How we choose the best tri bike shoes
To determine the top 10 best models for triathlon cycling, we go through the following tasks:
- The average time that we devote to a particular model is 7 hours. This is to ensure that we've thoroughly understood and figured out its strengths and weaknesses.
- We are a team that's committed our days to engrossing in everything and anything triathlon bike shoes.
- On top of these, we take into consideration the experts' and users' feedback. All things considered, each model is given a CoreScore between 0-100. The 10 shoes with the highest CoreScores will be included.
What are triathlon cycling shoes?
Tri bike shoes are basically road bike shoes with altered features specially designed to be the most ideal companion during the demands of your triathlon training and competitions.
Triathlon cycling shoes vs. Road bike shoes
As mentioned above, triathlon bike shoes are essentially road cycling shoes. Tri cycling shoes possess the blueprint of road shoes but are tweaked to fit the racing sport's demands.
Most cycling shoes for Triathlon retain road shoes' stiff outsoles, SPD-SL (3-hole) cleat design, and minimal style. However, they are equipped with a broader collar opening, easier to operate closure mechanism, more breathable uppers, and outsole with drainage ports.
Do you really need cycling shoes for Triathlon?
Tri bike shoes are engineered from the ground up and inside out to help shed seconds from your time.
Running shoes excel in propelling you forward with each step while running. For triathlon cycling, however, it makes complete sense that tri bike shoes are the ultimate choice.
Selecting your perfect triathlon bike shoes - 3 things to consider
Now that you've decided to get a pair of tri bike shoes, what's next? Check out the following tips to make the most out of your next purchase:
- Choose the closure system: Velcro straps, BOA, or both?
- Check breathability, weight, and drainage ports.
- Consider the appropriate level of stiffness for you.
Dive into each feature below.
1. Closure system
When you're in a time-sensitive competition such as a triathlon, every second counts.
This is why choosing a fast-to-operate, efficient retention system is crucial in picking out your tri cycling shoes. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of the most common closure systems on tri bike shoes.
- Easy and cheap to replace
- Some are designed to stay open for a faster transition
- Incremental adjustments for accurate fit
- Velcro can lose its stickiness after some time
- Not all models' straps can be replaced
- Expensive to replace
- Not as available as Velcro straps
Some models employ both closures to provide the most accurate fit in different areas of the foot.
2. Breathability and drainage
Let's start with breathability. A lot of triathlon bike shoes employ synthetic materials in combination with mesh or abundant perforations throughout the upper.
This feature helps quickly dry the feet after completing the swim section of the race.
Now onto the ports that help expel water. Basically, the more and the bigger the drainage pockets are, the faster the water will exit out of the shoe.
3. Outsole rigidity
The best triathlon bike shoes offer a balance between comfort and excellent power transfer for speed. Each rider has different preferences in levels of stiffness and comfort.
One thing is for sure - the stiffer the sole, the higher the power transfer, the lighter the shoe is, and the more expensive it will be.
Nylon Composite: 40/100
Carbon Composite: 70/100
Full Carbon: 90/100
These measurements are just used to show the material's correlation to its stiffness and power transfer. This doesn't mean that tri bike shoes with these outsoles will have the exact level of stiffness stated above.
Top triathlon cycling shoe brands
The cycling shoe companies included in this list have the most popular and highly-rated tri bike shoes in the market.
Get to know each brand's standout feature and signature offering in the chart below:
Generally, Bont bike shoes are known for their textured and colorful aesthetics.
They are also best known (and well-loved) for their heat-moldable shoes and anatomically shaped lasts.
Pearl Izumi cycling shoes house footwear that displays sneaker aesthetics and sleek road shoe designs.
The brand's Tri Fly SELECT range is well-received by the triathlon cycling community.
Giro is loved for its ultra-lightweight and minimalistic bike shoes.
Their signature Techlace closure system attributes to its lightness and works excellently for fast transitions in triathlon races.
Mavic is one of the few brands that many triathletes prefer for their races. This is because their footwear is known to be high-performing.
What's more, their striking yellow signature color makes a statement and helps the rider stand out from the rest.
Shimano's cycling shoes are generally favored for minimalistic design, attention to detail, excellent construction quality, and performance.
They also house a pair for every cycling activity imaginable.
Frequently asked questions
How should triathlon cycling shoes fit and feel?
Since triathlon bike shoes are modeled after road shoes, cyclists should expect the same snug fit. Make sure to check out for the following before you purchase your next pair:
- Check if the shoe feels light and airy.
- Try to mimic transitions and observe if it's quick and easy to put it on, do and undo the closure system and take it off.
- Notice if there's any pinching or chafing when tightened.
- Walk around and do pedaling motions, and check if there's slipping. If so, try the next size down.
Are there women-specific triathlon cycling shoes available?
Most tri bike models released by brands are unisex. This means women can buy the same model marketed as men's, but the ladies have to check the brand's size chart to convert from men's sizing to women's.
In other cases, some brands also manufacture a specific model in women-specific sizes. Go to a model you like and select ‘Women’ in the Gender filter to view female sizes.
Some of the brands that carry women's tri bike shoes are:
- Louis Garneau
- Pearl Izumi