots and hybrid MTB and commuter kicks, so you can find your perfect fit and kick-start the new cycling season in style.

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These are the best cycling shoes

We were impressed with how well the svelte and stylish Le Col Pro Carbon Road Shoes performed in our tests. Their winning combination of lightweight, wraparound uppers and rigid carbon soles makes for supremely comfortable yet efficient road riding and racing shoes.

Other cycling shoe recommendations

Best for gravel ridingWith gravel riding becoming more and more popular, it makes sense to wear a dedicated gravel shoe. The Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoe is light enough to race and comfy enough for all-day adventures.
Best budget optionThese two shoes are ideal options for beginner riders or those on a budget: the Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoe for tarmac taming and the Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Shoe for off-road excursions.
Best for off-road ridingThe Fizik Terra Artica GTX Off-Road Shoes are not only the best clipless MTB choice on our list; with good insulation and waterproofing, they’re also the ideal shoe for winter or wet weather riding.

1. Le Col Pro Carbon Road Shoes

Product shot of Le Col road shoe

Men’s Fitness verdict

The fit and feel of Le Col’s elite-level Pro Carbon Road Shoes more than justify the price tag. Their striking looks will get you noticed too.
Pros
  • Stiff, power-packed carbon sole
  • Elegant aestetics
  • Comfortable fit
Cons
  • Shiny PU leather may scuff over time
  • Premium price

At $360 / £275, these range-topping leather and carbon road shoes from Le Col are certainly pricey. But in our eyes they’re worth every penny. They may look like a pair of tap shoes, but these lightweight race-ready pumps will have you dancing on the pedals. Soft leather uppers wrap comfortably around your feet and uni-directional carbon soles give you a stiff platform to maximise power transfer. Double Atop dials let you micro-adjust to find your perfect fit too.

Product shot of Endura MTB shoe

2. Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Shoe

Men’s Fitness verdict

This shoe gets the job done effortlessly. It’s rigid, sticks to the pedals like glue and shrugs off all but the worst that the UK weather can throw at it. I wouldn’t walk too far in them though.
Pros
  • Shoes stay planted on the pedals
  • Breathable and quick drying
  • Elasticated lace stash keeps laces away from drivetrain
Cons
  • Sole too rigid for long periods walking

If you’re a flat-pedal fan rather than a clipped-in XC whippet, you could do a lot worse than these Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Shoes. Their StickyFoot™ Grip soles really do give you a confidence-inspiring feeling of being locked on to your pedals.

They will shrug off water and dirt and keep your feet cool thanks to their perforated panels. And elasticated lace stashes ensure you won’t get your laces wrapped round your drive train. All in all, a great performing shoe at a bargain price.

Product shot of Shimano gravel shoe

3. Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoes

Men’s Fitness verdict

These lightweight RX8R Gravel Shoes from Japanese giant Shimano will appeal to those who like to ride fast over loose terrain.
Pros
  • Lightweight gravel race design
  • Ankle collar repels stones and grit
  • Stiff carbon sole
Cons
  • Expensive for casual riders
  • Weight-saving sole limits grip

The Shimano RX8R is another carbon-soled offering but this lightweight shoe is aimed at gravel racers. It takes two-bolt SPD cleats rather than three-bolt road ones but is every inch a race shoe, so grips are minimal. At $275 / £269, it’s not for the budget conscious, but you’ll be rewarded by a light, comfy shoe that maximises pedalling efficiency while a soft knitted ankle cuff makes sure gravel won’t find its way in. There’s a Boa dial and cable system combined with a velcro strap for security, and we’re big fans of that burnished gold look.

Read our full Shimano RX8R Gravel Shoes review

Product shot of white road cycling shoe

4. Mavic Cosmic Elite SL

Men’s Fitness verdict

If you’re looking to up your road cycling game, these Cosmic Elite SL carbon shoes should be on your list. Given how light they are and how well they perform, they have no business being this cheap.
Pros
  • Excellent value for a carbon road shoe
  • Low weight
  • Impressive power transfer
Cons
  • Too svelte for winter riding
  • White version scuffs easily

At £155 / $184, these carbon-soled disco slippers from French wheel expert Mavic are a real steal. With all the stiffness and low weight (255g / 9oz) of a shoe twice the price, they’re an excellent option for those starting out riding competitively or even just looking for more efficient power transfer. I liked their broad forefoot, which is pretty accommodating for a race shoe, as well as the comfy, even tension that the single BOA dial creates. If you weren’t a race whippet or hill-climbing fiend before you put these on, you will be after.

Product shot of DMT road shoe

5. DMT KR4 Road Shoes

Men’s Fitness verdict

Italian manufacturer DMT’s mid-range KR4 road shoes hit the sweet spot between performance and affordability.
Pros
  • Comfortable knit fabric
  • Feather-light road racing design
  • Unique head-turning design
Cons
  • Speedy racers might prefer a carbon sole
  • No sole markers for easy cleat adjustment

The $210 / £175 KR4 features a nylon composite sole rather than a carbon one but at 8oz / 227g it’s lighter than most top-end race shoes. That’s mostly down to its minimal one-piece sock-like design, which ensures a sumptuous fit and eliminates pinch points. A single Boa dial takes care of tightening duties and adds to the KR4’s streamlined look and feel. We think this would be a great choice for enthusiast road riders looking to up their game and look good doing it.

Read our full DMT KR4 Road Shoes review

6. Fizik Terra Arctica GTX Off-Road Shoes

Men’s Fitness verdict

Riding off-road in winter becomes a much more pleasant experience with the Fizik Terra Artica GTX shoes.
Pros
  • Warm and waterproof
  • Confidence-boosting grippy soles
  • Good versatility
Cons
  • High price may be an obstacle
  • Narrow toe fit might not suit wider feet

If you’ve discovered the unique joys of off-road winter riding, you should be looking at the $259 / £249 Fizik Terra Artica. The GTX in its name stands for GORE-TEX, so you know you’re getting a rugged shoe that’ll withstand the elements. A high cuff helps keep the cold out while a grippy outsole will give you plenty of purchase when things get unrideable. We think the Terra Artica is the perfect choice for MTB riders who don’t like the elements dictating when they ride.

Read our full Fizik Terra Artica TGX Off-Road Shoes review

Product shot of Oakley Drift shoe

7. Oakley Drift RC MTB Shoes

Men’s Fitness verdict

Oakley’s versatile Drift RC MTB shoes are made for flat pedals and combine durability, grip and good looks for use on and off the bike.
Pros
  • Durable fully welded seamless uppers
  • Mesh provides good breathability
  • Excellent SUP Traction Sole
Cons
  • Stiffness may hamper off-bike comfort
  • Some might find the lace fit too loose

The Oakley Drift is a strong choice for riders who dabble in trials riding, or who love tackling jumps at their local bike park. It’s equally suitable for mountain bikers who prefer the freedom of flat pedals, and who want a versatile shoe they can spend time in off the bike too. At $145 / £126 it’s a decent price, and has plenty of caché in the style department. We’re big fans of the SUP Traction outsole, which will keep you glued to your flats when you’re riding full-tilt round berms like you’re on rails.

Read our full Oakley Drift RC MTB Shoes review

Product shot of Specialized Torch 1.0 road shoe

8. Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes

Men’s Fitness verdict

Bag some elite-level features for an entry-level price with Specialized’s Torch 1.0 road shoes. The Boa dial is a particular highlight at this price point.
Pros
  • Outstanding value for a major brand
  • Boa dial and cable fit
  • Advanced ergonomic shape
Cons
  • Synthetic upper is quite stiff
  • Could do with more heel support

The Torch is the cheapest on our list at just $89 / £99, but don’t think that means a budget spec. The shoe gets all the benefits of Specialized’s Body Geometry fit found on its high-end options, which helps enhance biomechanical efficiency. You get a Boa dial and cable system too, with a lower velco strap for a snug fit. And we’re really impressed that this sub-$100 / £100 shoe tips the scales at a mere 10.2oz / 290g too.

Read our full Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes review

Benefits of the best cycling shoes

Your shoes are the key body-to-bike connectors. They help to maximise power transfer and speed as well as your bike handling ability. They provide vital grip, balance and control when riding. And whether you need good breathability over summer, or extra warmth over winter, your shoes are also essential for your overall comfort and enjoyment on long days in the saddle.

A quality pair should also offer benefits to match your own personal riding style and terrain. Road riders will benefit from light-weight shoes with stiff soles which enhance power output. Off-road riders will value durability in all conditions and good grip for when scrambling over rocks or gravel. And commuters will welcome everyday comfort and the simple ability to get their feet on and off the pedals with ease. There are no right or wrong shoes – but there are right and wrong shoes for you.

How we test the best cycling shoes

Our reviewers tested an eclectic mix of shoes, from speedy road-racing and gravel shoes to off-road winter boots, hybrid MTB and commuter kicks. We tested them on rides across the country, from the East Midlands to the West Country, as well as continental Europe. We also matched each pair to rides in relevant terrain, whether that be muddy 20-30km off-road adventures on the tracks and trails around Rutland Water and Wakerley Wood or speedy 80-100km road odysseys around Bath or Roubaix. We tested each pair for at least a couple of months and throughout the year to keep an eye on their likely durability. Now just find your perfect fit and kick-start the new cycling season in style.

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