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Cycling shoes are the only contact point for direct power transfer between your legs and your bike. They ensure efficiency and provide comfort – when chosen wisely. Often we get asked which one really is the best pair of cycling shoes in the SCOTT collection. Simple answer: the best cycling shoes don’t exist. But in that extensive range of different types of shoes, each rider might find a pair that works best for her or his personal needs and feet.

Choosing a pair of cycling shoes isn’t an easy decision, especially because of the wide range of criteria you need to consider before buying. Discipline, riding style, construction, stiffness, and adjustment system are only a few of them. This ultimate buyer’s guide gives you an extended overview about everything you need to study, when choosing your ‘best’ SCOTT cycling shoes.

To guide you through this article, we refer to three fundamental types of cyclists across all disciplines :

  • The (aspiring) Racer is an athlete who trains intensively and competes at events
  • The Performer is a passionate cycling enthusiast who rides for pleasure and fitness
  • The Recreational Rider pedals for fun, on a non-regular basis



First of all, you need to be aware of the type of riding you intend to do with your new pair of cycling shoes. Basically there are two major discipline in cycling, Mountain Biking and Road Cycling. MTB can be further divided into XC Mountain Biking, Trail/Enduro Mountain Biking as well as Downhill. On the road side, we talk about Classic Road Cycling, Gravel riding, Triathlon and the Touring/Sport segment. Generally, the main difference between a MTB and a road shoe is the sole and the cleat system, which defines the type of pedals working with and for a particular shoe.

Road shoes feature a smooth, flat sole not meant for walking. Three bolts on the outsole are designed to fit a 3-hole cleat system, such as Shimano’s SPD-SL system or the Look-Style-System.

MTB shoes on the other hand have rubber soles with more grip – built with materials like Sticki Rubber - in case the rider needs to put a foot down or to get off the bike and walk. Unlike road shoes, MTB shoes have two holes to mount cleats working with a 2-hole system, like the SPD system from Shimano or Crankbrothers’ cleat system.

If you are :

  • a road cyclist : We always recommend classic road shoes for racers and performance oriented rider.
  • a triathlete : Triathlon specific shoes with an easy in and out function for a quick transition are recommended for triathletes at any level.
  • an XC mountain biker : Cross-country specific shoes for all skill levels are recommended.
  • a trail mountain biker : Trail shoes offer more protection in the upper compared to XC shoes. If you are a beginner or a downhill oriented trail rider, flat pedal trail shoes without a cleat system are a versatile option offering freedom and easy reaction on the bike.
  • a gravel grinder : Gravel riders have a choice, both road and XC MTB shoes work well for gravel riding. The decision comes down to personal preference and the main type of terrain you are gravel riding on and whether you expect to have to walk at some point.
  • a recreational rider : We suggest looking into our do-it-all sports shoes, as they offer great walking quality with or without a cleat system.


Stiffness distinguishes a cycling specific shoe from a daily lifestyle sneaker. The stiffer the shoe, the more efficient the power transfer. SCOTT shoes have a stiffness index varying from 6 to 10, with 6 offering enough stiffness for a straight pedalling response without losing flexibility, and 10 standing for maximum stiffness and thus ultimate power transfer. An individual shoe’s stiffness is determined by the sole material.

Carbon is the most diffused and lightest material in bike shoe technologies and its development has made great strides in the past year. For our high-end cycling shoes we use HMX carbon fiber, making the shoes 20 percent stiffer compared to the conventional HMF counterpart for the same weight. HMX shows excellent riding characteristics with minimal loss of power transfer, and is only available with our race dedicated shoes, such as the MTB RC SL and ROAD RC SL. The advantages of HMF carbon – one step down from HMX – are the great stiffness/weight ratio and the comparatively low price. On the lower end of the outsole material hierarchy are the Composite/Nylon soles which offer enough responsiveness and stiffness for a price point.

Stiff shoes don’t necessarily need to be less comfortable. Comfort is determined by the soft inner mesh of a shoe and the absence of pressure points. Traditionally it was thought that flexibility ultimately meant comfort, but the more flexible the shoe, the less efficient the power transfer. In fact comfort depends on the fit of the shoe. At SCOTT, we use three different lasts for fit and comfort. The racing last for an extremely tight fit, a performance last for increased comfort, and a sport last for higher flexibility.

If you are :

  • a racer, you need a racing fit shoe with a stiffness index of 9 or 10 (see all)
  • a performer, you need a performance fit shoe with a stiffness index of 7 or 8 (see all)
  • a recreational enthusiast, you need a sport fit shoe with a stiffness index of 6 (see all)

SCOTT shoes are well known for a perfect and adaptive fit. Our high-end road and mountain shoes all come with anatomically designed, adjustable ErgoLogic insoles. Foot zoning allows us to consider the anatomical shape of the foot and ergonomically pre-shape our insoles for a perfect fit to support the cyclist’s foot. The SCOTT modular footbed allows for adjustment to the rider’s individual needs and preferences with three different volume arch and metatarsal pads for high-, medium and low volume feet.

Tips for the perfect fit :

  • The shoes should fit you out of the box. Unlike running shoes, cycling shoes won’t break in.
  • Cycling shoes should feel snug with enough room in the toe box to move your toes slightly.
  • Little slippage in your heel when walking in cycling shoes is acceptable. Slippage is caused by the shoes’ stiffness. When riding, you shouldn’t notice any movement in the shoes.
  • Increase fit and comfort by using functional cycling socks from SCOTT.


Over the last few years, many different adjustment systems or rather closure systems have been established in cycling shoe manufacturing. SCOTT applies three well tested systems :

Lace-up style : Probably the most classic system, but still a favourite of many cyclists. It’s the option to go for an even pressure throughout the foot and comfortable riding.

Fit straps and buckles : An easy closure system for getting in and out of the shoes effortlessly. Velcro Fit straps allow certain flexibility in the upper, making this system a good choice for recreational and performance oriented riders. Buckles, on the other hand, keep the feet strongly in place and are extremely durable in any weather conditions.

BOA® Systems : On the market since a couple of years, the BOA® systems have become the epitome of any high-end and super reliable closure systems. The dial allows very specific micro adjustment and superb fit. The IP1 system can be dialed in to both direction, to either loosening or tightening up. One step further down, the L6 system only turns in one direction for tightening and must be pulled out to open.

If you are :

  • a racer, you value an on-the-go micro adjustment system. We recommend the BOA® IP1 system.
  • a performer, basically any closure system works for you. Should you often ride in wet and muddy conditions, we recommend a BOA® or lace system.
  • a recreational enthusiast, and you are looking for a closure system with easy handling, fit straps or laces cover all your needs.


Cycling shoe uppers, made of leather and synthetics like microfiber, have four main functions: Ventilation, protection, comfort and responsiveness.

Well ventilated shoes for road and trails are highly recommended in hot conditions to avoid sole burn and overheating feet. Microfiber and mesh uppers with vents for extra air flow reduce sweating and increase comfort. In winter, protection from the elements is needed. SCOTT cycling shoes with Gore-Tex membranes keep mud, dirt and water away from the inside and provide warmth. Another way to keep you warm and dry are shoe and toe covers in different lengths and heights.

SCOTT’s latest innovation in footwear upper material is Carbitex, made from carbon and designed for the day when anything else but the win wouldn’t be good enough. SCOTT’s Carbitex cycling shoe range allows for ultimate responsiveness and ultimate power transfer, with virtually zero elongation. Although stiff, Carbitex is exceptionally flexible and enables a glove like fit.



Once your box has arrived or you picked up your shoes from your local dealer, the cleats need to be mounted to get ready for your first ride (unless you have a pair of flat pedal shoes, then you are good to go). The cleat position is crucial for maximizing power transfer and for preventing injuries.

Regardless if you are a roadie or mountain biker, the general rule says that the further backwards your cleats are mounted on the shoes, the better the stability and traction on the bike. Stability and traction, however, don’t ultimately mean better power transfer. As a trail or enduro rider, you might want the cleats mounted closer to the back end for better stability. As a road or XC rider on the other hand, moving the cleats towards the front helps you push harder and transfer more power to the pedals. This basic rule doesn’t need to apply for everyone. We suggest trying different cleat positions to find your most efficient position and riding style.


To get the most out of your shoes and maximize durability, a good clean after each ride won’t harm. If not muddy, wiping your shoes with a kitchen cloth does the job. If they are covered in dirt, wash them with a brush and some hand-hot water. Be careful when cleaning velcros or the BOA® system, you don’t want to damage your adjustment system. Remove the insoles and stuff the shoes with old newspapers to let them dry out. Don’t put them directly in the sunlight, UV can fade your shoes’ colours or even deform the shape.

Here are your perfect SCOTT shoes

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