CX shoes - throw my some recommendations

So I’ve used some Giro shoes (lower level, all velcro straps) the past couple of seasons and while they’re ok-ish for short CX races, prolonged use leads to numbing in my left foot, and if I do some longer events I’m going to be suffering. The cleats are set up fine, I just feel the left shoe is a bit tight and I think that’s what leading to the eventual numbness.

I’m just starting the search process, I stopped by my local shop yesterday where I got my specialized torch 2.0 shoes which I really like and the specialized comp look pretty good and similar to my road shoes with a bottom strap and boa system. I guess maybe my only question on them is whether they are more mountain bike oriented rather than CX racing oriented.

Would love some recommendations on, let’s say, sub $200 CX shoes and what characteristics you look for in a CX shoe. For example, after using velcro strapped shoes and having to clean grass and gunk from them I’m not sure those are really the best feature for a CX shoe. Alright, have at it!

Really like the Giro Empire VR90 shoes. Can’t recommend them enough. I use them for gravel, road, cyclocross and mtb. Very comfortable for long days in the saddle. Clean up real easily due to the nice glossy finish on the shoes; which is helpful after muddy cx races. I view the laces as a bonus (over BOA or other retention systems) as there is nothing to go wrong. Plus replacing a lace is much cheaper than any other system.

Can usually find “last year’s” model online for steep discount.

To be honest, especially where fit has been an issue in the past, then really you need to buy a shoe based on what fits. And since that is so personal, recommendations from others wont count for much in my experience.

Get down to your local shop or order a range online. Choose best fit first and then focus on features

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x2. This is what I use. I use them for CX and MTB racing and they work great. Also, as Russell mentioned, you can get usually get them on pretty steep discount, sometimes in a funky color (which may or may not be a positive!)

My favourite are the Shimano XC90 which I had to get from Germany to obtain a wide fitting.


The smooth finish helps against mud build up. Tread and toe spikes are great.

I raced all of last CX season in the Specialized Comp MTB shoes and they were great. I’ve always found their shoes to fit me well, including road shoe, but I also use the body geometry insoles in both after having a bike fit a few years ago. The insoles totally solved numb toes for me.

I’ve used a Lake shoe with a single boa for the last few years. I like the boa, but I think the toe-box is too small for me as I have to tighten it after riding a bit. It would be nice if I could tighten the top without adding more compression to the lower part of my foot, so perhaps a 2-boa system would be better. I’m unsure if a wide would be wide-enough. My biggest complaint is the leather is getting really torn up. The shoe is still very wearable, but it’s getting pretty trashed. It’s got me thinking a plastic-ish shoe material would be better for me.

Shimano xc-5 is wide and under $200. I’ve been happy with mine. Just stiff enough and not too stiff to run in

Got some Scott mtb rcs that are probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve owned. Again as someone mentioned, shoes are all different based on someone’s feet/needs etc.

I like my Bont Riot MTB+. First I bought a pair of lakes, retuned them right away. Just the way the toe box is shaped, it turns in on the toes after the ball of the foot and really cramped my toes. The bonts stay straighter after the ball of the foot and makes them a lot more comfortable. When running seems to be better too since your toes won’t get squeezed together more if your foot happens to slide to the front of the shoe.

Thanks for the thoughts, I’ll probably give the specialized comp a try first, considering I’m a fan of my road specialized shoes and insoles. Understand that ultimately it’s about the right fit, but was curious to know how particular shoes play out as far as features (weight, straps, etc) that make them good for CX racing.