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Cycling Shoes Buyer's Guide

Finding the right shoes for you to ride your bike in can be a hassle. Regular athletic shoes might not perform well or remain comfortable on long rides and sifting through cycling shoe options can be daunting. This guide is designed to help you find the right pair of cycling shoes for you and your needs. Read more below to understand what you want and shop our bike shoe selection.

Why buy cycling shoes?

Like mentioned above, cycling with any pair of your regular shoes can be hard and make for a worse experience on your bike. Cycling shoes are designed just for riding bikes and have been innovated on to prioritize rider comfort and performance. There are numerous styles, shapes, and purposes of the various types of bike shoes, so a wide range of cyclists can find a pair that improves their rides.

Cycling shoe styles

Flat vs. clipless cycling shoes

Flat and clipless bike shoes are the two main types of cycling shoes and it's helpful to know the difference between them when buying your pair. First of all, the biggest thing to know is that clipless shoes have a misleading name, as they actually clip into and attach to clipless pedals.

In general though, flat bike shoes tend to be more versatile for riders who prefer flat or platform pedals and those who enjoy more offroad terrain where traction and walkability might matter more. Clipless shoes tend to be used by riders who want to improve riding performance and committed to a specific style of cycling. While flat cycling shoes can be used for commuting or casual riding, regular shoes also work well in those cases.

road bike shoes

Road bike shoes

Road bike shoes are designed to help cyclists improve their performance by allowing them to ride faster and with more power efficiency. Compared to other bike shoes, road cycling shoes are typically more lightweight and stiffer. In addition, this type of cycling shoe is less comfortable when riding and are typically all clipless, meaning they have to be paired with clipless pedals.

Shop All Road Bike Shoes

MTB shoes

Mountain bike shoes

Bike shoes designed for mountain and gravel bike riding cover a wider spectrum of the options available. Mountain bike shoes can be either clipless or flat and it's more of a personal choice when choosing your preferred type. These bike shoes are designed to be more durable and rugged, while also ensuring a generous level of walkability that's needed on the trail.

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multisport bike shoes

Multisport bike shoes

Multisport bike shoes is where versatility is highest among the three types. These bike shoes are designed for use off the bike as much as on it and resemble a light hiking shoe that has the option to clip into your pedals. If you think you might want a pair of bike shoes that doesn't require you to change out of them for other activities during or after a ride, multisport bike shoes might be right for you.

Top features of cycling shoes

Here are a few things to keep your eye on as you look for your next pair of cycling shoes:


When it comes to bike shoes, weight is not something that normally comes to mind. But over long rides, the weight of your cycling shoe can make a difference in performance and comfort.

Weather compatibility

If you typically ride in warm or hot weather, finding a pair of bike shoes that are breathable will be important. On the other end of the spectrum, winter cycling demands having a warmer and insulated pair.


Bike shoe stiffness is important to understand because it can impact your pedaling power and the effects of rough terrain, but can also be less comfortable. Stiffness is measured with a specific index, with 1 being the least stiff and 14 being the most stiff.


Depending on the type of riding you are wanting to do, being able to walk around and be mobile in your bike shoes, walkability may be important to you.

Top bike shoe brands

Bontrager logo
Shimano logo
five ten logo
pearl izumi logo