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Best commuter cycling shoes for riding to work in comfort

Included in this guide:

Commuter cycling shoes
(Image credit: Chrome Industries)

Now more than ever people are choosing to commute to work by bike. With commuter cycling set to challenge conventional urban public transport in a post-pandemic world, it's even more important to have the right tools for the job. That includes the best commuter cycling shoes. 

Minimalist carbon cycling shoes might look great during your coffee stop on that weekend outride, but they don’t go particularly well with jeans or office wear. Nor do they walk with great aplomb on most indoor office flooring surfaces. The best commuter cycling shoes will be comfortable, flexible and practical, so that you can pedal efficiently while riding and walk easily when you reach your destination. They're a compromise between the stiffness and ventilation of the best road cycling shoes and the comfort of a walking shoe. Fashion adds yet another dimension to this equation, with lurid team colours out, and subtle hues in. 

If you're not sure if you should be clipping in or not, check out our article that explores flat vs clipless, and once you've established which are the best commuter cycling shoes for you, be sure to check out the best commuter helmets, best commuter bikes, and the best bike locks to keep your pride and joy secure when you arrive at work.

Finally, don't forget we've got a ton of advice below about how to choose the best commuter cycling shoes for you.

Best commuter cycling shoes

Best commuter cycling shoes: FiveTen Sleuth

(Image credit: FiveTen)

FiveTen Sleuth

A casual canvas slip-on

Size: 40-48
Weight: 308g
Colours: 2
Reasons to buy
+Slip-on convenience +FiveTen's proven pedal grip +Ultra casual styling 
Reasons to avoid
-Inherently flexible, so you'll compromise some power transfer -No lace or strap securing mechanism, which could create foot movement on steep climbs

A legendary shoe name in climbing and mountain biking, FiveTen also offers (very) casual riding shoe options. Now owned by German apparel giant, Adidas, FiveTen is expanding into the leisure and commuter cycling shoe market.

Its slip-on Sleuth isn’t going to be your choice for a 20-mile roundtrip commute, but if you seek riding shoes for that Saturday morning coffee or neighbourhood café ride, these are wonderfully appropriate.

The Sleuth’s construction blends a canvas and mesh upper, which allows for excellent walking comfort, due to its inherent fabric flexibility. Colours and overall design are both quite muted, which should make FiveTen’s slip-on Sleuth easy to pair with most of your urban daywear.

FiveTen built its reputation in the climbing and mountain biking communities with outstandingly grippy rubber sole compounds, and the Sleuth is no different. It features a Micro-Dotty sole which has tremendous flat pedal grip. 

The only debit on these shoes would be that their slip-on design means you sacrifice a touch in terms of structural rigidity in the uppers. This could lead to some foot movement in the shoe if you are climbing out of the saddle. 

Shimano GR5 MTB Shoes

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano GR5 MTB Shoes

A lace-up skate-style shoe

Size: 38-48
Weight: 350g
Colours: 3
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable fit+Good pedal traction+Stylish and casual aesthetic+Flexible sole for walking
Reasons to avoid
-You have to stop cycling to adjust them

Shimano's gravel-oriented GR5 shoes are designed to take on the rigours of off-roading, but lend themselves very well to casual riding and commuting. This is namely down to their skate-like aesthetic which blend well into whatever outfit you might want to pair them with (bar a suit, of course), lace-up closure, and flexible sole that offers an element of walking comfort.

They're well made, with a durable synthetic upper material, and mesh to help your feet breathe. The outsole is sticky enough to offer a decent amount of traction, which means your shoes won't be slipping and sliding on your flat pedals, but it's not a vice-like grip that you'd expect while mountain biking.

Best commuter cycling shoes: Giro Rumble VR

(Image credit: Giro)

Giro Rumble VR

Pedalling dynamics and striding comfort in one

Size: 39-50
Weight: 425g
Colours: 3
Reasons to buy
+Fashionable proportions and overall design+Excellent walking grip with those Vibram soles
Reasons to avoid
-No heel loop for easy hanging after a wash or stowage

It looks like a casual activity sneaker, which is not surprising, as this Giro draws much of its inspiration from the company’s mountain bike product line.

If you wish to ride as a clipless commuter and like the appearance of hybrid sneaker/running shoe, you’ll love the Rumble’s design. Its upper is a combination of breathable synthetic material, with mesh inserts, to keep you cool and comfortable in summer.

Stride comfort is supported by an EVA footbed and midsole, whilst traction on all surfaces benefit from an Italian sourced Vibram outsole.

Configured for clipless riding, the Rumble SPD-compatible cleat box has generous fore-and-aft adjustability, to help you find the most comfortable contact point, whilst on the bike. There’s a tidy lace keeper loop, to prevent drivetrain suck.

Chrome Industries Dima 2.0

(Image credit: Chrome Industries)

Chrome Industries Dima

Durable cycling-specific slip-on urban kicks

Size: 37.5-46
Weight: Unpublished
Colours: 3
Reasons to buy
+Tough 1,050 Denier Cordura Brand upper fabric+PowerPlate nylon-reinforced midsole+Vegan-friendly
Reasons to avoid
-Sizing runs large, go down a size

Chrome Industries has been making durable cycling kit aimed at urban riders and professional bike messengers who demand durability and a casual style.

Chrome's Dima shoe is a flat pedal slip-on shoe that has a cycling-specific PowerPlate nylon shank inserted into the sole to enhance pedalling stiffness and improve power transfer. The toe and heel are capped with rubber to fend off scuffs, and a rubber crash pad in the heel softens the blow if you find yourself bailing off the bike.

The uppers are made from durable 1,050 Denier Cordura and have a slim profile for a better fit when using toe clips or straps. The Dimas have a clean, low-key look, though they tend to run large, so go down a size when buying.

Best commuter cycling shoes: Shimano CT5

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano CT5

A typically solid Shimano product

Size: 36-48
Weight: 332g
Colours: 4
Reasons to buy
+Great value - as ever - from Shimano+Generous colour choice+Excellent SPD compatibility - as you'd expect from a Shimano shoe
Reasons to avoid
-Very little, could have a slimmer exterior profile 

Need shoes to brand-match your drivetrain or brakes? Shimano is best known for its enormous cycling component range, but the Japanese company also has a broad shoe portfolio.

Its CT5 is a sneaker-style commuter shoe offering good value. Optimized for use with Shimano’s SPD and Click’R pedal systems, the roomy cleat box section allows for fuss-free clipless installation.

An EVA midsole provides walking support, whilst Shimano has added an integrated shank, to assist with power transfer when you are on the pedals. It also has a broad spread of mesh around the upper, to aid ventilation - although this could be a water ingress issue, if you are going to be doing a lot of heavy-weather winter commuting. 

Best commuter cycling shoes: DZR H20

(Image credit: DZR)


An unrivaled winter weather casual clipless shoe

Size: 37-46
Weight: 480g
Colours: 1
Reasons to buy
+Waterproof properties are great for winter riding+Credible blend of form and function 
Reasons to avoid
-They are heavy -Expensive too

If you need a leather clipless commuter shoe for winter riding, look no further.

DZR has made a name for itself, by combining cleat box soles with stylish urban footwear design. The H20 is true to its naming convention, by being waterproof – and perfect for those urban commuter cyclists who don’t always dodge puddles.

Aside from using a full-grain leather upper, DZR’s designers also integrate a waterproof membrane into the shoe’s structure, to provide comprehensive waterproofing.

There is little point in having a clipless pedal interface if your shoes are too flexy. DZR’s H20 features a metal reinforced nylon shank, for improved power transfer when you are cranking away.

Safety features include an elastic lace catch and reflective heel badge. If you want an SPD-compatible all-weather leather riding shoe, the DZR H20 is excellently suited to that purpose.

Bontrager SSR MultiSport

(Image credit: Bontrager)

Bontrager SSR

Trail style for your hectic urban commute

Size: 36-48
: 424g
Colours: 1
Reasons to buy
+Brilliantly versatile
Reasons to avoid
-Warm weather riders might desire something with more mesh inserts 

Another activity shoe that has a multisport appearance, Bontrager’s SSR is a great option for those who need an off-road capable walking shoe with a cleat box.

Bontrager’s designers have created a generously shaped shoe, which is claimed to the brand’s comfiest for both riding and walking. The rubber outsole has strong grip for scrambling over off-road terrain, but it is also great if you need to run some stairs to be on time for that appointment.

Compatible with two-bolt SPD cleat, Bontrager reinforces the SSR’s structure with a nylon plate to resist pedalling flex. If you choose to ride flat pedals or wish to use the SSR as more of a multipurpose shoe, there are plugs available to fill-in the cleat box.

Ventilation is good, with comprehensive mesh inserts, and the SSR’s fit is secured with laces and a single Velcro top strap.

Bontrager Cadence Spin Cycling Shoes

(Image credit: Bontrager )

Bontrager Cadence Spin

2-bolt spinning shoes with plenty of moveability

Size: 36-48
Weight: Unpublished
Colours: 1
Reasons to buy
+Understated design+Comfortable on- and off the bike+Boa dial is adjustable on the go
Reasons to avoid
-Boa dial detracts from the casual aesthetic

Designed specifically for spinning at the gym, Bontrager's Cadence Spin cycling shoes double up as a great option for commuting. Thanks to their sneaker-like appearance, they can blend in with casual dress, and while the Boa dial might give the game away  a little, it does come with the added benefit of being able to make micro-adjustments on the fly. 

The benefit of them being designed for spinning is that they're also intended to deliver comfort and support while you're walking and stretching. The upper is largely made from mesh material allows you to move freely, and breathes. Meanwhile the midsole is made from a cushioned EVA foam, making them suitable for all-day use. 

Plus, within the sturdy sole is a recessed 2-bolt cleat fitment, so you can clip in and ride efficiently, before spending the rest of the day walking around work, with your colleagues being none the wiser.

How to choose the best commuter cycling shoes for you

Do you need special shoes for cycling?

While you could absolutely get away with pedalling in your regular shoes, especially if you've not got a long way to go, there's a reason cycling-specific shoes exist. They're designed to be comfortable for a very different type of motion to walking, and deal with different pressure points. 

What's more, cycling shoes generally tend to have a stiffer sole, so as to make pedalling much more efficient, otherwise a big chunk of your output (the thing that makes you huff and puff) gets lost as your flimsy sole wraps around the pedal instead of laying down power. 

Cycling-specific shoes on the other hand, will have a stiffer sole that makes the best use of your power output and directs all your energy into your pedal stroke. This means more efficiency and less wasted energy.

So, if regular shoes are too soft, does that mean stiff cycling shoes are the answer? Not exactly. While a stiffer sole will mean less wasted energy, which has you working less hard than you would be in your regular trainers (and in turn means you'll arrive at work in less of a sweat), if you're planning to wear the shoes all day, then it's important to find that balance between flexibility and stiffness, so that you can pedal efficiently while also walking comfortably once you've arrived.

What shoes to wear for commuting?

The best commuter cycling shoes will meet that balance of comfort and efficiency, with comfort being the priority.

Walking is not a design objective of conventional road cycling shoe design. You might pace from the garage to pavement, or around the local coffee shop waiting area, but with your cycling shoes on, steps away from the pedals are usually kept to a minimum.

With a commuter cycling shoe, it is very much the opposite. You might be walking up and down stairs, often carrying the bike, along corridors or across a variety of floor space surfaces or public parks. To ensure that is accomplished without discomfort or the risk of slippage, commuter cycling shoes have a different cleat profile and more flexible sole design. 

You also want a shoe that has an exceptionally grippy sole, especially if you’re not clipping in.

Although pedalling efficiency is always desirable, you don’t need a carbon sole – which would be agonisingly uncomfortable to walk in for a few hundred steps a day. With a reinforcement shank in a flexible sole, you should have adequate pedalling support for your active commute.

Is it okay to choose my commuter cycling shoes based on how they look?

Of course! Exterior design, proportions and colourways are hugely important for any commuter shoe choice – with most riders preferring to err on the side of subtlety.

The purchasing bias is more influenced by traditional casual shoe fashion sensibility than outright pedalling dynamics and conventional cycling metrics, such as weight, ventilation and sole stiffness.

If you buy commuter shoes that don't adequately match with your work or social wear, there is little point, as you’ll feel uncomfortable wearing them.

Which fastening system is best for commuter shoes?

Although fastening systems which allows for mid-ride adjustability whilst you are on the bike are desirable, laces rule the commuter shoe market. For good reason.

The tension properties that laces can enact on a shoe’s upper, make for the comfiest fit if you are going to be walking a great deal. Velcro straps and Boa-dials are less prevalent on casual shoes for reasons of appearance, cost, repair complexity and comfort.

A flexible walking shoe is best secured with laces, instead of straps or dials. The most important consideration with your commuter shoe lacing system is how the ends and loops will be secure atop the shoe, to prevent potentially dangerous engagement with your chainring(s).

Mildred Locke

Mildred joined as Reviews Writer for Cyclingnews and BikePerfect in December 2020. She loves all forms of cycling from long-distance audax to daily errand-running by bike, and does almost everything on two wheels, including moving house, and started out her cycling career working in a bike shop. For the past five years she's volunteered at The Bristol Bike Project as a mechanic and session coordinator, and now sits on its board of directors.

Since then she's gone on to write for a multitude of cycling publications, including Bikeradar, Cycling Plus, Singletrack, Red Bull, Cycling UK and Total Women's Cycling. She's dedicated to providing more coverage of women's specific cycling tech, elevating under-represented voices in the sport, and making cycling more accessible overall. 

Height: 156cm (5'2")

Weight: 75kg

Rides: Liv Devote, Genesis Equilibrium Disc 20, Triban RC520 Women's Disc, Genesis Flyer, Whyte Victoria, Cotic BFe 26, Clandestine custom bike