Cycling shoes have stiffer soles than, say, trainers or running shoes, which makes them more comfortable to pedal in. You can pay hundreds of pounds for high-tech shoes with carbon fibre soles, but you can get perfectly usable shoes for under £50.
As Mat Brett discusses at length in our article covering everything you need to know about cycling shoes, there are broadly two types of cycling shoes: road racing style and SPD/mountain bike style.
SPD/mountain bike style shoes have a small cleat (a special stud) recessed into the sole. They're easier to walk in than road racing shoes and because the pedals are usually double-sided they're easier to get into. They're the way to go if you want to get started with clipless pedals.
Road racing shoes have stiff, smooth soles with threaded holes for a cleat that stands proud from the shoe and fits into the attachment mechanism on a matching pedal. They're efficient and secure, but there's a learning curve to getting in to the usually single-sided pedals and the shoes are hard to walk in.
Let's see what we can find by way of shoe bargains.
These shoes from French-based sport store chain Decathlon look like a bargain entry point in cycling footwear. They're billed as road shoes, but have a two-bolt mounting for mountain bike-style cleats, so you'll be able to walk in them easily.
Thirty quid now seems to be the starting price for cycling shoes and these from Sports Direct brand Muddyfox are typical of what you'll find. You get a padded mesh fabric body, with laces and Velcro strap to cover the knot and lace ends and a cushioned heel outsole for walking.
Shimano invented the SPD shoe and pedal (it stands for Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) and in the 25 years since then the Japanese component giant has got very good at making shoes for the system.
There's a glass fibre reinforced nylon shank in the sold for rigidity, but the whole sole is cushioned for comfort. A lace closure means you'll have to be a bit careful about tying them so that they're clear of the chain.
As well as the blue here, they're also available in black, and there's a women's version too.
Shop around a bit and you might find some sizes for less than the price above, but
When we first spotted them, these these three-strap SPD shoes from WiggleCRC's house brand were a bargain at £35. We've left them in this version of this guide in the hope that the price will go down toward the end of summer, as often happens, but they're a bit spendy at anything over £50. The upper is synthetic and the sole nylon for a bit of walkable flex. Caveat: they come up big, so you'll need to go down a size from your usual fitting.
These three-strap shoes from Shimano are compatible with both two-bolt and three-bolt cleats. The sole is glass fibre reinforced nylon and is designed for indoor cycling as well as riding outdoors. The upper is made from mesh and synthetic leather and has extra cushioning for comfort.
Giro started the lace renaissance with their Empire shoes back in 2014, and the return of old-school shoe closures was a surprise hit, driven by the improved comfort available if you carefully distributed the tension of the laces over your foot. With a synthetic upper and Nylon sole, dhb's budget version looks great, and should be just the job for riders who want the style of laces but don't need the stiffness of a carbon fibre sole. They're compatible with two-bolt SPD and three-bolt Look-style cleats.
Built on a fibreglass-reinforced sole for stiffness, these three-strap shoes have reflective highlights for visibility. Mavic's shoes are known for their comfy fit and durability, so this is a decent deal for entry-level Mavic kicks, though we have seen them for under £50. They're compatible with two-bolt SPD and three-bolt Look-style cleats.
Wiggle customers are very happy with their RP1 shoes, praising the fit, comfort, sole stiffness and faff-free two-strap closure. The sole gets its stiffness from fibreglass reinforcement and there's a reflective patch on the back for visibility. They're compatible with two-bolt SPD and three-bolt Look-style cleats.
My eyes! It's okay, these budget road shoes from Muddyfox are also available in a snazzy white, red and black colour scheme for those who aren't sufficiently extrovert for screaming neon.
They have a two-strap closure, with a very broad strap across the top to spread the tension over your foot, and Amazon reviewers say the sole is plenty stiff. For just £30, they do the job.
With a fibreglass-reinforced nylon sole and classic trio of Velcro straps, these road shoes from Decathlon look to be very good value. They'll take either three-bolt cleats or two-bolt SPD cleats.
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Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.