The 5 Best Cycling Shoes for Women – 2018

Like many other products we review, cycling shoes are not inherently a gender-specific product.  Plenty of women wear “men’s” cycling shoes or unisex shoes with no problems.  That said, women tend to have narrower heels and smaller feet than men, and women’s shoes start in smaller sizes.  Therefore, if you have a small foot, it makes sense to look for a women’s-specific cycling shoe.  Additionally, most men’s shoes tend to come in really boring colors (black or white are the norm), so if you want something more feminine or flashy, choose a ladies cycling shoe.

Here is a list of our favorite women’s cycling shoes as well as a comparison chart and tips on how to choose the best shoe for you.

Sidi Genius 7 Road Bike Shoes

sidi genius 7

Sidi is our favorite brand for cycling shoes, hands down.  Yes, they are expensive, but in our experience, the quality and comfort is worth every penny.  I’ve personally worn a pair of Sidi’s for TEN years before they had to be replaced.  The Sidi Genius 7 boasts carbon-composite soles, a durable ratcheting buckle, and weather-resistant microfibre.

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Liv Macha Women’s Cycling Shoe

liv cycling shoe

Liv is putting out some of the best women’s cycling gear today, and the Macha is no exception.  The composite sole is stiff but not uncomfortable, and the dial closure system provides a tight fit. The shoes do run a little small, so order up a size when buying.

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Pearl Izumi Women’s Race IV Shoes

pearl izumi womens race

The Pearl Izumi Race cycling shoes are designed to perform as the name suggests–fast and capable for even the most serious racers.  The stiff carbon soles provide excellent power transfer, and the dial closure ensures a glove-like fit.  We also like that this shoe seems to go on sale quite often making it one of the more affordable, top-end options.

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Fi’zi:k R5 Donna BOA

fizik r5

Do you live in a hot climate or suffer from sweaty feet when riding?  If so, the Fi’zi:k R5 Donna is your shoe.  These cycling shoes are highly breathable with plenty of ventilation and mesh “windows.”  The sole is carbon-reinforced nylon which means it is stiff but not cost prohibitive.

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Shimano RP2 Cycling Shoe

shimano rp2

If you are looking for a simple and affordable shoe, the Shimano RP2 fits the bill.  It is nothing fancy, but offers durable construction and an attractive pricetag.  The sole is well padded, and we also dig how breathable the shoe is.

Price & Where to Buy:

Comparison Chart: Women’s Cycling Shoes

ShoePrice (MSRP)Closure SystemSole Cleat Holes
Sidi Genius 7$250Ratchet and velcroCarbon3
Liv Macha$320Boa dial and velcroCarbon3
Pearl Izumi Women's Race$150Boa dial and velcroCarbon3
Fi'zi:k R5 Donna BOA$185Boa dial and velcroNylon/carbon3
Shimano RP2 Womens$100VelcroGlass fiber3

How to Choose a Cycling Shoe

If you’re not sure what you should be looking for when choosing a cycling shoe, use these tips.

Sizing

Most cycling shoes, though not all, are measured in European sizes.  Most of us don’t know what size we are in European shoes, and size conversion can vary slightly by manufacturer, so make sure to use the size chart for the specific shoe you are ordering.

Unlike other types of shoes, cycling shoes don’t usually “break in.”  Therefore, it is important to buy a shoe that fits and isn’t too tight.  In particular, make sure you can wiggle your toes, as there is nothing more miserable than your feet falling asleep while riding.

Closure System

Road bike shoes can have several different kinds of closure system, and some use a combination of several of these. A few entry-level shoes may have laces though we don’t recommend these except for indoor spinning.  The next level of shoes generally have Velcro straps.  These work well and are affordable but don’t provide the same level of support as more expensive systems.  The best shoes will have either ratcheting straps or “BOA” dials.  These ensure your shoe is tight and fits well.

Sole Material

Road bike soles need to be stiff in order to provide the best transfer of power from your legs to your pedals.  The strongest and lightest soles are made of carbon fiber.  Unfortunately, these shoes are also the most expensive.  Other common sole materials are other forms of composite material and nylon.

Cleat Holes

When shopping for a bike shoe, be sure to pay attention to which kind of cleat pattern your current pedals have (or be prepared to buy new pedals as well).  Most road bike shoes have a 3-hole cleat pattern meaning they are compatible with pedals like Look and Time.  If you plan on using SPD pedals, make sure to look for a shoe with a 2-hole cleat pattern or one that has an adaptor that makes them compatible (such as the Shimano RP2 above).

 

 

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