2015 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Cycling Shoes

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$150, Bont.com
The draw: Best value, hands down

The heat-moldable Riot TR has a carbon composite sole and an airy upper that make it one of the lightest tri shoes on the market. The bathtub-style sole wraps up over the bottom of the shoe so your foot sits inside the rigid carbon sole. Trying the shoes on for the first time feels strange but becomes natural after a few hours on the road. Molding the shoes helps dial the fit, but be aware of the high arch construction, which doesn’t decrease, even after multiple sessions in the oven. This shoe runs small, so size up a half size.

$180, Pearlizumi.com
The draw: Secure, comfortable upper

The foot-hugging upper of the updated Tri Fly has one of the most comfortable fits around because the top strap is more than a strap. It connects to the entire medial section of the upper to make the fit snug or loose, depending on your foot’s volume. The carbon sole is vented to allow air in and water out. Like many cycling shoes, the Tri Fly has built-in arch support and a dual-density insole that helps absorb some road vibration. The heel loop is huge and offset to the outside of the shoe, making it easy to grab. The width is average, but these shoes run small, so go with a half size larger than normal.

$230, Lakecycling.com
The draw: Stiff sole for maximum power transfer

The last of the TX222 put the tester’s foot in an optimal position to transfer power to the pedals, and the ultra-rigid carbon sole ensures none of that power is lost. The mesh over the toe box and on the tongue makes this shoe breathable while the padded heel cup cradles the back of the foot to prevent slippage on your upstroke. An antimicrobial liner is a nice bonus, especially if you do most of your training sockless.

$175, Specialized.com
The draw: Best all-around performer

There’s a reason the Trivent Expert hasn’t changed much over the last few years. It’s a perfectly designed shoe with triathlete-specific details such as the arch-mounted rubber band mount clip for flying mounts out of T1. The carbon composite outsole reflects heat from the road while the tongue-less upper keeps air flowing. The shoe fits true to size and has slightly above average volume throughout the toe box. This shoe feels efficient and supportive thanks to the longitudinal arch support, which aligns your foot in a biomechanically correct position to transfer power to the pedals.

$185, Fizik.com
The draw: Italian craftsmanship and a striking aesthetic

The nylon mesh and sail cloth straps on the upper of the Fi’zi:k K5 give it a distinct look that translates into a contoured fit. The bottom strap doesn’t do much to secure the toe box, but the top strap locks down the mid-foot and caters to quick transitions. The carbon reinforced nylon sole has noticeably more flex than the full carbon sole of the top-end K1, but at nearly half the cost, the K5 is a better value.

$425, Mavic.com
The draw: Lightest shoe available

At approximately 200 grams per shoe, the Huez weighs about as much as a racing flat. How does a cycling shoe pull that off? The upper has a mesh so thin it’s see-through, and the sole has a dramatic cutout. The upper feels surprisingly supportive considering how minimal it looks, and power transfer feels solid. The three-strap design can work for quick changes in transition, but the top strap doesn’t quite open enough for flying mounts. The shoe cut is on the narrow side.

$250, Ciclista-america.com
The draw: Bring on the heat

Hundreds of tiny holes on the upper of the T3 Air make it ideal for hot weather. Sidi’s Eleven carbon composite sole is plenty stiff but offers a slight amount of flex to relieve plantar tendon strain during the pedal stroke. The plush interior is lined for sockless riding, and the fit is classic Sidi with a snug heel and mid-foot and average volume in the toe box.
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