8 Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes 2021 Review

The intensity of triathlon can’t be surpassed by other racing competitions because it’s a test of maximum endurance through multiple sports. However, endurance isn’t just about the capabilities of the human body. Sometimes, it’s a matter of using the right gear, especially when it comes to the cycling part of the race. Aside from using a high-quality bicycle, you need an excellent pair of cycling shoes as well.

What’s so special about triathlon cycling shoes? Their main purpose other than foot protection and performance is to guarantee a smoother transition from one sport to another. Again, triathlon is composed of different sports, so you need more efficient gear.

Triathlon cycling shoes need to be seamless, convenient, and breathable. This ensures comfort even when you’re not wearing socks. These shoes can also secure your feet even without a lot of straps. Learn more about their common features as you check out the following products.

Best Triathlon Cycling Shoes Review

Fizik Powerstrap R4 Unisex Adult Triathlon Shoes

Fizik Powerstrap R4 Unisex Adult Triathlon Shoes

To enhance the airflow around your feet for ultimate comfort, the Fizik Powerstrap R4 Triathlon Shoes have uppers made of mesh. Advanced engineering is used for the construction of the upper that’s also knitted to increase durability despite the comfortable fabric material.

While the upper feels light, the outsole is extremely tough. It’s composed of carbon for a stiffer structure without contributing more weight to maintain speed and power.

When it comes to the forefoot, which is important for aggressive pedaling, the feature called Infinito enhances its volume control. This leads to more powerful pedaling without straining your feet for better endurance.

Speaking of pedaling, the Microtex feature adds support for a steadier performance. Another support feature is meant for your plantar arch for more dynamic movements without discomfort.

Now, let’s focus on the Powerstrap itself. It’s a special feature that can lock the shoe’s opening so you can instantly slide your foot in. The strap can also extend the upper’s coverage for a foolproof fit without the need for a complex system. As a plus, a loop made of rubber is installed at the heel to support pedal attachment.

Unfortunately, the loop isn’t very durable. It’s possible to easily tear it off while pulling it.

Wearing the wrong size also has serious consequences on comfort despite the secure strap. Too big, and your feet will keep on rubbing the excessively rough insoles. Too small, and your toes will only get crushed by the narrower shape of the tip.

Pros:

  • Enhances airflow
  • Increased durability
  • Comfortable material
  • Stiffer structure
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Flimsy loop
  • Rough insoles
  • Narrow toe area

PEARL IZUMI Men’s Tri Fly Elite V6 Cycling Shoe

PEARL IZUMI Men’s Tri Fly Elite V6 Cycling Shoe

With its sole made of synthetic material, the PEARL IZUMI Tri Fly Elite V6 Shoe is extremely durable while staying affordable for most triathletes. Meanwhile, to ensure that the shoe will perfectly conform to the specific shape of your foot, the composite upper is seamless and has three layers. The entire design is meant to prevent hot spots through better ventilation.

Aside from hot spots, the Tri Closure feature can eliminate the pressure from the forefoot. It aims to significantly reduce strain to boost endurance.

Just like the first product, these shoes also use carbon. To be more specific, their power plate is made of carbon for a firmer yet lightweight feel.

To add support, the ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) insole is denser to completely keep your foot arch comfortable and secure. And, for faster pedaling, the unibody structure of these shoes has a lower stack height. A lower height is effective for making your feet more flexible.

However, these shoes can still trigger pain during long-distance rides. That problem is more likely to happen if you’re wearing the wrong size.

Most people who have a problem with sizing are those with wider feet. It turns out that these shoes are just too narrow.

And, while this product has similar features as the first option here, its opening doesn’t have a lock to stay open for the foot while sliding in. This lowers efficiency during the transition.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Affordable
  • Conforms to any foot shape
  • Seamless
  • Prevents hot spots

Cons:

  • Pain during long-distance rides
  • Too narrow
  • Doesn’t have a lock for the opening

SIDI Shoes T-5 Air, Scape Cycling Men

SIDI Shoes T-5 Air, Scape Cycling Men

Fully covered with holes for maximum ventilation, the upper of the SIDI Shoes T-5 Air Scape is composed of Polytex, a pure polyethylene material that’s tightly knitted or woven to prevent wear and tear. It’s extremely durable for long-term protection and can even block ultraviolet rays from the sun, which is perfect for cycling on hot days.

More about the quality of the materials used for these shoes, their entire structure can actually endure scorching and freezing temperatures, especially when the environment keeps on changing in a short amount of time. In particular, the soles will remain stiff no matter the season.

Speaking of the soles, their material is specifically called Twelve Carbon Composite. Its nylon component contains carbon to increase stiffness. It’s designed for a multi-step system for a better distribution of power between the pedals and the shoes.

When it comes to convenience, the heels are replaceable. That means they can be removed, which is a big deal for getting that perfect fit for your feet. As a plus, the heel can instantly fit the shoe, making it easier for you to handle unforeseen circumstances during the race. The process isn’t complicated even for beginners.

If you’re particular about style, however, this product has limited color and pattern choices. It’s not the most exciting option for triathletes who prefer a more colorful design.

Pros:

  • Maximum ventilation
  • Can prevent wear and tear
  • Extremely durable
  • Long-term protection
  • Can endure high and low temperatures

Cons:

  • Limited color and pattern choices

SHIMANO SH-TR901

SHIMANO SH-TR901

To help you survive the entire race and even possibly win in the process, the SHIMANO SH-TR901 is made for all aspects of triathlon cycling. As expected, its sole is stiff yet lightweight, thanks to carbon fiber. Because of that material, it ensures a more efficient power transfer. The heel cup also contributes to better power transfer aside from maintaining the perfect position while you’re pedaling.

A real triathlon cycling shoe, this product highly promotes an easier transition. It only needs a single strap. It also has a significantly wider opening so you can quickly slide your foot in. And, to make things easier, it includes a big loop at the heel for hassle-free handling.

While the previous option has a much darker look, this one is definitely the exact opposite because of its metallic blue color. It’s perfect for people who prefer something brighter or more colorful. Most triathlon cycling shoes are black, so this product has a unique style.

It goes without saying that the bright color isn’t ideal for everyone. A lot of triathletes aren’t comfortable with using eye-catching gear. Brightly colored shoes enhance visibility for safety purposes, but the upper can still have some black sections for a more balanced look.

Pros:

  • Unique color
  • Stiff yet lightweight
  • More efficient power transfer
  • Maintains the perfect pedaling position
  • Easier transition

Cons:

  • Too bright for some people

Fizik R5 Cycling Tempo Shoe

Fizik R5 Cycling Tempo Shoe

One of the most versatile triathlon cycling shoes out there, the Fizik R5 Cycling Tempo Shoe can ensure comfort and satisfaction aside from a winning performance during the race. The main reason why it’s versatile is its effectiveness when you’re pedaling over different types of roads. Whether the road is smooth or bumpy, these shoes can help you perform better on your bike.

It’s very noticeable how asymmetric these shoes are. They have a certain curve other shoes can’t provide. This design aims to easily conform to any foot shape.

When it comes to the shoe’s material, it’s purely synthetic. Focusing on the outsole, it’s specifically made of nylon composite to perfectly combine performance and comfort.

Meanwhile, the Microtel upper is quite flexible for a more comfortable feel. It’s also extremely durable for long-term use.

However, the upper can be too stretchy. It might lose its original shape in the long run.

The cables securing the shoe are also not secure enough. They only hold a portion of the upper half of the shoe instead of the lower half. The result? The foot moves a lot inside, which might lead to skin abrasion or poor performance. The Velcro can make a difference, but it’s not even functional on some units.

Pros:

  • Versatile fit and performance
  • Effective for different road types
  • Asymmetric for any foot shape
  • Flexible for comfort
  • Durable for long-term use

Cons:

  • Too stretchy
  • Not secure enough
  • Weak Velcro

Fizik R3 ARIA

Fizik R3 ARIA

Since it focuses on power transfer, style, comfort, and fit, the Fizik R3 ARIA guarantees superior performance. To be more specific, its power transfer has higher efficiency, the design is versatile, the entire structure is comfortable, and fit can match any foot shape.

Another triathlon cycling shoe with a carbon outsole, this product is light yet strong as expected. It has maximum power transfer because the whole sole is made of pure carbon.

When it comes to the design choices, this option only has a limited selection of colors. However, each style is so different, making this simple product ideal for most preferences.

Just like the Microtel upper of the previous product, this one is flexible and durable at the same time. It doesn’t have pressure points and rough seams as well. More importantly, airflow will be so great around your feet because of the breathable material.

Despite the excellent fit of these shoes, their Boa feature doesn’t allow maximum customization. This can trigger pressure points since the forefoot and the midfoot aren’t perfectly balanced.

The part that’s supposed to be the tongue of the shoe can affect fit and comfort, too. That’s because it’s too stiff, which can easily hurt your ankles.

Another comfort issue is the weird bump in the toe area. It can directly trigger pain in your big toe.

Pros:

  • Great overall quality
  • Higher efficiency of power transfer
  • Versatile design
  • Comfortable structure
  • Excellent fit for any foot shape

Cons:

  • Limited customization
  • Stiff tongue
  • Bump in the toe box

Pearl Izumi Men’s Tri Fly V Carbon

Pearl Izumi Men’s Tri Fly V Carbon

Completely made of synthetic materials from its upper to its sole, the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V Carbon is highly durable without the expensive price. First, let’s find out the upper’s material. Its lining is made of mesh so your feet will stay comfortable even without socks.

Additionally, the upper is seamless to stay lightweight even when exposed to water. This is crucial for an easier transition during the race. As a plus, the entire structure can eliminate pressure points and hot spots for ultimate comfort. It’s technically Tri Closure with an anatomical shape.

More about the affordability of these shoes, they’re definitely cheaper than a lot of options in stores. And, the best part? They even have more features than some triathlon cycling shoes that are way more expensive.

Despite being mainly designed for men, this product can actually be unisex because of its narrow shape and smaller size options. However, that can also be an issue for some people, especially male triathletes. These shoes generally run small.

Pros:

  • Affordable yet extremely durable
  • Super-comfy for bare feet
  • Lightweight even when soaked
  • No pressure points and hot spots
  • Anatomical shape

Cons:

  • Runs small

Fizik Men’s Transiro Infinito R3 Triathlon Cycling Shoes

Fizik Men’s Transiro Infinito R3 Triathlon Cycling Shoes

With their sophisticated style, the Fizik Transiro Infinito R3 Triathlon Cycling Shoes are a must-have for triathletes. Another reason why they can meet the expectations of world-class triathletes is their professional quality.

Even though the upper is composed of breathable mesh, it still has a sturdy feel to boost support. Its crucial sections are laminated with polyurethane for efficient power transfer while you’re pedaling.

Meanwhile, the opening of each shoe promotes easier entry. It’s wide enough to let a foot slide in without constant tugging.

To ensure a stress-free transition, you can adjust these shoes even when you’re in a hurry. That’s because they include both the functions of the Boa dial and the Powerstrap. The instant closure is all thanks to the Powerstrap while the Boa dial promotes precision on fit and convenience on the adjustment process.

Unfortunately, the adjustment dial on some units isn’t durable at all. It can break in just a few rides.

As for the size options, some Asians find it tricky to choose the right one. Wearing the wrong size can trigger pain on both legs because of the Boa dial’s position right above a certain bone on each foot.

Pros:

  • Sophisticated style
  • Professional quality
  • Sturdy yet breathable
  • Easier entry
  • Allows adjustments even while you’re moving

Cons:

  • Flimsy dial
  • Tricky sizing for Asian triathletes
  • Ineffective position of the dial

How to Choose Good Triathlon Cycling Shoes

Transition

Entry Lock

Sliding your foot in and out of your cycling shoe should be as easy as 1-2-3 during a triathlon. The opening should be wide enough for your foot.

However, since a wider entrance can compromise fit, we suggest choosing triathlon cycling shoes that include a special lock for each opening. The lock will force the opening to get wider for your foot. Then, once your foot is in, you should be able to loosen the lock so the opening will return to its original form which is tighter and more secure.

Adjustment Dial

While ordinary shoes need laces to allow the user to adjust the fit, triathlon cycling shoes require a different system for a faster transition. More and more triathlon shoes are using adjustment dials nowadays, and that’s what makes them stand out in a sea of footwear.

Instead of spending several minutes securing laces, which can be very stressful if you need to restart the process because of the wrong fit, you just need to turn the dials until the cables tighten to your liking.

The most popular dial system is the Boa. It’s very effective because of its three features: small precision dials, light yet extremely durable cables or laces, and guides that can reduce friction.

The founder Gary Hammerslag only had one goal in designing the Boa system and it’s none other than efficiency, although his idea came from his frustration as a mountaineer, not a triathlete. Still, his product has a wide range of applications, which is groundbreaking.

Heel Loop

One of the simplest yet most important features of any triathlon cycling shoe is the big loop right outside the heel. A lot of ordinary shoes have that feature, but triathlon shoes have a much bigger loop to really ensure efficiency as you’re hooking any finger into it to pull the shoe up.

The number one problem concerning heel loops is how some of them easily detach from the shoe. That’s why the loop must have a solid fabric material and foolproof stitching for durability. This will make you more comfortable pulling the shoe up even if it’s locked on the pedal.

Cleat System

Speaking of triathlon cycling shoes locked on pedals, let’s learn more about cleat systems. Cleats are usually made of steel to ensure foolproof attachment to bike pedals.

There are different types of cleat systems, but we’re going to focus on what’s commonly used for triathlon cycling shoes. SPD cleats are generally compatible with any road bike and can lock instantly on the pedals. They’re actually the universal standard, proven by their beneficial effects on other applications like spin classes and mountain biking.

From the water to your bike until you’re on your feet while running, the SPD system will make the entire process much easier. You can start pedaling your bike in just a matter of seconds as soon as you sit on the saddle, increasing your chances of winning the race.

When it comes to the technical side of SPDs, they require two bolts, which is easier to handle. Compared to cleats using three bolts, a two-bolt system has a more secure feel for comfort and less power transfer. It can be used casually if you feel like walking for a while.

The only major downside of SPDs is their incompatibility with more expensive cycling shoes for road bikes.

Power Transfer

Outsole

To boost efficiency when it comes to power transfer, the outsole should be stiff yet flexible. Power transfer is crucial because this is what you need in order to pedal faster without spending too much energy. Less energy spent means better endurance, which will help you survive the whole competition.

Plate

The plate is normally located above the sole to increase support, hence its noticeable stiffness. It shouldn’t just be firm, though; it should also be very lightweight to allow more dynamic movements.

Comfort

Ventilation

It’s not ideal to wear socks while participating in a triathlon. The race includes swimming, which obviously makes it a bad idea to use socks. Just imagine moving around with drenched fabric sticking all over your feet or your progress getting interrupted by the need to change your socks.

However, if there’s no good ventilation inside the shoes, your bare feet will only get irritated by sweat due to overheating. That’s why better airflow is essential, which is only possible by wearing shoes with a breathable fabric.

Cushioning

Despite the need for triathlon cycling shoes to have a thinner upper material for a more lightweight and breathable feel, a little padding is still important. The added cushioning can prevent blisters on your feet.

Just make sure to keep the thickness to a minimum to still guarantee an excellent performance. Too soft and you’ll find it hard to move your feet and efficiently transfer power to the pedals. That’s exactly why the outsoles of triathlon shoes are required to be stiffer as well.

Quick-Dry

Triathlon cycling shoes need to be able to dry quickly whether they’re drenched with water or sweat. Two features are essential for this: the upper and the insole.

Although there are benefits to wearing leather uppers, mesh will always be more comfortable. Mesh isn’t a solid fabric, so it will be easier for the moisture to evaporate through ventilation.

Meanwhile, the insole should have the ability to absorb moisture and quickly dry out at the same time. Water or sweat shouldn’t stay underneath your feet for it will only lead to sliding motions inside the shoes, affecting the steadiness of your movements.

Conclusion

Among the top-notch triathlon cycling shoes we’ve introduced, we specifically recommend the Fizik Transiro Infinito R3. It has world-class quality because of its well-designed features and sophisticated style. It’s stiff but with good ventilation to combine performance and comfort. Also, it promotes easier transition because of its wider opening and Boa dial that can be adjusted even when you’re moving.

When it comes to choosing the right triathlon cycling shoes for your feet and skill level, consider the factors transition, power transfer, and comfort before anything else. Those factors define what triathlon shoes are all about, hence the importance of making them a priority during your decision-making process.