SPD Road Shoes that are light, narrow and walkable

Any recommendations for SPD road cycling shoes that are LIGHT, narrow and walkable (preferably recessed cleats)? I’ve been wearing Giro Imperial for some time now and I’ve got spoiled because they are so light and comfortable. Now I need some SPD road cycling shoes to wear with my tandem bike, but the ones I’ve tried felt heavy and way too stiff. I’d appreciate any recommendations or input. Thank you very much!

Afaik there are no SPD-SL (road) shoes with recessed cleats. That’s not how they work. Maybe changed the pedals on the tandem?

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You could look at the Specialized Recon range though not sure if they suit narrow feet. The 2.0 models are rated 6 on the spesh stiffness index, where as the 3.0 are 11.

Otherwise try looking at the latest gravel shoes, they offer a nice blend though flexible isn’t often a selling point for the sportier shoes. You may have to settle for comfortable and walkable.

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As above, I don’t think you’ll find any road shoes with recessed cleats. Best options are going to be gravel shoes with recessed MTB SPD cleats. Or amongst the road cleat options I’ve found Speedplay to be the least bad for walking in.

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As you already like Giro and a narrow fit, I’d have recommended Giro Cylinder II - recessed cleat shoes that I’ve used as road bike shoes for several years - but they are stiff, so not great if you plan on walking around in them a lot (but do you?), and they’re 100g more (per shoe) than your Imperials according to the specs.

EDIT: just bought me another pair of Cylinder IIs :laughing:

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I’ve been using the shimano rx8 gravel shoe to decent effect. Not explicitly narrow but not as wide as their road offerings unless the newer versions changed. It fills a slot somewhere between road and off road shoe between stiffness and cleat style. Recessed 2 hole cleat mount as requested, decently light for the price and the sole is as stiff as some of their upper end road shoes. I’d call it walkable enough but it walks like a stiff sole road shoe just without the clickity clack of the giant road cleats.

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As mentioned, you’re looking for SPD / Mountain Bike Cleats, not SPD-SL if you really want walkable. (Crankbrothers, time, Speedplay may have options, I just haven’t used them)

I use the Specialized S-Works Recon which is one of the lightest on the market (New Version Last Year - Not sure about the Narrow Part) with Shimano XTR PD-M9100 Pedal. I’ve done 9 hour days, and routinely 100+ mile rides and never had an issue. And, walkable enough to hike-a-bike portions of the Leadville Course without causing issues.

I think the stiffness and power transfer is no longer a valid argument when you’re dealing with a stiff carbon sole. The only (minor) difference is potentially aero and weight.

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Yes, I haven’t been able to find anything. I’ll probably switch to gravel or MTB shoes. I don’t want to change the pedals because the captain doesn’t like clipless pedals and the pedals we have can be used with regular shoes or 2-bolt cleats. I don’t want the bike to have two different sets of pedals. Just an aesthetic issue.

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Thank you! I’ve been considering trying Specialized Recon. I wish they would provide information on the width of their shoes. But I know Specialized is usually sells regular width, but on the narrower side. So, I might give those a try. Do you have any recommendations on gravel shoes?

Thank you! I have speedplay pedals on my single road bike. My tandem has SPD pedals that can be used as clipless or not. My captain wears regular shoes and I don’t want the bike to have two different sets of pedals. Do you have any recommendations on gravel shoes with recessed SPD cleats? Thank you!

Thank you for your suggestion! I appreciate it! :slight_smile: When you find shoes that work, always buy an extra pair! :wink:

Thank you for your input. I’m glad to hear some positive feedback on Shimano rx8 shoes. I’ve been looking at them for a while now, but I wasn’t quite sure if they were on the narrow or wide side. My feet are narrow but I have been able to wear regular width in certain brands. So, it might be worth a shot!

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If you know you like the Giros, why not try some of the Giro SPD options? The Empire or Sector might fit the bill. Empires are very light, though they have a stiff carbon sole so not sure how walkable you’d consider them. The Privateer is basically an Empire but without the carbon sole, so maybe more what you’re after.

I’ve found Shimano shoes to be quite narrow. (Like, too narrow for me, but I feel the same about Giro, so they might work great for you!)

Some other folks suggested the Specialized Recon. This is actually a relatively wide shoe through the forefoot in the current iteration; they have a low-volume heel but a flat-but-wide toe box. I really like these, but sounds like they might not be what you’re looking for.


I called Specialized and they didn’t have any information regarding Recon’s width. Do you know how wide your feet are? Do they feel more narrow or regular? Thank you!

Just to be clear, it sounds like what you want are SPD MTB shoes, not road shoes. Shimano unfortunately calls both of them “SPD” - just “SPD” for the MTB version, and SPD-SL for the road version. All SPD offroad shoes have somewhat recessed cleats and are more walkable than road shoes.

I can’t help with narrow shoes, sorry.

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I’m on my 3rd pair. Work great for me

Thank you for your feedback. This is really helpful! The Empire Giro shoes look very interesting, but they are laced and I don’t feel very comfortable with laces. Giro’s Sector looks like a good option. Do you know how they compare to Giro’s Ranger? I hear you on the carbon sole. They are not easy to walk on, but they feel so much nicer on the ride. I was trying to find something that was a mix of carbon and rubber, but there are not too many options out there. I’ve never tried Shimano’s shoes. So, I’ll give them a try. Thanks for the heads up on Specialized Recon. I will cross them off my list!

This is a long shot… Bontrager had road spd’s and discontinued them, you may find some old inventory in a Trek Shop. I went on the same journey and found/bought 3 pairs. They were called Exresso. They are fairly stiff but very walkable. Here is an old link

The Shimano RX8 shoes (ie.SH-RX801 and SH-RX802) are available as standard or wide versions. The shoes are lighter than the Giro Sector (268 g vs 342 g). I find the shoes walkable, although they are quite stiff.

RX8’s are narrow; not sure how walkable you need them to be. They are very stiff so I wouldn’'t walk miles in them. But all SPD shoes are somewhat walkable