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What to look for in a pair of road bike shoes

We explain what to look for when choosing a pair of road bike shoes

A well-chosen pair of bike shoes can see you through year-round training and race-day rides. So what do you need to know when buying?


Where tri-specific bike shoes will generally have a single large strap to secure your foot, road bike shoes will rely on smaller straps combined with the ratchet/dialling and wiring system to achieve the optimum closure and lock your feet into the riding position.

Heel tab

Many of us will still use our road bike shoes for race day, and it’s here that a heel tab will offer protection on the run to and from the bike transition. Carbon outsoles are both lightweight yet stiff, with cheaper shoes having a plastic sole or a composite mixture of the two.

Cleat position

Once you’ve got your cleats attached to the common three-bolt system, you need to set them up correctly to achieve maximum pedalling efficiency and to limit the risk of injury. Essentially, you want the ball of your foot on the pedal in its most natural position.

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For warm-weather riding and added breathability in all conditions, ensure there’s a well-ventilated upper and tongue. Drainage will also be key if you’re using it for tri racing after the swim, as well as the ability to ensure your soggy feet dry quickly.

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