Super-breathable SPD-SL shoe specifically for indoor use? Mesh, knit, etc

Hey indoor velominati,

I’m looking for the best indoor cycling shoe that would be sufficiently lightweight, cool and breathable.

Performance also matters, so maybe let’s try and avoid bike touring sandals.

I’ve been searching for options on the Internet without much success. Since protecting the foot isn’t necessary indoors like it is outdoors, surely somebody somewhere has seen the business opportunity in creating indoor-specific cycling shoes that are meshy and breathable?

Current gripe with Shimano RC7s

  1. They accumulate too much sweat during workouts, to the extent they are wet/swampy/squishy towards the end of the first hour. Leading to issue number

  2. They don’t adequately dry between workouts without using an electric shoe dryer. Leading to issue number

  3. They end up smelling horrific unless they’re de-odorized daily. By horrific I mean they need to be sealed in a bag and kept outside so as to not make the apartment uninhabitable. THIS IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION FOR COMEDIC EFFECT okay maybe a little but I’m not kidding about having to seal them in a bag.

I’ve done my best to reduce the amount of sweat with ventilation when possible (northern hemisphere, hard workouts are on the balcony with the fan blazing) but I also do low intensity stuff in hot and humid conditions (sometimes even inside the sauna) for the training effect.

Any solutions, tips or suggestions? Pls help I’m actually considering those sandals.

Shimano has just launched shoes specific for indoor riding.

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Looks like they are designed just for women. :confused: . Shimano site does not have or mention anything for men

That seems to be designed for our distant cousins, the Peloton crowd :smiley:

  • SPD and not SPD-SL
  • Generic gym shoe look - not sure that’s much more breathable than regular designs
  • Walkability is highlighted, stiffness isn’t

Well at least it’s explicitly designed for indoor use, so that’s one checkmark!

Ooh this looks promising actually:

Not out yet though.


Well not really. They do have a shoe that’s more stiff th “RCL-5” or what it’s named. But I guess it doesn’t check all the boxes you want. Maybe some triathlon-shoes might be better?

The new Bontrager shoe might be worth a look:

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have a look at triathlon specific shoes. They typically have much more ventilation including drain ports in the souls. I use Louis Garneau tri shoes on the trainer and they are much cooler than my road shoes.


Great point. I just got the Bontrager Tri shoe and noticed they are quite free flowing.

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+1 on tri shoes. They are generally much better ventilated, designed without a tongue and fewer closing mechanisms, most do with essentially one big Velcro strap.

I’ve had pearl izumi, Sidi and now switched to Lake. All solid products if they fit your feet.

If you’re used to 3-strap road shoes then tri shoes will feel a bit floppy in the beginning. But you will get used to it and your performance indoor shouldn’t suffer.


I can highly recommend the Fizik Infinito R1 Knits.

The knit aspect is important here. Lots of ventilation and dries quickly inside and out. Fast drying is especially important because I take them into the shower with me after almost every training session, rinse them off, and then plop them on the laundry rack to dry. They are usually dry before my chamois. Result: No odor even after 1 year of hard use.

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Just going to go on a tangent here to suggest that instead of worrying about them being damp and smell bad all the time. SImple put them in the wash with the rest of your kit after the work out. Or just wash them in the shower when you are done working out. I tend to have sweaty feet (or rather, soggy from sweat dripped down) and have decided there’s no way to prevent this situation. My best solution has been to wash my shoes daily after each ride indoors. Worked for me.

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Interesting. For some reason I’ve never thought of that. I guess it’s not like they’re leather, so it’s not like they’ll get damaged, especially any more damaged than they get from getting equally soaked in sweat.

Buy two cheaper pairs and swap them round, to give them more time to dry? Really don’t think power loss through less stiff soles will be a big problem for trainer rides.

But yeah, with e-racing taking off, you’d expect there is a market for indoor-specific kit.


They’ve been working great for me. I’ve been using a pair of shimano RC9s and a pair of bont vaypor+ (the leather ones). And they’ve been through the wash many many times and I’ve only seen them dry and clean everyday!

I use the Giro Prolight Techlace. I have been very happy with them. I have never experienced the type of hot feet that you’re mentioning, however these shoes have multiple mesh panels and are super lightweight. I have been happy with them for both indoor and outdoor riding. My only complaint is that the rubber heel pad is not attached very securely. You will have them fall off in no time if you walk outside.

Upping my fan game has helped me a lot with “stinky shoe syndrome”.

In a spin class environment with limited ceiling mounted fans, my shoes are regularly saturated and leaking water out the SPD cleat holes on the bottom with every post class step. But riding at home on my trainer, I set up enough fans that my legs stay cool (via evaporation of sweat) during rides. It’s done a world of good at keeping my shoes from turning into six pound water retention devices.

Having a super efficient and effective body cooling system (aka being a profuse sweater) definitely has it’s drawbacks.

My shoes are good for 1 or 1.5 hours, but 2+ and they are soaked. I have a three pronged approach that works, but they still smell. 1. I point my lasko fan directly at them for a bit after the ride. 2. I will spray them with some kind of deodorizer. 3. I have made some home made drying sleeves by taking some cheap socks and filling them with cedar fill. It works like newspaper, but are reusable.

When all of that fails, the shower and my clothes dryer has a shoe rack that I can put them on that doesn’t tumble. an hour or two on low heat works pretty well.

My issue is the shoes, but also the puddles of water on the floor. It’s disgusting some days. I have a mop and bucket up there to soak it all up and it still is a problem.

I second the tri shoe comments in terms of being more breathable. That said, they’ll still get wet. I did Polar Bear -3 last night with no fan (intentionally, wanted a good sweat) and my tri shoes were squishing afterwards.

I think I originally was recommended this on here, but to keep stinky shoes a non issue, even with significant sweating (or running outside) I use this. Lots of options, but this makes a huge difference. I can’t say I’ve experimented enough to give feedback on ozone vs non, but it works great.

What socks are you wearing? Try some Drymax brand socks (these use a fiber that doesn’t hold water) or socks with some texture (shimano sphyre socks). Maybe loosen your shoe a bit (a lot). Maybe your shoes are just too small.

I think you’re going to have more options with 2-bolt shoes. Shimano has some reasonably priced indoor shoes otherwise the Fizik mesh are the way to go. A 2nd pair of shoes might not be such a luxury as a need if you’re that sweaty. Maybe just punch some holes in cheap

These are the best on the market though -
FWIW, the new SHimano Gravel shoes are made to dry quickly