The Best Road and Gravel Shoes of 2022
Step up your cycling game with these road, gravel, and spin shoes
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Footwear is a critical connection to your bike, so choosing the right cycling shoes comes second only to selecting a saddle. Of the 24 pairs of shoes we tested over the course of the past summer, these are the four that stood out for high-performance and entry-level road riding, hot-weather gravel grinding, and spins at the gym.
Shimano S-Phyre RC902 ($430)
Shimano’s top-of-the-line S-Phyre RC902 is our pick for the best no-expense-spared road shoe. The rigid carbon sole provides a stiff pedaling platform, and the BOA Li2 dial makes this shoe easy to adjust on the fly. We also like the ability to change the cable-lacing pattern at the forefoot to increase or decrease forefoot tension and further customize the fit. The RC902 has a slightly narrower forefoot than some of its competitors. Thankfully, Shimano also offers a wide version of the RC902 that’s suited to cyclists with high-volume feet.
Specialized S-Works Recon Vent Evo ($425)
Many gravel races take place in the sweltering midsummer heat. Specialized’s new S-Works Recon Vent Evo handles those conditions extremely well, thanks to large mesh panels that promote airflow. We’ve logged hundreds of hot-weather miles in the shoe and have been impressed with its breezy comfort—and the ultrastiff carbon sole, which produces efficient power transfer. Plus, we love the ability to fine-tune the fit with the S3 Boa dials, particularly on long rides.
Bontrager Cadence ($140)
Traditional road shoes have stiff soles that are purpose-built for pedaling performance, but they’ll have you waddling like a penguin when you’re off the bike. If you ride a lot in the virtual world of Zwift or in a spin studio, consider Bontrager’s Cadence. This indoor-focused cycling shoe pairs a two-bolt interface with an EVA-padded insole and rubber outsole that emphasize walkability, and thus look and feel at home in the gym. The single Boa dial makes it a snap to adjust.
Giro Stylus ($100)
The Stylus is great for new riders investing in their first pair of clipless shoes, as well as for deal-savvy cyclists of all ability levels. This stylish model looks like it should cost twice as much as its asking price. The synthetic, one-piece upper wraps around the foot without seams or stitching that can create pressure points. But Giro’s designers packed in immense value by combining that premium construction with a budget-friendly, yet very secure, three-strap Velcro closure. The reinforced nylon and fiberglass sole is likewise economical, and yet stiff enough for sprints or century rides.