It used to be that you had to win at least a stage in the Tour de France, or maybe your national championship to get a truly customized pair of cycling shoes. Sure you could always buy a fully custom pair of shoes from someone like Bont Cycling or D2 Shoe for some inordinate amount of money, but even then you were more limited to crazy patterns and bright colors. But recently paired with the rise of quality, slick finished microfiber uppers and coinciding with the renaissance of the lace-up led by Giro, cycling shoes have gotten a lot more colorful. And with all of those choices now there are actually people out there who will customize your shoes for you, whether it is a partner with some talented paint skills, a neighborhood kid with some Sharpies, or a proper graphic designer with a steady hand. Check out a bunch of styles after the break…

photos courtesy of each shoemaker. designs copyright of each linked artist.

Certainly not to discount the high-end custom, a pair of Bont Vaypors, Riots, etc. will still get you a pretty sweet color offering.


But it seems that you might need to have a handy significant other like Team Novo Nordisk rider Fabio Calabria does to get the full-on custom painted deal.

d2-neo-neon d2-classic-customization

D2 will also make you some wild designs. Their standard practice is bright colors and patterns, but when you pay that much for a shoe really shaped to you foot, why not spend some more and have their graphics team get a bit crazier.


The last pair of customized shoes we covered were probably the Empires that were paired with a Caletti at NAHBS last winter, but the unique shoes have come a long way since then.


In fact Giro themselves embrace the trend with the #bikeshoeart campaign that has now gone into its second iteration and does double duty of promoting the Empire as a canvas, whether in its road, mountain, or women’s variations. We imagine it won’t be long until we see the Factor & Prolight techlace shoes get the same treatment. It was Giro who introduced us to Chas Christiansen who had this next pair of black & white VR90s.


The also pointed us back to the fun reads and colorful stories of Stëvil Kinëvil and his All Hail the Black Market.


They also brought us back to Jimbo Phillips whose designs I think I had last seen gracing skateboard decks more than a couple of decades ago.


Bontrager shoes was maybe the last to jump out of our social media feed, with some custom kicks at the SSCXWCPDX.


Unless your name is Stan Nice (or some derivative of that one) you won’t be able to buy these, but you might be able to find someone to paint you up a pair in your own design.


We even had a pair of Shimano road shoes find their way into our inbox from tattoo artist Marc Alter of Five Daggers in Stuttgart who hand painted these more as an art piece than to withstand everyday riding.


Lake Cycling is maybe the other big shoe company that we’ve seen getting behind the paint-to-suit trend. They actually take it one step beyond and are said to offer the custom paint schemes directly themselves.


Their CX & MX lines of shoes have seemed to make a pretty good canvas as well. Wolfi’s Bike Shop in Dubai seems to be one of their biggest custom finish customers and has a great gallery of unique designs.


It was a pair of Lakes that we started with (all the way back at the top). Those were custom made for mountain pro Rebecca Gross, so while you aren’t likely to get that same sunset fade, their designer can create something unique for you. Created by Ryan Cathrall of Rufus Designs, he’s one of the few artists out there openly offering to create your custom designs.


Another one to look up would be artist/illustrator/writer Asia Morris who’s shown herself happy to paint up several different brands of shoes, and certainly not be limited to the all white canvas that many of these designs started out as. In fact, our own Anna Schwinn seems to be expanding her custom closet and has a pair commissioned to go under the brush.

The options seem limitless, so pipe up in the comments if you know someone else out there customizing shoes, or of another good gallery of one-offs…


  1. The best and worst are right next to each other…the white/blue Shimanos are really cool, and then right below it are those flower covered monstrosities!

    • My guess it that it depends on the actual shoe and use. A local rider ripped his (standard issue) Giros in a crit. He got them glued and restitched locally, and also got some artwork done in them – a “Pow” logo similar to a comic book’s inspired by a pro’s shoes. They are holding on, but definitely will show the wear – as every shoe, I guess!

      I don’t think fading is as much issue as rubbing/scuffing/tearing. For the road and TTs mine are holding up ok, but I have wrecked two pairs in CX the last two years.

    • I have painted normal shoes with angelus leather paints. After a week any place the leather bends has issues with cracking. I’ve have wondered if the stiff cycling shoes might help that issue. I might buy a white set of cycling shoes and go to town as a winter project.

  2. I also wonder if you paint them and it is not part of the material would it make the shoes less breathable?

    Might look cool but also having your feet over heat on rides is no fun

  3. I can’t imagine paying extra for custom painted shoes. For one, I don’t care. Shoes are shoes and not a statement. And for two, the get trashed to quickly to make the investment worthwhile.

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