Top 7 Cycling Shoes For Cyclocross In 2020

A crucial factor in overcoming a cyclocross course is having suitable shoes with enough grip that you can run on unstable ground and manage obstacles. There is a wide variety of cyclo-cross specific shoes on the market that are recommended for riders who compete in a lot of races at an athlete level but how do you know which one to choose?

Many recreational riders even agree that mountain bike shoes can also be used for cyclocross. Are they right?

In this article we will look at the cyclocross cycling shoes with our top 7 selection and let you know how best to select the shoes which are right for you.

Comparison Table

Fizik R1 Infinito Road ShoesLightweightMens Regular (Taller Toe Box)Double Infinito IP1-B Dial232 grams3 Bolt$149.00 - $450.00
Giro Privateer Lace Cycling ShoesCross Terrain CyclocrossUnisex RegularLace335 grams2 Bolt$139.99
Giro Empire VR90 Cyclocross ShoesBest OverallUnisex Narrow - RegularLace325 grams 2 Bolt$299.95
Northwave Raptor GTX Mountain Bike ShoesWet Weather ConditionsRegular
SLW2 Dial970 grams2 Bolt$144.00
Lake MX332 Supercross Shoes
High-EndUnisex Slim - Regular2 x IP1 BOA Lacing System740 grams2 Bolt$428.00
Shimano SH XC5 Mountain Bike ShoesBudget Friendly
Unisex Slim - RegularLace680 grams2 Bolt$89.99 - $200.00
Sidi Dominator 10 MTB ShoesPower TransferMens RegularSoft Instep 4 Closure Dial System383 grams2 Bolt$300.00

Buyers Guide

Two must haves for cyclocross are outsoles with cleats and added traction for walking or running. But that’s not all. It is important to consider both sole stiffness and the closure system for this category of riding.

When it comes to traction, a solid, grippy sole is a must have on rugged trails. Mountain bike shoes typically have recessed cleats that make them much easier to walk in during the hike-a-bike sections. A treaded sole will offer stable grip during dismounts and hill climbs or when the weather conditions create additional mud and slippery rocks. 

The sole stiffness and construction is important when matching the shoe to the specific type of terrain it will be used on during the race. The sole of the shoe and the grip that you will have affect your speed and agility. Riders generally prefer a stiff sole on uneven or rough terrain such as when hiking steps or over rocky ground for stability and comfort. If you are training and racing at a competitive or elite level, you will want to find shoes with carbon composite soles. 

Keep in mind that whilst the carbon composite soles are lighter for racing, they are also less comfortable and are not recommended to be worn over long periods of time. A rubber sole is a popular choice for riders who want added comfort during the off-bike sections of the race. Overall, it depends on your personal preference as to which sole construction you find best suits you.

The closure system varies considerably on the quality and price of the shoes you are purchasing. The top of the line shoes will commonly have a dial closure system as opposed to a velcro closure. Cycling shoes also commonly have a lace or ratchet closure system for adjusting the fit of the shoes. 

  • Laces are great for creating a lightweight shoe, however, you won’t have the easy option of adjusting the fit as you ride your cyclocross bike. 
  • The ratchet closure may off a rider the required security but you have the risk of them jamming during the ride and they are usually heavier than the other options.
  • Velcro is suitable for starting out as a rider and the shoes are also more affordable, however, they are easily damaged so don’t expect them to be as durable. 
  • The dial closure system is far superior, so as expected, it is also more expensive.

Our Top 7 List

Best Lightweight Cyclocross Shoes – Fizik Infinito R1 Road Shoes

Fizik Infinito R1 Road Shoes

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The Infinito R1 Road Shoes offer unrivalled power transfers paired with the ultimate comfort and stability. They are a leading world class cycling shoes in the high performance category with technology that will enhance your racing ability. Weighing in at only 232 grams, they are impressively lightweight and offer unmatched power transfer. The Full Carbon Outsole ensures maximum ventilation of air flow with the mesh footbed that is breathable and cooling on the feet in the warmer months. 

Two micro-adjustable Boa IP1-B dials allow for adaptable fitting on the go and work to reduce pain from pressure points and allow you to pedal longer without the need to adjust the fit. The dial works by allowing for bi-directional adjustments at only 1mm per click and both dials offer a quick-release, meaning you can open them, loosen the fit and remove the shoes.

  • Weight-saving materials and intelligent implementation of new technology
  • R1’s Laser Perforated 1.2mm Microtex upper features minimal seams
  • Uni Direction Full Carbon Outsole
  • Outsole is ventilated for maximum temperature control
  • Infinito Closure System has two micro-adjustable double Boa IP1-B dials with steel-coated nylon laces
  • Available in a variety of colours and patterns
  • Replaceable heel pad
  • Available in a Mens fit only
  • Higher price range
  • Toe pad is not replaceable

Bottom Line: A fantastic high performance shoe fit for any cyclocross rider who is ready to take their racing to the next level; it is popular among elite riders. The RI uses a combination of internal support with its sleek and uniformed design to ensure maximum comfort and breathability making the shoes feel like a second skin! Overall, they are nothing short of impressive and make the top of our list as our number one choice.

Best MTB Shoes for Cyclocross- Giro Privateer Lace Cycling Shoes

Giro Privateer Lace Cycling Shoes

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The Giro Privateer Mountain Bike Shoes are much loved as a great all-rounder with strong grippy soles and empire laces. They are crafted from a one-piece microfibre upper and are highly breathable and supportive. The lace closure is both light and simple to use and the outsole is made from co-molded rubber with the highest traction for rough terrain. 

The abrasion protection on the toes, the lugged rubber tread and the anti-slip sole are all purposefully designed to create the perfect cycling shoe for off-road adventures.

  • Includes molded EVA footbed with medium arch support
  • Compatible with all 2-bolt pedal/cleat systems including Shimano SPD
  • Giro Expert insole and mid-height arch support
  • Seven-hole lacing is broadly spread so the tension is even across the foot
  • Tall toe box has additional room for thicker socks and offers suitable protection
  • Tubular laces reliable hold a knot
  • Unisex design and sizing
  • The taller toe box makes for a slightly bigger fit so try before you buy to ensure correct sizing
  • Slightly heavier than other models available on the market

Bottom Line: A no fuss reliable shoe that can be worn on a variety of tracks, the Privateer is a great starting place for any rider who needs comfort and stability. The microfibre upper will keep your feet cool and the outer sole will provide grip on the pedals. They are both affordable and stylish and are available in green, black and red.

Best Overall Cyclocross Shoes – Giro Empire VR90 Cyclocross Shoes

Giro Empire VR90 Cyclocross Shoes

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Most Giro cyclocross shoes are amazing, which is why we included two of them in our article. The Empire VR90 are high-performance laced off-road cycling shoes that have multiple impressive features for riders. Starting with the Vibram rubber tread, a one-piece Teijin Samo microfiber upper, a reinforced toe cap and heel and a laced closure and supportive fit; the VR90 is a fantastic choice. 

The EvoFiber construction makes women’s cyclocross shoes both breathable and water resistant. By removing the usual seams and stitching in replace of a seamless fit, the VR90 design is dramatically improved. The adjustable arch support is a unique feature that allows the rider to choose from either a low, medium or high arch support to better suit their personal needs and remove painful complaints such as numbness and pressure when riding.

  • Easton EC90 high-modulus carbon outsole plate is highly durable
  • A molded Vibram rubber high-traction lugged outsole
  • SuperNatural Fit Kit footbed with adjustable arch support
  • XT2 antimicrobial fiber top sheet
  • Works with all 2-bolt pedal/cleat systems
  • X-Static Antimicrobial Fibre helps to keep away bacteria and odour
  • Traction lugged outsole
  • Stainless steel toe spikes included
  • Lightweight average weight 315 grams
  • Mid-foot scuff guard
  • Sizing is reported to be a narrow fit in the forefoot so riders may need to go up by a half size
  • Laces are difficult to open in wet or muddy conditions in comparison to other closure systems

Bottom Line: The VR90’s make for a great cross-terrain cycling shoe that can ensure great power transition, stability on uneven terrain and deliver impressive comfort. They have ensured quality features from start to finish providing mountain bike and cyclocross riders of all sizes and weights the perfect solution when searching for a high performance shoe.

Best Cyclocross Shoes For Wet Weather Conditions – Northwave Raptor GTX Mountain Bike Shoes

Northwave Raptor GTX Mountain Bike Shoes

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The impressive Raptor GTX is completely waterproof and works in a variety of weather conditions including the winter cold, heavy downpours of rain and ice and sleet. Northwave cyclocross shoes are suitable for wet and slippery terrain and are both durable and aerodynamic due to being well sealed and insulated with an extra thermal lining and simultaneously lightweight. 

The GTX have been constructed with a BioMap Aero Overlap so they can easily contour to the shape of your feet and you will avoid additional movement when pedalling. This also helps to keep your feet secure and warm. The fit can be adjusted with the dial closure which has a quick release system for when you need to release your shoes. Because the Raptors are made with a carbon reinforced sole, they are stiff and light to wear and make walking less tiring during the hike-a-bike sections of racing.

  • Great fit that holds your foot secure
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof in wet weather and warm in cold weather
  • Natural rubber tread for enhanced grip
  • TPU reinforcements ensure 360° protection
  • The Climaflex collar made of Gore-Tex Rattler membrane
  • 360° reflective inserts
  • Extra thermal coating strategically placed on the toe
  • Runs roughly half a size bigger
  • Suitable for cooler climates and not for year round wear in warmer months
  • No adjustment on the neoprene cuff can make them difficult to remove

The bottom line: If you are searching for a racing shoe that can take you through the cold, windy and wet conditions on the track; this is a great option. Designed to reflect a boot, they keep you warm and comfortable in conditions ranging from -3 to 15 degrees whilst giving you the freedom of movement required for cyclocross.

Best High-End Cyclocross Shoes – Lake MX 332 Supercross Cycling Shoes

Lake MX 332 Supercross Cycling Shoes

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The Lake MX 332 are valued at over $400 and are one of the more expensive pairs of shoes on the market. So, let’s take a look at some of the incredible features that Lake have built into their MX 322. 

The shoes are crafted with a special combination of synthetic and natural leather upper known as Helcor. Helcor is sewn in an asymmetric pattern that eliminates pressure points on the feet when cycling. The front of the sole is designed with a ‘rocker’ enabling a more natural feel when you are walking. This is paired with a lugged rubber outsole that provides grip and stability on uneven or wet terrain. 

The toe box is reinforced to provide added protection from obstacles and the tongue of the shoe is also padded and comfortable. The ventilation is placed on the upper sole to assist in reducing heat and keeping your feet cool. If you would like to adjust the heel cup, simply heat it at home for custom contouring and the perfect fit! They are unisex shoes and as such will fit both men and women perfectly.

  • The front and rear traction patches are replaceable
  • Made from lightweight Kangaroo leather
  • Slightly narrower toe box and tighter heel for a slim fit
  • Outlast temperature regulating heel & tongue liner
  • Internal Thermaform Carbon Fiber heel counter
  • Dual Side mounted Push/Pull IP1 BOA lacing system
  • Expensive by comparison

Bottom Line: If you are searching for a high quality performance cycling shoe, the MX 322 Supercross should be at the top of your list for consideration. The price may seem expensive but for many riders it is a worthy investment for a Lake Cyclocross Shoe. It continues to remain as the ‘holy grail’ of cyclocross shoes.

Best Budget Friendly Cyclocross Shoes – Shimano SH XC5 Mountain Bike Shoes

Shimano SH XC5 Mountain Bike Shoes

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Starting at just $89.98, the SH XC5 are a practical and affordable option designed for off-road riding. With a focus on comfort over performance, they are an efficient shoe that remains comfortable during multi-hour riding. These shoes are made to handle tough trails, crafted with synthetic leather uppers for a slim fit, additional venting to keep your feet cool, and a reliable lace-up closure. 

The anti-slip arch outsole pattern helps you to feel secure and the reinforced spike mounts are there for you when you need to ride in more extreme conditions such as steep and muddy terrain.

  • Lightweight midsole
  • Perforated venting for a close fit
  • Michelin high-traction outsole
  • A reinforced spike mount with 18mm spike option
  • Affordable price range
  • Comfortable
  • Not a high-performance shoe
  • Not adjustable on the go

Bottom Line: A versatile and comfortable shoe that provides riders with quality features with a lower price tag. The SH XC5 are perfect for riding cross-country, gravel, cyclocross and road riding! What they may lack in power or performance, they make up for with flexibility and fantastic support.

Best Power Transfer Cyclocross Shoes – Sidi Dominator 10 MTB Shoes

Sidi Dominator 10 MTB Shoes

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The Sidi Dominator 10 Mountain Bike Shoes are the latest model and are sure to be one of the brands most popular road shoes! 

Let’s find out why. 

The Dominator 10 combines an intelligent mixture of features with quality materials ensuring superiority. The MTB RS17 Sole is made from a Nylon and PU blend that is lighter and has a more aggressive tread allowing for additional grip and impressive power transfer on the pedals. The instep closure is soft and adjustable from either side to remove the need for a high step extender.

Constructed of a solid “MicroTech Microfiber” upper, this material has superior stability and can repel water. According to Sidi, this Microtech Microfiber is water resistant, light and eco-friendly. It is manufactured using the “Water-Tech” water treatment which has a lower environmental impact. 

When it comes to power transfer there are a few ways that Sidi has ensured riders can power through tough spots. A thin effective EVA foam pad reduces painful pressure points, the Tecno 3 system controls the forefoot fit and the upper has been purposefully designed to support the shape of the foot and maintain stability. The heel cup will cradle around the heel to prevent any slipping and reduce aches and fatigue.

  • Microtech Microfiber upper
  • Soft Instep 4 with Tecno3 boas wire system ensures a long-lasting comfortable fit
  • MTB RS17 nylon composite sole offers a firm, no flex, feel on the pedals
  • Thermo-formed EVA pad that distributes pressure evenly over the instep area
  • Reinforced heel cup
  • A regular yet cosy fit that is formed around the foot might not be suitable for those who require regular to wide sizing
  • The lugs may be slippery on surfaces such as rocks or wet terrain

Bottom Line:  Sidi has created a reliable, high quality shoe with their new and improved Dominator 10. The replaceable closures have a Sidi wire material that allows for on-the-fly adjustments and the small parts, including the Tecno-3 Buckle are serviceable and replaceable. If you require additional traction, this model is compatible with toe spikes. The toe inserts are also replaceable with screws meaning no part of this shoe has been created without due consideration. The upgraded sidi cyclocross shoes should ensure maximum comfort and power on any cyclocross race.

Final Thoughts

Cyclocross is a demanding sport that truly requires a solid pair of appropriate shoes that are not only durable but protective and comfortable across all terrain. Remember, the two key areas of importance are sole construction and the closure system. Thankfully, there is a pair of cyclocross shoes out there for every rider in a variety of price ranges and styles so be sure to check out the shoes recommended in our list today.