10 Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes of 2020

Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes

As you already know all too well, every single second of a triathlon is vital.  There is no time to be wasted, so any movements that are not directly linked to your success can hold you back from breaking your personal record or stop you from reaching your ultimate goal.  One part of the equation is your footwear.  Your shoes have a very big say in how well you can do, allowing you to either prosper or be held back.  One aspect of footwear in a triathlon is going to be the shoes you wear while you are on the cycling portion of the event.  Today, we are going to be taking a close look at the best and most popular triathlon cycling shoes on the market in our buying guide.  Not only do you need something that is going to help you cut down your times, but you’ll also need something comfortable.  So, let’s get to finding the right pair for you!

Top Triathlon Cycling Shoes Comparison Chart

ProductMaterialsPriceWhere to Buy?
1. Gavin Triathlon Mesh Cycling ShoesSynthetic microfiber leather with mesh$$Check Price On Amazon
2. Fizik F5 Road Cycling Carbon Reinforced ShoesSynthetic$$$$Check Price On Amazon
3. TriSeven Premium Nylon Triathlon Cycling ShoesSynthetic, microfibre, nylon, mesh$$$Check Price On Amazon
4. Louis Garneau Men’s Tri X-Speed III Triathlon ShoesSynthetic leather upper, nylon outsole$$$$Check Price On Amazon
5. Mavic Cosmic Elite Triathlon Cycling ShoesSynthetic microfiber, mesh$$$$$Check Price On Amazon
6. Tommaso Veloce 100 Triathlon Road Cycling ShoesSynthetic leather upper with mesh$$Check Price On Amazon
7. Pearl Izumi Men’s Tri Fly Select V6 Cycling Shoes87% Rubber/13% Textile$$$$Check Price On Amazon

Triathlon Cycling Shoes Buying Guide

Getting The Best From Your Equipment

It should go without saying that in order to be the best, you have to have the best equipment.  For many of us, though, we are never going to be the best, nor do we want to be.  We simply want to be the best that we can be.  And that’s just fine.  Still yet, the only way to ensure we truly are able to attack the course and achieve our best possible time is by having the proper equipment to actually get the job done.  You can’t do so without a good pair of cycling shoes.  If you truly are to the point where you are ready to move to the next level in the world of triathlons, then you need to make the move up the ladder by using a real pair of cycling shoes.  You can choose to start with just a general pair of cycling shoes if you like, or you can go straight to ones that are made with triathlons in mind.  Either way, you will be making progress, and that’s what we all truly seek to achieve, isn’t it?  Wearing any old pair of shoes will only cut it for so long, so this guide is all about maximizing your time!

Choosing the Right Fit

Depending upon the type of shoe we are talking about, fit can sometimes be a minimal part of the entire process.  Some shoe types are going to be able to handle you having shoes that are slightly bigger or smaller, while some activities will require your shoes to have a very precise, snug fit.  Cycling, especially triathlon cycling, is one of those sports where you absolutely need to have shoes that fit very well and snugly on your feet.  The reason for this is because of the time it takes between the transition.  If you have a pair of shoes that are going to be tight, then that makes putting them on super tough to do.  That can eat up very valuable seconds, allowing your opponent or your desired time slip out of your fingers.  Even if you do manage to get them on reasonably well, you’ll then have the potential issue of a blister forming while you are riding.  This may not seem like an awful thing, but it will be when you factor in the fact that you have a long run to come after the biking portion.  So, you’ll end up having to muscle through that painful, irritating blister for a long, long time.  Far, far from ideal really, and definitely something you’re going to want to definitely avoid from happening.  Having shoes that are too large can also be a problem, too.  They can slip off too easily and will never be all that comfortable.  While there is much more about comfort than merely getting the best fit possible, this is a very big part of it and should not be glanced over for other things that might seem more vital to you.  Without the right fit, you won’t have the comfort or necessary support to help you during the middle part of the event.  Also, you can’t forget about the transition out of the shoes and into your running shoes.  Like the initial transition, it’s going to be made so much harder without a nice fit to them.  So choose wisely and never sacrifice your sizing!

Materials

Another huge aspect of the entire comfort equation is going to come via the materials that are used.  If you find yourself with inferior materials, you can just about guarantee yourself that your time will be inferior in relation to what you want it to be.  Obviously, that’s not what you want to aim for, not at all.  You want to have a great time, so in order to meet that goal you’ve got to have something that is comfortable on your feet.  One of the things that you need to make sure that you are able to withstand the long bike ride is flexibility.  Flexibility means that you have a chance to move your feet around freely.  If you can flex your toes and your ankles just a little bit, it’s massive.  This can prevent your foot from getting ‘stuck’ and thus causing cramps to end up eventually forming.  This is not something anyone wants to mess with, so being able to move and get, and keep, blood flow in there, is just ideal.  It’s not ideal, it’s downright necessary, in fact.

Another thing you will want to think about having is something that does well to dry quickly.  It might not seem like a huge deal, but when you come out of the water from the swim, you will have to chuck those shoes on and get down to the job of biking.  Your feet are still going to be a little wet from the swim, so you will want a pair of shoes that will be able to dry relatively quickly.  Some people will not care about this as much, but you will have to put up with damp feet throughout if you do this.  On cooler days, this is a recipe for potential sickness and other problems, so it’s not a good idea.  This is one aspect that separates a pair of cycling shoes from a pair of cycling shoes that are made for triathlons.

A related issue to shoes that dry quickly is that of breathability.  Many people assume the two are the same, but that’s not always the case at all.  Breathability comes when you have some way for your shoes to air themselves out, basically.  This means that they need to have some holes built into them to allow ventilation.  As stated, you can have both breathability and quick drying features, but they don’t always go hand in hand, so be aware of that.  You might just have to settle for one or the other, but in many cases you will not have to do so.  The best materials for your uppers, which is the upper portion of the shoes that can be viewed when you look straight down, is going to be some combination of synthetic leathers with mesh.  Mesh is superb at providing you with ventilation and flexibility, too, but it does lack in terms of durability.  That is where the synthetics come in, essentially ensuring that there is plenty of that about them.  By using a blend on them both, you can get the best of both worlds.

In terms of the soles of the shoe, which are obviously going to be the bottoms, the material that is most commonly going to be used is that of carbon fiber.  What this material is very good at is giving you a lot of stiffness to help you when you are pedaling hard and powerfully.  Whether it’s going up an incline or just trying to maximize your speed around a fairly subdued corner, they can be of big help to you.  You should also look for shoes that have reinforcement in the heels and toes as well.  Rubber in the heels will help supply you with more support and traction in those dreaded transition zones, while toe protection is going to help them last longer and will help while in the transition if you have a slight mishap.

Regardless of what you end up going with, what you definitely need to focus on is having a pair of shoes that utilize a lightweight group of materials.  The more weight you have to carry, the less comfortable you are ultimately going to be.  On top of that, it’s also going to add drag to your body.  That occurs because you are heaping more weight upon yourself, causing you to end up being slower than you should be.  It may seem crazy, but a few ounces can make a difference, particularly if you are trying to cut seconds off of your time or compete with the very best athletes in the world.

Cleats

This is one part of the process that you might not have any clue about, and that’s OK.  We’re here, after all, to help you figure it out, so that’s what we’re going to do.  Believe it or not, cycling shoes can and do come with ‘cleats’ to them.  This might seem like a made up thing, but it’s an actual occurrence.  The key thing that you have to make sure of with these cleats is that they are compatible with the bike that you have handy.  Most of the time, you are not going to have to worry about this because the shoes you see are going to be what is called “SPD” triathlon shoes.  If you see this, it means they are approved and are compatible with most road bikes and are thus easy to lock into while making a transition, which is a crucial part of the triathlon.  Some shoes, though, will not be compatible with all bikes.  You just have to be sure that your pedals match up to them, otherwise you will have some issues.  It won’t just be transition, either.  you’ll also find yourself having problems accelerating and getting the most out of your time.  You might find your foot slipping from the pedal, for example, or maybe even getting caught in them.  To avoid this, you have to find a pair that’s compatible.  Some bike shoes even come with pedals to make sure they match up.  So, if you want to be 100% sure they match, that’s one way you can certainly do just that!

Fastening

We will continue to relentlessly pound on how important the transition is to you, and we do so here by talking about how you close the shoes off.  In normal shoes, the traditional method is to have shoe laces.  Laces are great because they allow you to make all sorts of adjustments.  If you want your feet to have a breather, you just loosen them up.  If you need more support for an activity, you tighten them up.  The issue, though, is that they do take some time to tie.  Very valuable time if you are in the middle of a race.  It could take you ten to 20 seconds, and that’s just if you are an expert at tying and aren’t too rickety from the swim portion of the event.  For cycling shoes, especially those in the realm of triathlons, you need to be sure to have something that avoids.  In order to do this, you want to find a pair of shoes that has no laces.  In fact, the fastest way to get them on and off is going to be a strap.  Velcro is the best option in many cases, and all you’ve got to do is pull them on your feet and then strap them on.  It’s a very quick process and then you’ll be on the way to your bike.  Another very helpful measure is a heel loop.  With this feature, you can just tug on the at the back to get them on correctly, even doing so as you walk or run if you’re truly an expert at it.  Of course, if time isn’t as big to you as just finishing the race, then you might settle for something a bit more traditional.  That’s OK, too.  It’s just all up to you and your individual wants and needs!

Gender and Shoes

One thing you will want to keep an eye on when looking for cycling shoes is whether they are made for men, women, or both.  There is a lot of debate out there about this topic, and a lot of differing opinions have come down the pike for sure.  In our opinion, it’s best to go with a shoe that fits into your gender.  Shoes made for males are made to be wider, absorb more punishment, and are shaped a little differently than those for females.  Women’s shoes are more narrow, not quite as supportive relatively speaking, and will, as mentioned above, be shaped in a different manner to emphasize different anatomical features.  Then, you have the unisex option as well.  Some cycling shoes are made in this light.  If you are looking at one, that’s fine, but you have to make sure it does what you need it to.  If you have wider feet as a lady, you’ll be just fine, but if you have wide feet as a guy, you might be in a spot of bother with them.  So, just make sure you pay extra close attention to the sizing charts and what others have to say before you assume they will be good.  In an ideal world, you’d try them on, but we all know very few of us are going to leave the safe bubble of the internet to do that!

Transition Tips

There are few things that might be done in order for you to get the most out of your time on the course, and a lot of those tips can be found via the transition.  This time can really add or subtract time for you and can make your whole race a bit more comfortable.  Here’s a few tips to help you get better at them:

– Put your shoes on as soon as you get in the transition zone.  Some people do this backwards, but it can cause some problems if you do.  You won’t have as much grip and you’ll just be standing at the bike once you do arrive.  You might even get their a bit faster if you slip your shoes on before heading out on course.  This is a good practice because not all transition zones will be grass!

– Practice your transitions.  If you are going into a triathlon for the first time, it’s a daunting task. Rather than just concentrating on swimming, biking, and running, though, you should be thinking about the other things, too.  Things like what to eat and drink, when and how, and also how to do transitions. This shouldn’t be something you do for hours daily, but it’s well worth your time to become familiar with the process so you don’t end up disappointed with the end result.

The Top Seven Triathlon Cycling Shoes of 2019 Reviews

  1. Gavin Triathlon Mesh Cycling Shoes

Kicking off our list today is one of the best triathlon cycling shoes out there, especially for the absurd value you get. These shoes are not only going to come in at a good price, but they are also going to last quite a while, too, making them a great ‘double’ value choice. With a Nylon fiberglass sole, they take a slightly different approach but still one that will see them hold up for a while.  With an upper made with synthetics and a ton of mesh, you will get a ton of breathability built in.  With two adjustable straps, they are easy to get on and get to feeling just right.  In addition to the heel pull tab, they also have got a heel cup that is reflective, allowing you to be spotted easily and keeping you locked into the shoes.  Best of all is that they have a ton of compatibility with all kinds of pedals, helping you reach your goals!

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Very long lasting pair
  • Tons of mesh for breathability
  1. Fizik F5 Road Cycling Carbon Reinforced Shoes

Coming in at number two is a pair of cycling shoes that aren’t specifically designed for triathlons but can certainly be used for them very well due to their adjustable nature. With three straps on them, they can be tweaked to fit you just right and can be put on and taken off relatively quickly. They may not be as fast as some others, but they will put most ordinary cycling shoes away for sure.  With a nylon composite sole, they are going to be able to uphold a ton of use.  But the beauty is that this type of sole has made them so that they give you both power and comfort, no longer requiring you to pick one over the other.  In fact, they have put their money where their mouth is with that, giving you a two-year manufacturer’s warranty on them.  That’s a huge deal and it drives confidence in them through the roof.

Pros:

  • Two year warranty offered
  • Power and comfort
  • Three straps for adjustments

Cons:

  • Slightly slower transition time
  1. TriSeven Premium Nylon Triathlon Cycling Shoes

Another example of a nylon sole comes in the form of these unisex shoes from TriSeven. These are made to be compatible with all SPD and SPD-SL pedals, helping you to launch just right. These are made with a lot of carbon, helping to reduce the weight and make these their lightest shoes produced.  With plenty of mesh in the upper and on the sides of the tongue, you’ll be sure to have that excess sweat melt away before your very eyes.  Thanks to having just one large strap over the top and a heel tab in the back to pull on, you’ll be able to have a super fast and efficient transition.  One thing to keep an eye on is that these do run small, so you will need to adjust accordingly to that fact and make sure you have the right specs for your own feet.  With that said, they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you aren’t happy you can talk to them and get your issue sorted out!

Pros:

  • Trusted by professional riders
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Super fast transitions
  1. Louis Garneau Men’s Tri X-Speed III Triathlon Shoes

If you are looking for a pair of shoes that are versatile for all types of cycling, then you shouldn’t look much further. These shoes are made for the transition that comes with triathlons, but they can also do a brilliant job for normal races and for indoor biking as well, such is their lightweight and useful design. With a single Velcro strap running across the fore foot and a heel tab to pull them off and on with, they will shave time off your overall finishing time.  With an actual standard fit to them as well, you can count on them having enough room for feet and toes to splay out a bit, helping you on those longer rides that are a part of the triathlon scene.  With mesh up top and nylon and fiberglass beneath, you get a lot of breathability and stiffness, giving you plenty of air and the ability to pedal faster and harder for those long, hard durations.

Pros:

  • Breathes and is rigid
  • Extreme versatility
  • Super fast transition times
  1. Mavic Cosmic Elite Triathlon Cycling Shoes

These shoes are the highest priced ones on our list, but they are not ones you should automatically discount because of that fact. With some very specific features to them, this is built for a niche audience and one that is very much geared toward certain aspects. One of those things is going to be comfort.  By using an ortholite insert in the footbed, you’re going to get exquisite comfort, unlike so many of the others out there.  These just go above and beyond.  They also differ from many in that they have a 3-hole cleat compatibility, so you will want to make sure you have some that match up with it.  With a single strap that is designed ergonomically, you can count on it being super supportive and faster than most during the transition.

Pros:

  • Very, very comfortable footbed
  • Supportive strap
  • Fast transitions

Cons:

  • Quite a high cost
  1. Tommaso Veloce 100 Triathlon Road Cycling Shoes

If you are looking to go to the other side of the price range, then you can take a look at the Veloce from Tommaso. These shoes, despite the lower price than most on the list, come with a lot of guarantees behind them. They are guaranteed to fit you well, and they offer 100% free returns as well as a two year manufacturer warranty.  It’s hard to overlook that at the exceptional price they offer.  On top of all of that, they have great compatibility and are powerful enough for your journey to quicker times thanks to the use of fiberglass that reinforces the sole.  They do have a couple of straps, so that will take a slightly longer period of time to get them on, but overall they have a lot of usefulness and will be quick to get on and get you on your way to the finish line!

Pros:

  • Awesome price
  • Guaranteed to fit and two year warranty
  • Free and easy returns

Cons:

  • Not quick as fast or comfy
  1. Pearl Izumi Men’s Tri Fly Select V6 Cycling Shoes

Rounding out our list today is another of the mid range price point shoes. These Izumi shoes from Pearl are a great choice for anyone that wants to get rid of those instep irritations that oh too many shoes cause. With a closure that seeks to triangulate the foot, you can count on less pressure being applied in that area.  With EVA foam placed in the midsoles and heels and a heel bumper, you get more stability and comfort when you are in the transition zone, all without added weight.  With carbon fiber in the fore foot, you get a lot of stiffness without much weight added as well, helping to propel you closer to your goals.  With a seamless upper as well, you better believe these will last longer, seeing as how tears will be much harder to occur.  One thing to keep in mind is that they can run small and narrow, so you will need to take a careful examination of the sizes when ordering.

Pros:

  • EVA is comfy and stable
  • Doesn’t add extra weight but reinforces well
  • Very long lasting choice

Cons:

  • Runs small and narrow for some

Conclusion And Final Triathlon Cycling Shoes Recommendations

With triathlon cycling shoes, there are two main concerns that you need to look for, as we have seen today: comfort and time saving.  If you have those two things, then you can just about guarantee that you have the right shoes beneath you.  Everything else almost just takes care of itself.  Of course, there are more specifics to get into, as we have looked at, but at the end of the day, if you are comfortable over the long haul and are able to have a pair that reduces the time needed in the transition, then you have it readily handled.  After our buying guide today, you’ll be in a much better, more informed position to make a great decision.  Based on our reviews, you’ll be able to either find a pair you love, or you will at least have somewhere to begin your search to eventual greatness!

FAQ’s About Triathlon Cycling Shoes

Should I Wear Socks?

This is one of those things that is totally up to you, but we would recommend that you refrain from wearing socks.  Socks are just going to take up a lot of time to put on, since you’re not going to be able to wear them during the swim, anyway.  Even if you did, they would be soaked, and they would create a ton of discomfort.  While some might feel they can go a long way toward preventing blisters, and that is true for many socks with various shoe types, they just aren’t nearly as effective here.  Getting the proper size is going to be the majority of the battle for you, not wearing socks that end up being a pain in the you know what.

How Do I Get Better at Transitions?

The only way to truly get better is by repetition.  You don’t get good overnight at hitting a baseball, running, or just about anything in sports.  You practice, practice, and practice until you are good at it, and then you continue to hone your craft and perfect it over time.  This is done by consistently doing it.  For anyone new to triathlons, it’s well worth your time to practice the little things.  Transitions are actually not a little thing, but they can feel like it since it’s such a seemingly small amount of the overall event.  By practicing them, as well as working on things like what you are going to eat and drink while on the course ahead of time, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition and should be well on your way to doing the best possible job that you can do.

Do I Need a Triathlon-Only Pair of Shoes?

This really just depends on what your ultimate goals are.  If you’re trying to smash your personal best times or truly trying to compete with the best around, then yes you do need a triathlon specific pair of cycling shoes.  But if you are just getting into the sport, then you could find yourself getting a lot of use out of a general pair of cycling shoes.  You can’t expect the same amount of performance, to be honest, but you will be able to have some support.  The main difference will be the additional trouble at getting them on and off, as well as them possibly being less breathable and a little bit heavier.  However, they will be more heavy duty and should hold up a bit longer, so that is a major positive to take from them.

Do I Need Neon or Flashy Shoes?

Some cyclists will believe that they have to have a pair of very flashy shoes without a shadow of a doubt.  That, however, is not totally necessary.  While you can be aided as far as visibility goes by wearing a pair of shoes that have neon colors, it’s not exactly the best way a bike rider to be seen.  The most real estate on our bodies will be via our torso and mid sections, so wearing a bright, vibrant top is a much better choice here.  If they don’t see that, you’re up the creek anyway.  A pair of shoes is hardly visible to many folks, so it’s really not a critical part of this, unlike a shirt.

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