All Different Types of Cycling Shoes

A complete guide with all the different types of cycling shoes and their main features. It also includes valuable information about cycling shoes.

Cycling shoes help you improve your performance, optimizing motion transfer between your feet and the pedals. In addition, they’re more resistant than regular sneakers, guaranteeing a longer durability.

These shoes have threaded holes on the outsole so different types of cleats can be adapted. Cleats help keep your feet stuck on the pedals and evenly distribute pressure on the balls of your feet.

Each kind of cycling shoe gives you different results. Some help you move faster on the road. Others help you walk better on uneven terrain.  In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of cycling shoes that you can currently find on the market. That way, you can get more reliable preparation to choose the most appropriate pair of shoes for you.

Read more: Best Indoor Cycling Shoes Reviews & Buying Guide

What are Cycling Shoes?

Cycling shoes have a rugged construction to withstand the repetitive impacts of pedaling. The outsole design also helps keep your feet stuck on the pedals. That way, you lose less energy, getting more travel for less pedal strokes.

Cycling shoes have rigid outsoles with small plastic or carbon fiber protrusions known as cleats. The cleats fit inside rails attached to the pedals, holding your feet in the same position. Cleats can come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the brand and model of the shoe.

Wider cleats are more efficient at transferring circular motion. However, they may be a bit uncomfortable for walking. Thin cleats are better for mountain biking because they help you move better over uneven terrain.

Before clipless pedals became popular, professional cyclists used to use toe-clips to keep feet on the pedals. Toe clips are small metal cages on the front of each pedal. This system is very practical but it has a big con. The cages put too much pressure on the foot. Also, they add extra weight to the pedals.

Types of Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes are very diverse. They’re available in a wide variety of models. However, all of them can be grouped into nine main types:

Winter Shoes

Winter shoes have insulated uppers and outsoles that help keep your feet warm in extreme cold conditions. They are also waterproof, which makes them perfect for biking near rivers, lakes and wet terrain.

Indoor Shoes

Indoor shoes are very popular among spinning enthusiasts. They’re specially designed to prevent injuries and guarantee maximum comfort. They aren’t as durable as professional cycling shoes. Therefore, their price is generally under $90.

Mountain Shoes

Mountain cycling shoes have small cleats to improve movement on uneven surfaces. In addition, they have complex friction patters to provide more stability and prevent accidental slips.

Usually these shoes have a pair of threaded holes under the balls of the feet. This way, it’s possible to adapt different shapes and sizes of cleats.

Biking Sandals

Biking sandals are designed to provide maximum comfort and breathability. In this case, your toes are exposed to the external environment, which gives you an improved feeling of freedom. Also, your fingers can freely expand each time you push the pedals.

Biking sandals are narrower than regular sandals to better fit the pedals.

Casual Shoes

Casual biking shoes have molded midsoles and outsoles that help to distribute pressure evenly. You can also adapt different kinds of cleats to the outsoles. Casual shoes are good for both walking and pedaling. They’re the best choice for those who tend to get off their bikes and walk when they feel tired.

Touring Shoes

Touring shoes fit well to clipless pedals and toe-clips. They have recessed cleats that provide higher comfort for walking and pedaling. Usually, touring shoes have more flexible outsoles compared to mountain cycling shoes.

Track Shoes

Track cycling shoes are commonly used in professional competitions. Best ones use carbon fiber outsoles that maximize motion transfer and considerably reduce weight. These shoes are very diverse and you can find models specifically designed for certain tracks.

Triathlon Shoes

Triathlon shoes allow for a quick entrance and exit of your feet. This is very important during triathlon competitions, where participants have to be quick to change their shoes or remove them to swim. Triathlon shoes have soft and comfortable uppers, so users don’t need to wear socks.

Triathlon shoes usually have a single Velcro strap for quick pressure adjustment. Also, Velcro straps are much safer than laces.

Road Shoes

Road shoes have stiff outsoles, which are slightly flexible under the balls of the feet. Usually, they emit a characteristic click sound when the cleats and the pedals come together. In addition, the outsoles have additional holes to improve ventilation and accelerate sweat evaporation.


As you can see, you can find many different types of biking shoes on the current market. Before choosing the right cycling shoe, also consider the characteristics of the terrain. In case you need to move faster, always opt for lightest and more rigid outsoles.

If you always consider these basic tips before buying, you’ll never make mistakes.

James Smith

James Smith, along with an army of foot soldiers, personally tries and reviews some of the most revered products and brand in almost every imaginable category of footwear.

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