Whether you are looking for a way to explore the great outdoors or get an effective workout, cycling can provide a new avenue of adventure. But cycling has come a long way from the training wheels and silver horns of childhood. Spinning classes have sprouted communities of people all over the world, while outdoor biking continues to challenge athletes. Beginners and experts alike are quite literally stepping into new shoes to achieve the best ride—and you can, too. Cycling shoes provide the connection between rider and bike, which makes finding the perfect pair for your needs integral to a great bike ride. Here are some great women’s cycling shoes we recommend.
Purchasing Cycling Shoes
To find the best cycling shoes, keep these things in mind:
Cleat Compatibility: Depending on the purpose of the bike ride, the design of cleats will vary. Spin classes typically use the more universal SPD cleat design which has two holes to hook into studio bikes. Road bikes use SPD-SL or Look cleats that have a three-hole design and can help the rider transfer power with each pedal.
Comfort: Shoes with padding on the heel will protect from chafing and pain. If you are looking to keep cool, a mesh panel can provide ventilation to allow outside air into the shoe. The type of enclosure design can influence your bike ride as well. Laces are light and adjustable but can be difficult to change quickly during use. Hook and loop systems can become caked with debris over time but provide a snug fit. The dial system has the best of both worlds as it can fine-tune the fit and is resistant to mud.
Sole Material: Budget-friendly shoes will often use plastic, but this material is heavier and becomes misshapen with use. As the price increase, the shoe sole will incorporate more carbon fiber or fiberglass, which reduces the weight and creates a stiffer fit. A full carbon fiber sole will cost you, but it will be the lightest and stay stiff through every ride.
Cleat Positioning: Cycling shoes with recessed cleats allow the user to easily go from an intense bike ride to a coffee shop. Without the cleat connection sticking out of the shoe, riders can avoid the strange waddle caused by exposed cleats and enjoy more versatility in their cycling shoes.
Best Overall: Tommaso Pista Women’s Cycling Shoes
The Tommaso Pista cycling shoes are created to be ready to ride and have the option to have Look or SPD cleat systems. The Velcro straps create a snug fit for comfort, while the padding around the foot increases stability during both a rigorous spin class or an adventurous ride through the outdoors. To keep your feet cool, the Tommaso Pista shoe is designed with mesh panels to allow airflow through the shoe. The fiberglass sole is lightweight, stiff, and durable to ensure that every bit of power transfers to the pedal. These shoes’ customizable fit and cleat versatility will keep your focus off your feet and on the ride.
Tommaso Pista Women's Indoor Cycling Ready Cycling Shoe Bundle - White/Silver - Look Delta - 38
With the versatile cleat system, this shoe bundle allows the rider to switch between spin class and road cycling with ease.
Best for Road Cycling: Giro Empire E70
These shoes were crafted with modernity in mind. With a knitted upper and laced closure, the Giro Empire shoes can easily blend in without losing function. The light closure system and breathable pattern keep the foot comfortable throughout a bike ride. The design includes adjustable arch support over a carbon composite outsole that will ensure a stiff foundation. Riders are meant to ride fearlessly as the heel pads and hardware are easily replaceable. The Giro Empire shoes are compatible with Look and SPD-SL cleat systems that are favored in outdoor bikes.
Giro Empire W E70 Knit Womens Road Cycling Shoe ? 36, Grey Heather/Glacier (2021)
These cycling shoes feature an anti-microbial fiber top sheet to fight against odors while riding through the great outdoors.
Best for Indoor Cycling: Shimano SH-IC300
With both comfort and style as the highlights of the design, Shimano made this shoe specifically for the demands of indoor cycling and spin classes. The cleat system uses the SPD shape to fit the majority of cycling class bikes. Shimano also utilized the BOA L6 Dial, which allows the wearer to adjust the tightness at a micro level, providing a customizable fit. When you are done with class, there’s no need to change shoes with the walkable, recessed cleat system and sneaker appearance.
SHIMANO SH-IC300 Women's Confidence Inspiring Indoor Cycling Shoe, Green, 7 (EU 39)
These shoes are designed for comfort with a breathable mesh upper and a roomier fit.
Also Consider: Shimano SH-RP1 All-Rounder
These cycling shoes are built to survive whatever road you take. The SPD and SPD-SL compatibility allows riders to easily switch between indoor cycling and road bikes. The shoes feature Velcro straps that provide an adjustable fit that avoids unnecessary pressure on the foot’s arch. Made out of glass fiber and reinforced with nylon, the sole of these shoes balances comfort and stiffness. While these shoes do not come with the cleat installed, the budget-friendly price allows the rider to explore different cycling styles with ease.
SHIMANO SH-RP1 High Performing All-Rounder Cycling Shoe, Black 2017, 7.5-8 Women / 6.5-7 Men (EU 40)
These shoes feature hook and loop straps for quick fastening and a reflective heel for increased visibility outside.