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Best Commuter Cycling Shoes – Comfortable Footwear for Safe Riding To Work

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One of the chief decisions you’ll make before bike commuting is what shoes you’ll wear.

This wouldn’t be so difficult if it weren’t for bicycle pedals, which often limit the possible choice of footwear according to pedal type.

Whatever type of bike you plan on riding to work, and whatever type of pedals you have on that bike, this article will help you choose the best commuter cycling shoes for you.

We’ll give you some of our top picks and discuss some of the features to look for.

Top Picks:

Top 13 Best Bike Shoes For Commuters

Below are some of the best bike shoes you can buy, which we’ve categorized to help you choose the best shoe for you.

1. Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa MTN Shoes (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

• Weight: 16.3 oz (461g)
• Cleats: Yes

Designed for mountain biking, Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa MTN Shoes are also an excellent choice for your daily bike commute.

The shoe has a dual-compound sole, with a hard Stealth® C4 rubber at the front of the outsole for efficient power delivery across the cleat area and a softer Mi6 compound at the heel to give you traction for walking. EVA midsoles help to absorb shock.

A recessed SPD cleat makes these clipless shoes easier to walk in than many road shoes, so you can stop off on your commute to buy a newspaper or grab a cup of coffee. This shoe uses a Boa fastener at the top and a Velcro strap below.

What We Like:

  • Recess – recessed cleat makes walking possible
  • Efficient – impressive stiffness for efficient power transfer
  • Breathable – a surprisingly airy shoe that dries quickly
  • Durable – made of hard-wearing materials

What We Don’t Like:

  • Walking – rigid sole makes walking a little unnatural

2. Pearl Izumi Tour Road Cycling Shoes (best value)

Pearl Izumi Tour Road Cycling Shoes For Men

CHECK PRICE AT REI

• Weight: 16.2 oz (459g)
• Cleats: Yes

While they’re not exactly cheap, you do get your money’s worth with the Pearl Izumi Tour Road Cycling Shoes. For a start, they look great with the bright red laces, though you should also receive a black pair if the red doesn’t appeal.

You can fit either a 2-bolt SPD pedal or 3-bolt SPD-SL cleat to these shoes. There is no recess for an SPD in the shoe, so you might like to buy cleat covers if you’re likely to stop off somewhere on your commute.

A stiff carbon plate inserted under the ball of each foot makes these shoes excellent for power transfer.

Like many “touring shoes”, the Pearl Izumi Tour Road Cycling Shoes have a classic look about them. The laces are stashed away behind a lace lock for pedaling safety.

What We Like:

  • Style – the shoes are easy on the eye with their classic touring style
  • Efficient – carbon plates in the cleat area afford good power transfer
  • Versatile – choice of cleat system

What We Don’t Like:

  • Walking – not easy to walk in non-recessed cleats

3. Vittoria 1976 Classic SPD Nylon TPU Sole Cycling Shoes (best clipless)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 19.7 oz (558g)
• Cleats: Yes

The retro-designed Vittoria 1976 Classic SPD Cycling Shoes take our best clipless spot mainly because they’re so easy to walk in with their recessed SPD cleat holes. (Note that other shoes in the 1976 range have non-recessed fittings.)

Again, these shoes have that classic lace-up touring shoe aesthetic. They pay homage to pro cyclist Celestino Vercelli, who founded Vittoria Cycling Shoes in 1976. The shoes are handmade in Italy and available in a choice of colors (yellow, black, white).

These shoes have a polyurethane sole with a nylon insert for stiffness. They flex a little more than carbon shoes, though not to a degree you’re likely to notice in ordinary riding.

What We Like:

  • Style – an attractive retro design that lovers of fine things will appreciate
  • Adjust – laced adjustment good for fine-tuning pressure
  • Walking – a great shoe for any walking you may do on a commute
  • Price – an appealing price point for such a good-looking shoe

What We Don’t Like:

  • Sizing – sizes tend to come up small and the shoe may need wearing in

4. Five Ten Freerider Pro Mountain Bike Shoes (best for flat pedals)

Five Ten Freerider Pro Mountain Bike Shoes in Core Black/Core White Color

CHECK PRICE AT REI

• Weight: 24 oz (680g)
• Cleats: No

The aptly named Five Ten Freerider Pro Mountain Bike Shoes are ideal for use with flat (aka platform) pedals. Though Five Ten shoes are not cheap, they are well-loved among flat-pedal cyclists, and this model has a particular reputation for high quality.

Thanks to Five Ten’s Stealth S1 rubber outsole, these shoes are tremendously durable and adhere to flat pedals brilliantly. They work especially well with the traction pins often found on such pedals.

Five Ten Freerider Shoes have a roomy, reinforced toe box with EVA backing. Flexible EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) is also used in the footbeds and midsoles for arch support, stability and shock absorption.

What We Like:

  • Grip – a high level of grip for flat pedals
  • Efficiency – stiff sole for efficient power transfer (costs a little in walking comfort)
  • Durability – Stealth S1 compound is hard wearing

What We Don’t Like:

  • Price – excellence is not cheap, though the price is still reasonable

5. Five Ten Sleuth DLX Bike Shoes (best for women)

Five Ten Sleuth DLX Bike Shoes in Legacy Purple/Matte Gold Color

CHECK PRICE AT REI

• Weight: 19.2 oz (544g)
• Cleats: No

Though some men’s cycling shoes are effectively unisex (particularly narrower ones), of course you can also buy female-specific shoes. Five Ten Sleuth DLX Bike Shoes are a stylish example of this in “True Green” and “Chalk White” with a suede upper.

This shoe uses a Stealth Phantom sole, which is a non-marking compound otherwise akin to the excellent S1 compound. Again, that means the shoes will stick to flat pedals well (helped by the “Dotty” tread) and are good for power transfer.

A mid-sole made from EVA helps with shock-absorption and comfort. Laced closure makes it easy to control the pressure on your feet.

What We Like:

  • Grip – dotted tread is highly effective with traction pins on flat pedals
  • Efficiency – stiff Stealth Phantom sole is good for power transfer
  • Style – attractive colors and low-profile, sleek design
  • Comfort – comfortable to ride in (a little less so for walking in)

What We Don’t Like:

  • Oversized – sizing tends to err on the large side

6. Shimano CT500 Everyday Cycling Shoes (best for beginners)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

Weight: 24.1 oz (684g)
• Cleats: Hybrid

On at least two levels, Shimano CT500 Everyday Cycling Shoes are ideal for beginners. For a start, you can use them as flat-pedal shoes if you haven’t quite plucked up the courage to go clipless.

When you’re ready to go clipless, the Shimano CT500 has recessed cleat bolts (concealed when new) that are compatible with Shimano SPD or Click’R cleats. The latter is aimed at newcomers to clipless pedals and are lighter to step in and out of.

These shoes are comfortable to walk and ride in, thanks to a shock-absorbing EVA midsole. Power transfer is made more efficient by a hidden inner shank, which makes the shoe stiffer across the ball of the foot.

Despite a little cycling specificity, this shoe looks stylish and casual. It’s ready to clip in when you are!

What We Like:

  • Hybrid – you can ride these with flat pedals, toe clips or clipless pedals
  • Efficiency – some cycling-specific stiffness for power transfer
  • Style – casual look for those that don’t want the athletic vibe
  • Comfort – easy on the feet with EVA midsoles

What We Don’t Like:

  • Cleats – limited adjustability in cleat position

7. Chrome Men’s Kursk Sneakers (best casual shoes)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 17 oz (482g)
• Cleats: No

If you’re aiming for a casual look in a durable cycling shoe, look no further than Chrome Men’s Kursk Sneakers. Despite their laid-back styling, these shoes feature a long-lasting rubber sole, toe, and heel, and have a military-grade 1000D nylon upper.

The low-profile design of these shoes makes them ideal for use with toe clips as well as flat pedals. A fiberglass-reinforced nylon shank (PowerPlate™) in the sole increases power transfer and pedal efficiency. The contoured PU insole gives support to the foot.

Other attributes of Chrome Kursk cycling shoes include a reflective strip on the heel and a “lace garage” to hold your laces in place and stop them dangling into the chain.

What We Like:

  • Quality – robust quality from a reputable manufacturer
  • Versatile – use this shoe on flat pedals or in toe clips
  • Efficient – a nylon shank increases power transfer and pedaling efficiency
  • Walk – shoes you can walk in without the cycling-specific look

What We Don’t Like:

  • Sizing – comes up half a size large

8. Northwave Magma XC Core Winter Boots (best winter shoes)

CHECK PRICE AT WIGGLE

• Weight: 28.9 oz (820g)
• Cleats: Yes

If you suffer with cold feet in the winter, Northwave Magma XC Core Winter Boots should keep them warm. Primaloft® Gold insulation and a neoprene cuff help to combat low temperatures. The latter helps to keep draughts out at the ankle. Inside the shoe, a 4-layered insole helps further to insulate your foot.

Atop the shoe, you’ll see Northwave’s BioMap Aero Overlap construction with an SLW2 dial. This is designed to reduce aerodynamic drag, while the dial offers incremental adjustment and release from a single dial rather than multiple dials.

At the base of Northwave Magma XC Core Winter Boots, the manufacturer’s “Jaws” carbon reinforced sole helps with power transfer and pedaling efficiency.

What We Like:

  • Warmth – insulation and draught-sealing should keep you warm
  • Closure – simple, effective and aero single-dial closure
  • Carbon – a reinforced sole helps to reduce energy losses in pedaling
  • Breathable – the shoe is breathable despite all the insulation

What We Don’t Like:

  • Rain – water is likely to enter the shoe if you’re caught in a downpour
  • Price – all that insulation is not free

Read more: Riding to work in the rain

9. Tommaso Strada Elite Men’s Laced Road Shoes (best summer shoes)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 20.5 oz (580g)
• Cleats: Yes

Cycling to work in the summer presents its own problems as your feet begin to heat up, sweat and swell. Thanks to their nylon XD-knit uppers, Tommaso Strada Elite Men’s Road Shoes offer superb breathability and comfort for heated commutes.

These Italian-made shoes also feature a traditional lacing system, which is great for reliability. The lacing area, heel and toe box are all reinforced for durability.

At the base of the Strada Elite Men’s Road Shoe, a fiberglass reinforced sole helps make the shoe efficient in delivering power. These shoes have universal compatibility with cleats, including SPD, SPD-SL, Look Delta, Look Keo and Speedplay.

What We Like:

  • Cool – breathable XD knit with extra-strong nylon yarn
  • Value – a nicely designed shoe for the price
  • Durable – reinforced heel, toe, box and lacing area
  • Efficient – fiberglass reinforced sole for optimum power transfer

What We Don’t Like:

  • Walking – universal cleat compatibility means no recess for SPD cleats

10. Sidi Men’s Alba 2 Mega Shoes (best for wide feet)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 23.6 oz (670g)
  • Cleats: Yes

Iconic cycling brand Sidi makes the Alba 2 Mega Shoes for men with wide feet of EE to EEE width. The shoes secure to the instep of your feet with broad, anatomically curved straps. These straps are replaceable as part of Sidi’s Soft Instep Closure System 3.

Above the instep at the Politex upper, the Sidi Techno 3 system comprises a dial and a non-binding Sidi wire that adapts the shoe to the shape of your foot. The wide Sidi heel cup further secures the foot and contributes to efficient power transfer.

The rigidity of the sole is the main factor in this Sidi shoe’s efficiency. Sidi’s Millennium 4 carbon sole features a nylon matrix injected with carbon fiber. The durable sole accommodates a 3-bolt cleat like the Shimano SPD-SL or Look cleats.

What We Like:

  • Wide – Sidi’s Mega width is 4mm wider than their standard width and provides comfort for men with wider feet
  • Serviceable – many replaceable small parts on Sidi shoes
  • Quality – well-made shoe from high-quality materials
  • Efficient – carbon-injected nylon soles for efficient power transfer

What We Don’t Like:

  • Walking – limited walkability with protruding 3-bolt cleat

11. Ride Concepts Transition Shoes (best for comfort)

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

• Weight: 35.6 oz (1010g)
• Cleats: Yes

If you’re after extreme comfort in an MTB shoe that also allows a little give when walking, consider Ride Concepts Transition Shoes. They have a medial high-rise EVA midsole that offers support and shock absorption.

These shoes allow a little more spring in your step than many cycling-specific shoes, and yet they deliver plenty of power to the pedal with a stiff sole. The Transitions are a well-balanced shoe, which makes them a viable commuter pick.

Other features of these shoes include D30 insole zone technology for impact resistance and comfort, a fully gusseted tongue that keeps out debris, rubber-reinforced protection for your heels and toes, and high ankle protection.

What We Like:

  • Comfort – lots of comfort with D3O padding for good arch support
  • Walking – recessed SPD cleat and more walkable than most stiff bike shoes
  • Protection – outstanding protection for your feet should you take a trail into work
  • Hexagon – hexagonal tread on outsole provides good grip for walking or against traction pins on hybrid pedals.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Heavy – weightier than most cycling-oriented shoes

12. Fizik Tempo R5 Overcurve Cycling Shoes (best for narrow feet)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Weight: 17.3 oz (492g)
• Cleats: Yes

Shoes that are too large for you can be just as problematic for cycling as those that are too small. With that in mind, the Fizik Tempo R5 Overcurve Cycling Shoes are a good pick for narrow-footed commuters on road bikes.

These shoes are well priced considering the brand and attractive style. That’s partly because of the nylon composite outsole, which is a little less rigid than carbon. But that may make these shoes more “walkable” on a commute if you put cleat covers on them.

The “Overcurve” part of this product’s name refers to the asymmetrical construction which follows the natural shape of your foot. A pliable yet protective Microtel upper is perforated for breathability.

This shoe is 100% synthetic, so it’s also a good choice for vegan cyclists. It’s more of a unisex shoe than some models, owing to its narrower fit.

What We Like:

  • Overcurve – anatomically designed for comfort
  • Balance – nylon sole offers a good blend of rigidity and flex
  • Narrow – shoes that are too wide for you can cause discomfort via foot movement and impact
  • Price – reasonable price for a stylish and well-made shoe

What We Don’t Like:

  • 3-bolt – you’ll need cleat covers or a change of shoes to walk far

13. Vibrelli Men’s Cycling Shoes (best budget)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Weight: 17.3 oz (500g)
  • Cleats: Yes

Spending a lot of money on bike shoes doesn’t guarantee you comfort, just as a limited budget doesn’t prevent you from buying a comfortable, efficient shoe. The Vibrelli Men’s Cycling Shoes are a case in point.

Areas where this shoe saves money over costlier rivals include three broad Velcro straps rather than a fancy dial system and composite soles instead of carbon (carbon soles are potential overkill for commuting, anyway, and don’t help with walking).

The Vibrelli shoes deliver breathability through an underlying mesh and vents on the side of the shoe. There is ventilation through the sole, as well. Internal padding and strong arch support add to the comfort.

Vibrelli Men’s Cycling Shoes are drilled for universal cleat compatibility, so you can use them with any pedal system you have or choose.

What We Like:

  • Price – no big-brand overheads and an effective, low-cost design
  • Breathable – extensive ventilation makes this an airy shoe
  • Universal – use this shoe with most 2-bolt or 3-bolt cleat systems
  • Straps – broad Velcro straps are quick to use and spread pressure evenly

What We Don’t Like:

  • Don’t walk – universal cleat fittings are not recessed for easier walking

Types Of Bike Shoes Commuters Wear

There are numerous good reasons for riding a bike to work, but these reasons are likely to affect how you ride and what you wear while you’re doing it.

With the above in mind, it follows that bike commuters wear very different types of shoes. Some like being attached to the pedals, others don’t. Some commuters need to walk on their commute, whereas others can ride all the way.

Below are some of your shoe options for a bike commute.

Read more: Bikes ideal for cold winter commutes

Clipless Pedals & Cleated Shoes

The term “clipless” refers to the pedal rather than the shoe, and it’s a rather misleading term because you have to “clip in” to a clipless pedal. What does it all mean?

Clipless is called clipless because it replaced the toe clip: an elaborate cage and strap attached to pedals to hold your foot in place. With clipless, your foot is still fixed to the pedal, but with a low-key binding mechanism built into the pedal itself.

Traditional toe clips still have their uses for bike commuting, as they allow attachment to the pedal without the need for special footwear.

Shoes designed for clipless pedals have holes drilled into them for the attachment of 2-bolt or 3-bolt cleats. These cleats slot into the clipless pedal and fix your feet to them for better pedaling efficiency. They hold the ball of your foot over the pedal axle.

Video: Road vs MTB Shoes

Cleats

There are various clipless pedal systems on the market, and each has its own corresponding cleats that must be bolted to “clipless shoes”. Here are some of the popular cleat systems:

  • Crank Brothers – a 2-bolt cleat for MTB pedals.
  • Look Keo – a 3-bolt cleat for Keo road bike pedals.
  • Shimano SPD – designed for MTBs but used on other bikes, 2-bolt SPD cleats are useful for commuters because they’re often (not always) recessed into the sole of the shoe, making walking easier.
  • Shimano SPD-SL – these are aimed squarely at riders of road bikes, and the shoes are often a little sleeker than MTB shoes. But the cleats are never recessed, so you need cleat covers if you’re walking anywhere.
  • Speedplay – distinctive round pedals, some compatible with “walkable cleat technology” that might be of interest to commuters.
  • Time – various 3-bolt and 2-bolt cleats for the innovative Time pedal range.

Different Ways Cycling Shoes Fasten

The way shoes fasten, or their closure system, has a bearing on shoe comfort. There are three main types of fastening.

Laces

Laces havean appealing retro look and are most beneficial for their reliability. Once you’ve done them up and tucked them out of the way, you can forget about them. A disadvantage in some cases is not being able to adjust them while you ride, but this is less likely to be an issue on a short commute.

Velcro Straps

An updated version of laces are Velcro straps, which have the major advantage of being adjustable as you ride. Velcro straps place an even pressure across the top of the foot, whereas laces can get uncomfortable at the top of the instep sometimes.

Another appealing benefit of Velcro straps is their comparative affordability versus the next option, though Boa dials and Velcro are often found on the same shoe.

Boa Dials

Boa dials (or Atop dials) are primarily used for their ability to levy an even pressure across the whole shoe, which also helps to eliminate hot spots and numbness during a ride. They basically improve the fit of cycling shoes, making them snug.

One potential downside is that dials can be tricky to undo with cold fingers.

Video: Boa Dials vs Laces

Flat Shoes

Flat shoes are the alternative to cleated bike shoes. Often, they’ll look much like regular sneakers, except they have bike-specific features like a rigid sole across the ball of the foot and extra grip for adhering to the pedals.

Many flat pedals come with traction pins, which are meant to help flat shoes to stay in place. The tread pattern on the sole of flat shoes affects how well the shoe engages with these traction pins.

You’ll find many flat shoes come in the form of MTB shoes, which tend to be on the beefy side because they’re designed to protect the feet on rougher MTB terrain. An alternative to these is traditional touring shoes, where use of a cleat may be optional.

About The Soles

Although rigid soles are normally a good thing for cyclists in terms of power transfer and efficiency, those that are very rigid will be less comfortable to walk in. If you anticipate having to walk during your commute, a cheaper composite sole might be a better choice.

What Pedals Are Needed?

If you’re new to cycling, a bike commute may not be the best place to start using clipless pedals. In that situation, you can always buy a hybrid pedal, which has one side for flat shoes and another for cleats when you’re ready to move over to them.

Commuters that don’t want to pedal to work in full cycling regalia are quite likely to choose a flat pedal (aka platform pedal). With these, you can stick on a pair of inconspicuous flat shoes and other casual bike attire for an understated look.

If you want to commit to cleats, pick a clipless pedal based on the nature of your commute. A recessed SPD cleat makes sense if you walk any stretch of it, but you could consider a non-recessed cleat (e.g., SPD-SL) if you ride all the way.

Read more: Best commuter bike pedals

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do You Need Bike Shoes?

Bike shoes will tend to grip the pedals better if they’re flat and deliver power to the pedals more efficiently through their rigidity. Those with cleats hold your foot in the optimum position for comfort, security and power transfer.

What Type Of Cleats And Pedals Should I Use?

Use the cleats and pedals that suit your commute. Cleats that are recessed into the shoe (often SPDs) make walking easier, but you may prefer the typically sleeker form of a road shoe that takes protruding cleats.

Is It Hard To Ride With And Get Used To Using Shoe Cleats?

It may seem difficult at first, but it soon becomes second-nature to twist your heel and unclip one foot before coming to a stop. Practice using cleats in a quiet area before your maiden voyage and aim to stop at a particular lamppost or by a garage door.

Video: Learning How To Ride With Clipless Pedals

And….We’re Done

It’s time to reflect on our top picks for best commuter bike shoes. Five Ten have a host of shoes ideal for commutes, whether cleated or flat. The Kestrel Pro Boa Mtn Shoes are durably made, stylish, easy to walk in and have a Boa dial for effective fastening.

Meanwhile, Pearl Izumi Tour Road Cycling Shoes are lightweight, well ventilated, and well specified for the money with carbon fiber plates in the soles for stiffness. These lean shoes are versatile, too, with a choice of SPD or SPD-SL compatibility.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found some of the information within useful. Please feel free to comment or share with friends.

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Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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