We continue our guide to this year's best road bike shoes...
This second-tier shoe from Pearl Izumi has a dial on the tongue, an unusual formation but one that actually makes it easier to pull overshoes on. Their unidirectional carbon fibre sole isn’t the toughest, but we felt no discernible flex during all-out efforts. There’s also a deep central section on the sole that provides support for those with a high arch. The one-piece upper has a PU coating, which feels a little cheap, but it’s comfy for long days in the saddle. Eight mesh vents across the front are adequate to keep your feet cool in warmer weather, with further venting on the sole plate. The heel bumper can be replaced in the unlikely event of it wearing out, and you get movement in the cleat plates for optimum fitting.
Verdict: well-built shoes with a clever retention system 84%
Buy from www.pearlizumi.co.uk
Bontrager’s Velocis is impressively light at just 245g for our 10.5s. Though this is a higher end shoe in their range, there are some trade-offs compared to Bontrager’s top-of-the-range XXX shoe, including a blended fibreglass and carbon sole that doesn’t feel as stiff as Dhb’s Aeron Carbon sole. The shiny PU coating on the upper is a bit tacky, but it’s easy to wipe mud off them. The single BOA dial doesn’t quite offer the closeness in fit of shoes with two dials or a strap combination, but this makes them contenders for an Ironman road shoe if you value long-course comfort, as they do open out more than shoes with extra dials and straps. If you don’t agree with the salmon colour, then they also come in black and white.
Verdict: impressively light, but with a few compromises 77%
Buy from www.leisurelakesbikes.com
Shimano’s top-of-the-range shoe has an extremely stiff sole that’s built seamlessly into the upper to reduce weight and improve fit. The stack height is low yet the S-Phyres are hugely comfortable, with a soft double lining, two BOA dials and an adjustable perforated footbed that’s kept our feet happy up mountain passes, rides of 100 miles+ and races. A detailed guide on the sole gives precision cleat fixing, and there are drainage holes in the breathable upper for wet weather. Shimano’s confusing shoe hierarchy includes the excellent RC7s for less cash with few trade-offs, but the S-Phyre’s are a cut above in fit and stiffness. You also get System Socks included, which makes the price a little easier to swallow.
Verdict: expensive, but among the best-fitting shoes around 85%
Buy from www.merlincycles.com
If you can’t decide between dials, laces or Velcro, Giro’s Techlace system combines the lot in the Sentrie shoe. Two sets of laces feed into Velcro straps and provide closure across the midfoot, with a Boa LP6 dial at the top for extra precision. While practical enough not to be a gimmick, we didn’t find it better or worse than double Boa dials, but the laces do feel kind against your foot. The adjustable footbeds customise the shoe to suit your arch and, coupled with the carbon sole, it offers a stable yet plush feeling underfoot. The welded and bonded upper is robust, and there’s plenty of venting. Like other Giros, the Sentire is wide at the heel, so those with narrow feet might opt for a closer-fitting shoe.
Verdict: unusual closure system, but it works well here 89%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
Continue reading our guide to this year's best bike shoes (3/3)