For a serious cyclist, shoes play an incredibly important role. Although there are three contact points between you and the bike: palms, the pelvic bones, and your feet, the latter is probably the most significant. How come?
Well, first of all, it’s a part of the body that moves the most. Additionally, it’s the bottom-most part of the body while riding – in contact with all road and weather conditions.
Finding an ideal pair of cycling shoes is often just as hard as finding a perfect bike. Here are some of the best road cycling shoes for men, along with a buyer’s guide to help you out.
5 Best Road Cycling Shoes for Men
1. Pearl Izumi Select Road v5
The “v5” in the name indicates that they’re the fifth iteration of the same model. This means two things. One, that after the five generations this model has gone through, people are still willing to buy it. And, two, that there have been whopping updates over the course of those iterations.
If you’re a beginner or an intermediate cyclist, you’re going to love the Select Road v5s. In the latest iteration, the nylon sole bears the stiffness index of 6. In addition to the beginners, this is brilliant for people performing audax or century rides.
With the upper layers, the story is a bit different. In the fifth iteration of Pearl Izumi Select Road v5 cycling shoes, a new material is used. Now, the upper layers provide much better breathability, which is ideal for those hot summer months, but also for milder days. Another cool thing about this material is that it adapts to your foot shape as you wear the shoes, making for an incredibly snug fit. The shoe basically molds in accordance with your foot shape.
You shouldn’t think much of the entry-level status of this Pearl Izumi model. It’s perfectly suitable for intermediate cyclists. Oh, and they perform brilliantly for the longer rides, which puts them out there among the best road cycling shoes for men who go for longer rides.
Pros of the Pearl Izumi Select Road v5
- Supportive soles
- Breathable upper layer
- Adapts to foot shape
- Excellent for longer rides
Cons of the Pearl Izumi Select Road v5
- Design might not be for everyone
2. Gavin Elite
If you’re looking to move on from your regular shoes to cyclist shoes, Gavin Elite presents one of the best choices out there. First of all, the shoe itself is very comfortable. The fit is particularly convenient – you get two Velcro straps, plus an adjustable buckle on the top. This means that you can adjust the shoe to fit you perfectly. Sure, it may take some trial-and-error, but once you’ve found that perfect level of tightness, you’ll find these shoes perfect.
Gavin Elite might be a pair of shoes preferred by the beginners, but this doesn’t make them exclusive to beginners.
A very cool thing about the Gavin Elite shoes is that they work with both 2- and 3-bolt cleats. This option allows your foot to stay in place while biking, whether you’re riding on the road or indoors. Additionally, this isn’t a frequently seen option in beginner and intermediate cycling shoes.
The shoes feature mesh vents, which allow for airflow to enter. This is very important for those long, exhausting, sweaty rides.
When it comes to the sole, Gavin Elite shoes feature a rigid model, which means an excellent power transfer between the legs and your bike. Still, the soles are flexible enough. They won’t make your feet ache after long rides and won’t cause blisters if worn correctly – just find your perfect fit, add the cleats, and hit the road.
Pros of the Gavin Elite
- Velcro straps
- Adjustable top buckle
- Mesh vents
- 2- and 3-bolt cleat fit
- Rigid but flexible soles
Cons of the Gavin Elite
- Aesthetics are good
3. Venzo SH-R02
The Venzo SH-R02 cycling shoes often come with Xpedo RF07MC pedals, which isn’t something you see every day.
The shoes themselves boast fantastic performance, but not at the sacrifice of comfort. They’re somewhat of a tight fit, but boast a highly-breathable mesh and a synthetic upper. One of the remarkable things with these shoes is that they dry very quickly, which is very convenient for active riders.
In addition to the Velcro strap at the toes, the shoe is tightened by a reel knob lacing system. This is pretty much the best way to ensure tightness, maximizing the pulling power when it comes to pedaling itself.
Given the fact that these cycling shoes come with cleats and pedals, let’s talk about this aspect of the package. The Xpedo RF07MC are more than respectable pedals. They’re lightweight (245g) and come with compatible cleats. Of course, the cleats work perfectly with the shoes and with the pedals. With that said, the Venzos will match most cleats.
This is quite an attractive package for road cyclists – not only do you get a pair of quality, comfortable shoes, but also a pair of convenient, lightweight pedals, as well. One of the best deals on the market.
Pros of the Venzo SH-R02
- Shoes + Pedals
- Matching cleats
- Very breathable
- Great fit
- Reel knob lacing system
Cons of the Venzo SH-R02
- Might be a bit narrow for some
4. Shimano SH-TR9
The soles of this shoe are lightweight but stiff. In terms of cycling shoes, this is a good thing – stiff soles allow for a better transfer of power from your legs to the pedals. The 10/12 stiffness rating means optimal power transfer. The fact that they’re lightweight is good for an obvious reason – the lighter the shoe, the easier the pedaling.
The insole of the TR9 is a dual-density, stability-enhanced one. It’s also cupped, allowing for better performance.
The upper shoe part is synthetic leather. This does compromise the shoe’s stretching capabilities. However, this enhances the durability of the shoe, which is a crucial factor with cycling shoes.
The upper features perforations that provide an air exhaust system. Plus, there’s a three-layer mesh on the upper, meaning more breathing room.
The cleat adjustability is more than decent, with 11mm of adjustability room. This will help you find the perfect fit, which is of tremendous importance in road biking.
Although the shoe itself is a snug fit, the strap feature is a hook-and-loop Velcro one. On the plus side, it makes firmly securing your foot inside the shoe very quick and seamless. On the other hand, the reel knob lacing system works better on cycling shoes.
Pros of the Shimano SH-TR9
- 10/12 stiffness rating
- Dual-density insole
- A three-layer mesh on the upper
- 11mm cleat adjustability
Cons of the Shimano SH-TR9
- Velcro strapping system could be better
5. Tommaso Strada Elite
The Strada Elite shoes consist of a combination of nylon mesh inserts and premium microfiber. This makes the shoe the best model for cold and wet conditions, as microfiber is a wind- and water-resistant material.
Of course, microfiber compromises breathability, which isn’t ideal. Fortunately, the tongue on the Strada Elite shoes is perforated, and so are the surface areas on the sides. This makes the shoes more breathable and significantly lighter. Oh, you also get an airflow vent near the sole’s tip.
In terms of strapping, Tommaso Strada Elite use the reel knob lacing system, which is the most efficient system available for cycling shoes. All you need to do to get an overall tighter fit is turning the knob clockwise. For the lower part of the shoe, there’s the Velcro strap.
Then, there’s the cleat plate, which does tend to get somewhat heavy with some cycling shoes. Not with these ones, however, as the entire cleat plate is 100% made out of carbon fiber. To complement this, the shoe’s sole is made out of a nylon composite. This ensures resilience and a light weight.
When it comes to comfort, Tommaso Strada Elite does an excellent job of keeping your foot cozy and satisfied. The insole is made out of breathable molded EVA foam. You can remove the EMA foam if you want to. The liner is moisture-wicking, durable, and, most importantly, comfortable.
Pros of the Tommaso Strada Elite
- Microfiber build
- Moisture-wicking liner
- Carbon fiber cleat plate
- EVA foam insole
- Reel knob lacing system
Cons of the Tommaso Strada Elite
- A bit expensive
The most important thing when searching for the best road cycling shoes for men is knowing what to look for. Here are some of the most important factors to take into account.
Fit and Comfort
When taking extended rides, being comfortable becomes very important. You definitely don’t want your toes cramping or your feet feeling tired halfway to your destination. So, comfort is an essential aspect of a cycling shoe. On the other hand, if a shoe doesn’t fit you well, the power transfer from your legs to the pedals won’t be ideal. Looking for a perfect fit that also provides comfort is impervious.
You won’t find many cycling shoes with laces, for obvious reasons – a rogue lace can not only compromise the bike chain, but may cause an accident. The two main closure systems on cycling shoes are the Velcro and the reel knob lacing system.
Velcro is the cheaper solution but won’t allow you to adequately tighten the shoe. Granted, the reel knob system is more expensive, but helps you strap up much better. Just spin the knob clockwise, and the shoe will start tightening. Usually, the shoes that feature a reel knob system also feature a Velcro strap in the lower part of the shoe.
For the most part, the soles of road cycling shoes are made out of either stiff nylon, carbon-fiber, or a composite material. All three main sole choices are rigid, which is typical in road cycling shoes – the stiffer the sole, the better the power transfer from the leg to the pedal.
However, the stiffness isn’t the only important factor here. Lightness is also essential. The lighter the shoe, the better the cycling experience. Although carbon-fiber is an extremely light choice, there are many other factors that impact the weight of a shoe, much more so than the sole. Whichever of the mentioned sole materials you go with, you should always look at other parts of the shoe as well.
If you’re looking for the best road cycling shoes for men, expect to spend hours and hours per day in them. Otherwise, you aren’t looking for road cycling shoes. If you’re well-aware of exactly what road biking entails, you’re also aware of the fact that proper ventilation goes without saying in a cycling shoe. Ineffective ventilation can lead to more problems than mere discomfort.
When looking at cycling shoes, check for mesh and perforations in the upper. Also, look for similar solutions for the rest of the shoe. You want the air to be able to circulate within the shoe itself in order to keep your leg as dry and as comfortable as possible.
Type of Pedals and Cleats Compatibility
There are two main types of bicycle pedals around. You’ve got the flat pedals (put your foot on them and go), and then you’ve got clip-in pedals. The clip-in pedals are further divided into two more groups: two-bolt cleats and three-bolt cleats. Most road bikes feature clip-in pedals.
Now, when looking at road cycling shoes, you should check for cleat compatibility first. If you have shoes that are two-bolt cleats and pedals that are three-bolt, that won’t work out too well. There is a way around it, of course, and that’s buying new bike pedals.
Then, look at the shoe package or guide. There’s bound to be some cleat compatibility info on it. It’s as simple as that.
The best road cycling shoes for men have to be comfortable, light, ventilated, feature stiff soles, and comfortable insoles. They should also have an excellent strapping system.
Tommaso Strada Elite tick all of the above boxes. They’re built out of lightweight and resilient microfiber, yet offer an airflow vent, in addition to perforation points. The EVA foam insole ensures maximum comfort, while the reel knob racing system will keep your foot snug and comfy.
Each other list entry, however, is fantastic in its own respect. Check out all five and don’t jump the gun on buying your cycling shoes. Oh, and keep an eye on compatibility.
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