Unless you have unfussy feet and have mastered T1, there’s a strong argument for buying road shoes instead of tri-specific versions if you can only budget for one pair. The fit of a road shoe is made more secure by the addition of a tongue and usually more points of closure to get a secure fit.
Tri shoes have additional heel loops for pulling them on faster, but this isn’t needed outside of a race and makes it more difficult to put overshoes over the top of them in winter. Tri shoes usually lack a tongue to further help with an easier entry and ventilation, which in the process does little to keep your feet warm.
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Considerable research goes into building shoes. Stephen Nemeth, chief executive of Bont Cycling, says: “The structural support required for cycling is very different to other sports. To design a last for a bike shoe, matters such as fit throughout the full range of motion, general foot and heel retention without restriction, and longitudinal and torsional stiffness has to be taken into consideration. And making sure your shoes fit properly is key to guarding against repetitive injuries.”
So, it’s wise to have a fitting and try before you buy as sizes can differ markedly between brands. The shoes in this test here vary greatly in price, design and style, and between them you should be able to seek out the perfect road shoe for you, whatever your budget and specific requirements.
How we tested
All the shoes were ridden out on the road for most of the test period, with the same Shimano SPD-SL cleats and pedals used for consistency. We also used the shoes indoors on Smart trainers (this time using Look Keo-compatible cleats and pedals), racking up over 100km in each shoe. As with most multisport gear, cycling shoe choice is very personal and, although we have a neutral and unfussy foot, we paid close attention to the construction of the shoes to determine what foot types they would be best for. Most rides were at a consistent pace, but some included explosive efforts to test out the sole stiffness and support to the max. Value for money was also considered.
The CX237 has an upper made from kangaroo leather, giving a gloriously supple feeling that’s naturally breathable on the road. While the leather isn’t as light as the toughest synthetic materials, the Duratec treatment should last for years. The carbon sole is amongst the stiffest on test and comparable to the S-Works 6 and Shimano Rc9 S-Phyre, which is impressive considering these cost £100 less.They’re roomy in standard sizing, but the CX237s are also offered in wide-fit options, which are worth seeking out if you’ve very wide feet. Lake insist on giving all their shoes code names, but if the superb fit, comfort and build of the CX237 is anything to go by, it’s because they value the important stuff over jazzy titles.
Verdict: Luxurious shoes that’ll suit most cyclists’ feet 92%
Buy from www.tredz.co.uk
Bont’s Riot Road+ offer heat mouldable custom fitting at a reasonable price, and there aren’t many compromises compared to their top-end Vaypor S shoes. You simply stick them in the oven on a low heat for 20mins, then hold in place around your foot while they cool down. They offer a tightening solution of one BOA dial and two straps and, although the wire for the dial is a bit long and flimsy, the closure system works fine. The layered carbon and fibreglass sole is slightly harsher than full carbon but is perfectly manageable for long rides. The shoe is wide from the outset so may not be quite right for those with narrow feet, but with a personalised fit and five colour options, the Riot Road+ are a great option for the rest of us.
Verdict: Ingenious shoes that are great value for custom fit 91%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk
The Aeron Carbon are Dhb’s first shoes truly aimed at the performance cyclist. The full carbon sole offers power transfer as good as those on shoes at double the price. The polyurethane upper lacks the supple feeling of leather or more highly-engineered synthetics, and isn’t vented as well, but for an off-season triathlete this is a negligible issue. The ATOP ratchet closure system gives a secure enough fit but it’s just not as convenient or fit for purpose as a dial. It also gets horribly caught when used in combination with overshoes and damaged ours where it poked out of the end. So go for the Aeron Carbon with ATOP’s dial system instead if you want a quality and unpretentious shoe that offers really good value for money.
Verdict: top value, but we’d opt for the dial closure versions 80%
Buy from www.wiggle.co.uk