Adidas Gravel shoes
2023 photos:  Niels Amsterdam text: Stan Koolen


Adidas and cycling, I suppose most of you won’t immediately connect the dots. Although Adidas has a history when it comes to cycling shoes, It’s Eddy Merckx and Jan Ullrich who comes to mind when we think of Adidas cycling shoes. Adidas continued developing cycling shoes until 2005, but eventually lost interest, focusing its efforts on other sports such as golf and soccer.

15 years later Adidas is back with an interesting named cycling shoe “ the road cycling shoe”. The brand’s past palmarès are a little more exciting than its current marketing team’s naming efforts. Gravel biking has been gaining popularity for the last few years, so after the road cycling shoe release, Adidas couldn’t stay behind. The Gravel Shoe is the latest addition to the adidas cycling family.  The shoes sit alongside the Velosamba, the Parley Road Cycling Shoes and the Indoor Shoes. Designed from the ground up to bring road performance and city styling to new territory, as you explore off-road.


Firstly: the aesthetics are divisive. The first thing you might notice is the internal sock, commonly seen on football shoes but are now found on a number of gravel cycling shoes. You might hate or you might love it. Probably most cyclists choose the first option. Second: the color is indeed divisive as well, the Beam Orange / Core Black / Semi Pulse Lilac a unique color combination seen throughout other Adidas sports collections, it might not appeal to the most of us. You’ll have to bring your A-game to go matchy matchy with these shoes.

The Adidas Gravel Cycling Shoe is made from Primegreen, a series of high-performance recycled materials. 50% of the lightweight single piece rip stop upper is recycled content and there is no virgin polyester used. The ankle-cuff is a thicker, more flexible knitted fabric. Adidas describe it as an “inner sock” which seems pretty exaggerated considering it's only around the top of the shoe rather than a full inner liner.

The white outsole is made from an unidentified synthetic material that comes with standard two-bolt cleat design. They appear to have a nice grippy sole made of thermoplastic polyurethane lugs, or what Adidas calls them ‘ walking pods’ , that extends all the way out to the front of the shoe, it should provide for extra grip while hiking on uneven terrain. The three stripes on the side of the shoe are reflective for added visibility. The shoe has a lace closure and slightly elasticated cuff-top.


Out of the box, the shoes look interesting, not like many other gravel shoes out there. If they came in a color-way other than the orange/lilac combination, I’d describe them as cool and stylish.

Sizing was what I expected, I asked for a size EU47, but Adidas decided to send me a size EU 46⅔  instead. Adidas has a sizing chart on its website that includes foot length which is pretty useful, in my case the 46⅔ was a bit too small, but still rideable. On my scale, the pair weighed 855gr with Shimano cleats on them.

When putting the shoes on, the biggest issue is actually putting them on. The inner sock is a cool idea, but it’s pretty narrow and hard to get your foot into the shoe, in that way the inner sock feels fairly pointless and only makes the shoe more difficult to get on. My feet might be a little wider than average, but I don’t think of them as especially wide. The second thing is that I’m a little bit worried about the durability of pull tabs on the inner sock, I see them rip off over time as there is a bit of force and elbow grease needed to put these shoes on.

Once you have them on the upper can feel a bit flimsy, there’s a lot of flex and room in the toe area thanks to the fabric upper. It’s definitely something you have to get used to. Normally, gravel or cx shoes are made a bit more sturdy for off-road riding. Lacing them up is easy, but because there’s only a bit of fabric between your foot and the laces it feels like your feet are in direct contact with the laces, something that’s not particularly comfortable in my opinion. I had to re-lace them a couple of times to find a comfortable position. Another note is that the laces run up too short to fully make use of the elastic band to hold the laces down, one of the bands was even stitched a bit diagonal. Once you finally find a good position in the shoes, they’re comfortable enough to walk and ride in.

The ‘rip stop’ upper material is more rugged than I expected during this review period, it does hold up against occasional scuffing and scratches, but I can’t see these holding up particularly well overtime. The toe area does have a little reinforcement, but it’s not great, it attracts dirt and mud really fast. I tried cleaning them after the first ride, but the toe reinforcement came out looking like a teddy bear and the stains were pretty much still visible though. A darker colored gravel shoe is definitely a better option in my opinion.

The inner sock and top of the shoes is uncovered. Sure it makes the shoe breathable but is also not very practical with gravel riding that gets muddy and wet pretty easily. Pretty sure you end up with soggy feet over time. A positive thing about the inner sock is that protects your ankles from scuffs.

The durability of the lugs or so called walking pods is horrible. Specifically, the lugs ripped out of the bottom of the shoe after a couple hike bike moments, making it significantly less useful as a trail shoe. They wore almost completely off after a couple of months of testing. The lug design is also good at retaining mud if you have put your foot down on anything remotely damp, making it hard to clip in again.


After carefully evaluating Adidas gravel cycling shoes, it is evident that they fall short in several crucial aspects. While Adidas is known for its athletic footwear, their gravel cycling shoe line leaves much to be desired.

One of the most significant drawbacks of Adidas gravel cycling shoes is their subpar durability. The shoes wear out quickly, with the lugs of the sole deteriorating rapidly, resulting in poor grip and traction on loose surfaces and in muddy conditions. The upper material showing signs of wear and tear after only a few rides. This lack of durability is a major concern, especially considering the demanding nature of gravel cycling.

The versatility of Adidas gravel cycling shoes is worth noting. They are not limited to gravel riding alone, but can also be used for other cycling disciplines like mountain biking or commuting. This adaptability adds value to the shoes, making them a versatile option for cyclists who engage in multiple types of riding.

Lastly, Adidas gravel cycling shoes often come in stylish designs, with a range of color options available. This attention to aesthetics allows riders to express their personal style and coordinate their footwear with their cycling apparel. If the coral finish isn’t to your liking, the shoes are also available in a classy black, Turbo Acid, Cloud White and oh-so-fashionable khaki.

Available at price: $180 - $200,- US/ €180 - €200,- sizes: 35 - 50