Best Recessed Cleat Cycling Shoes [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
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Looking to find a new pair of cycling shoes that will give you maximum energy and performance while offering ultimate grip?
Well, let me tell you that you’re not the only one.
After traipsing through the wide web, looking at 37 different pairs of recessed cleat cycling shoes and I’ve discovered some crucial points which are often missed, so take a seat as some of these are quite unbelievable.
Figuring out which shoes to buy for both a comfortable and gripping cycling experience can be tricky, you need to find a pair that you can not only comfortably cycle in but also be durable and last a long time (plus it needs to fit your taste of style).
Now here’s the deal…
The recurring trends I’ve noticed while comparing recessed cleat cycling shoes are the importance of comfort, durability, and longevity. Lucky for you, I’ve focused on these key points through the products I have recommended to save you time.
Here’s a cool tip – lookout for quick release options when choosing your recessed cleat cycling shoe, so you can clip in and out effortlessly You’ll thank me big time for this!
As a side note, if you want something a little quirky, you have to take a look at number four on the list.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
Our breakdown of the best recessed cleat cycling shoes
Tommaso Pista Women's Spin Class Ready Cycling Shoe
Tomasso brings recessed bike riding cleat shoes for women in 3 different color schemes. These are black/pink, black/blue, and white/silver. The two-color scheme in all options complements each other greatly.
The shoes offer versatility and compatibility at the same time, keeping comfort and performance as the first most important feature. The shoe sizes are also well manufactured in a way that no matter what size you are, they will fit you perfectly.
The sizes available, match the sizes on the chart perfectly to minimize any issues regarding fit. The soul of the shoe is reinforced with fiberglass which increases power while paddling and maximizes the stability of the shoe.
Now if that’s not enough:
The ventilated mesh allows proper air to pass through to keep your feet sweat-free and comfortable. Everything about this shoe was specifically designed to offer the best performance while being at an affordable price point– you absolutely need this shoe in your kit.
Fiber glass reinforced soul for better performance
Two-in-one color scheme which helps customize shoe better
Leather on the outside for looks with mesh padding for comfort
Good grip on the bottom of the shoe for better riding experience
Sole may be a little slippery on the inside
Latest deal: Tomasso Pista
DHB Dorica Road Shoe
If you’re looking for a touch of class and style to your cycling kit then you need to try out DHB. They provide outstanding comfort, versatility, and pedaling performance with their lace-up design
It gives a premium look, smooth-pedaling performance at a price you can afford, the laces offer riders the opportunity to balance a secure fit with a comfortable one (plus they offer a lot of flexibility).
But that’s not all:
This dhb cycling shoe also has an elastic lace retainer midway down the shoe to ensure everything is secure and tidy and don’t get caught up in the chainrings, so you can get the most out of your ride.
Plus the nylon offers the perfect balance between pedal efficiency and performance enduring all while giving you a full day of comfort. The perforation holes on top of the shoe allow breathability for the hotter seasons or more intense riding.
But there’s more, the side of the shoe is more robust and can withstand harsh riding conditions, and will protect your feet from any contact of the terrain or bike.
Nothing will stop you now!
As far as cleat goes this shoe is compatible with a wide range of road bike pedal systems to use, so your choice isn’t limited– for the price and quality you get out of these shoes, it’s unbeatable.
Provides outstanding comfort, versatility and pedalling performance
Well ventilated but robust and durable
Laces to give you the perfect fit
Great value for money
Need to order a shoe size down
Latest deal: dhb Dorica Road Shoe
Tommaso Milano Commuter/Spin Bike Cycling Shoe
If you are looking for a sleek pair of recessed cleat shoes, Tomasso has got you covered with their not to over the top modern looking shoes. These shoes have a black and grey color scheme going on which gives them a very understated vibe.
This shoe will definitely attract minimalists looking for a simple yet functional shoe design. Speaking of functional, the shoe looks very comfortable to provide you with an easy casual bike riding experience.
But here’s the kicker:
The shoes have a hidden inner shank plate which adds functionality and power to every stroke you take on the bike, delivering at its full capacity. The quality of the materials on this shoe is amazing and they are precision fit to fit your feet perfectly.
The shoe turns a lot of heads and is a definite eye-catcher.
Precision fit for better fitness
Comfortable and perform well with the hidden shank
All-black minimal design to fit in perfectly
Can be upgraded to clipless shoes and pedals
May run small due to friction while riding
Latest deal: Tommaso Milano
Venzo Bicycle Men's or Women's Road Cycling Riding Shoes
Venzo brings bicycle riding shoes for both men and women, which come with 3 velcro straps to provide a better fit and looks. The black, white, and red combination is a stunning looking design that looks sleek and modern.
Fits in and matches most outfits easily and complements your bike as well. The shoe is compatible with Peloton Shimano SPD and Look ARC Delta cleats as well.
These are some of the well-known cleats available in the market. The perfectly curved ergonomic shape of the shoe makes it easy to wear and delivers on performance every time.
The shoe is made out of highly breathable mesh and synthetic that makes the shoe very comfortable and it has quick drying ability as well.
This is one of the most versatile shoes that are perfect for commuting, touring, road cycling, and even spin classes. Plus the quirky design will have heads turning.
Quick drying, breathable synthetic with mesh
Removable sock liner
Low-cut construction for a lightweight and fast performance
Compatible with most cleats
Tightening straps can be improved
Latest deal: Venzo Shoe
Dhb Troika MTB Shoe
Keep complete focus and control on the trails with dhb troika mountain bike shoes, they’re versatile, comfortable, and all in all durable. These shoes are brilliant for cross-country, cyclocross, and are ready to hit the trails.
These recessed cleat cycling shoes are specifically developed to offer a versatile shoe for off-road riding– they are compatible with 2-bolt SPD cleats.
The three velcro strap system allows for a quick trap in and go, plus it allows for easy adjustments throughout the day (plus it reduces the weight of the shoe as a whole.
These straps also provide a secure, comfortable fit so you can continue to explore without comfort holding you back, it inspires confidence to put more power into your pedal strides.
The perforated holes on top of the shoe increase breathability while the side offers more robustness to tackle the rougher terrain. Plus the perforated tongue increases the breathability even further while adding comfort.
These shoes are perfect for you if you’re looking for that extra added comfort and performance on the trails.
Brilliant for cyclocross, cross-country and trail riding
Compatible with 2-bolt SBD cleats
Versatile, comfortable and all around durable
Cleats aren't included
Latest deal: dhb Troika MTB Shoe
PEARL iZUMi Men's X-PROJECT PRO
Pearl brings you a very unique looking recessed cleat shoe with an amazing color scheme going on. It has a two-way color combination on one of the available designs, with a shocking orange and black combo which looks absolutely stunning and bold.
The other one is an all-black minimal understated look for the minimalists who try to keep it simple and elegant. Either way, you cannot go wrong with the design of this shoe.
The shoe has a completely re-engineered carbon composite sole that delivers amazing pedaling performance. It also has an advanced 3 layers seamless composite upper which eliminates hot spots by adapting to the shape of your foot for better grip and fit.
But that’s not all:
It has a bi-directional closure to wrap around your feet for a snug fit. Double BOA IP1 reels allow adjustability close to 1mm and pop up for full release. The shoe looks awe-inspiring and is a definite eye-catcher.
Carbon composite sole for better pedalling performance and hike ability
3 layer seamless composite upper provides breathability and eliminates hot spots
Double BOA IP1 reels allow 1mm micro-adjustability and pop up for full release
1:1 insole ratio allows for independent left and right arch
Ventilation may wear out at around 75 degrees or up
Latest deal: Pearl iZUMi
How we’ve picked the top recessed cleat shoes for road bikes
Choosing the best shoe for cycling can be a hard choice, especially when there are so many amazing options at such low prices. Shoes need to deliver on comfort, quality, and performance as some of the main pillars when it comes to cycling.
They need to provide proper ventilation and have soft breathable mesh padding to go along with it. Good road cycling recessed cleat shoes offer lightweight construction with soft and ergonomic souls and ventilation. They should have stiff but comfortable souls for better power delivery.
These shoes use a clipless pedal-shoe combo where the cleats can attach to the shoe without a problem. The cleats come in different variations. These are 3-hole cleats and 2-hole cleats. Typically recessed cleat shoes have 3-hole cleats but some from Shimano features 2-hole cleats also.
Perfect ergonomic shape is also a very important factor in shoe performance and it is very important that the shoe precisely fits and then adapts to your routine with time.
All the above-mentioned manufacturers we took a look at today had a unique trick up their sleeves to catch the eyes of the audience. Some offered amazing ventilation while others offered breathable mesh padding and leather.
Some had a precision fit while others were lightweight with synthetic fibers that dry quickly. What all of them had in common was good quality and amazing pricing, as expected. Choose either of them and you will not be disappointed.
Best recessed cleat cycling shoes buyers guide
Cycling shoes are lightweight and stiff for easier pedaling. They also have a mesh that allows breathability. Their sole is normally stiff and compatible with clipless pedal cleats.
Cleats are usually mounted on the shoe and they help to lock the pedal. Their clipless setup enables efficient power transfer which allows you to ride the bike comfortably.
However, cleats come with different features and shapes which makes them ideal for different riding conditions.
There are different types of cleat systems but recessed cleat systems are the most preferred. Cleats can be recessed to sit externally or into the sole of the shoe. Mountain and urban shoes normally have recessed cleats that facilitate easier walking.
Recessed cleat shores are suitable if;
– You want to have normal-looking shoes for the gym or studio
– When you need to unclip off the bike frequently
– If you want to walk to the gym without using the bike
How to pick the best-recessed cleat cycling shoes
Fitting – One of the best ways to make your rides more comfortable is ensuring that you are using the correct shoe size. Cycling shoes are also available in different widths, sizes, and shapes which means that you need to ensure that the one you have picked matches the size of your feet.
Breathability – Just like cycling helmets, cycling shoes should have enough ventilation. This will allow air to circulate and will also prevent your feet from sweating.
Fastening mechanism – These shoes come with various tightening mechanisms such as Velcro, buckle or ratchet systems, wire retention systems, and laces. As compared to other options, ratchet systems are the heaviest and the most expensive. On the other hand, laces are the most affordable but they are not the best. Velcro straps are very simple, strong, and lightweight while wire retention systems are the most lightweight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are recessed cleat cycling shoes worth it?
These shoes are very important because they provide excellent power transfer from your feet to the pedals. They are also breathable, lightweight, and long-lasting.
What are the benefits of cleat cycling shoes?
The major benefit of these shoes is that they are more secure and safer as compared to others especially when cycling at a high speed. They also provide a great feeling of control and connection.
When it comes to getting the most out of our ride it is all about getting the most out of your pedaling power, and what better way to achieve unmatched performance and pedaling power than with a recessed cleat cycling shoe.
It will allow you to filter all of your power into your feet, without any being lost due to lack of grip. It is something that shouldn’t have to be compromised. Not only that, but they also provide comfort while cycling, especially on the longer rides or commutes.
Whether you’re shredding the trails, tackling daily commutes, or training for races, we all want a well ventilated, comfortable, performance enduring recessed cleat cycling shoe, that you can pair with your favorite pedals to push the boundaries while cycling.
This is why today I have selected the very best recessed cleat cycling shoes that will allow you to keep pushing, further and wider. Choose any of the shoes I have selected today that match your style and riding style and get back out there my friend!
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.