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Best Cycling Sandals: An Undiscerning Cyclist “Style” Guide

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A guide to sandals on a supposedly ‘discerning’ website? Yes, that’s right people of the internet, we’re here to discuss the ins and outs of this controversial footwear.

Some bike riders believe that these strappy numbers can definitely hold a sandal to other types of cycling footwear. Others wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair down at the beach in high summer, let alone riding a bike in them!

Style is subjective, as the saying goes, and the internet is littered with tales of supposed ‘fashion crimes’ that have become future trends. So, before you fly off the sandal, give us five minutes of your time and learn why sandals might be the best cycling footwear you’ve ever worn!

But if you don’t care and just want to see some “good-looking sandals”, here you go:

Best Cycling Sandals [Top 6]

  1. Shimano SD5 Sandals

    Shimano SD5 Sandals

    Provide open-air comfort for fast pedaling and SPD compatibility, making them perfect for warm-weather rides of any length.

  2. Exustar E-SS503 Bike Sandals

    Exustar E-SS503 Bike Sandals

    A great option for touring or competitive riding in the warmer months.

  3. Keen Men

    Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandal

    A multipurpose outdoor shoe with a tough exterior, water-resistant upper, and a snug fit.

  4. Keen Women’s Whisper Sandal

    Keen Women’s Whisper Sandal

    A versatile and cozy outdoor shoe with excellent breathability, toe protection, and a secure fit.

  5. Nashbar Ragster II

    Nashbar Ragster II

    A multipurpose cycling shoe for road, mountain, and indoor biking that provides comfort, toughness, and breathability.

  6. CyclingDeal Unisex Bike Sandals

    CyclingDeal Unisex Bike Sandals

    A cycling shoes that are cozy and ventilated, with a non-slip sole and adjustable straps.

Cycling in Sandals: The Horror

The discourse for sandals (particularly when mentioned in the same breath as socks) runs deep. An association with people of a certain age, a byword for people with an outdoor passion or, in some cases, a cultural phenomenon that splits nations. Sandals divide certainly divide opinions.

Cycling sandals are a far cry from the flip flops you’d find down on the seafront in summer or the sliders for sale on your local high street. Peppered with staps, velcro and yawning tread patterns – because of their looks – cycling-specific sandals won’t be for everyone.

Cycling sandals are popular amongst touring cyclists, bikepackers or riders who burn the sandal at both ends. Indeed, if professional rider Lachlan Morton can ride two stages of the Tour de France (albeit on a separate charity-orientated challenge) in some wonderful-looking Birkenstocks, then why shouldn’t you slip into a pair before pedalling into town?

Sandals for Cycling: Pros and Cons

Brands like cycling behemoth Shimano put plenty of thought into the design of their cycling sandals. But what are the benefits, and what are the potential pitfalls of cycling in sandals? 

Airflow and temperature regulation are the main benefits of cycling in sandals. Whether you suffer from sweaty plates of meat or not, the gentle cooling effect of a breeze does wonders. 

In summer or high temperatures, the feeling is particularly wonderful. We’d liken it to the first sip of an ice-cold drink or the wafts of an air-conditioning unit. Ultimately, baring your feet and allowing the wind between your toes is a feeling you should not underestimate! 

Not even a summer shower can hold back a pair of cycling sandals. After dowsing of rain, feet will dry faster in sandals than most normal shoes or even cycling-specific shoes. After all, the skin’s waterproof! 

The effectiveness of cycling sandals doesn’t stop there. In colder or changeable weather – fashion critics, please hold your council here – wearing socks with sandals give them even more utility. Some cyclists, namely those in the cycle touring community, believe in wearing waterproof socks with their cycling sandals.

This fashion faux pas is a versatile way to cope with different weather conditions and is arguably better than a pair of waterproof cycling shoes.

Comfort is another benefit of cycling sandals. Rather than being confined, feet usually find their most natural position. And whilst the straps that most sandals close with won’t win any design contests, they provide infinite levels of adjustment.

This feature is paramount when riding a bike, where the force (and heat) exerted on the pedals can quickly cause discomfort in various parts of your feet. Indeed, foot pain is the bain of many in the road cycling community or those who use clipless shoes for long periods of time.

Consider the following before opting for a pair of cycling sandals for your next bike ride. One: open feet – toes in particular – can be hurt badly in the event of an accident or a coming together with the pedal. Two, cycling-specific sandals might not be the most comfortable to walk in.

So, if your cycling trips involve riding and walking, opt for a pair which has both features in mind. Three, if you ride in sandals lots, you could quickly find yourself with some questionable tan lines!

Closed Toe vs Open Toe Bike Sandals

All cycling sandals will fit into two broad categories – those with closed toes and those with open toes. Closed-toe cycling sandals offer more protection and are perhaps more suited to bike rides which involve unpaved or stone surfaces. The structure of the sandals also gives the foot more support, making them ideal for long bike rides.

Open-toe bike sandals deliver unrivalled airflow. This type of cycling sandal will also dry out faster than a closed-toe variety should it rain.

SPD Sandals: Bike Sandals with Clips

Yes, you’re not misunderstanding that title – there are sandals with SPD cleats in them! Given their niche, there aren’t many available, but those like the Shimano SD5 sandals enjoy a cult following. The rider gets all the benefits of clipless cycling shoes plus the added pros which sandals bring.

The exact cycling sandal that is best suited to you will depend on the kind of riding you’re doing. It’s time to look at some of the best cycling sandals on the market today.

Product Round-Up

Bicycle Sandals [Top 6]

1. Shimano SD5 Sandals

Shimano SD5 Sandals
  • UK Flag £90
  • US Flag $100
  • EU Flag €120

Prices are approximate

Materials: Upper Material, Synthetic leather. Outsole Material, Rubber. Midsole Material, Glass fibre reinforced Nylon+EVA.

Sole Type: Rubber

The go-to cycling sandal

SPD compatibility

Great pedalling performance

If you’re looking for cycling sandals with an SPD cleat, there’s only really one option to consider – Shimano’s SD5. A staple of Shimano’s shoe catalogue, and an antidote to the brand’s other shoes, they delight and disgust in equal measure. Now, to wear with or without socks?

Pros

  • Two strap system to aid comfort
  • Good to ride and walk in
  • Excellent size choice

Cons

  • Utilitarian looks
  • Only available in black


2. Exustar E-SS503 Bike Sandals

Exustar E-SS503 Bike Sandals
  • UK Flag £85
  • US Flag $100
  • EU Flag €100

Prices are approximate

Materials: PU Leather

Sole Type: Rubber

Closed toe and SPD compatible

Four-strap adjustability

Extra toe protection

Another cycling sandal with SPD compatibility is the SS503 from Exustar. Unlike the Shimano option listed above, these cycling sandals are secured with four straps in total – three on the shoe upper and one on the heel. If you struggle for comfort, perhaps give these a go. That said, the sizing seems a tad weird with two EU sizes grouped together eg. 45-46.

Pros

  • Simple looks
  • Heel loop/tab
  • Heel strap

Cons

  • Very limited availability these days
  • Strange sizing


3. Keen Men’s Newport H2 Sandal

Keen Men
  • UK Flag £100
  • US Flag $130
  • EU Flag €120

Prices are approximate

Materials: Washable polyester webbing upper

Sole Type: Non-marking rubber sole

Stable sandal for riding

Made to get wet

Adjustable fit

In the world of outdoor footwear, Keen is a big name. Their range extends to hundreds of shoes and the Newport sandal is their bestselling sandal. Keen says they’ve been designed to perform like a rugged shoe but with the freedom and comfort of a sandal.

There’s a decent amount of toe protection and the corded closure makes them easy to slip on and offer. This type of closure should also make finding the right fit for riding a bike easy too.

Pros

  • Huge colour and size options
  • Great ratings
  • Comfort out of the box

Cons

Most definitely looks like a sandal

Not a huge amount of vents



Best Women’s Bike Sandals

4. Keen Women’s Whisper Sandal

Keen Women
  • UK Flag £90
  • US Flag $120
  • EU Flag €100

Prices are approximate

Materials: Washable polyester webbing upper

Sole Type: Non-marking rubber sole

Upper dries fast when wet

Arch support for comfort

Women’s specific fit

Back to Keen again for a women’s specific sandal. Like the Newport listed above, this isn’t a sandal with outright cycling credentials but its design and performance certainly mean a place on our list is warranted. Lighter than Keen’s original sandals, the Whisper’s can be washed in a machine on a gentle cycle.

Pros

  • Good colour variants
  • Out of the box comfort
  • Easy to close tight

Cons

  • Challenging looks


5. Nashbar Ragster II

Nashbar Ragster II
  • US Flag $70

Prices are approximate

Materials: Unknown

Sole Type: Unknown

Semi-closed design

3 velcro straps

Simple black colour

A pair of sandals for our readers in the US now and the Nashbar Ragster II. Again, these are sandals with SPD compatibility. We like that these sandals have plenty of room in the toe area but still include a small upper for some protection.

Pros

  • Padded foot bed for comfort
  • Recessed cleat

Cons

  • Grouped sizing


6. CyclingDeal Unisex Bike Sandals

CyclingDeal Unisex Bike Sandals 1
  • UK Flag £85
  • US Flag $100
  • EU Flag €85

Prices are approximate

Materials: PU leather for upper

Sole Type: Polyurethane, Leather, Rubber, Ethylene Vinyl Acetate

Simple, utilitarian design

Toe protection

Moulded footbed

CyclingDeal offers a variety of good-value cycling accessories. These unisex bike sandals are a good example of their range. Unlike other sandals on our list, the upper, that being the area around the top of the foot is closed off. This prevents the straps from rubbing too much and if airflow when riding isn’t your biggest worry, then these might be a halfway house between shoes and open-toe sand

If weight is an issue for you, these sandals are heavy. Roughly half a kilo heavier than the Shimano SD5, the first sandal on our list. If you need to carry these whilst walking, then that might be a dealbreaker!

Pros

  • Good prices available
  • Upper is closed off

Cons

  • Only SPD compatible
  • Not suitable for immersing in water
  • Heavy


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