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On rides, the combination of the supple Microtex upper and the dial system gives the shoe a snug, sock-like fit. The rubbery lip at the top rubbed my ankle a smidge, but otherwise, my heel stayed in place while my foot felt unconstrained. The lightweight carbon-fiber sole is stiff enough to give your sprint that extra boost, yet comfortable on long rides. And the three vents (along with the laser-perforated upper) allow plenty of airflow.
The R1B also comes in white, black, and black with red accents. I would happily take one of each—just to stare at now and then.—Leah Flickinger
Weight: 500g / pair (size 42)
Buy it at Competitive Cyclist
1) Mavic Echappée W Shoe
Most lace-up cycling shoes are blingy, premium-priced models. But Mavic’s bringing laces to the people. “Most entry-level shoes come with Velcro straps,” says product manager Aaron Walker. “We wanted to offer something that actually looks cool.” The fiberglass and nylon outsole on the
Weight: 472g / pair (size 40)
2) Louis Garneau Carbon Ls-100 II
Garneau’s Carbon Ls-100 II is a standout option in its price range. It has a full carbon-fiber sole rather than the carbon/glass-fiber mix found on many similarly priced shoes. It’s stiff without the unyielding harshness of some race models. And for a shoe that is as light or lighter than most competitors, it stays comfortable on long rides. The fore-aft adjustment slots on the three-bolt cleats are usually found only on pricier kicks, and the synthetic leather upper is still scuff-free after a month, thanks in part to a plastic toe bumper. And the reflective heel accents create eye-catching visibility during dawn patrols too.—Joe Lindsey
Weight: 474g / pair (size 41)
Buy it at Performance Bike
1) Giro Sentrie Techlace
It’s the Techlace system that really stands out on these cycling shoes: The laces attach via two Velcro straps that are easy to secure and adjust to a snug fit. Once on, they stay put during long rides (though I did tighten the Boa L6 dial mid-ride). And changing into a pair of road shoes in a crowded backseat has never been so easy (hear that, racers?)—I could fasten the shoe without looking.
Thanks in part to the carbon outsole, these shoes are stiff and light feeling. They were also comfortable from the start. After a day of riding, I still didn’t mind having them on. The toe box is roomy, and my average-width feet never felt constrained. You can also customize the arch support using the included inserts.—James Hart
Weight: 502g / pair (size 41.5)
Buy it at Competitive Cyclist
Caught in a downpour? Here’s how to quickly dry your shoes:
2) Specialized Women’s S-Works Sub6 Road Shoe
I was the last kid in my second grade class to learn how to tie my shoes, and it still takes me longer than average. But with the Specialized Sub6, those few extra seconds are time well spent.
These kicks live at the sublime intersection of light weight, aerodynamics, and pizazz. This is Specialized’s lightest shoe yet. Switching to the Sub6 from a lower-end shoe made turning the pedals over feel effortless in comparison.
These are also the best-ventilated shoes I’ve worn. Even the included Warp Sleeve, a stretchy cover that contributes to the Sub6’s claimed 35-second time savings (over 40km, compared to a non-aero shoe), allows more airflow than traditional aero shoe covers.—Elspeth Huyett
Weight: 350g /pair (size 39)
3) Rapha Climber’s Shoe
So many higher-end shoes are burdened by extra stuff. Rapha’s Climber’s Shoe is minimalist, making it lighter than most high-performance shoes, more comfortable for some riders, and better looking to almost everyone.
Three Velcro straps are stupid-simple and provide the comfort and effectiveness that mechanical closures are still chasing. The soles are thin and stiff (but not the stiffest). The upper shapes to the foot well and is highly breathable. These shoes are so fabulously light that they add noticeable zip to your spin, but they’re tough too: One of our test pairs has been in commission since 2014. They’re offered in reflective blue or yellow and nonreflective white.—Matt Phillips
Weight: 408g / pair (size 41)