The Gear Loop is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(The Gear Loop) - Eddy Mercx: one of the greatest professional cyclists of all time. His long list of achievements includes three Tour de France victories, five Monuments and setting an Hour Record – all of which he did with a pair of Adidas cycling shoes strapped to his feet.

Newcomers to the sport may be unaware, but between the '60s and mid '00s, Adidas had a major foothold (excuse the pun) in the cycling market. In addition to Mercx, the German brand counted greats like Jan Ullrich and Rudi Altig among its athletes, designing everything from footwear to jerseys to enable them race to the tops of podiums and beyond. 

-

But it wasn't to last.

Amid the great doping scandal of 2006, Adidas bowed out of the pro peloton and focused its attention on other sports instead. The Three Stripes vanished from the cycling world almost overnight, and, save for the odd spinning shoe or pair of cycling glasses, that's the way it stayed for over 15 years.

That was until the launch of a brand-new lace-up road shoe in 2020, and more recently, this BOA-dial equipped version. Things have come a long way since Adidas' last foray into cycling footwear, so we were keen to see how this shoe stacked up against some very stiff (literally) competition.

The Gear LoopAdidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review photo 2
Our quick take

This latest cycling shoe from Adidas is a real head turner. The sporty looks and unconventional colour set it apart from anything else on the market, but there are some issues with sole stiffness that will put some buyers off. It’s very comfortable on and off the bike, and the BOA retention system is great for making adjustments and locking the foot in place.

Adidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review: a hattrick of sporty looks, comfort and sustainable materials

Adidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe

3.5 stars
For
  • They look pretty cool
  • Super comfortable
  • Great for recreational riding
  • Made from ocean plastic
  • BOA dial
Against
  • The nylon sole will be too flexible for those who push their shoes to the limit
  • Issues with fabric bunching
  • Cleat attachment can be a tad fiddly
  • Replaceable toe and heel plates would be nice

In the loop

A quick look at the Adidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe:

  • A BOA version of Adida'' first road shoe in over 15 years
  • Made from Parley yarns which uses recycled ocean plastics
  • Nylon and fibreglass sole unit
  • Single-dial BOA retention system
  • Stretchy Primeknit collar for comfort
  • Durable ripstop uppers

Fit and features

Every rider's feet are different, which makes cycling-shoe fit a highly subjective topic. That said, we found these shoes to be extremely comfortable thanks to the stretchy tongue and carefully positioned padding. A midfoot support strap hugs the arch when the dial is tightened, and a stiff heel cup supports the foot from the back when pedalling. 

One thing to note in terms of fit is that the Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe runs small. Our test shoes were a UK 8.5 (our tester's usual size), but could have done with being a half size bigger. If you're considering buying this shoe, we'd encourage you to go a half size up for the perfect fit.

The Gear LoopAdidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review photo 3

Adjustment comes courtesy of a single BOA dial, which is smooth to operate and allows the fit to be tweaked in small increments, even while in the saddle. And if you're worried about the thin BOA wire digging into the top of your foot through the woven tongue, don't be. We thought the same thing, but there's no discomfort whatsoever from the wire when the shoe is on. Even when tightened right up. The system distributes the load well, and padding in the tongue keeps things feeling nice and cushy.

One unavoidable flaw is the fact that the toe and heel plates are not replaceable. This is quite a big oversight for a shoe that positions itself as a more sustainable option. Unfortunately, once they're worn out, they'll have to go in the bin.

Another issue is with fabric bunching at the sides of the tongue inside the shoe. It doesn't cause any discomfort when riding, but it feels a bit sloppy. This was only an issue with one of our test shoes, so it seems like a quality control issue.

The Gear LoopAdidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review photo 6

Styling

Practical details aside, the key talking point here is how this shoe looks. It's sleek, streamlined and sporty. Undeniably reminiscent of a footie boot, but in a good way. We tested the 'Hazy Emerald and Utility Green' version, which really stood out on group rides among a sea of plain white shoes. It got plenty of complements too, albeit interspersed with the odd five-a-side joke.

The Three Stripes branding to the outer side of the shoe is made from a reflective material that's crisp and white in daylight, and lights up like a Christmas tree at night. There's also a reflective strip to the heel, which is a nice touch.

The Gear LoopAdidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review photo 5

Performance

If you like soles stiff as a board and padding kept to the bare minimum then you're not going to get along with this shoe. The flexiness of the nylon and fibreglass sole, and the thick padding in the heel and tongue means that a small amount of power loss from your pedal stroke is inevitable. That said, we've been riding these shoes for two months now and while they certainly have a trainer-like feel to them, we haven't noticed a dip in our average speed or power numbers. Unless you're racing, it's not something that you're likely to notice all too much.

The Gear LoopAdidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe review photo 9

The sock-like fit and lack of stiffness make the Parley Road BOA shoe best suited for long days on the bike. When you're riding centuries and beyond, comfort is a much higher priority than all-out stiffness, and that's exactly what you're getting here. Again though, if you want something super stiff and supportive that's going to help you steal KOMs and set new PBs, you'd be better off shopping for a carbon-soled shoe from a specialist brand.

To recap

The Adidas Parley Road Cycling BOA shoe is a lightweight road shoe that counts good looks and surprising levels of comfort among its best qualities. At £170, it’s not the cheapest shoe on the market, particularly considering it doesn’t have a carbon-fibre sole. That said, it’s more than stiff enough for recreational riders and weekend warriors who like their kit to look sharp.

Writing by Paddy Maddison. Editing by Leon Poultney.