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The Best Cycling Shoes For Cyclocross

Updated on September 25, 2016
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. A keen cyclist, runner, and obstacle racer, he ran his first ultra-marathon in 2016.

Run Sven Nys, Run!

Sometimes you need to run with the bike like Sven Nys (pictured) and your cx shoes need to provide grip, as well as comfort for running.
Sometimes you need to run with the bike like Sven Nys (pictured) and your cx shoes need to provide grip, as well as comfort for running. | Source

Choosing The Right Shoes For Cyclocross

It's amazing how important your shoes are for cyclocross. Riders fantasise over the latest full carbon frameset or set of disc brakes yet rarely get fantatical over their shoes.

Yet getting the best shoes for cyclocross racing can mean the difference between really nailing that dismount and run up. Whilst also being able to power your way through a sandtrap or muddy field.

The unique demands of cx racing places some specific demands in terms of your cycling shoe choice and this article showcases what you should be looking for in your footwear choice and a selection of reviews for every budget.

What To Look For In Your Next Pair Of Cyclocross Shoes

As yet there are no brands who have specifically bought out cycling shoes designed for cyclocross racing. It's a shame that no one has taken a more proactive approach to designing cx related footwear. As they sport further develops over time it may be a possibility.

Most cx riders currently choose to use mountain bike specific shoes for cyclocross racing- for now!

You Might Be Running Or Riding But Your Cyclocross Shoes Have To Deal With Both Situations

Shoes for cyclocross racing need to cope with both riding and potentially some running depending on course conditions
Shoes for cyclocross racing need to cope with both riding and potentially some running depending on course conditions | Source

Key Properties To Look For In Shoes For Cyclocross

When you're considering shoes for your racing needs you need to consider a number of factors.

  • Comfortable Fit

All cyclists are looking for a shoe which fits like a glove in an almost cinderella-esque style. Cyclocross shoes need to be comfortable for wearing during a hard hour of effort.

  • Solid Power Transfer Platform

The aim of every pedal stroke within cx racing is to transfer as much power as possible from your leg to forward motion on the bike. That requires a rigid platform to ensure as little of that power is lost. Many less inexpensive cycling shoes use a tough resin/ polycarbonate material to make the main platform of the shoe which offers varying levels of stiffness and functional power transfer. More expensive shoes tend to use a carbon fibre based sole which can offer exceptional rigidity for that vital transfer of pedalling energy

  • Grippy Aggressive Sole For Running

During a cyclocross race it's inevitable that at some point you will at least have to quickly dismount your bike- take a few paces over and obstacle- and then remount to get on your way again. That means your feet need to be solidly in contact with the ground. The slick soles often found on road specific cycling soles may not offer the required grip, especially if the going is soft and wet underfoot.

Those dismounts can often involve running up steep banks or through quagmires so you need your shoes to perform well.

  • Be Able To Withstand The Elements

The wintry nature of cyclocross racing places heavy demands on your cycling shoes. Rain, snow and mud can be acid and therefore poor quality fabrics can become easily worn or damaged. You need a shoe that will offer longevity.

  • Mounts For SPD/ Clipless Pedal Systems

The gross majority of racers use clipless pedal systems for cyclocross racing which allow a clip-in-clip-out cleat to affix to the base of the sole. This is a key property to look for in any serious cycling shoe.

Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness) In Action In Northwave Cycling Shoes

Liam Hallam in cyclocross action in a pair of Northwave Vertigo shoes which have now been replaced with a racier looking Sparta
Liam Hallam in cyclocross action in a pair of Northwave Vertigo shoes which have now been replaced with a racier looking Sparta | Source

Northwave Sparta Cycling Shoes For Riders On a $100 Budget

If you're looking for a performance cycling shoe for cyclocross racing around the $100 usd mark the Northwave Sparta shoe is a great option that is currently used in it's older 'Vertigo' guise for racing and training by Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness here on Hubpages) due to their value for money, comfortable fit and relatively lightweight design.

The carbon-enriched thermoplastic for a solid power platform which is relatively lightweight and is attached to aggressive rubber sections which provide all the grip you'll ever need for a steep run up a muddy bank. They also allow the fitting of toe studs which provide additional grip potential when running in muddy conditions.

Over-all a great value shoe which will last a long time. An excellent option for beginners to the sport. Fit is on the wide side so not recommended for those with narrow feet.

Northwave Sparta Specification

Upper- synthetic-and-mesh

Sole-Carbon reinforced

Uppers: Polyurethane with comfort Airmesh inserts and Airflow system for breathability
Closure- 3 velcro straps
Footbed- Northwave Performance Advanced footbed with Omega heel system for enhanced control and fit.

David Fletcher Of Orange Monkey In Yellow Mavic Fury Shoes

David Fletcher in a pair of fetching Mavic Fury's in yellow.
David Fletcher in a pair of fetching Mavic Fury's in yellow. | Source

Pro Level Performance Cyclocross Shoes- Mavic Fury

Yellow is cool in professional and amateur cycling right now. There's something distinctly chic about wearing whatever colours you choose, yet being able to rock a set of garrish yellow cycling shoes.

Mavic's range of cycling parts, accessories and clothing is awash with yellow and these Fury mountain bike shoes are their Pro-level performance shoe and are worn by a large number of elite athletes for both their looks and performance. Although if you're looking for performance at a more subtle level, they're also available in black.

Expect to see these shoes on the feet of some of the top mountain bike and cyclocross Pro riders on the planet. From Julien Absalon, to American CX legend Tim Johnson and top female 'cross rider's Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash.


Mavic Fury Specification

Upper- Synthetic, stretch resistant and easy cleaning uppers and an internal polycarbonate skeleton for comfort yet control.

Sole- Egonomic full carbon 'energy' sole for efficient, lightweight power transfer with contagrip outsole.

Closure- Ratchet upper with nylon lacing system for locked in foot grip

Footbed- Re-designed heel counter for protection and control with an ergonomic footbed which feels more like a pair of old slippers while attached through the TPU energy frame.

These are ultra-lightweight and expensive but the outlay is fully justified by the fantastic fit and performance.

Racing In Bont Vaypor Cycling Shoes

Ben Eedy of Team Empella racing in Bont Vaypor cycling shoes
Ben Eedy of Team Empella racing in Bont Vaypor cycling shoes | Source

Heat Molding Cyclocross Shoes For Extra Comfort From Bont

If you're looking for cyclo cross shoes which offer the ultimate in comfort and fit for your racing needs-Look no further than the Australian Bont brand. Bont make some cutting edge cycling shoes that offer ultra modern styling together with the high levels of performance demanded by cx racers.

The Bont Vaypor cycling shoe features a heat moldable chassis which utilizes an epoxy thermoset resin material for a customizable fit. Combined with an ultra lightweight carbon fibre sole for power transfer this means that the Vaypor could be the ultimate in performance and comfort shoes for cx racing.

Bont Vaypor Specification

Upper- Microfibre upper featuring a shiny, almost rubberised effect to help with mud shedding during racing. The upper is suede lined for softness and comfort.

Sole- Carbon Composite with replaceable grip sections. The sole pattern is designed to shed mud well. An ideal attribute for cx racing.

Closure- Replaceable ratchet buckle system with two additional velcro straps

Footbed- Heat moldable eva thermo innersole for foot grip and long distance comfort.

Weight- Very lightweight- around 400g per pair.

Are Cyclocross Specific Shoes The Future Of The Sport?

As yet there are no brands who have specifically bought out cycling shoes designed for cyclocross racing. It's a shame that no one has taken a more proactive approach to designing cx related footwear. As they sport further develops over time it may be a possibility.

The running demands of the sport mean that a mountain bike shoe does the job. However the last itself is nothing near as aggressive in it's curvature than a running shoe for those sections of the course where you just need to shoulder the bike and run.

It could be an interesting future development.

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