NOTHING BEATS A NEW PAIR OF KICKS. HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST ROAD AND MOUNTAIN MODELS.
To maximize the quality of any ride, it’s essential that the shoes you choose fit you well. You should feel comfortable not only in the physical sense, but also in knowing that you have the best shoe for your intended riding style. While there are lots of unisex options out there, here we’re focusing on women-specific models for both the mountain and the road.
While all shoes across both genders share similar features—construction, materials, cleat patterns, closure systems, soles—it’s what you don’t see that makes women’s shoes unique. They’re built around a woman’s last, which results in a shoe with a more tapered fit that’s narrower around the ball of the foot and in the heel. Sizes typically run smaller, too.
Now that you’e decided women-specific shoes are the way to go, it’s time to narrow down the type of riding for which you’ll need them. To keep it simple, we’ve split it into two categories: road and mountain.
High-end road shoes typically use a three-bolt cleat system compatible with Shimano, Look, and Look look-alike pedals. Some offer a four-bolt system compatible with Speedplay pedals. Low- and midrange shoes often incorporate a two-bolt pattern, as well, for use with double-sided pedals (think mountain bike), which are easier to clip into. A road shoe’s sole is smooth and stiff to maximize pedaling efficiency, and its upper is usually made of a supple leather or synthetic material to provide a comfortable, snug fit. The heel cup is often reinforced for stiffness to prevent your foot from slipping out midride.
Unlike road shoes, which offer a variety of cleat patterns, clipless mountain shoes are two-bolt only and have rubber lugs to aid in walking. Higher-end clipless shoes often have carbon soles that rival those of road shoes for stiffness, but with some toe flex for walking. Uppers are heavier duty to withstand more rugged trail conditions and are sometimes reinforced in the toe and heel to provide more durability.
But not every mountain shoe uses cleats. Skate-style flat shoes have a sticky sole that grips to a platform pedal’s surface and makes mounting and dismounting easier. This type of shoe is ideal for stop-and-go traffic or on gnarly trails where you may have to bail quickly. What you lose in efficiency (you can’t pull up on your pedals the way you can when you’re clipped in), you gain in confidence (knowing you have an easy escape might make you try that tricky section you’ve been avoiding).
Multiple Closure Options
Laces: In addition to their trendy, retro appeal, laces provide a light, simple, effective, and easy-to-repair closure, and can accommodate unique foot shapes. Downside: They can’t be adjusted midride.
Hook and Loop: You know it as Velcro. This type of strap is light and easy to adjust midride. There can be multiple straps on the shoe that let you adjust tension at different points, and in some cases Velcro straps are combined with Boa systems for even more fine-tuning options. Downside: Over time, those little hooks and loops can lose their ability to grip each other.
Dial: This type of closure system beats all others for its top-notch closing force, on-the-fly micro-adjustability, and resistance to the elements. It’s also the most secure when locked in place. Found on most mid- to high-end shoes, Boa rules the dial-closure system, but it’s not the only one out there. Atop and Northwave make one, too. Downside: Dials can get jammed or damaged (though they’re often repairable or replaceable).
Level of Stiffness Is a Personal Preference
A higher-end shoe often has a stiff, carbon sole, which is lighter and most efficient at transferring power to the pedals, but can often cause discomfort due to hot spots. Lower-cost shoes often use nylon to give the sole more flex, but at the expense of pedaling efficiency. Midrange shoes typically use carbon-composite materials for a sole that falls somewhere between stiff and comfortable.
Fi'zi:k Women’s R5B Uomo
Ergonomic padding helps reduce pressure points
These sleek, gray shoes—with subtle spots of electric blue that pop when you dart out of the pack for a sprint—look like they belong in the pro peloton. They are constructed from a laser-perforated, carbon-reinforced nylon outsole, which makes for a relatively light and efficient, yet forgiving, feel. They secure tightly to your feet with the Boa IP1 closure system, which hugs your foot without creating pressure points. The insole is ergonomically padded with foam to help reduce pressure at contact areas.
A protective enduro shoe with a sleek profile
The Tario has a comfortable and supple upper that is covered by a material that resembles fish scales. It’s called GnarGuard and is there to protect your feet by acting as a layer of light armor. A higher cut in the back of the shoe protects your ankles but reduces breathability slightly, making them feel warmer than some trail and XC models. The overall fit feels snug and hugs the shape of the foot well. A Boa dial keeps your foot in position without feeling tight and leaves plenty of room for your toes. The sleek look stands out amongst other enduro shoes and makes it more attractive. It’s a great shoe for rowdy enduro rides.
Giro Factress Techlace
The exceptional fit is secured with a combination of laces, Velcro, and Boa
The Techlace hybrid system has woven laces that are secured and tensioned with Velcro straps and complemented with a Boa system. It features an ultralight, microfiber upper designed to be highly breathable and durable; a stiff and light Easton EC90 SLX carbon-fiber outsole; insoles with adjustable arch support and an anti-microbial topsheet. The Factress is slightly lower volume and narrower in the heel than the men’s version. Pedaling efficiency felt excellent, as the shoe doesn’t flex under hard efforts but isn’t overly stiff as to cause discomfort. The Techlace combined with Boa makes this a very easy shoe to get in and out of.
Four Awesome Women’s Jerseys
Classic black with bold stars.
$84.95 | Competitive Cyclist
Belle Glow Jersey
A pop of color adds visibility.
$89.99 | Competitive Cyclist
Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Graphic Jersey
Sleek racing stripes.
$125 | Competitive Cyclist
Maloja OrensiaM. APO Jersey
Floral pattern and deep pockets.
$114.95 | Competitive Cyclist
Mavic Echappée W Shoe
An entry-level shoe with laces
Most lace-up cycling shoes are blingy, premium-priced models. But Mavic’s bringing laces to the people. “Most entry-level shoes come with Velcro straps,” says product manager Aaron Walker. “We wanted to offer something that actually looks cool.” The fiberglass and nylon outsole on the (and its men’s counterpart, the ) is the least stiff that Mavic makes, but we found it rigid enough for everyday riding. It shares the same low profile—a 7mm thickness—as the company’s high-end carbon outsoles, keeping your foot closer to the pedal spindle (Mavic says this transfers power more efficiently). Combined with the supple synthetic leather upper and even pressure from the laces, this is an exceptionally comfortable shoe. The laces hold tension well and, once tied, stay flat thanks to an elastic keeper.
Stylish and performance-oriented for smaller feet
A women-specific, full-carbon last gives Shimano’s SH-WR84 road a fit that’s made for smaller feet. A ratcheting upper strap paired with two lower Velcro straps lets the tastefully styled synthetic upper comfortably conform to your foot’s shape. These shoes offer a solid value and, with a sole stiffness index of 10 out of 12 on Shimano’s scale, lots of performance to go with it.
Specialized Women’s 2FO ClipLite Lace
A downhill style shoe that’s light and comfortable
With downhill-shoe looks, a sturdy reinforced toe box, and chunky sole, the 2FO ClipLite Lace is designed for aggressive trail and enduro riding. Compared with many trail shoes that are similarly priced, the ClipLite is lightweight and has an impressively stiff, wide sole and deep cleat channel. The tread design makes clipping in and out easy (it doesn’t catch anywhere on the sole), but provides a grippy and comfortable walking platform. Along with a good fit on the heel cup, there’s no heel lift, so pedaling feels efficient and direct. The laces hold tension well throughout a ride, and an elastic keeper holds the tied ends flat.
Bontrager Tinari Women’s MTB shoes
Great looking and ready to race
After a few mountain bike stage races and a full cyclocross season in these shimmering silver shoes, I’m happy to report that they were comfortable from the moment I cinched them up. The carbon-fiberglass composite sole is light and stiff. When you punch the pedals out of corners on the ’cross course, there’s no power lost. The single Boa IP1 dial makes them super easy to adjust on the fly. The heel cup is lined with cat tongue–like material, so your foot doesn’t slip out when you’re off the bike jumping barriers, running through deep mud, or hike-a-biking on the trail. The soles are grippy for scampering across slippery terrain. They even look great when they’re dirty, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of shoes.
5.10 Freerider Pro Women’s
Durable, grippy, and quick drying
Type: Flat, mountain
FiveTen redesigned its legendary Freerider Pro to keep the same level of grip and durability while being less bulky. It keeps the freakishly grippy Stealth S1 rubber sole that made it famous and gets a new synthetic upper, which is weather resistant and quicker to dry than older models. The toe box now offers more protection via a four-layer, impact-resistant foam.
Fi'zi:k R4B Donna
Beautiful design with performance at heart
Underneath their striking looks is serious performance. The carbon-injected sole is stiff enough that I’m convinced all watts fire directly into the pedals, yet not so rigid as to be uncomfortable. Air circulates noticeably through the laser-cut uppers, front and rear vents in the sole, and perforated insoles. The Boa dial closure cinches tight and makes adjustments easy even when I’m churning along in a pack, and the supple microfiber upper feels like a second sock. The tongue, clad in glossy teal, is sewn in place so it doesn’t shift around and chafe.
Pearl Izumi X-Road Fuel-v5 Women’s
They look like sneakers but have cycling features
Type: Commuter, mountain
This may look like a casual sneaker, but it has cycling-specific features that make it great for about-town riding. The sole will flex to make walking easier, but X-Road nylon plates makes sure you get a decent level of power transfer when pedaling. The two-hole recessed cleat system makes it easy to walk in them, and the built in lace-retention design ensures your laces don’t get stuck in the spokes when riding. They provide good support, are comfortable, and don’t look out of place off the bike.
Dual closure systems and room move your toes
Twisting the Boa L6 dial on the Sonic women’s road shoe tiny turns at a time until ideal snugness is achieved around the midfoot is not unlike the oddly satisfying feeling of having your blood pressure taken (there’s just something about that cuff slowly inflating around your arm). Then finish up fit by cinching down the single Velcro strap across the front. The inForm Race last leaves plenty of room for toes to wiggle without feeling squeezed, and the PowerTruss sole is said to be about halfway between stiff and comfortable. The Sonic is available in eight sizes and is two- and three-bolt SPD compatible. As for your blood pressure, a ride in these perforated, purple beauties will no doubt keep your numbers in check
Resource: BY THE EDITORS / https://www.bicycling.com/bikes-gear/a22530683/best-womens-cycling-shoes/