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triathlon bike shoes: 10 of the best reviewed

As well as a good fit and a stiff sole, triathletes also need bike shoes that are easy to get on and off in a hurry. Jack Sexty tests 10 of the best to see which ones tick all the boxes

Louis Garneau X-Lite II


Louis Garneau’s X-Lite shoes impressed us a great deal last year and this new version has a redesigned heel retention system to reduce power loss. The updated shoes certainly  seem more rock-solid, but it was the featherlight, almost sock-like feel that we really liked about the X-Lites we tested last year, and some of that seems to have been lost. Indeed, the X-Lite II shoes have each gained 19g. This small criticism aside, they’re still a fine pair of shoes, with the straps fastening near the tongues to prevent any overhang. Generously sized heel loops make for fast and easy transitions, and there’s a mini loop on the instep for elastic bands. They’re well ventilated and there’s even a reflector on the heel for extra visibility.

Verdict: Nice, but we slightly preferred last year’s version! 85%

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Spiuk Trivium 


The entry-level Trivium is a new shoe for Spiuk this season and, like the Giro and Shimano shoes (p68), is compatible with two- and three-bolt cleats. The upper is mostly soft mesh, which provides good ventilation and the heel loop is big enough to be yanked on easily. But we felt the Trivium comes up short in the power transfer stakes. The basic polyamide soles are especially noticeable on big climbs and whenever you stand on the pedals they feel flexy underfoot. There was also some overhang from the strap, and it took several adjustments to stop them catching on the cranks. Straps may be quicker than Boa dials through transition but they need to
be positioned better to stop them catching.

Verdict: Decent value shoes with a couple of niggles 70%

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Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Elite V6 


The main strap on Pearl Izumi’s Tri Fly Elite fastens towards the outside, like the Specialized Trivent SC. It’s unusual for a tri shoe but makes sense as there’s no danger of it catching on your cranks. The lack of tongues means they’re surprisingly easy to get into after mounting your bike, and also makes for good ventilation. The carbon sole is rock solid – ideal for aggressive riding. A very low stack height of 5mm allows for maximum pedalling efficiency and, to counter the minimal height, a hugely comfortable insole is included that provides good arch support. At £170 they’re by no means cheap, but they’re a lot less than Scott’s Carbon Tri while manging to  offer comparative levels of performance.

Verdict: A quality high-performance shoe for fast riding 87%

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Northwave Tribute


Northwave’s Tribute shoes come with a Speedplay plate in the soles as standard, which means you don’t have to use an adapter if you favour Speedplay pedals. The Tributes are good all-rounders and the supple leather used to make the uppers feels luxurious. For us they lacked the same high-level of stiffness found on the Scott, Specialized and Pearl Izumi shoes on test, but they’re nice, soft and mould to your feet well. While not exactly essential, extra Velcro panels on the outside of the shoe to hold the straps open while they’re in transition is a neat touch. We found they size up quite big compared to other shoes, which forced us to use an additional insole, so try before you buy.

Verdict: Supple shoe with some neat extra features 81%

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Continue reading our guide to this year's best tri bike shoes (3/3)


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