Best road bike shoes review 2015
Bike shoes are one of those bits of kit that, personally, we’ve struggled with over the years. Shoes are rather like saddles – so when you find something that works for you and doesn’t cause discomfort, you tend to stick with it.
These days, lots of top-end shoes have mouldable carbon soles that you can heat up and shape to fit the contours of your feet, but that’s currently almost exclusively on pairs that you’ll be looking at paying over £200 for. For us, one simple solution to the discomfort we’ve experienced in the past was to have a set of custom insoles that we kept even as the shoes we used changed.
Although shoe sizing can be (and is) measured by a standard system, in practice feet are very different and what works for one person might not work for another. So you need to remember here that anything we’ve written on comfort is a subjective viewpoint, and it’s entirely possible that while we find one set of shoes to be the most comfortable ever, you might try them and find just the opposite.
There’s also the classic clash when buying bike shoes: weight versus comfort. Of course, it’s not universally true that light shoes are uncomfortable, but it is true that in order to save weight, excess padding is one of the things that has to go.
Tempting as it is to go for the most expensive, lightest, fanciest-looking shoes about, remember that you’ll be logging a lot of miles in them and you’re going to want minimal discomfort with as quick an acclimatisation period as possible. If you can, try before you buy or get advice from a local bike shop.
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Giro Prolight SLX II
Price: £299 from www.zyro.co.uk
Having used, and been fans of, the original Prolights from Giro for a couple of years, we were keen to try the second editions. They’re now available in this hi-vis orange, which we actually quite like as it certainly makes a change from the sea of black and white shoes. But if bright isn’t your thing, you can get them in standard colours as well.
Their sole is Easton EC90 carbon, which is top-quality and as stiff as most of the others on test. The closure system of three Velcro straps works extremely well, and spreads out the pressure across the foot. They come with their own little carry case, as well as customisable insoles with three degrees of arch support, depending on which suits you best.
Verdict: With a few nice extras thrown in, we’re still big fans, 89%
Price: £229 from www.madison.co.uk
Despite being an established name in the components world, Shimano are relative newcomers to cycling shoes. They’ve clearly learned a lot in a comparatively short space of time, as the R260s are genuinely superb. Closure is handled by one ratchet and two Velcro straps, the offset placement of which works well in spreading out the pressure across the foot.
They have Shimano’s custom-fit insoles that come with different types of arch support and are heat-mouldable – as is the upper – for those who want a fully custom fit. Having put in a lot of miles in these since we got our original test set last year, we reckon they’re just about the most comfortable bike shoes we’ve ever used.
Verdict: Fantastic shoes offering sublime comfort, 93%
Scott Premium Road
Price: £249 from www.scott-sports.com
Mirroring the colour scheme of Scott-sponsored pro cycling team Orica GreenEdge, Scott’s Premium Road shoes have a smart green, black and white visage. The first thing we noticed when we put them on, however, is that the sizing is bigger than almost all of the other shoes on test here, so you might consider sizing down.
The closure system is two Boa dials, which makes things easy if you need to tighten or loosen them on the go. Although, it does leave them slightly roomier in the toe box than similar shoes where a Velcro support strap gives a slightly firmer hold. Out on the road, there were no issues with stiffness and the uppers were supple, but that toe box was just too roomy with the lack of a support strap.
Verdict: Stylish looks but we’d demand more from a £249 bike shoe
Continue reading our guide to this year's best bike shoes (2/3)