Road cycling shoes differ significantly from mountain bike cycling shoes, as well as from other types of athletic shoes. It is important to choose a pair that fit you well, and it is equally as important to choose a comfortable pair with an exceptionally stiff sole. Carbon fiber is the material of choice for the soles of road cycling shoes, though you need to keep in mind that shoes featuring carbon soles will cost significantly more than shoes with plastic soles. The road cycling shoes you choose should be as lightweight and durable as possible while staying within your budget.
It is important that road cycling shoes fit snugly to avoid pedaling power from getting lost to excess foot movement. Several security designs exist to ensure the foot stays snugly in the shoe, and you will have to decide which design works best for you. Some shoes, for example, feature laces, which are not ideal because the laces can become entangled around the pedal. Others feature hook and loop straps, which are great for quick tightening and removal. Anyone considering doing triathlons should look closely at these shoes. Still other shoes feature a combination of hook and loop straps and a ratchet system that allows you to tighten the shoe down quickly and efficiently. These are a great choice for road riders, but not as good of a choice for triathletes.
The soles of the road cycling shoes are perhaps the most important feature. They need to be exceptionally stiff, which makes them a bad choice for walking around but a great choice for power transfer to the pedals. Most cycling shoes feature little or no tread on the sole, so if you plan on getting off your bike and walking around a lot, you may want to consider a multi-purpose shoe instead of a dedicated road shoe.
Road cycling shoes do not include the cleat that you will need to clip into your clipless pedals. You will need to buy these cleats separately, and you need to make sure that the cleat will fit properly on the shoe. Most road cleats are very large, so the soles of the road shoe will feature a large, broad platform on which the cleat can rest. If you are considering a multi-purpose shoe over dedicated road cycling shoes, it may be a good idea to consider mountain bike pedals and cleats instead of road pedals and cleats.