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Adidas The Road Cycling Shoe review

30 Apr 2021

'The Road Cycling Shoe' is Adidas's first road cycling shoe in 15 years and it shows

Cyclist Rating: 
Very comfortable • Looks turn heads • Good power transfer
Limited to only good weather days • Lack innovation

I’m as shallow as I am nostalgic so when Adidas returned to the road cycling shoe game for the first time in 15 years with the candidly named ‘The Road Cycling Shoe’ late last year, I was hooked immediately.

Off the bike I have always, rather embarrassingly, made a point of only wearing Addias trainers. For running, for football, for the pub, I tell people ‘I wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of Nikes’, as if anyone cares.

There’s just always been something about those three stripes that has got the heart racing. I put it to my childhood heroes being Jonny Wilkinson and Zinedine Zidane. Adidas just always felt cooler.

Plus I am more than aware of Adidas’s history in cycling. Rudi Altig, Jan Ullrich, the great Eddy Merckx... these icons of the sport were made ever more evocative by those three white stripes. Looking back at fuzzy photos of that trio in their respective pomps, I’ve always wanted in.

So three white stripes on a set of black cycling shoes? It’s what my dreams are made of. But with the excitement of The Road Cycling Shoe came the expectation, too. This is Adidas, after all, I was only ever going to accept perfection and unfortuantely, that’s not what I got.

If the shoe fits...

Performance-wise, I’d rate Adidas’s work as solid. There’s plenty of good as far as these shoes are concerned.

For example, the shoe’s upper has relied upon Adidas’s tried and trusted recycled Primegreen jacquard woven fabric that it has previously put to good use throughout its running shoe and football boot ranges, both of which I have previously used.

One thing that’s never in doubt with the Primegreen fabric is comfort. It’s like wearing a sock which, short of a bare foot, is the most comfy of all the podiatry states. The flimsy nature of the material means that if you get the lacing correct, the shoe wraps evenly around your foot creating zero pressure points. Especially on longer rides I came to appreciate the hug-like feel of these shoes.

This material also helps to keep weight down, too. A pair of size 42s come in at 568g (without cleats) which is respectable considering similar lightweight shoes use their featherweight appeal to retail at three times the cost of these £130 Adidas shoes, a price which I believe is fairly reasonable considering the price range of cycling shoes right now.

The big issue with the Primegreen uppers is that of durability. Riding your bike, you’re always exposed to the elements, whether that be rain, sleet, snow or wind. There is no protection from adverse weather here.

If it rains, your feet get wet. If it’s windy, your feet get cold. These are shoes for only the fair weather days. I’ve only just been able to use them on the open road and not just the turbo trainer. If you buy them, you’ll have to accept the fact you need a second, hardier pair for winter and any day that risks rain or cold winds. Be warned.


From the tops to the bottoms, power transfer was not to be sniffed at. Adidas neglected to use a carbon sole on The Road Cycling Shoe, instead opting for a nylon/glass fibre composite alternative, a choice I would guess was prompted by cost and time.

You’d think that would lead to some flex. If I was a pro racer, I may have noticed the slightest bit of give but I’m not, I’m just your regular weekend chopper, and I can honestly say I felt no marked difference between these and that of other shoes I have tested with carbon soles.

Going forward, however, I would like to see Adidas work on its own carbon sole. As I said, while it is not noticeable to the average amateur, there are clear performance benefits in using a good carbon sole over a nylon/glass alternative and I feel that with the research and development resources Adidas has at its disposal, it could do something really innovative and special in this space.

Buy the new Adidas 'The Road Cycling Shoes' here

Looking the part

Looks wise, I shan't lie, I was left wanting more. As a sucker for nostalgia, I’m quite the traditionalist so was rather hoping for a complete copycat of Adidas cycling shoes of 50 years previous. Leather stripes on both sides of the upper, please. An Adidas trefoil logo on the heel while you’re at it, too. Maybe even an embossed image of Eddy Mercx on the tongue for old time’s sake. Got that, design team? Good.

Yet even despite Adidas lagrantly ignoring my specific design requests, I still think these are among the best looking cycling shoes on the market at the moment. Slim, sleek, clean. You may joke that they look like football boots but even so, I’ve never had a set of cycling shoes receive so much interest from other cyclists.

And let’s be honest, those three stripes could make a bin bag look good, couldn’t they?

Best foot forward

Overall, I’d say that Adidas has done a decent job here. In no ways bad but nowhere near what it could achieve considering the depth of research, development, knowledge and resource it has at its disposal.

It’s quite clear to me that The Road Cycling Shoe was released last year to piggyback on what has quite simply been a remarkable boom year for cycling. But what I truly hope is that this is a new beginning for Adidas in the sport of cycling, not just some flash in the pan opportunism.

This was its first crack at a set of cycling shoes in 15 years. It’s long overdue a proper return to the sport, back to the days when the very best like Eddy Merckx wore its shoes to victory after victory.

Buy the new Adidas 'The Road Cycling Shoes' here

The susbsequent release of the Adidas Samba SPD trainers in February have given me hope as does a few other rumours I’m hearing regarding cycling-related projects in the pipeline.

This is Adidas after all. One of the true giants of sports footwear and a brand that has a serious heritage in cycling. It owes it to itself, to its history in the sport and to the people who love and cherish the brand to become a true innovator once again.

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews


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