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A Guide to Road Cycling Shoes

A Guide To Road Cycling Shoes

Road specific cycling shoes can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying your ride in comfort as well as making your pedalling more efficient.
They differ quite a lot from more off-road orientated shoes, so if you think this sounds more like your style of riding, then we have a mountain bike shoe guide for you to take a look at.
Road cycling shoes are designed and manufactured with maximum performance as the priority.
Weight and efficiency are key focus points, so they tend to be lightweight, aerodynamic and feature a stiff sole. The more you spend the lighter and stiffer these shoes get.

Is a stiffer sole better?

A common theme running through the road shoe arena is stiffness. Basically, referring to how flexible the sole is.
A stiffer sole has been said to allow more power to be transferred from you to the pedals, making your efforts more efficient.

Carbon Fibre Road Shoe Sole
Road shoes with carbon fibre soles are stiffer but more expensive than those with plastic composite soles.
Carbon fibre also makes for a lighter shoe.

Road Cycling Shoe materials

Another place on a road cycling shoe, where materials differ in construction are the uppers.
More expensive shoes are made from leather, with kangaroo leather being a popular choice. 
A benefit of leather is that over time it will shape, comfortably to the contours of your foot. 
Natural materials like leather though, are usually harder to clean than their synthetic, man-made alternatives.
This links to another point worth considering when looking at shoe materials and this is ventilation.

Road Cycling Shoe Ventilation
Shoes that feature synthetic materials such as nylon mesh are generally much more breathable than leather ones. Even the ones with breathing holes punched through.
Again it is worth noting that breathable mesh areas on a synthetic shoe could potentially be more difficult to keep clean than the full leather ones. So this time leather may win out. 
Depending on how much you enjoy cleaning your cycling gear, the decision between leather vs synthetic is a case of finding the right balance for you.

Laces, Velcro or Dial Closure?

Types of road cycling shoe closure
Let's look at the closure system of a road cycling shoe.
Some cycling shoes use regular laces like in the majority of sport shoes.
Others use a dial system that winds and tightens the laces in when you turn it and then locks and holds them in place until it's time to take them off.
Lastly there are some shoes that fasten with velcro straps and buckles.
All are tasked with doing the same job, keeping the shoes on your feet and which one you chose will be down to personal preference.
Hopefully this guide will give you some insight into the basic differences between road cycling shoes and help you to find the right shoe for you.

If you're thinking you need something a little more robust for the type of riding you do, check out our guide to mountain bike shoes.

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