Triathletes know that your gear can have a direct impact on your performance.
When cycling, in addition to riding a great triathlon bike, you’ll need a pair of the best triathlon cycling shoes.
They’re designed specifically to make riding stable and effective and to make the ride/run transition as easy as possible.
If you’re looking for a great pair, we recommend the Fizik Transiro Infinito R3. It has a race-stiff R3 carbon outsole, an Infinito fit adjustment and volume control system, and an Instep Powerstrap for quick transitions.
There are other great options out there, though, so keep reading!
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Fizik Transiro Infinito R3
PEARL iZUMi Tri Fly SELECT v6
Garneau Tri X-Speed IV Shoes
1. Fizik Transiro Infinito R3
The Transiro Infinito R3 is a sleek-looking shoe. But it’s also perfectly made to be an asset during your ride/run transition when you’re powering through a triathlon.
The full-carbon R3 outsole is satisfyingly stiff. The unidirectional design and tough material offer good power transfer to keep you pedaling harder for longer. It also features extra-large ventilation holes for highly effective airflow.
A mesh upper adds to the breathability of the shoe. It’s also unusually supportive, thanks to sections of polyurethane laminate across the upper. These provide stability, but they also help to transfer power from foot to pedal.
The shoe gets its name from the Infinito system, a unique Volume Control system allows you to get a custom fit that feels comfortable. Thanks to this feature, cyclists with feet of all sizes can fit into this shoe.
Infinito reduces hotspots and contours to the foot. The first hotspot-eliminating feature is the replacement of plastic lace guides with textile webbing. They’re staggered in an asymmetrical pattern to better fit the foot’s natural shape.
A thin wire instead of traditional laces reduces pressure on the bridge of the foot. Fizik’s Boa Dial is the final step for precise adjustments to the fit.
The instep Powerstrap is wide and comfortable. It can be held open, ready for you to slip your foot into it, close it up, and go. A rubberized heel tab makes it just as easy to remove speedily.
- Race-stiff R3 carbon outsole
- Infinito fit adjustment system
- PU laminate mesh upper
- Instep Powerstrap
- Runs slightly narrow
2. PEARL iZUMi Tri Fly SELECT v6
The Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Select v6 is built for comfort. A seamless upper gives it a light, barefoot-like feel on your feet, and multiple ventilation holes allow for adequate airflow through the shoes to keep you cool on the ride.
An Anatomic Tri Closure system is designed to reduce pressure on the bridge of the foot and the instep. Its unique design gets rid of hotspots so you can ride without pain or discomfort.
A SELECT 1:1 Composite Power Plate in the sole gives the shoe that classic stiff sole that riders love. Carbon fiber reinforcing in the forefoot adds extra durability while remaining lightweight.
The power plate has built-in Direct-Vent tech to facilitate great airflow and allow for moisture to dry rapidly, keeping your feet at their optimal level of comfort. A SELECT insole offers arch support in all the right places. For extra stability both on and off the bike, a foam and rubber heel bumper has been added.
These shoes are 3-bolt cleat and SPD-compatible. They tend to run slightly narrow though, so you may need to go a size up for comfort.
- Composite Power Plate
- Direct-Vent technology
- Anatomic Tri Closure
- Seamless upper
- These shoes run narrow
Best For Women
3. Garneau Tri X-Speed IV Shoes
Women riders will not only appreciate the style and color choices of this shoe, but they may also like Garneau’s X-Comfort Zone technology. This unusual feature allows the shoe to flex and extend with the wearer’s feet, which is perfect for women who tend to suffer with swollen feet.
A wide foot entry makes it easy to get the shoe on and off between triathlon legs. Two hook-and-loop straps allow a tight but comfortable fit, and they’re wide enough to prevent pressure points on the bridge of the foot.
The Ergo Air injected nylon and fiberglass outsole is tough and rigid, providing a good footing and effective power transfer to the pedals. It’s well-ventilated, helping to dry up any excess moisture after your swim leg.
An HRS-80 heel retention system locks your foot securely in place, providing both proper alignment and comfort from the heel upwards.
- X-Comfort Zone technology
- Ergo Air injected nylon/fiberglass outsole
- Wide foot entry
- Double hook-and-loop straps
- They initially fit narrow but may stretch out with wear
Top For Barefoot
4. Sidi T-5 AIR
If you’re looking for a pair of triathlon cycling shoes that you can wear comfortably without socks, walk easily in, and still feel comfy on the bike, you may like the Sidi T-5 AIR.
Apart from being smooth and stylish, they’re equipped with a replaceable PU heel pad to make walking easier when you’re off the bike.
For stability on and off the bike, these shoes feature a reinforced heel cup. This also helps to lock the heel in place and increase power transfer.
The politex upper is cushy and well-perforated, so your feet will stay both comfortable and cool.
Stiffness in the sole is achieved by blending carbon fiber and nylon, to create the Twelve Carbon Composite sole. The carbon fiber is injected into a nylon matrix and adds strength. Nylon is light, rigid, and non-absorbent. The combination makes for a lightweight and tough layer underfoot.
The opposite-way straps may take a few extra seconds to deal with when transitioning, but it shouldn’t be enough to make a difference. A large, easy-grip heel tab will help speed up those on-and-offs.
- Anatomically-shaped heel cup
- Replaceable heel pad
- Carbon Composite sole
- Perforated politex upper
- Opposite-opening straps may be annoying for some
Best For Long Rides
5. Fizik Transiro Powerstrap R4
Long rides need a comfortable shoe, and this one fulfills exactly that purpose. But it’s not just built for comfort. It’s a sleek and easy-to-transition shoe, with a stiff foundation and effective power-transfer features.
The Powerstrap is a handy feature that not only helps reduce pressure and avoid hotspots on long rides but also makes transitions easy. A large Velcro strip comfortably envelops the foot, attached to an extended portion of the upper to create a wider opening.
It can be locked into an open position so it’s ready and waiting for your foot between triathlon legs. A rubberized heel loop not only helps you get them off quicker when necessary. But it also allows for the shoes to be pre-clipped into the pedals and easily pulled onto your feet so you’re ready to ride.
The upper is crafted from a combination of breathable mesh and Microtex, which offers the best possible mix of ventilation, comfort, and support. Adding to the supportiveness of the shoe is their R4 outsole, made from carbon-injected nylon and delivering a mix of comfort underfoot, cooling airflow, and pedal power.
A nice feature is the small grippy bubbles on the inside of the heel. In addition to the firm heel cup, these help to keep your heel secure in its position, although it may be a chafing hazard for those who choose to ride without socks. These shoes run half a size large so be aware when ordering!
- R4 carbon-injected nylon outsole
- Microtex and mesh upper
- Powerstrap closure system
- Rubberized heel-loop
- May run half a size large
Top For Ironman Races
6. Vittoria Tri Pro
These smooth-looking cycling shoes are designed to meet the needs of Ironman competitions. Long-distance cycling requires a rigid, breathable, and light shoe that’s comfy on the foot. Triathlon transitions need speed and a shoe that’s easy to put on and remove quickly. This shoe offers both.
A Microfiber and nylon mesh upper means the shoe is both breathable and quick-drying, perfect for long rides in hot weather. Weighing just 8.6 ounces, they’ll feel light on your feet even after many miles.
These shoes have a Carbon UD Air sole. Carbon fiber makes them strong and stiff, but also helps with power transfer. Along with the Performance insole, this ensures that none of your energy is wasted – it all goes straight to the pedals.
A simple two-strap system makes getting the shoes on and off easy and speedy. An ergonomic heel loop makes removing the shoes even easier.
- Soft Touch Microfiber upper
- Carbon UD Air System Sole
- Two-strap quick closure
- Heel loop for easy removal
- May not be available in all countries
Best For Wide Feet
7. Garneau Course Air Lite II
Cycling shoes are designed to be sleek and streamlined, and this often results in them being made rather narrow.
Triathletes with wide feet don’t need to worry about pain or chafing due to narrow shoes. The Garneau Course Air Lite II accommodates a wide range of foot widths (B to D+) thanks to its award-winning X-Comfort Zone technology.
An elastomer-spandex insert allows it to stretch comfortably to fit a variety of feet. Also, a flexible panel around the small toe reduces chafing by expanding to fit properly.
Another unusual feature is the Ergo Air Transfo 3D insole, which has three different degrees of arch support so you can select what’s appropriate for your feet. The arch also uses a Power Zone panel to support the foot and direct all the power downwards, without any unnecessary movement.
A deep heel cup is reinforced with a molded band and features a grippy fabric underfoot to keep the heel firmly in place.
Two easy-to-adjust Boa IP1 dials offer a quick-release mechanism and the micro-adjustments also make getting the perfect fit a breeze.
And talking about breezes, these are also some of the most well-ventilated shoes around. A perforated upper is complemented by an Ergo Air design in the hollow sole, which draws air in from beneath the toes, keeping you cool from all angles.
- X-Comfort zone technology
- Power Zone panel
- Two Boa IP1 micro-adjust dials
- Ergo Air Transfo 3D insole
- The slight increase in stack height beneath the cleat may be uncomfortable or less stable for some riders
8. Garneau Tri X-Lite III
Breathability is important in a pair of cycling shoes. The Garneau Tri X-Lite III wins our title for the most breathable shoe, so if overheating or damp feet is something you struggle with, these could be the shoes for you.
The wide entry opening not only makes it easy to slip your foot in quickly, but it also offers great airflow. Even the parts of the foot that are covered will get good ventilation, with the upper being well perforated.
Even the Coolmax insole is made to encourage airflow, wick away moisture, prevent the growth of bacteria, and keep your feet cool and dry from the bottom up.
Double hook-and-loop straps open in opposite directions to allow for a generous opening to get your foot in quickly and smoothly.
Triathletes of all foot shapes and sizes will appreciate Garneau’s X-Comfort Zone tech, which uses a stretchy insert and flexible toe panel to expand to fit feet of all sizes and widths.
A carbon composite outsole and HRS-100 Heel Retention system provide both the stability and the stiffness to power through races of all lengths.
- Double hook and loop straps
- Tri X-Lite wide feet entry
- X-Comfort Zone technology
- Antibacterial Coolmax insole
- Some riders may not like the open space on the top of the foot
Best For Racing
9. Shimano SH-TR500
Shimano has always been a big name in the cycling world. These are their tri-specific cycling shoes, and they’ve been optimized for performance when racing.
A synthetic and mesh upper makes for great ventilation. The 3-D mesh also conforms to the foot for a more snug fit. Also contributing to the fit is a seamless midsole and upper, causing a comfy sock-like fit.
To speed up transitions, the shoes feature a wide ankle collar and T1-Quick Strap. An asymmetrical heel loop helps remove them as quickly as possible.
Be aware that, unlike most other triathlon cycling shoes, the large strap on these shoes closes inwards, on the medial side of the shoe. This could cause them to rub or catch against the pedals while riding.
The outsole is also unusual in comparison to other shoes, made from nylon and reinforced with fiberglass. Not only does this make it incredibly lightweight, but it also assists with effective power transfer to the pedals.
The women’s shoe also has a female-specific anatomical last.
- SPD-SL and SPD cleat compatibility
- Integrated seamless midsole
- 3-D breathable mesh uppers
- Extra-wide collar
- The inward-facing strap may catch on the pedals while riding
Top Carbon Shoes
10. Mavic Cosmic SL Ultimate Shoe
Carbon is a super material to include in cycling shoes. It’s lightweight but exceptionally strong and provides excellent energy return and power transfer.
The Mavic Cosmic SL Ultimate Shoe is sleek and streamlined and provides the classic carbon strength and stiffness a cycling shoe needs.
The Full Carbon Energy SLR outsole is tough and stuff, effectively transferring all your pedaling energy into speed. It also cuts 10 grams of weight off the previous iteration’s sole, with the entire shoe being 80 grams lighter than its predecessor.
A TPU upper contains extra mesh panels for a cool and breathable effect. It’s designed to fit your foot like a sock, close and comfortable. The stack height of 6.5mm is unusually low but assists with power transfer to the pedals.
A single Boa IP1 dial allows for extra quick release when you need to switch shoes. It’s also super helpful for precise adjustments, so you can get a very specific fit that feels right on your feet.
- Single Boa IP1 dial closure
- Full Carbon Energy SLR outsole
- 6.5mm stack height
- Breathable TPU upper
- May not be suitable for riding in the cold
Got questions about the best triathlon cycling shoes? We’ve answered some of the most common questions. If we haven’t answered yours, get in touch!
What Is A Triathlon Cycling Shoe?
A triathlon cycling shoe is a cleated bike shoe that has some useful built-in features to make the ride/run transition easier and faster.
One of the most noticeable features of a tri cycling shoe is that they have a single outward-opening strap, as opposed to the multiple inward-opening straps of a normal cycling shoe.
This allows for a much quicker on-and-off than usual, to get into your running shoes as quickly as possible. They also have a large pull tab at the heel, which helps with quick removal.
Do You Need Cycling Shoes For A Triathlon?
Technically, you don’t need proper cycling shoes for a triathlon. New triathletes in short races can get away with using your usual triathlon running shoes on the bike.
But experienced triathletes may prefer a pair of cleated shoes that they can clip into the pedals for a more controlled and streamlined experience.
If you do choose to use a pair of cleated shoes, make sure they’re compatible with your pedals! Not every cycling shoe fits every bike’s pedals. Also, learn how to set them up properly.
What Is The Difference Between Cycling And Triathlon Shoes?
Both regular cycling shoes and triathlon cycling shoes have stiff, race-ready soles, snug, stiff uppers, and cleat systems built into their soles. They’re built for comfort, speed, and control on the bike.
Triathlon cycling shoes incorporate other features that are mainly aimed at getting the shoes off quickly at transition time. Prominent heel tabs and outward-opening straps are two of the most common features of triathlon cycling shoes that aren’t generally found on regular cycling shoes.
Do You Wear Socks With Cycling Shoes?
Some cycling shoes are designed to be worn without socks. But in most cases, you should be wearing socks with your cycling shoes.
They’re made to fit snugly, but this means they can be a chafing hazard if you don’t wear socks. In the end, it’s really down to personal preference.