Live Science Verdict
The Rapha Classic cycling shoe is considered to be the kind-of Prada of cycling shoes among its fans. It comes with classy-and-subtle design touches that set it apart from the crowd. However, a pair is far from cheap and comes compatible with three-hole cleats only.
High arch pads included and spare laces
Classy design and color palette
Only compatible with three-hole cleats
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The Rapha Classic cycling shoe is a staple within the luxury Rapha brand – considered the couture collection of the cycling world for all-round road riding. You can tell, which is why this shoe sweeps in as one of the best shoes for Peloton.
Even though a pair look similar to other brands we’ve tested, the subtle design features, packaging, and added flourishes – spare laces and high arch pads – thrust these shoes above many of their competitors. Rapha doesn't scrimp on quality: the classics are designed to equally balance comfort, durability and style.
Size range: 4-14
Available colors: Black, White, Black Pearl, Stone, Dark Gray
Clip compatibility: Look Delta, SPD-SL
This shoe only connects with three-hole cleats, but they’re still perfect for the Peloton bike – rated one of the best exercise bikes. However, versatility is the aim of the game for Rapha and these shoes still deliver – regardless of your cycling style.
If you’re ready to lace up, then swat up on the Rapha Classic cycling shoe with our deep-dive review.
Price and availability
These shoes are the offspring of a premium high-tech brand so, unsurprisingly there’s a premium price tag. Their MSRP is more than $200 (£190) – and that’s one of the cheaper shoes from the collection. Brands such as Nike and Peloton undercut this, but Rapha remains up top for cycling apparel. You can buy these shoes direct from Rapha or most other major cycling retailers in the US, UK and Europe.
Design and features
- Design and features score: 4.0/5
The shoe style is a cross between golf and bowling shoe meets running trainer (we prefer the more natural look of the Nike SuperReps, personally) and they look unassuming at first glance – they’re nearly identical to the Fizik cycling shoe (which is cheaper).
Upon closer inspection, you begin to notice the flourishes, like the signature Rapha reflective toe strap and the soft engraving across the back of the shoe, or the shiny multicolored hook on the strap itself. The packaging is classy and simple, and the shoe box comes in a beautifully made drawstring bag, along with two high arch support insoles, and a spare pair of black laces. The color palette is elegant and Rapha has opted for a soft-and-subtle touch by using stone gray, black pearl, and white.
The shoes are made with a carbon footplate for power transfer. As a general rule of thumb in cycling – the stiffer the shoe, the better the power transfer. This is because you increase rigidity in the foot, which makes your cadence more efficient. Entry-level brands might use nylon footplates, but premium brands use harder and better-quality materials. Carbon fiber is used among the highest quality cycling shoes, which is the case here with the Rapha classic.
- Comfort score: 3.5/5
Rapha claims to offer the last word in comfort and it doesn’t stop there, also priding itself as “the most comfortable cycling shoe in the world”.
While they’re comfortable, we found other brands, like the Santic Jian1 cycling shoe or Venzo cycling shoe, to be a touch wider, more spacious and offering lashings more comfort. These shoes came up tight, so we recommend buying a half (or full) size up.
The low-cut upper allows for maximum range of motion through your ankle, and the classics also come with a double-wall lacing system designed to disperse force more evenly around your foot to avoid any pinch points, while also providing maximum support. We felt that the laces were there to give the shoe a more classic feel, and preferred the BOA dial mechanism of brands such as the Santic shoe, which encases your foot rather than adding pressure from tight laces.
The perforated upper is made from 100% microfiber and is designed to cool your foot in hotter climates. The shoe is light yet stiff, with limited give or flex, which makes sense considering the rigidity required to optimize energy return. Surprisingly, this isn’t a strike against them in the comfort stakes, and the non-slip sole and thermoplastic coating allowed us to walk around freely with plenty of grip underfoot.
The toe box is super spacious – brilliant news for cyclists with wide feet – and the high arch pads are great for those with higher arched feet. The high-vis toe strap is aesthetically pleasing and allows you to adjust support around your forefoot, too – although some reviewers found this didn’t support narrow feet.
- Performance score: 4.0/5
The Rapha Classic cycling shoes have been worn by professionals for years and we were thrilled to get a chance to hit the road (well, Peloton) in them. The cleats are sold separately, which we didn’t expect from a premium brand but, otherwise, these shoes performed.
We could attach our cleats to the shoes without any drama, but highly recommend learning how cycling shoes work to get the lowdown on all things cleats, clipping in and discerning between two-bolt and three-bolt systems. We felt a rock-solid connection between foot and pedal while cycling, and the sculpted heel held us in place during transitions throughout our sweaty and tortuous uphill climbs.
Value for money
- Value for money score: 3.5/5
The Rapha Classic cycling shoes are brilliantly made and well-loved by keen cyclists around the world. If you’ve got the money to spare, then they’re worth the price tag.
They say you get what you pay for.
Well, while this is true for the Rapha Classics, these cycling shoes didn’t stand worlds apart from their competitors, in our opinion. That said, they’re a quality bit of kit from a premium cycling fashion brand that uses premium materials to boot. You’re guaranteed a well-made and durable shoe that will offer comfort and quality for years, but we reckon you could save some dosh and find an equally impressive pair, for nearly half the price.
If fashion is at the forefront, then why not splash out on the Nike SuperRep cycling shoes (shown above)? They hit the spot for style, but we recommend buying a size up if you don’t want to spend half an hour shoehorning yourself into them.
If you’re after a sound investment, without sacrificing serious money, then the Shimano RC1 cycling shoe rolls in at nearly half the price, and is the perfect match for Peloton lovers. They still offer a sleek-and-stylish design, similar to the Rapha Classic, but without the hefty fees.
How we tested
We tested the Rapha Classic cycling shoes in our purpose-built testing center and scored them from 1-5 across the following criteria:
- Design and features
- Value for money
For all models, we tackled a fast-paced, high-intensity interval training class and an active recovery session to ensure each shoe could power through and deliver – regardless of the user’s workout preferences.
We then gave the shoes an overall rating out of five with a verdict summarizing each model's strengths and weaknesses, and whether we reckon they’re ride-ready.
What the users say
The Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes are smashing it with the reviews. They have a current average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Rapha website, with users raving about the style and performance. Reviewers loved the comfortable and snug fit, stating that they feel solid, with little give or bend, and without being restrictive. They also rated the laces, and liked how these could be tucked away using a loop system on the shoe. Negative reviews warned to buy a half size up.
Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and resident fitness writer at Future PLC. Having trained to work with both the mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and aims to bring mental wellbeing to the forefront of fitness. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and how we can build more sustainable training methods. You’ll find her writing about the importance of habit-building, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and workouts.