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Best budget cycling shoes under £120

Cyclist magazine
11 May 2020

High-tech cycling footwear under £120 that proves you don’t have to break the bank for style and performance

It is common nowadays for top-tier road cycling shoes to cost upwards of £300. Thanks to the policies of most brands to trickle down technologies and materials over time though, now more than ever is it possible for cyclists constrained by a budget - which is pretty much all of us - to own a set of cycling shoes that offers much of the same performance at a far lower price point.

In the £120 region you’ll see more nylon-reinforced soles and velcro straps on shoes - as opposed to the near ubiquitous use of carbon fibre and Boa dials on more expensive designs - but that doesn’t mean the shoes won’t still offer efficient performance or any less adjustability or comfort.

To save you hours of research, Cyclist has taken a look at what the market has to offer and picked out six of the best budget cycling shoes for under £120.

Even we were surprised at the level of quality on show, so the question is not if you’ll buy a pair but rather, which pair will you choose?

The best budget cycling shoes under £120

Tech Editor’s pick: Specialized Torch 1.0

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £90

The Specialized Torch 1.0 shoes are a great example of the trickle down technology mentioned above - Specialized has taken many features from shoes higher up the range and brought them down to an entry level price point.

The injection-moulded nylon sole makes use of the same ‘Body Geometry’ concept as more expensive options from the brand; Specialized says that means it is ergonomically shaped to promote good ankle, knee and hip alignment.

What’s more the insole is also designed in this way, which gives the Torch 1.0 an invaluable advantage over other shoes at this price point, which tend to have nominally-shaped stock insoles.

The Torch 1.0s are impressively light at a claimed 526g, and in other areas their features remain competitive too - a Boa L6 dial-velcro strap combo takes care of closure, and they come in a punchy range of colours.

Buy now from Evans Cycles for £90

Not a fan? Here are five of the best alternative budget road cycling shoes under £120

Giro Savix

Buy now from Wiggle for £110

The Savix is a perennial favourite model in the Giro range and stands out for its inclusion of a Boa L6 dial, the lacing pattern of which secures the mid-foot.

The Boa L6 doesn’t offer quite the multidirectional adjustment of the more premium Boa IP1 design - a rider cannot gradually back off the tension, only fully release it - but the L6 tightens in the same 1mm increments, which should make it easy for the rider to comfortably secure their foot.

A velcro strap adjusts fit around the forefoot, and the Savix’s synthetic upper includes large mesh sections that should promote ventilation in hot conditions.

The Savix are quite heavy at a claimed 620g for the pair, and their sole is nylon so won’t be the stiffest option. However these shoes doe include mounting systems for both 2-bolt SPD cleats and 3-bolt SPD-SL cleats, giving the rider uncommon flexibility in their pedal choice.

Buy now from Wiggle for £110

Bontrager Circuit

Buy now from Evans Cycles £99.99

Like many shoes at this price point, the Bontrager Circuit uses a nylon sole but interestingly it uses Bontrager’s ‘PowerTruss’ design - a cantilever structure consisting of a central bar connecting forefoot to the heel which the brand claims boosts stiffness. On Bontrager’s arbitrary scale, it scores 7 out of 14.

Bontrager’s ‘InForm’ last creates an upper shape that is known to be roomy at the toe box, which will give wider feet space, while a Boa L6 dial can securely hold the mid-foot.

Like the Giro Savix, the shoes weigh a portly 620g but again the sole is compatible with 2-bolt SPD cleats and 3-bolt SPD-SL cleats. In this case however the rider will need to buy the 2-bolt mounting plate separately.

The Circuit’s upper is synthetic leather and perforated to improve airflow across the foot.

Buy now from Evans Cycles £99.99

Shimano RP4

Buy now from Tredz for £99.99

Shimano’s RP family offers a host of designs to suit several budgets. The RP4 sit near the entry point into the range but the features they possess belie their budget positioning.

In contrast to many shoes’ nylon soles at the price, the RP4’s soles are glass fibre-reinforced, making them lighter and stiffer than a rider would typically expect to find - it helps the shoes achieve their 540g claimed weight.

Each shoe offers three points of adjustment, which should make a comfortable fit easy to find - wide velcro straps take care of closure at the fore- and mid-foot, with a Boa L6 dial providing a solid hold over the top of the foot.

The shoes come in either white or black so their clinical styling should match any outfit.

Buy now from Tredz for £99.99

Fizik Tempo R5

Buy now from Merlin Cycles for £69.95

Don’t mistake the Tempo R5 shoes clean appearance as basic: the brand says the ‘Powerstrap’ velcro fastening system is cleverly thought out so that it envelops the foot.

That means, so Fizik says, when it is tightened it provides both secure hold and foot support, reducing the likelihood of any pinch points. It also makes the shoes among the lightest for the price, at a claimed 500g for the pair.

Unusually, the nylon composite sole has been reinforced with carbon, making it likely to be one of the stiffest shoes a rider can buy at this level too.

The clean design is available in versatile black or white, but the bolder navy blue and coral colour options are pretty tasteful too.

Buy now from Merlin Cycles for £69.95

Dhb Aeron Carbon

Buy now from Wiggle for £77

Dhb has become known in recent years to provide a lot of value for money in its products and that reputation holds true in its Aeron Carbon shoes.

To the best of Cyclist’s knowledge these shoes are the only ones on the market at a similar retail price to have a full carbon sole. The 3K weave construction should be very stiff, which may help the rider to improve their power transfer to the pedals.

Adjustment of the synthetic upper happens at three locations - velcro straps at the fore-foot and mid-foot, with an Atop dial securing the top of the foot.

Atop dials are similar in function to Boa dials but tend to be cheaper - meaning although the rider doesn’t get the style-points of the Boa brand name, they get more functionality for the same price. At a price level where Boa dials can only incrementally tighten and macro-release, these Atop dials have multidirectional adjustment.

Buy now from Wiggle for £77

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