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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

15 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
213 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best women’s road cycling shoes

Last Updated October 2019

If you ride your bike often, it’s worth considering a pair of road cycling shoes. Instead of traditional sneakers, which could cause your foot to slide off mid-ride, cycling shoes attach to clipless pedals for a secure fit the whole ride.

Women’s road cycling shoes are recognizable by their sleek, aerodynamic profiles. They feature a rigid sole designed to accommodate cleats that lock into clipless pedals. By becoming a part of a clipless pedal shoe system, they allow for greater power transfer as you cycle. With a more efficient ride, you’re able to enjoy a longer excursion by focusing your efforts on performance instead of fussing with your pedals.

Cycling shoes are also designed to provide all-day comfort. They use a complex combination of materials to achieve enhanced ventilation and rigidity for support. Velcro systems provide convenient, easy fastening. Road cycling shoes also employ padding and cushioning throughout the interior for a snug, customized fit.

Let your next ride include a pair of road cycling shoes. Here’s our rundown of all the features to consider when comparing styles.

Store your road cycling shoes in a dust-free shoe box to keep them clean until riding season returns.

Key considerations

Closure style

The method of closure for women’s road cycling shoes come in a few styles, and for the most part, they’re designed to make fastening and unfastening quick and easy.

Velcro systems: Velcro systems are the most popular, as they’re the fastest closure option. Shoes have between one and four Velcro tabs, which are located across the instep and sometimes around the ankle area. Single Velcro tabs are wide, whereas multiple tabs are present in different shapes and sizes.

Buckles: Some road cycling shoes utilize buckles, which most often add a layer of security to an existing Velcro system. Buckles are typically located toward the top of the Velcro system near the ankle area. It requires a bit more engineering sophistication, so shoes with buckles tend to cost more.

Bungee cords: Bungee cords are also present on cycling shoes. Like buckles, they’re usually on shoes in addition to the Velcro system. Some iterations are crisscrossed on the instep area, whereas others are placed at the lateral sides to provide arch support.

Laces: There are some road cycling shoes with traditional laces, but they’ve been phased out for the most part. They’re more tedious to get on, and they pose a safety hazard if the laces catch in the spokes or gears.

Sizing

To find your size, you’ll first need to know your U.S. women’s shoe size. Once you have that, you can refer to the conversion chart for the cycling shoes, which are are manufactured to EU sizing standards. As a result, if you’re a size 8 in U.S. women’s shoes, your EU shoe size is 39.

One thing to keep in mind is that U.S. sizing and EU sizing aren’t an identical match to one another. In fact, certain charts will show you exactly where they overlap, and you’ll find that half sizes are the hardest for which to find the right fit. As a result, it’s a good idea to try on sizes above and below what you think yours is to find the best-fitting shoe.

Compatibility considerations

Clipless pedals

Because road cycling shoes attach to pedals, you’ll need to upgrade to clipless pedals. They look like a flatter version of a traditional bike pedal, but they have clip-in mechanisms to accommodate compatible cleat systems. These could cost as much as a new pair of cycling shoes, so add that cost to the overall investment of switching to road cycling shoes.

Cleat systems

The soles of women’s road cycling shoes are designed to accommodate cleat systems, which are also purchased separately. Shoes can utilize two- or three-cleat systems, so make sure you cross-reference your shoe’s compatibility with them. You’ll also need to make sure the cleats are compatible with the clipless pedals.

EXPERT TIP

Clean the Velcro regularly to ensure a smooth, secure fit every time you wear your road cycling shoes. Dislodge debris with a clean toothbrush to scrape anyway anything stuck in the loops.


Staff  | BestReviews

Materials

Women’s road cycling shoes are made from a combination of materials. Here’s how each one benefits the overall design.

Mesh: Mesh panels are seen throughout road cycling shoes for ventilation. They increase airflow throughout the shoe, which keeps sweat and odor at bay. These are often the only soft, flexible parts of cycling shoes.

Fiberglass: Fiberglass is used to create a rigid outsole. In addition to being durable, fiberglass is a lightweight material that won’t encumber pedaling.

Nylon: Nylon is also used to create the rigid outsole. It comes in the form of a dense layer or fibers to add more durability and rigidity.

Foam: Foam is used on the inside of shoes to provide cushioning for shock absorption. It’s usually contoured to wrap your foot in the areas that need the most support. As it provides a customized fit, your foot won’t shift inside the shoes, which means fewer blisters.

EXPERT TIP

Not all ankle braces fit well with road cycling shoes, so you may need a more compact, streamlined one for riding.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Cycling backpack: Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack
If you’re a commuter or day tripper, you need a cycling backpack to carry supplies. We like this backpack from Osprey, which has a comfort-engineered die-cut foam pack panel as well as a  pocket to hold a hydration reservoir. It’s available in ten colors to suit your personal style.

Shoe storage box: Zoddle Foldable Shoe Storage Boxes, 6-Pack
Store your road cycling shoes in a dust-free box during the off-season. We like this set from Zoddle. The compartments are easy to assemble and can be stacked a number of ways to house other shoes or accessories. Access is simple with a pull-hole drawer, which is also transparent.

Women’s road cycling shoe prices

Women’s road cycling shoes cost between $70 and $250, and you definitely get what you pay for with these.

  • At the low end of the scale up to $100, you’ll get decent shoes that do the job, but they may not last as long as others with heavy outdoor use. On the other hand, they’re durable enough to handle plenty of indoor cycling.
  • Mid-range cycling shoes cost between $100 and $150, which is where you’ll see better construction and materials. These also have unique design features to improve fit, such as bungee cords and cushioned sock liners.
  • If you’re willing to spend top dollar closer to $250, you’ll get a competition-grade pair. These can handle as much as outdoor use as you’ll put them through, so you won’t need to retire them as quickly as less-expensive pairs.
EXPERT TIP

Look for socks that are breathable, have modest cushioning, and won’t slip down your calves or move inside the shoes as you ride.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Smooth over Velcro tabs. Ensure each Velcro tab is secure before beginning your ride. A cautionary check could prevent injury or accidents that occur if feet slip out of cycling shoes.
  • Don’t ride until you’re comfortable. While you’re excited to hit the road for a ride, don’t begin your excursion until you’re completely sure you’re comfortable in your cycling shoes. Discomfort becomes a distraction, which is especially dangerous for commuters on busy roads.
  • Don’t make shoes too tight. If you buckle up your cycling shoes too tightly, you could lose circulation throughout your foot. A snug fit is ideal, as you should have limited range of motion inside.

Other products we considered

If you want to snag a pair with features borrowed from high-end road cycling shoes, consider Louis Garneau Women’s Jade Bike Shoes for Commuting. As one of the more affordable pairs from Louis Garneau, you’ll get the premium interior and Velcro system of top-of-the-line shoes. They’re fully compatible with SPD, Look, Time, and Speedplay cleat systems for your convenience. They also feature a roomier fit for day-long rides with ventilation holes to keep your feet cool the whole time.

For road cycling beginners who want a pair to learn, the Gavin Elite Road Cycling Shoe is a sure bet as a budget-friendly quality option. These shoes have a secure fit with a two-band Velcro system and micro adjustable buckle for a customized fit. With mesh panels strategically placed around the shoe, airflow is optimal and keeps the shoe as lightweight as possible. The overall design is equally sleek with a black and gray colorway.

If you have wide feet, it may be a little trickier to find the right fit. Many owners with wide feet say they have found success by sizing up.

FAQ

Q. Can I walk around in my road cycling shoes like regular sneakers?
A.
It’s not a good idea. Try to limit wearing them when you’re not on your bike. Sometimes it’s inevitable, but keep in mind that contact with pavement and dirt adds to wear and tear. As they’re rigid, they’re not the most comfortable shoes to walk around in, either. If you need to do some walking to your ride or to spin class, wear a pair of sneakers and change into your shoes before riding.
 

Q. I haven’t worn my road cycling shoes in a couple years, and now they’re a bit snug. Do I just need to get used to them again?
A.
It could be that your feet changed shape over the years, which is normal as you age or as weight fluctuates. Take a test ride near your home in a safe area to see if they start to feel normal again. If they still feel snug, it’s time to exchange them for new ones to get a better fit.

 

Q. Can I put insoles in my road cycling shoes for more comfort?
A.
You could, though it may change your fit — and not always for the better. Thin insoles might work, but insoles with gel or memory foam padding are most likely too bulky. Orthopedic insoles that are custom fit by your doctor won’t fit, either — especially since they’re geared toward wider footwear like sneakers and dress shoes. On the other hand, if you need orthopedic insoles for your riding shoes, talk to your doctor, as they may be able to make a pair that works inside your cycling shoes.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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