If you're going to splurge on one piece of gear, it should be your cycling shoes. The difference between a good pair and a cheaper option will come down to the materials used, overall weight, stiffness of the sole and adjustability of the upper—all of which play an important role in your comfort and performance on the bike.
While the best shoe for you will ultimately come down to personal preference and fit, we've taken three of the latest model road shoes and put them to the test to give you an idea of what to expect from the best of high-end cycling footwear.
Giro Factor ACC $300
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Upper: Lightweight microfiber with a low profile adjustable MR-1 ratcheting buckle closure. Offset D-ring straps at midfoot.
Outsole: Easton EC 90 unidirectional carbon fiber, replaceable heel pad.
Weight: 240 grams
The skinny: Of the shoes we tested, this one was definitely the lightest, and it was noticeable. Other than Giro's own Prolight SLX II that weigh in at a mere 205 grams, you'll be hard pressed to find many cycling shoes come in under the 240 gram mark of this shoe. The carbon sole was stiff and provided excellent power transfer to the pedals. The microfiber upper is easy to clean, which will keep your shoes looking new longer. On the downside, it isn't the most breathable on hot summer days. The buckle latches are well made, but the adjustability of the straps wasn't the best of the models we tested. But if you're looking for a race-ready shoe that's light and stiff, this one will do the trick admirably.