What cycling shoes do I need for a sportive?

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When participating in a sportive, it’s important to wear comfortable cycling shoes, provide good support and fit securely. Stiff support in the sole can also help get the power down, especially over a long distance. Here are some factors to consider when choosing cycling shoes for a sportive:

Road vs. MTB shoes

Road cycling shoes are designed for use with road pedals and are typically stiffer and more aerodynamic than mountain bike (MTB) shoes. MTB shoes have a more flexible sole and are designed for use with MTB pedals, which are easier to clip in and out of. For a sportive on the road, it’s generally recommended to wear road cycling shoes. The cleats that are ideal for the different shoes are also important to note.


Cycling shoes should fit snugly but not be too tight, as this can cause discomfort and even injury. Make sure to try on several pairs of shoes and walk around in them before making a decision. Look for shoes with adjustable straps or laces for a more customized fit.

Sole stiffness

A stiff sole provides better power transfer and can help reduce fatigue during a long ride. Look for shoes with a carbon fibre sole or a stiff nylon sole. Sometimes a stiff sole can also end up hurting your feet. Something like the heat mouldable Bont shoes are a good option in that case.

Cleat compatibility

Make sure the shoes are compatible with your pedals and cleats. Most road shoes are compatible with three-bolt SPD-SL cleats, while MTB shoes typically use two-bolt SPD cleats. There are advantages to both but generally, for a road sportive, the SPD-SL cleats are the way to go.


Choose shoes with breathable uppers to help keep your feet cool and dry during a long ride. If it’s a wet day that can have drawbacks but for a middle-of-the-summer sportive, breathability is going to help keep you fresh.

Comfort features

Look for shoes with cushioning, a padded tongue, and a comfortable insole to help reduce pressure points and increase comfort during a long ride.

Ultimately, the best cycling shoes for a sportive will depend on your individual needs and preferences. It’s important to try on several pairs and choose the shoes that are the most comfortable and provide the best support and performance for your specific ride.