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7 Best Cyclocross Shoes Review – Get the Only Shoe You Really Need

Cyclocross is one of the most physically challenging sporting activities out there today.

As if cycling itself was not physically punishing enough, here you have to navigate all kinds of obstacles and even carry the bike on your back for some stretches. For anyone participating in cyclocross, it then becomes essential that you are adequately equipped. A key part of that is choosing the right cyclocross shoe.

A variety of sportswear companies are out there, making shoes that are fit for the tough wear and tear of cyclocross racing. So, here we would like to review the best Cyclocross shoes out there to help you make the right decision.
Let’s dive in.

Why Cyclocross?

Why do people take up such a daunting sport? Well, there are a number of solid reasons why;

It Offers a Unique Sporting Experience

You get to race across all kinds of terrains and obstacles to maneuver, making for a sporting experience unlike any other, for participants and viewers alike.

It Helps Learn Useful Skills

Learning to navigate a variety of terrains on your bike can help you when using your bike to get to various places.

Ease of Access

Aside from the madness and fun, cyclocross is also easily accessible, compared to all other types of bicycle racing.

Our Top pick 7 best Cyclocross Shoes

We now begin our reviews of the seven best products available to you when buying cyclocross shoes. The rankings are based on multiple factors such as technology behind the shoe, the effect on your body, extra features, and others.

Smartodoors Cycling Shoes

Smartodoors SIKEBIKE Women's and Men's W All-Road and MTB II Cycling Shoes SD-001

1. Smartodoors Cycling Shoes

Next, we have this cyclocross shoe range from Smartodoors. These come in a range of colors and designs, with two sole varieties. Carbon and if you’re a mountain biker, then nylon.

This shoe is made with a quick-lock system that makes it suitable for bicycle riding on literally any terrain. Further adding to its comfortability factor, is the ergonomic design of both the soles and insoles.

The price tag of the pair is a bit on the expensive end of the spectrum. However, considering all it offers to the consumers, we can’t say it’s overpriced. This pair is very lightweight and weighs only 1.28 pounds.

It comes with external D-Link snaps that can be adjusted according to user preference and are specifically designed so as to allow for easy ankle positioning without putting excessive weight on them.

The heel is well wrapped with specific filling materials inside that allows for better balance. And the fabric material is veneer breathable microfiber; the outsole offers high compressive strength in the nylon version, and the insole is treated with a breathable antimicrobial agent.


What do I like most?

  • Easy Ankle Position
  • Quick-lock system makes it very durable and strong
  • High compressive strength of heels
  • Lightweight

What could be better?

  • Comparatively more expensive
  • The width is rather thin for heavy-duty use

Giro Privateer R MTB Shoes

Giro Privateer R MTB Shoes

2. Giro Privateer R MTB Shoes

The third entry is a shoe range from Giro. These shoes are made entirely using human labor and no automation, and for American consumers, these are largely imported from oversees.

This thing is designed with an EVA footbed that allows for medium arch support. The outsole is composed of a mix of nylon and rubber and generates a high amount of traction because of the more robust lugs. It allows for a strong grip on rocks and roots, while not sacrificing comfort for the user.

The pair comes with an n1 ratcheting buckle closure and also an n2 strap and is compatible with toe spikes. Now, the latter can also be replaced. The fabric is comprised of a breathable microfiber. These shoes weigh only 0.86 pounds, which makes them very light.


What do I like most?

  • Nylon-Rubber mix allows for durable and robust design
  • Good for crossing rocky terrain
  • Aggressive lugs allow for more traction

What could be better?

  • The width around the middle can be a bit narrow

Gavin MTB Mountain Bike Mesh Indoor Fitness Cycling Shoes

Gavin MTB Mountain Bike Mesh Indoor Fitness Cycling Shoes Mens Womens SPD

3. Gavin MTB Mountain Bike Mesh Indoor Fitness Cycling Shoes

For our fourth pick, we have these fitness cycling shoes from Gavin. These shoes are highly versatile and can be used for purposes ranging from indoor cycling to heavy-duty cycling across various terrains.

This pair comes with a two-bolt cleat that can be used with a range of pedals such as SPD and MTB. It also comes with a few modifications to keep you comfortable. There are mesh panels that help prevent excess heat from building up, and the insole consists of lightweight perforated material that prevents moisture build-up.

To further aid your cycling adventures, it also comes with anti-slip lining. The sole is fiberglass fortified nylon, making it robust and allowing for efficient power transfer.

Moreover, the tongue area is fitted with a notch that gives more freedom of movement to your ankles. Also, the toe box is modified with a toe bumper that serves as a shock absorber during riding.


What do I like most?

  • Fiberglass fortified nylon making it robust and allowing efficient power transfer
  • Versatile and can be used with a range of pedals
  • Features mesh panels, toe bumper, padded collar, anti-slip lining, tongue notch

What could be better?

  • It does not come with cleats, have to be purchased separately

Giro Carbide R Bike Shoes

Giro Carbide R Bike Shoes Mens

4. Giro Carbide R Bike Shoes

Next up are these carbide bike shoes, also from Giro. These are made of synthetic, breathable fiber and come with a class three-strap closure. The upper part is made of leather. And the outsole is made of nylon and rubber and comes with aggressive lugging so as to generate more traction.

It is also stout injected so as to facilitate power transfer to the pedals. This pair has a midfoot scuff guard and can be adapted with toe spikes. The footbed is EVA molded and is able to provide medium arch support.

This pair is also treated with the Aegis anti-microbial technology to protect the user from infections. It is robust, durable, and works well for walking on rocks and mud. The product weighs three pounds, which makes it a bit heavy.


What do I like most?

  • Durable, robust and generates good traction on rocks and mud
  • EVA footbed improves comfortability for the user
  • Treated with Aegis antimicrobial technology to protect the user from infections

What could be better?

  • At three pounds, it is rather heavy compared to other competing products

SHIMANO SH-XC31L Off Road Sport Shoe

SHIMANO SH-XC31L Off Road Sport Shoe - Men's Mountain Bike

5. SHIMANO SH-XC31L Off Road Sport Shoe

Kicking off our list at number one is this cyclocross shoe from Shimano. The XC31 is mainly intended for casual mountain bikers who would still like some brand identity in their shoe products.

The underlying technology makes it easier to transfer weight and generate more power when maneuvering your bike. Developed using input from cycling professionals from all across the globe, the shoe is designed to allow proper foot movement on the pedal, lower energy wastage and improve the overall efficiency.

This thing’s closure system is made up of three separate, individual strips, modified to dissipate the tension in your thrusting foot during cycling. Its sole is composed of polyamide modified with fiberglass, and the tacos are made of polyurethane, a chemical that prevents mud from sticking to your soles.

The padding is organized in an arc so as to help you remain stable on the pedal. This pair weighs 1.76 pounds, which is a good plus.


What do I like most?

  • Improves balance and energy efficiency
  • Does not allow mud to build-up
  • Good for casual mountain bikers
  • Easy to generate power

What could be better?

  • The studs cannot be replaced
  • It sacrifices some comfort

Lake CX237 Cycling Shoe

Lake CX237 Cycling Shoe - Men's

6. Lake CX237 Cycling Shoe

Our penultimate entry is the CX237 cycling shoe from Lake. Designed to withstand all kinds of abuse yet still provide a comfortable riding experience.

The shoes are closed by boa reels whose positioning can be altered by the user so as to guard your front foot against getting strangled. These adjustments can be made to the boa reels independently of the rest of the shoe.

Moreover, the upper part of the shoe is made from high-quality leather. This choice of material is largely for the purpose of adding comfort as well as allowing these to be personalized.

The sole is made from a specific type of carbon fiber that is designed to allow most of the power transfer to occur via the balls of your feet while allowing for some room to move when the swelling kicks in.

Now, the pair weighs 1.6 pounds and is the priciest on our list. However, if you look at its features, it’s worth it.


What do I like most?

  • Adjustable boa reels allow better feet movement
  • Upper made of leather allows for a more personalized fit
  • Carbon fiber sole allows efficient power transfer while leaving room for swelling
  • Durable

What could be better?

  • Very expensive
  • A lack of padding may make the user vulnerable to certain conditions such as cold weather

Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe

Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe - Adaptive Fit, Carbon Fiber, Microtex MTB Shoe

7.  Fizik X5 Terra Mountain Bike Shoe

Finally, rounding off our list is this mountain bike shoe from Fizik. This versatile shoe comes with several features that make it a robust, durable choice for those who enjoy mountain biking.

The upper is made of a laser-treated microtex material. The fit is adjustable on a micro level, allowing for tremendous personalization. This shoe will keep its shape over time and is resistant against abrasion.

Also, the upper is fitted with a Boa L6 dial for tightening purposes, and there is a lower strap for holding your foot in place during strenuous periods of cycling.

The sole is made of carbon and TPU and is surrounded by aggressive lugs for generating greater traction, giving the user a good balance of pedaling efficiency and maneuverability. The shoe weighs 2.4 pounds and will cost you more than 100$.


What do I like most?

  • Micro fit fabric allowing for a lot of personalization
  • Carbon and TPU sole with aggressive lugs, generating good traction and power
  • Boa L6 fitted upper with a lower strap for better feet balance

What could be better?

  • The toe box can be rather rough

How To Choose The Right and best cyclocross shoes

Features to Look for in Shoes for Cyclocross

There are a few key features you should be looking at to buy the best shoes for cyclocross.

Now, this isn’t an exhaustive list, but paying special attention to these criteria should be enough to ensure you make an educated decision when deciding your footwear for that grueling cross country race. The following lists them in detail;

FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN SHOES FOR CYCLOCROSS

The Fitting

Cyclocross can be very punishing on the body; you may be peddling for miles across difficult terrains. Hence it is absolutely vital you choose a shoe that is kind to your feet.


You should be looking at the width of the room available to your feet inside the shoe, as well as the toe box, heel positioning, and overhanging seams.


Seams should not be very tight on your feet when fastened, and the heel should be positioned well inside the shoe.


Your toes should have enough wiggle space inside the shoe. Additional features such as personalized leather fitting uppers can always be a plus point.

Method of Retention

The retention system is another important factor that determines the quality and value of any cyclocross shoe. It is very important that they don’t break down during riding; otherwise, your feet will not be secured and can be at risk of injury.


Now, the boa system, as was described for several of the products we reviewed, is an industry favorite and in most cases, pretty reliable. An alternative to boa is the ratchet strap and Velcro combination. Experts believe it to be more reliable, albeit costing slightly more.


And finally, also be sure to check the laces of your shoe before buying. They often get overlooked and are, in fact, the easiest part to replace, but nonetheless can still play an important role in keeping your feet in place.

The Sole

As the part of the shoe critical for power transfer and pedaling efficiency, it goes without saying you should be paying a lot of attention to the sole of any shoe you are considering buying for cyclocross.


Many of the products on our list had soles made of carbon fiber, nylon, or in some cases, both. These are fairly reliable materials that allow you to exert the right amount of force into peddling.


However, that alone isn’t enough to judge a sole. Something you need to be looking at is the density of the material or thread profile as it is called. Many shoe manufacturers intentionally keep the material thin and light to allow faster peddling.

The Sole of Cyclocross Shoes

But this can sell you short when you have to dismount and carry your bike. There are shoes which fortify the material, allowing for a stronger grip, at the expense of putting on some weight.


Lastly, consider the lugs that surround the sole of the shoe you are about to buy. Look for ones that generate more traction and make your riding easier, as was the case for many of the products on our list.

Protective Measures

We have already gone over several times how challenging an activity cyclocross really is. You have to face rocks, mud, roots, and all kinds of natural obstacles. It is important your shoe has the protective measures in place that maximize the safety of your feet.


In this regard, the heels and the toe box become critical. These are the parts where the shoe will constantly be meeting the cranks as you ride. Look carefully whether or not the shoe you are considering has been modified or specially designed in those parts so as to better protect you.

Breathability

We mentioned several of our shoes were made with breathable fabric or had perforations or mesh panels that enabled air entry. This becomes particularly important in warm climates where improved ventilation may become essential.


Keep in mind, in colder weather, the situation is reversed. There, the entry of cold air can pose a threat to you instead. You need to be choosing according to your own needs.

Breathability of Cyclocross Shoes

best cyclocross shoes Frequently Asked Questions

The followings are some of the most common questions regarding cyclocross shoes and their answers:

1. Do the shoes come with cleats?

Varies from product to product, in a lot of cases they don’t, the cleats, SPD or otherwise, have to be purchased separately.

2. What is the best fit for a cyclocross shoe?

The heel should be snug, the pressure even, and there should be wiggle room inside.

3. When should you replace your cleats?

You should be regularly checking your cleats for wear and tear. If you notice any difficulty with the release, such as a more labored release or unwanted releases, then it is probably time to get those cleats changed.

4. How often should you be cleaning your shoes?

You should always be keeping them clean. If they get soiled with dirt, mud, or anything else, then dry them after you are done riding, using a towel, or any other means. If it is not coming off, you can resort to using a brush or a small amount of soap. If you can get yourself a boot dryer, then your life will be a lot easier.

5. How to find out if a shoe is compatible with a cleat?

Generally speaking, most shoes are compatible with SPD cleats, which are the most commonly used. In other cases, or just to be safe, contact the manufacturer to ensure if your shoe and cleat are indeed compatible. Most companies will be happy to assist their would-be customers.

Final Words

Cycling across any and every terrain is not a hobby for the faint of heart.

However, those who do take it up, for them it is a passion that nothing else can imitate. We hope our best cyclocross shoes review guide will help you make the right choice for your passion. Happy cycling!

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Bonnie J. Morris
 

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