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Even without a bike, some sights mark some people as a cyclist – a dash of high-vis for example. Perhaps a rear light tethered to a backpack. But there are sounds too. The rustle of a waterproof jacket upon entering the office. The clip of a magnetic helmet clasp. And arguably the most recognisable sound of all, the ‘click-clack’ of a pair of cycling shoes across a solid floor.
Clip-in, sometimes confusingly known as clipless, cycling shoes – those with a cleat in the bottom – are excellent. For those pounding the pedals and working up a sweat, they’re comfortable and efficient to ride in. But for commuters and those pottering around town these shoes might not always be the best.
Cycling Shoes You Can Walk In
Enter: cycling shoes you can walk in. This type of footwear is often described by people as an ‘urban cycling shoe’, and by others as ‘city cycling’ shoes. A good pair of clipless cycling shoes for commuting should tick two boxes. One, they should be a pleasure to ride a bike in. And, two, they should be great to walk in.
Casual Cycling Shoes for Commuting
The thing with most cycling shoes is that they can look – well – like cycling shoes. Visually, they’re fine for pedalling down the B4525 into town, but when it comes to gracing a boardroom or backstreet bar, they might leave you sticking out like a sore thumb. That’s where casual cycling shoes for commuting shine. They perform on the bike, and when on foot, they blend into most cyclists’ apparel, irrespective of their fashion tastes.
Shoes for Bike Riding: Key Features
Still, the daily rigours of riding a bike don’t mean any old pair of shoes will do. Commuting by bike can be hard on your body and your bike. It will also be a thorough test of your footwear.
Begin searching for an urban cycling shoe online and you’ll spot most brands talk of a rigid sole. A rigid sole is an important feature of an urban cycling shoe. Unlike a pair of day-to-day shoes, a rigid sole allows riders to transfer all their pedalling effort through the pedals and into the rear wheel.
Try riding a bike in your favourite trainers and you may find the edges of your shoes flex over the sides of the pedals. The pedal will also be forced through the sole of the shoe, especially when riding out of the saddle, making it uncomfortable to ride long distances.
With the above in mind, it would be remiss of us not to point out that urban cycling shoes should also have some flex. Enough flex to mean walking is also comfortable and not like striding around with two bits of 4×2 strapped to your feet.
Unlike most standard cycling shoes on the market today, urban cycling shoes tend to use laces as their closure mechanism. Velcro and BOA dials are all well and good when miles and power are your riding currencies, but it’s a different story for the commuting cyclist. Laces offer excellent adjustment and adaptability, promoting comfort and snugness. The adjustability of laces is particularly prevalent in boot-type urban cycling shoes, where they can form an enveloping fit around your ankle.
The best casual cycling shoes (in our opinion) should also be waterproof. When commuting by bike, unfortunately, there’s no telling when a cloudburst might do its worst or an unforecast shower rolls in, soaking everything in its path. Choose a waterproof cycling shoe and ride in comfort, no matter whether Mrs TV Weatherforecaster gets it right or not.
Some urban cycling shoes also have reflective accents for cycling in the dark. Others have breathable or vented parts to cool feet when riding in hotter temperatures.
Discerning Cyclist’s expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing cycling products so you don’t have to.
Testing stylish gear since 2012
Hundreds of hands-on product tests
Unfiltered opinions from experienced cyclists
Best Bike Commuter Shoes [Top 5]
- Chrome Storm 415 Traction Boot [REVIEW]
- Adidas Velosamba [REVIEW]
- ECCO Hybrid 720 [REVIEW]
- Tretorn Chelsea Classic Rubber Boot [REVIEW]
- Chrome Kursk AW Sneaker [REVIEW]
Waterproof Rating: 100% waterproof
Material(s): Upper: Waterproof leather. Sole: Panaracer vulcanized rubber
- 🇬🇧 £158
- 🇺🇸 $160
- 🇪🇺 €158
✅ Will complement most outfits
✅ Pedalling performance you’d expect from Chrome
Chrome Industries are the leaders when it comes to city cycling shoes and their Storm 415 Traction boot is their latest (non-SPD) offering.
The boot builds on the popular Storm 415 by adding a new ‘traction’ sole. This has been developed in conjunction with rubber manufacturer Panaracer. This sole should meld nicely to the pedals on your bike, but also provide grip on the wet cobbled streets of your local city centre too.
By using waterproof leather on the shoe upper, Chrome Industries have ensured the 415 Traction Boot is a year-round cycling shoe.
|Mid-rise boot is supportive and comfortable||Difficult to achieve the right sizing|
|Sole grips pedals nicely||Boot might not be for everyone|
|Two colours available|
Waterproof Rating: Water-resistant upper
Material(s): Part vegan and recycled content
- 🇬🇧 £110
- 🇺🇸 $120
- 🇪🇺 €110
✅ Adidas branding, but in a cycling shoe
✅ Sensible pricing
✅ Use of vegan and recycled content
The three-block logo of Adidas is iconic, just not in the world of cycling. That was until, the release of the Velosamba. A cycling version of the shoe that has adorned the feet of millions since the 1950s was bound to be popular and so it has proven.
This is a city cycling shoe with a recessed cleat mount meaning it can be used with clip-in pedals, but crucially, it won’t impact your ability to plod the short distance from the bike store to the office hot desk.
As looks go, it’s extremely casual, perhaps too casual for a traditional white-collar commuter. But who wears a tie to work anymore?
|Cleats can be added||Looks won’t be for everyone|
|Huge range of colours and sizes||Only water resistant|
Waterproof Rating: 100% waterproof
Material(s): Gore-Tex and leather
- 🇬🇧 £160
- 🇺🇸 $170
- 🇪🇺 €190
✅ Smart, very smart
✅ Cushioned sole
✅ Innovative use of Gore-Tex
Sitting towards the smarter end of the style spectrum is this pair of shoes from ECCO. Available in two colours, they look very much like a traditional pair of office shoes. Add a dash of polish and they’d be fit to grace any boardroom or client meeting.
So far, so normal but the 720s take things to the next level with the addition of Gore-Tex. Frequently used for waterproofing walking boots and outdoor shoes, it’s fairly unusual to see the material used on a city shoe. Wear a pair of these and a dowsing of rain or a splash from a passing bus isn’t going to leave you with soggy feet.
|Fit for the office||Pedalling performance won’t match others|
|Small size run|
Waterproof Rating: Waterproof
- 🇬🇧 £100
- 🇺🇸 Not available
- 🇪🇺 €110
✅ Longevity and style of a Chelsea boot
✅ From a brand that knows a thing or two
✅ Reinforcement in toe and heel
Tretorn can trace its heritage all the way back to the 1800s and have a specialist knowledge of rubber. They were the largest producer of rubber in Scandinavia throughout the 1950s don’t you know!
Tretorn’s Chelsea Classic is their homage to a type of footwear that gathered popularity during the mod culture days of 1960s London. The tight fit and simple design of the upper are almost guaranteed to keep water out. The chunky sole and strengthening in the toe and heel provide a decent pedalling platform.
|Difficult to beat in terms of durability||No adjustability|
|Not easy to get on and off|
|Only available in black|
Waterproof Rating: Water-resistant
Material(s): Upper: 1050D Cordura with PU backing. Sole: Panaracer vulcanized rubber
- 🇬🇧 £105
- 🇺🇸 $110
- 🇪🇺 €115
✅ Visually appealing city cycling shoe
✅ Works really well with flat pedals
✅ Water-resistant coating to ward off a shower
Back to our friends at Chrome Industries for the fourth pair of the best urban cycling shoes for commuters. For a long time, the Kursk line of shoes was the only viable option for a pair of shoes that didn’t look ‘too cycling.’
Recently revamped, the Kursk AW shoe has a water-resistant coating (that’s the AW part) and a sole again developed with rubber experts Panaracer. The black colour is the most versatile in terms of matching outfits or occasions. There are also a variety of other colours available for those looking for something more stand out. Chrome also frequently releases seasonal colourways too, so keep an eye out ahead of a season change.
|The best flat city cycling shoe?||Finding the right size might be tricky|
|Strong colour and size variants|
|There’s an SPD option too|