Choosing the right cycling shoe

Finding the right shoe can seem like a difficult task, as there’s so much choice and variability between manufacturers. But there are a few easy ways to make sure you buy something that suits your needs.

The best place to start is with something called a brannock device, a tool which measures your feet for both length and width. Width is an often overlooked aspect when it comes to buying cycling shoes, but having shoes that are too narrow is one of the main causes of ‘hot foot’.

Having your feet measured by us won’t just allow you to identify the right shoe size in terms of length, it’ll also help identify whether you need to explore wide-fit models.

Most people tend to size-up when shoes feel narrow, but as a cycling shoe gets bigger, the threads to attach the cleat move further forwards. If you buy shoes that are too long, you may end up compromising cleat position and overloading your calf muscles if you can’t get the cleats far enough back – an important consideration if you’re a triathlete needing to run off the bike.

It’s worth noting that manufacturers drill the cleat holes in different places. Traditional Italian brands will often be further forwards, while US brands tend to be further back.

Shimano have a very good fore-aft adjustment built into their mid- to high-end shoes, which allows the threads themselves to move forwards and backwards.

The first brands that introduced this sliding thread allowed the threads to move freely, which made it hard to recreate cleat position as the threads would move as soon as your removed the old cleats.

Shimano get around this with some plastic inserts that hold the threads in place until you choose to move them. This additional fore-aft adjustment gives a lot more flexibility when it comes to setting cleats correctly, but it’s done in a way that also makes it easier to be consistent when replacing cleats, as the threads won’t move between set-ups.

Ventilation is another key factor if you suffer from hot feet in the summer. Some brands have ventilation built into the sole and others have ventilation built into the upper, but if hot feet is an issue for you then we recommend finding a shoe with both.

If you’re doing triathlon then it’s worth thinking about whether you need a specific triathlon shoe. Tri shoes often have a single strap and a large opening to make it easier getting your shoes on and off in transition, but they don’t tend to hold the foot as snuggly. On longer triathlons, where a fast transition time is less important, it might be worth considering a cycling shoe to improve comfort and support on the longer events.