Shoes & Covers

Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader v4 Road Shoes

PearlIzumiPROLeaderv4.lime.WEBPearl Izumi’s P.R.O. Leader v4 offers nice improvements over the previous model. The stiff carbon sole and asymmetrical closure combine for a comfortable cycling shoe with good power transfer. The two offset BOA closures really allow you to dial in the fit and easily adjust on the bike. The black/neon yellow upper is stylish and made us a bit more visible to drivers. The P.R.O. Leader v4s hold their own against other high-end road shoes when it comes to quality and price, but there is still room for improvement.

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Bont Vaypor S Shoes

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With the carbon monocoque construction and BOA bidirectional closure system, the Vapor S raise the bar in ergonomics and power transfer. Bont also has built maximum durability into the Vaypors, with fully rubber-wrapped reinforced toes and replaceable thick rubber heel tabs that help protect the carbon soles and white synthetic leather uppers. At $450, this isn’t an inexpensive pair of shoes, but if you’re in the market for an awesome fitting and performing high-end road shoe, I think you’ll love Bont’s Vaypor S.

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Northwave Extreme RR Road Shoes

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Northwave's new top-of-the-line Extreme RR road shoe hits a home run in my book, being very light, stiff, and comfortable, with a single-dial adjustment system to literally dial in the fit. This lightweight shoe is good for racing, but also is comfortable to wear on an all-day road ride. The low-cut, minimalistic style fits the bill for me, too. The price tag is, admittedly, a lot to pay for a pair of shoes. But these shoes deliver the level of comfort, fit, style and performance features that you would expect from an high-end Italian maker.

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Fi'zi:k R1B UOMO Road Shoes

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The R1Bs are a great all-around shoe that is stiff enough to race in and at the same time comfortable enough to use on a leisurely century ride. And you will be hard-pressed to find a better looking road shoe. Of course authentic Italian loafers can be expensive, and the R1B's are certainly not cheap, but there are many more expensive top-of-the-line road shoes out there. For me, the best feature of this shoe is the wider-than-average toebox combined with Fizik Volume Control. It gives me that little extra bit of width that I have not been able to find in other shoes.

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Catlike Whisper Road Shoes

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I tested the shoes over two months that included some super hot weather, long, long days on the bike and rides through all types of terrain. The test period included the six-day Tour of Wyoming, featuring pretty well all of that in one 400-mile burst, including a near-century through the Badlands (basically desert-like) and 131 miles of climbing. These shoes proved their mettle on that ride, staying comfortable and cool, providing excellent power transfer, and stayed looking cool, too, despite collecting some serious dust and dirt along the way.

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Swiftwick and Showers Pass Socks

SwiftwickSocks.WEBSocks are socks, right? Well, I've come to realize that, like all other cycling gear, there are definitely levels of quality in socks. I’ve been cycling for nearly 15 years and have recently become a convert to higher quality socks, which are not even that much more expensive. It turns out that some socks simply are better than others. What I’ve been looking for is socks that wick, that "disappear" so I don’t notice them on a ride and that are still reasonably priced.

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The Best Cycling Insoles

I recently tested the best of the best of cycling insoles. Important note: every insole company claims to make a cycling-specific insole, but in reality, few actually do. I researched all companies that claim to have cycling insoles and tested them. My review contains insight as to what makes an insole comfortable, what to look for and what to stay away from.

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Giro Empire ACC Shoes

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With their EC90 full-carbon soles and one-piece uppers, these are stiff, high-performance shoes. Plus, with the way Giro’s microfiber molds to your feet, with the superior fit-tuning of 7-eyelet laces, you can truly customize the fit and feel as much as you want. And, it should mean that with wear and tear you won’t run out of adjustment as can happen with some strap closures. Depending on your riding skill, you may need to stop to change the lace tightness.

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Lake CX 331 Cycling Shoes

Lake CX331s shoes have excellent power transfer from the rigid carbon fiber soles mated to the dialed-in fit allowed by the heat molding and the Boa closure system. The shoes are well-vented and resulted in even temperature control even on the hottest days. However, this recommendation comes with a caveat. It's essential to spend time geting the fit dialed in exactly, which requires careful cleat and heel adjustment.

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FITS Socks

It may sound strange to wear Merino wool socks in the summer, but the properties of Merino are beneficial in hot and cool weather. I've been wearing both the Performance Trail (a bit thicker) and Ultra Light Trail (thinner, with a "vented upper for reduced bulk") for most of the summer and come home with near bone-dry feet every ride — even on rides in sauna-like conditions where the rest of my clothing is fairly dripping.

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Pearl iZumi P.R.O. Leader Road Cycling Shoes

When I received these cycling shoes from Pearl iZumi, my first impression was how sharp they look. But when I picked them up I also quickly noticed that They're really light — 275 grams (9.7 ounces) of looks and function. Pearl's P.R.O. Leader shoe is loaded with features that make it a true performer. The unidirectional carbon fiber sole helps it achieve ultra-light stiffness. Does it make a difference on the bike? You bet. It transfers more power to the pedals, with no hot spots.

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Specialized Elite Touring Shoes

I like recessed cleat systems on road bikes for tours like PacTour's 2011 Ridge of the Rockies and the 2012 Pacific Crest Tour. These multi-week tours demand sophisticated shoe/pedal/cleat systems due to the 100+ mile days but also require some walkability at rest stops and sightseeing destinations. After fumbling with cleat covers at each stop (and inevitably having them fall off in the dirt), I have converted to recessed-cleat shoes for tours.

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