Choosing winter road cycling shoes isn’t easy. There is a lot to consider, but The Hub has you covered, answering all your questions in our detailed buying guide.
Just because the temperature has fallen, that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack away the bike.
If anything, now is the ideal opportunity to catch up on your cold-averse club-mates, or put in the work to challenge those PBs when the weather improves in the spring.
Maybe you just want to find a way to avoid freezing on your cold commute this winter.
Whatever your circumstances, abandoning the bike is not an option just because it’s a little chilly – right?
Steely determination won’t improve the conditions, however, and cycling in the cold remains challenging, not least to your southern-most extremities.
While your tyres are your interface with the road, your feet are your interface with the bike, and that makes your shoes one of your most important pieces of kit.
Road riders have a particularly unique set of requirements for their feet while clocking up the miles, so let’s review eight of the best winter road cycling shoes and boots to help your toes survive the chill.
Before we get stuck into which shoes top our list, let’s take a more detailed look at what features modern winter road shoes offer.
Although your feet are pounding the pedals during a road ride, they tend to remain in one position on their miniature platform, which makes them susceptible to the creeping cold.
Meanwhile, rain and spray have an uncanny knack of finding their way into conventional shoes, leaving you with cold, wet, and miserable feet and a ruined riding experience.
To counter these watery woes, winter road shoes come loaded with waterproofing and heat insulation to keep those toes toasty, and ensure you lose little in terms of performance or comfort.
Modern materials like Gore-Tex possess liquid repelling technologies, while thermally-insulated collars wrap around your ankle to keep out unwanted water and sludge.
There are also insole innovations, weight, and reflectivity issues – especially for the commuters among you – to consider.
Today’s winter road shoes are equally equipped with all the high-performance tech integrated into the standard road shoes, such as stiff soles, carbon-fibre components, and super-slick fastening mechanisms. That means it’s only the elements with which you must do battle – not the kit.
The winter road shoes we’re reviewing in this buying guide are clipless, meaning they’re compatible with clipless road pedals. They all have the now industry standard three bolt road cleat pattern and will work fine with Shimano SPD-SL cleats and pedals.
We’ve done the research and now we know what we’re looking for, so let’s take a look at seven of the best in the market at a range of prices to suit all budgets.
Northwave Extreme RR GTX Winter Boots
Everyone appreciates a beautiful pair of Italian shoes, and the Northwave Extreme RR GTX Winter Boots are in a class of their own in the looks department.
Based on the design of their popular top end Northwave Extreme RR road shoe, the GTX Winter Boots have the addition of winter-resistant technologies throughout.
Packed with unique materials, Italian engineering, and handsome looks, the boots will protect your feet and help maximise your performance.
The combination of stiff and light achieved in their standard road shoe incarnation is intact in their winter version, delivered through a light carbon sole and patented X-frame® construction.
Laugh in the face of wind, and raise a derisive eyebrow at the rain as you slam sole to pedal using the super-stiff transmission in these elite winter boots.
The X-frame, meanwhile, is a unique system that marries with the fastening mechanism to eliminate pinch points across the boot’s upper, making for a more comfortable ride. And Northwave’s unique SLW2 dial offers incremental adjustment and a full release mechanism in a single button allowing for precise adjustment and disengagement on the fly.
One of the stand-out features of the boots, however, is the Gore-Tex® Duratherm Kelvin membrane. It keeps the uppers waterproof and windproof, and promises to ensure your feet are insulated even at temperatures as low as -15°C.
When combined with extra thermal coating in the toes and an Arctic GTX footbed with aluminium and fleece layering, your feet will feel as snug as a five-headed bug.
The list of technologies in the Northwave Extreme RR GTX Winter Boots is as impressive as it is long, but the highlights also include the climaflex collar made from a moulding Gore-Tex Rattler® membrane, designed to keep out splash from your front wheel and even fine spray.
Light, powerful, protective and good looking, the Northwave Extreme RR GTX Winter Boots are the elite choice in winter footwear.
Northwave Flash Arctic GTX Winter Boots
These reflective winter boots provide many of the same advantages of the RR GTX model above, but afford you a different balance to performance and comfort.
The slightly softer sole still provides high-performance power transfer but has a little give for those looking for more relief.
This is balanced against the ultra-snug fitting upper featuring BioMap Aero Overlap construction. This reduces aerodynamic drag and provides more pedal power payoff.
While it may not have quite the same level of chill resistance as the RR GTX, the Flash Arctic GTX models still manage to keep your feet insulated even at temperatures as raw as -10°C.
A waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex® Koala membrane keeps feet dry, while the Climaflex collar and multi-layered footbed provide the same protections as its RR GTX brother.
But of course, the Arctic GTX Winter Boots have one distinct difference – their colour. You’ll have no problem being spotted on the dark winter mornings or evenings with these high-visibility uppers which, in The Hub’s opinion, make the most of the flash Italian design.
Gaerne Winter Road Gore-Tex Shoes
The most admired aspect of the Gaerne Winter Road Gore-Tex boots is their gritty resistance to the elements. These are the Rocky Marciano of winter road boots, bombproof enforcers that chuckle at hail stones and snooze through driving sleet.
Let’s face it, if you’re tough enough to hit the road in the depths of winter, then you want to ensure your shoes are equal to the task – with these bad boys, you can have confidence that your all-weather equipment team is on point.
The shoes’ secret is a fully sealed and impermeable surface, with a high-top collar that keeps leeks to a minimum.
But it’s not all just about weather protection – the Gaerne Winter Road Gore-Tex has performance high among its priorities.
A carbon fibre and nylon sole balances weight, stiffness and comfort to provide power and precision on your ride, while the specially-designed heel cup delivers superb stability on the road.
Getting in and out of the boots is also a breeze, with a speed lace and Velcro closure system providing easy access.
Sidi Zero Gore Road Shoes
Just like the Northwave Extreme RR GTX, the Sidi Zero Gore Road Shoes are a winter-proof version of their popular standard road shoe model, in this case, the Sidi Genius Millenium 5 Sole.
For this boot, Sidi have redesigned the Millenium 5 Sole for improvements in rigidity and durability, making them an all-weather monster for the winter road user.
Like the Gearne models, these have a carbon fibre and nylon matrix sole, delivering high-end performance with impressive power transfer. And Microfibra technology also increases weight saving and stiffness to help you turn that power into performance with greater efficiency.
The design harkens back to Sidi’s motorcycle origins, giving these boots a gritty urban style.
But while they look tough, Sidi’s Techno-3 fastening system means you can dial in a perfect fit along the entire length of the shoe, allowing you to mould the upper to the shape of your foot and keep your precious pedestrian paws nicely pampered.
Gaerne Akira Winter Road Boots
The Gaerne brand is trusted by cyclists across the world, which is important to note when opting for a mid-priced option in your winter road footwear.
The brand has once again delivered with this budget friendly option that is stacked with features and quality materials, well beyond its modest pricing.
Nylon construction in the sole has made it across from Gaerne’s top end offering, while anti-slip inserts at the rear provide a little bit of security while walking.
And as you would expect, the sole is compatible with most available quick-release pedals, including SPD-SL and Speedplay style cleat engagements.
To keep those pedal-pushing extremities at operational temperature, the Akira boots come with a soft inner lining of Thinsulate and Pile – a light-weight thermal insulation. To keep air circulating, there’s also a removable, anatomic perforated inner lining.
The closure system too is noteworthy, combining both laces and triple Velcro strapping to keep you secure, but allowing some give if required.
With Italian flares and geometric styling, the shoes also look the part, and will be a welcome addition to your kit this winter.
Sidi Hydro Gore-Tex Road Shoes
The Sidi Hydro Gore-Tex winter boots are a testosterone-injected option for those who love the muscular styling at which Sidi excel.
And just as their appearance suggest, these winter road boots are reliable, powerful, and no-nonsense. What they hide well, however, is a comfortable fit and a breathable Gore-Tex membrane to make winter riding as painless as possible.
Their high collar is another welcome addition for winter riders, keeping mother nature’s worst at bay on those wintery rides.
The water-repellent, synthetic upper encloses two lorica (a synthetic, leather-like material) side inserts on the toe for extra warmth.
The Millenium 3 sole is made from a carbon fibre and nylon mix, providing extra rigidity compared to their 2016 boot, and features a 10mm horizontal and vertical cleat alignment scale, as well as the Look Memory Eyelet.
Fizik R5 Artica Winter Road Shoes
The R5 Artica Winter Road Shoe is of a professional standard in terms of both performance and looks. Fitted with advanced heating materials, the cosy fleece upper and insulating aluminium foil underside provide oven-level warmth from the first pedal until the last, fending off harsh conditions that threaten to end your ride prematurely. The jet black, sleek appearance befits its elite aspirations, and you’ll look and feel like a pro-in-waiting in these tasteful and elegant winter boots.
Mavic Cosmic Elite Vision CM
At the opposite end of the budget scale are these attractive options for those of you looking for something to fend off the worst of the weather without committing to a major purchase.
The Mavic Cosmic Elite Vision CM are also a collar-less option, for those who have faith in their tights and want to ride without the restriction some collars can have on ankle rotation.
Looks wise, the Cosmic Elites are in a league way above their net worth, with a two-texture finish and a blare of bright, high-vis yellow to train the eye along the smooth, cool lines.
The Mavic Ergo Dial is an equally attractive addition, with an easy and precise retention system to enter and exit quickly.
This pocket-friendly model also features high-tech composites with carbon reinforcement and glass fibre and polyamide inserts creating a stiff, thin and light outsole.
It may not have the Fort Knox approach to weather resistance of the boots featured above, but Clima Mavic construction on the front half of the shoe will keep your feet dry and protected in most conditions, while the easy-to-clean upper prevents water absorption and provides durability.