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Five Good Clip In Cycling Shoes: Tips, Advice & Reviews

Updated on November 23, 2015
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Which are the Best Clipless Cycling Shoes Around?

If you're getting serious about road cycling, you're probably considering investing in clipless pedals and bicycle cleats. They're a great way to improve your overall efficiency and power throughout the pedal stroke, especially when accelerating or climbing a hill. Finding the best clip in cycling shoes is always a bit tricky for a newer rider, there are a lot of brands and several pedal varieties to choose from.

Clip in cycling shoes are intended to work with a specific pedal system. Also known as 'clipless' and 'step-in', they are a step up from traditional clip and strap pedals, and they afford you a lot more flexibility. I also tend to feel they're a lot more safe. With the right set of clip in bicycle shoes and pedals, I'm confident your ride experience will greatly improve.

This article will look at five of my favorite clip in cycling shoes, giving a brief review of each set and offering my thoughts on how they function. Hopefully these reviews will help you find a set that works well for your needs. We'll also touch a bit on how clipless systems work, and go over a bit of the terminology so you have enough info to make an informed purchase. Let's get started!

Note: This article will focus on road cycling shoes. I may write an article on mountain clip in cycling shoes at a later date.

Understanding Float and Alignment:

Most clip in bicycle shoes produced today will include built in float, either in the pedal itself or in the cleat. This basically represents a bit of play that allow your feet to move slightly to the left and right as you pedal, preventing you from injuring yourself with a too rigidly aligned pedal-cleat setup.

Depending on the clip in bicycle shoes in question and the pedals, you can sometimes adjust the amount of float to your liking. You can also usually adjust how easily it is to clip out of the pedals. Some people prefer an easy detachment, others want a stronger hold, it's really personal preference.

With that said, float isn't always enough. When you first attach your cleats to your shoes, you'll need to make sure they are aligned properly. Most pedals and cleats will allow for some lateral adjustment to make sure the natural inclination of your feet is properly matched. Discomfort after a ride with clipless pedals is often caused by improper alignment, and when in doubt you should go in to your local bike shop to get it done right. If you want to try to do it yourself, check out the video below.

Pearl iZUMi Select: Clipless road cycling shoes you'll love

Pearl iZUMi is one of my favorite shoe brands for a few reasons, but I mostly like them because they produce a high quality, low compromise shoe for a really reasonable price. They're quite light at just over 500g for the pair, and they're solidly made with a combination of various synthetic components. The nylon composite power plate ensures that they will last a long time even under heavy use conditions, and they have excellent support. They're anatomically shaped and let you ride for a long time comfortably.

These shoes are available for both men and women, and they're compatible with Shimano's SPD and all LOOK pedal systems. They're a great set of clip in cycling shoes that you should really consider if you're just getting started.

Shimano Road: Affordable, clip-in bicycle shoes with upside

Sometimes it pays to go to the source! Since Shimano produces a ton of clipless cycle pedals, it makes a lot of sense to go with Shimano clipless bicycle shoes too. These particular ones are best suited towards road cycling and they're shockingly good for the low price. For that reason, they are a best seller. They breathe really well and are designed to conduct air as you ride to keep your feet cool and dry.

They're relatively relaxed in terms of riding style, and they're a great middle of the road shoe for anyone from a beginner cyclist to a regular rider. They're probably not ideal for a race setting, but they're an all-around great shoe for the average rider. They're compatible with Shimano SPD style clip in pedals, and they're best compatible with the pedals I've listed beside this text. They're an awesome set of inexpensive clip in shoes for cycling that's worth a look.

Revo XR3: An attractive option for road riders

Louis Garneau is a well known brand name in this business, and they have a ton of shoes that work really well, including mountain and triathlon varieties that I was tempted to show off. I decided to display the Revo XR3 because it's a comfortable and versatile product that's available for men and women.

This shoe is covered in ventilation, making it one of the cooler shoes to ride in. It features two velcro straps and a large ratchet strap, which is a great feature because you want clip in shoes for cycling to be as snug as comfortably possible.

These great shoes are also pretty comfortable, providing a solid platform to power up those hills while still feeling light and springy. They're compatible with a wide array of clipless pedal styles, including SPD, LOOK and Dura-Ace.

Northwave Fighter: Carbon reinforced footwear

Northwave isn't as well-known of a brand, and despite the modern sounding name they are actually Italian in origin.

I like this shoe because it has just the right blend of stiffness and comfort that you need in order to pedal effectively. The strap system is similar to other shoes reviewed here, with three light nylon velcro straps that let you easily increase or decrease the tension to fit your requirements, which lets you get the optimum snugness you need and really get a predictable fit each and every time you ride. No fancy bells or whistles, just good, effective clipless cycling shoes that fit right.

These are some of the best clipless cycling shoes because they're so strong, with a carbon fibre reinforced sole and a heel that cups your foot nicely without chafing. They are compatible with most of the major clip in cycling shoe systems such as LOOK and SPD. The Northwave Venus is the women's counterpart to this shoe, if you're a female.

Sidi Genius 5: High quality step-ins for a serious rider

For the last review, I wanted to include a product that's a little bit of a step up in terms of both price and quality. Sidi is a great brand with some awesome shoes to choose from. The Genius 5 is a shoe that they term 'pro', though I'd consider it ideal for the casual to serious rider and maybe not quite professional level.

They've managed to get a nice combination of suppleness and rigidity that mean you're able to comfortably pedal while still having a firm foundation when it comes time to grind it up a hill. The carbon reinforced composite sole is rigid yet sends a lot of energy back your way as you go.

There's a caliper buckle enclosure that lets you fine tune your snugness and keep things consistent. It's complimented with two velcro straps, all of which work to make sure your feet are never pinched.

The microfiber upper panels allow for airflow while still providing protection from the elements. With the tri-hole cleat mount you can use SPD, LOOK or Time style clip in pedals. Available for men or women.

Bicycle Shoes & Compatibility

One thing to pay mind to when you're buying clipless cycling shoes for the first time is compatibility. There are a lot of different brands with their own proprietary pedals and cleats, and if you already have a set of clipless pedals, you'll want to make sure that any shoes you're buying will be compatible with them.

Some common brands are Shimano's SPD type pedal, LOOK and Time. Each shoe you look at should mention which pedal types it is compatible with.

If you don't already have pedals, it's a lot easier. You can pick out the type of clipless cycling shoes you prefer and then choose your pedals based on the shoes.

Most clip in bicycle shoes will come without cleats. Cleats are basically attachments that you attach to the bottoms of your new shoes. Most of the time when you purchase a set of pedals, they will come with compatible cleats.

Finding the Right Clip-In Shoes for Your Cycling Style:

Ultimately, you'll only wear shoes that are comfortable and keep you healthy, so it's worth your while to do your research.

  • The clip in shoes for cycling I've reviewed here aren't really meant to be worn off of the bike. If you want to be able to walk in them, make sure to get recessed cleat shoes, which are generally a bit heavier but still work nicely. Many mountain style clip in bicycle shoes are walkable.
  • Remember to make sure your shoes are nice and snug. Unlike conventional styles, you don't want there to be any 'movement' as you pedal; it will cause irritating chafing and make your pedal stroke a lot less effective.
  • Even if you buy a pair of shoes online, bring them in to your local bike shop when you buy pedals and they'll probably help you set them up, including alignment. It's often worthwhile to get an expert opinion.

Cleat Alignment Example

Clip In Bike Shoes Poll:

What style of pedal do you prefer?

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Do you have a favorite set? What do you use?

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    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 3 years ago

      Very thorough article on cycle shoes. I'm an indoor cycling instructor so I know the importance of cycle shoes. Great article for indoor and outdoor cyclers!

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