This week we had an email from a female reader desperately searching for smart looking clipless pedal friendly shoes for women.
Search as she might, our reader hadn’t found any women’s specific shoes that clipped in, but could pass as everyday wear off the bike.
Task in hand, we set off in search of an answer – and found 5.
DZR Link Womens SPD Compatible SPD Shoes – here for £79.98
DZR make a wide range of SPD shoes for men, and I couldn’t find many female specific offerings on their website – but strangely I did find them retailing elsewhere, at Tredz.
These shoes offer a great looking, laid back style for the girl about town – but they’re cleverer than they look. A recessed 2 bolt cleat fitting sits in the sole, which is stiffened to ensure the rider gets a strong enough pedal stroke.
DZR have provided a ‘traction outsole’ – meaning you’ll get a fair amount of grip for walking, but I couldn’t find much information about their cycling merits of stiffness, so I’d expect these are ideal for shorter rides, with a stronger focus on the time you spend off the bike.
The upper sole is designed to offer stability, and these also feature a luminous reflective badge should you be stepping out at night.
These are probably only fit for work if you’re based in a fairly relaxed office (I am, these would be fine), but if not they’d be great for nipping to the shops or pub trips.
Giro Civila Women’s Road Shoe – here for £123.49
Oh gosh – I would actually really love a pair of these.
Despite the name ‘road shoe’, these actually take an SPD cleat and will fit MTB pedals, not Look or Shimano road pedals. This means that with the recessed cleat, you’ll be able to walk like a normal human being after you’ve locked your bike.
These really could blend in with an every day outfit, and the blue ‘walking pads’ and scuff guard mean that Giro can provide a stiffened nylon sole that doesn’t clack as you walk. Designed for proper rides, not just quick jaunts to the shops, these have non slip laces, moulded footbeds with medium arch support – and are said to be equally comfortable by the end of mile 30 as mile 1.
I’ve not tried these, but looking at the sole, I doubt it allows for a huge amount of movement. Giro have used an injected nylon sole, this is much like a normal cycling shoe, with more casual styling. Like any cycling shoe, it will probably keep your foot fairly flat, and I’m not sure this would be comfortable for long walks – but they’d certainly be fine for a march around the supermarket or a day at a desk.
GIRO WHYND women’s trekking shoes – here for £72.57 (and in black and blue here if pink isn’t for you)
It looks like Giro have pretty much got this market wrapped up, doesn’t it?
This shoe looks quite sporty, and features a microfiber upper, with mesh inserts – so hot feet are not a likelihood on a tough ride.
The shoes feature an EVA sole – this stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate – a lightweight material which is water resistant, offers a good amount of anti-vibration protection, and insulation.
These also feature EVA shaped footbed, with middle foot arch support and antibacterial Aegis fabric.
These are a tad cheaper than the Civila – and I expect the sole might be a little more flexible for walking, but less performance focused on the bike – so it really comes down to what’s most important in your day and what you will spend more time doing – walking or cycling?
Specialized Cadette Women’s Cycling Shoes – £65 here
These still carry a fairly sporty look, but they’re smarter than normal MTB shoes and would work with jeans for a grown up but casual look.
The 2 bolt cleat system is compatible with most MTB shoes, and as the WHYNDs you get an EVA midsole. Specialized have helpfully given us numbers for comparison – and this EVA sole has a stiffness index rating 4. An S-Works carbon soled women’s road shoe provides a stiffness rating 13 – that’s a pretty big jump. Therefore, though you can expect some pedalling support, you are getting less, but in return you’ll be more comfortable when off the bike.
The mesh on the upper sole offers breath ability, and of course these being Specialized you get the benefit of their Body Geomatry soles and footbed.
Specialized BG footbeds are a topic of their own – but they are designed to optimize foot position – correcting knee and hip alignment issues on the bike. A high majority of women do roll their knees inwards as they ride, but not all women do, so it’s worth considering if this correction is right for you.
These feature lacelock elastic to keep them securely in place, too, so you should be free from chain disasters.
Tracy Neuls Fern Bike Reflector Boot – Black – £250 here
These are something altogether different. Our reader was looking for clipless pedal friendly shoes – and these are not, but we felt they might be up someone’s street.
These boots feature a reflective stripe on the heel, to ensure visibility, and the sole is finished off with a 1.5cm rubber base. The rubber base ensures both a robust surface, and one that won’t slip.
Velo-City-Girl wrote a great review of these shoes here in which she stated the boots are: “at the higher-price end of the market, but when you consider the quality, craftsmanship and design process behind Tracey Neuls footwear, they really are an investment pair of boots that will serve you well, both on and off the bike.”
Have you found the perfect pair of on/off bike shoes? Tell us in the comments…
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.