Reviewed & Compared
by Daniel Atlas
Finding the right pair of shoes for your bike commute is essential to have both an efficient ride and the ability to walk around at work for the rest of the day.
While some commuters prefer to opt for cycling-specific shoes that provide comfort on the pedals and change into formal shoes at work, clipless shoes that look like work shoes when not on the bike have also grown in popularity in recent years.
In this guide, We’ll Help You Find The Best Commuter Shoes For Your Daily Ride.
There are a vast variety of bike shoes on the market targeted at different types of cyclists, which can make it confusing to find a pair of shoes that has everything you need for commuting.
In this section, we’ll help you identify what features to look for when choosing the best commuting shoes.
One of the most significant differences between bike-specific shoes and any pair of comfortable sneakers is that bike shoes are designed to clip into the pedals. Clipping in creates stability for your foot on the pedal, which means you can push down with each pedal stroke without worrying about slipping.
In addition to that power transfer advantage, clipping into the pedals allows you to engage your leg muscles to pull up on the pedals in addition to pushing down, which can is one of the most significant changes you can make to improve your efficiency on the ride.
More efficiency, in turn, means getting to work faster and feeling less tired from your daily ride.
Clipless pedals also offer more security during your ride since they represent two additional points of contact with your bike.
This can be extremely important for avoiding road hazards since it gives you the ability to bunny hop over small potholes and to maintain your balance in case a wheel slides on gravel.
However, clipless pedals aren’t for everyone. First, they can take some getting used to – you’ll have to remember to disengage your foot from the pedal every time your bike comes to a stop to put your foot on the ground.
In addition, clipless bike shoes typically don’t jive with formal workwear – unless you get a pair of urban commuting shoes that look like work shoes with cleats recessed underneath – so you’ll have to keep the second pair of shoes at work or ride with them on your bike.
If you decide to opt for clipless pedals, you’ll next have to decide what type of cleat you’ll need in the bottom, which depends on what type of pedals you have. Most commuters opt for SPD pedals – and many commuter bike shoes come with SPD cleats – because they are extremely easy to clip in and out and are highly durable.
Some SPD pedals also have an SPD clip on one side and a flat pedal base on the other, which most other types of pedal clip-in systems cannot do because of their design.
The major divide within the bike shoe world is between shoes designed for road biking and shoes designed for mountain biking. Road biking shoes tend to be thinner, with lots of holes or mesh for ventilation, and a very stiff sole.
Important for walking around off your bike once you get to work, most road shoes have the cleats protruding from underneath the shoe which can make walking awkward. Mountain bike shoes tend to be heavier, which can slow down your leg rotation when pedaling, but also makes them more durable when riding day in and day out in poor weather.
Mountain bike shoes also have a more flexible sole and are designed with the cleat recessed into the sole of the shoe, which can make walking feel natural when you’re off the bike.
Urban cycling shoes have recently surged in popularity as the number of bike commuters has grown. These cycling shoes are similar to mountain bike shoes in that they have a recessed cleat in the sole, but unless you look at the bottom of these shoes you would never know they are bike shoes – on the sides and top, they look just like formal shoes you might normally wear to work.
Note, however, that these shoes can get wet and dirty during your commute if you are riding in bad weather.
Another common difference between cycling shoes is whether they fasten with laces or with Velcro. Laces make it easy to customize where the shoe puts pressure on your foot and are easily replaced in case of damage.
However, they are also more prone to loosening during your ride and catching in your drivetrain – not to mention it takes far more time to tie laces than to fasten Velcro. Velcro is preferred by many cyclists for how fast and simple it is to fasten your shoes, but any damage will require replacing the entire shoe.
Ultimately, choosing the right shoes comes down to fit and personal preferences. Here are some of our favorites to help you find a pair you’ll love.
This stylish urban bike shoe is perfect for commuters who can wear a semi-formal shoe to work and want the freedom to ride without constantly changing shoes. The shoe outer is made from genuine leather, which puts it in the same class of shoe that your coworkers will be wearing while also giving it a small amount of waterproofing for your ride.
The upper has some mesh to add breathability to the shoe, although it can become sweaty when riding on a hot day. The comes in several colors so you can choose your style.
The shoe has a two-hole metal base plate recessed into the sole so that you have the flexibility to choose whether you want to ride without cleats on flat pedals or attach SPD cleats to ride on SPD pedals.
Even with a set of SPD cleats on the shoe, you can walk comfortably off the bike without feeling the cleat as you step, although the metal plate does add more rigidity to the midsole than you might expect from a similar shoe not designed for cycling.
The Vibram sole is highly durable and provides plenty of grips so that you could even use these shoes for hiking if you want to ride to a trailhead after work.
The shoe runs slightly small in size, so be sure to consult Giro’s sizing chart when ordering.
Also, while the toe box is relatively wide compared to most cycling shoes, it can feel somewhat cramped if you are used to riding in spacious sneakers on flat pedals.
This urban commuter shoe from Shimano is casual enough to walk around town in but formal enough to wear to most workplaces as well. The upper is constructed from suede leather to provide a mix of durability and fashion, while also enabling this shoe to repel water during rainy rides and breathe during hot summer weather.
Plus, the shoe is built with a padded EVA midsole to provide plenty of comforts underfoot when walking around throughout the day.
Although you’d never know it from looking at this shoe from above, it hides a metal base plate recessed into the sole that accepts SPD and CLICK’R cleats to allow you to improve your riding efficiency.
Because of the recessed design, you won’t notice the cleats when walking around town, and they won’t prevent you from also using these shoes with flat pedals when you want to.
At the same time, the shoe features an inner shank that provides the stiffness you need to transfer power from your legs to the pedals but won’t interfere with your comfort when walking.
The lace-up design further enhances the style of this shoe and makes it more comfortable for walking around, but it can also get wrapped up in your drivetrain if the lace ends are not tucked into the shoe.
These impressive road cycling shoes from Weidong provide terrific value for commuter cycling shoes. The shoes have a base plate that accepts nearly all types of cleats, from two-hole SPD cleats to three-hole SPD-SL cleats so that you can use a single pair of shoes for all of your different rides.
Note that the cleats will protrude from the bottom of the shoe, so walking around in these shoes off the bike will not be as easy or as comfortable as on urban commuting shoes.
With that in mind, these shoes make for an extremely comfortable ride thanks to the three Velcro straps across the upper that are fast and easy to secure and provide a wide range of latitude in adjusting the tightness of the shoe against your foot.
The outer is constructed from synthetic nanometer fiber and mesh to make the shoe one of the most breathable we’ve reviewed while also keeping out the elements when you are riding in bad weather. Plus, the PVC toe cap adds durability to the shoe and protects your toes in the event of a crash or a rock strike.
The sole of this shoe is very stiff as you would expect for a road cycling shoe, which improves power transfer while you are pedaling and allows you to use your whole foot in the pedal stroke comfortably. The insole is well padded and has perforations to further reduce sweat build-up inside the shoe, so you’ll arrive at work feeling cool and clean.
If your workplace is relatively formal when it comes to the dress code and your ride is short enough that you don’t mind foregoing clipless pedals, these stylish slip-on shoes from Rockport are the best flat bike shoes for your commute.
The shoes are made almost entirely of leather and don’t have an upper or laces to get in the way of your ride, and the slip-on design makes them extremely quick to get on.
The leather outer can get hot during warm weather rides, but as long as you get the shoe size right, the shoe won’t slip off unexpectedly when you are pedaling even if your feet are sweaty. On the flip side, the leather will also help to shield your feet from water if there is any rain collected on the road.
The sole of this shoe is made from EVA foam and is extremely well cushioned, which makes a big difference in the comfort of your feet when pushing down on the pedals.
The shoes are also relatively lightweight, so you’ll have little trouble keeping up a fast pedal cadence to increase the efficiency of your ride. However, be careful that your foot doesn’t slip since there is a tiny grip on the way the bottom of the shoe is designed. The toe box is plenty roomy, especially when compared to most cleated cycling shoes.
These inexpensive shoes from Triseven are a jack of all trades since they are compatible with nearly any common road or mountain biking pedal system.
The shoes don’t come with cleats, but you can choose from biking without cleats on flat pedals, SPD cleats, or road-specific SPD-SL or SPD-R cleats.
However, note that if you do add cleats, the base plate is not recessed so you’ll be walking on the cleats rather than on the sole of the shoe once you’re off the bike. While the bright colors of this shoe might not be formal enough for most workplaces, you can quickly and easily remove the cleats if you plan to use the shoes for work as well as cycling.
The shoes combine a lace-up closure with a single Velcro strap to provide security around the part of the shoe where your foot pulls against the upper when pulling up on the pedals. Just be careful when fastening the Velcro, as it is easy to make it too tight.
The shoe upper is a thick mesh that allows a ton of breathability, which is perfect for riding in hot weather. In addition, the rubber outsole is extremely grippy and makes the shoe surprisingly comfortable to walk in – without the cleats, these shoes closely resemble trail running shoes.
These shoes from Five Ten are designed to be as comfortable as possible while also being stylish enough to wear to most semi-formal workplaces. The shoes are available in a wide range of color sets so you can match them with the rest of your style and the fit is on par with most other sneakers.
The shoes are very different from exact cycling shoes, but they are comfortable and easy to ride in for short urban commutes.
Although they lack a base plate to add cleats, they work exceptionally well on flat pedals thanks to the grippy design on the sole and the sticky Stealth S1 rubber outsole that keep your feet from slipping while pedaling. Even when mountain biking, the shoes won’t leave the pedals thanks to the grippy bases. The soles of the shoes also have enough bounce to keep your feet comfortable when pushing down hard on the pedals.
The shoes are lace-up rather than Velcro, so make sure that you tighten the laces securely, so they don’t get caught in your drivetrain.
The upper is a mix of suede and synthetic, both of which breath more freely than genuine leather, and features several sections of mesh panels that make this shoe an excellent choice for hot summer rides.
If you already have SPD pedals on your bike, there are few shoes better to pair them with for your commute than this leather road shoe from Giro. The shoe features a very stiff sole similar to traditional road biking shoes, as well as the same narrow and lightweight design – the shoes weigh in at just 315 grams.
Mostly, except for the fact that they accept SPD cleats instead of SPD-SL cleats, these shoes are a work-friendly version of the road cycling shoes that you might use for a weekend training ride.
The base plate itself is not so much recessed into the shoe, as on urban cycling shoes, as that parts of the sole extend beyond the cleat around the edges of the shoe.
The downside to this design is that the area of the shoe on which you are walking when off the bike is relatively small, which can put pressure on your feet and make your more prone to slipping. The stiff sole can also be somewhat uncomfortable if you need to walk long distances at work.
From the outside, the shoe appears to be perfect for both semi-formal and formal workplaces. The outer is constructed from suede and perforated microfiber that give the shoe an upscale look while also adding breathability during your commute.
The lace-up closure also makes it look more like a formal work shoe than a cycling shoe, and the included laces are non-slip specifically so that they won’t loosen and end up in your drivetrain.
If you want to use your commuting shoes for mountain biking outside of work, these mountain bike shoes from Tommaso are a great option at a tremendous value. Tommaso sells their shoe direct-to-consumer, which allows them to outcompete most other cycling shoe companies when it comes to price. Plus, unlike most cycling shoes, these come with a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.
The shoes themselves are highly durable and comfortable, with three Velcro straps across the top to allow a level of customization of pressure on your foot usually reserved for lace-up shoes.
The outer is made of synthetic leather and the upper features some mesh openings between the Velcro to allow your foot to breathe when riding in hot weather. However, the thickness of the shoe means that it gets significantly warmer than most comparable road cycling shoes.
The sole on this shoe is stiff, as you would expect for a mountain biking shoe, but it offers a slight flex that improves power transfer when pedaling up hills and makes it significantly more comfortable to walk in when you finish your commute.
Note that the SPD cleats will protrude somewhat from the bottom of the shoe, so although you will walk primarily on the hard rubber edges of the sole, you will also be able to feel the pressure of the cleat on your foot.
These urban cycling shoes from Tommaso are specifically designed with women in mind and don’t compromise on versatility, efficiency, or comfort. The base plate on the soles of these shoes is designed with both two-hole and three-hole configurations, allowing you to pair the shoes with either SPD mountain bike pedals or SPD-SL road bike pedals.
However, note that since the plate is not recessed into the sole, these shoes will not work with flat pedals and you will certainly feel the pressure of the cleats when walking around off the bike.
The fit of these shoes is surprisingly roomy for a cycling shoe, which is a major advantage if you suffer from cramped toes in most other cycling shoes. Plus, the three Velcro straps across the upper make it easy to adjust the tightness of the shoe against your foot to a comfortable degree.
Tommaso also guarantees the fit and provides free fit returns in case you are unhappy with the shoe, in addition to a two-year warranty against any damage to the shoe.
The outer of this shoe is made from synthetic leather and mesh, which makes it extremely breathable when riding in hot weather. The mesh in the toe box is particularly helpful when it’s hot out, although it can also allow water in on rainy days.
If you are opting to add clipless pedals to your bike and mount cleats on your shoes, the most common choice among commuters is to use SPD style pedals and cleats. This is because SPD pedals can be double-sided, which makes it easy to clip in without fumbling with the pedal or allows for SPD pedals that are clipless one side and flat on the other for days when you want to ride without cleats.
You won’t find waterproof cycling shoes in large part because they would necessarily become very sweaty to ride in during warm weather. However, you can save your feet from becoming wet on a rainy day or insulate them during the winter by purchasing a pair of neoprene overshoes.
If you plan to walk around in the same shoes you ride to work in; recessed cleats can save your feet a ton of pain. Urban commuter shoes with recessed cleats are also typically designed to blend in as work shoes so that you can wear them in most semi-formal workplaces.
Every manufacturer uses a different foot model for their sizing, so it can be hard to get the right size. Check user reviews to see if a shoe runs large or small and if possible visit your local bike shop to try on that shoe or other shoes from the same manufacturer.
Although the best bike commuter shoe for you depends on what type of shoes you need to wear to work, the weather you’ll be riding in, and the type of pedals you have mounted on your bike,
We feel that the Giro Rumble Dress Cycling Shoes are the overall best shoes on the market for commuters.
These urban bike shoes have a recessed SPD base plate that allows you to ride either flat or SPD pedals so you can get the most power out of your bike.
They also allow you to walk around comfortably, and they’re stylish enough to wear in most formal office situations so that you could get through your ride and your workday with only a single pair of shoes.
Best of all, these shoes have a sturdy Vibram sole that performs as well on hiking trails as in the office or your bike, so you could even ride to a local trailhead after work to explore your local scenery.
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