A Beginner’s Guide to Cycling Shoes

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Do I need cycling shoes?

Cycling can be easily done using tennis shoes or any other shoes if you are going for a short ride. Tennis shoes may work more often for a general commute. Serious riders, however, need to invest in cycling shoes for some reason besides the fact that they look cooler in them. Cycling shoes provide some varied riding options which enhance cycling both for speed and power. Cycling shoes come with systems that allow the rider to keep feet glued to the pedals for more efficient strokes that provide faster speeds and control on the bike. Cycling using regular shoes for long distances causes slipping, and the use of additional energy to get the pedals rolling. Cycling shoes are designed to stick onto the pedals and avoid accidental slipping from the pedals. They are also designed to be lightweight enough to make pedaling easier for you.

Bicycle, Shoes

Cycling shoes are the best shoes when it comes to the distribution of power through the legs. They are also ideal for a thorough work out the distribution of muscle strain all through the feet to the hamstrings. Everyday shoes will strain the calves and cause stress to the feet. Cycling shoes will reduce fatigue and allow for longer hours of cycling on any given terrain. They are also practical for indoor cycling maximizing the effect you get with every stroke.

How do cycling shoes work?
Cycle, Shoe

Cycling shoes come with a clip-less technology that means the use of clipping. The terminologies easily confuse a beginner but are not hard to grasp. Clipless shoes come with fitted cleats that clip onto the pedal fixing the shoe to the pedal. This may prove tricky for a beginner. Riding with feet firmly set to the pedals often causes toppling over especially when stopping. Clipping the shoes to the pedals is even harder when starting off but gets easier with time. People that are used to shoes without these systems often forget that these shoes are clipped in when approaching junctions or stops and struggle at the last minute to get the shoe on the pedal. This can be quite embarrassing in public especially when you keel over with the bike. Using clipless shoes needs practice on soft grass to soften the blows.

Cycling shoes come in different sizes and types. They also come separate from the cleats which are fastened on the shoes using bolts. The fasteners are secured on the shoes which later clips onto the pedals. The pedals come designed to hold onto the braces while allowing easy removal of the same. This, however, takes a little time to master. The beginner is advised to prop them against a wall when clipping off to avoid falling over. The bike pedals need to be compatible with the cleats. Most bikes will come with ready clip-less pedals while others will need to be installed. It is wise that you consider the options in the market before buying your pedals. Cleats come with three or to holes for fastening cleats. The choice is purely on preference at this point. Some shoes come with both options allowing you to use and of the cleats for the bike pedals.

How to Use Cycling Shoes

The best way to get the clips in place is while riding. Ensure that you have clipped in the first cycling shoe while the other one is safe on the ground. You simply have to get the pedal in position and push your shoes forward. You will hear a click once the shoes are in place. Start off while you try to do the same with the other foot. This may take a while to master. Keep on trying to place the pedal in position as you push your foot forward with the front part of the shoes slightly inclined to the pedal. This provides a perfect slip in for the cleat.

To get the foot off, move the heel away from the bike so as to slide the cleat off the pedal. This will work if your cleat allows side motion. Ensure that you are still on the move while doing this. Stopping down do this will cause a fall over especially if the foot gets jammed. Always remove your foot from the pedals when the bike is at considerable speed for a proper stop in time to get your feet off the pedals.

Types of cycling shoes

Road bike shoes

Road Bike Shoes

Compared to most of the other cycling shoes on the market, road bike shoes come with stiffer soles. The shoes are also very light with some made of carbon fiber to enhance this. The shoes are not designed for walking long distances because they lack any form of traction and can be tricky to work with. Some come with small rubber padding at the heel to aid movement on short distances.

These mostly come with SPD-SL cleat styles also known as the three-hole cleat system or the SDP method referred to as the two-hole cleat system. You need to remember that these shoes cannot be used with pedals that are clipless.

Related: Best SPD Pedals for Road Bikes

Mountain bike shoes

These use the same system only that the shoes allow walking for long distances. The soles are more flexible enabling the rider to get off the bike and walk on rough terrain or smooth rocks without slipping. This makes them some of the best options for indoor riding, long-distance touring and casual riding. The more expensive options incorporate lightweight features and stiffer soles with ankle protection. Waterproof features and attractive buckling choices.

Mountain biking shoes also come with recessed cleats that allow you to walk without the cleats hitting the floor. Those without the recessed clipping make walking on a level floor or tarmac a nightmare. Recessed cleats allow the biker to walk for long without removing the cleats as well as keep the mud off. Some come with removable cleats which can also be time-consuming while you are on the trail.

Related: Best SPD Pedals for Mountain Bikes

City Bike Shoes

Bike shoes are set for indoor and outdoor cycling within the city. These allow for walking and come with very flexible rubber soles. They also have recessed cleats that allow one to walk without the cleats hitting the tarmac.

Stationery bike shoes

Riding stationary bikes at the gym can be a real challenge especially if you are using regular gym shoes. These tend to not only slip but use more energy to work with. The fact that gyms are slippery due to the polished floors and the sweat makes the regular gym shoes okay. Cycling shoes are however a good idea at the gym despite the fact that they come with stiff soles. Cycling shoes allow the rider to have a more fluid cycle pattern engaging all the leg muscles for a better workout. Shoes that will easily slip off the pedals can be a real struggle especially if you want to push hard.

The best shoes for this sort of cycling are mountain biking shoes. These have a recessed cleat and a rubber fitting at the heel of the sole. This allows the user to walk around the gym without slipping or falling. They also clip to the bike pedals allowing the user to have more action while pulling the leg up and pushing them downwards.

Stationery Bike, Shoe

Most gym bikes come fitted with SPD pedals which aid clipless riding. Some will come with both the platform and clipped in options that allow the rider to pick from either. Some of the pedals also come fitted with toe cages that hold the gym shoes in place during riding. These enable the user to use normal gym shoes while riding.

You can also have your home stationary bike fitted with these pedals using a specialist. The pedals are replaced with SPD pedals of choice depending on the kind of shoes you are going for.

Bike shoe closure options

Bike shoes come with different closures. Laces are standard and allow you to fit the shoes to the size you want. They, however, get messy in wet and dirty conditions. They also get loose and can easily get into the drivetrain when not carefully knotted.

Rips and stick options come in handy when it comes to getting the shoes off and on fast. They are also easy to keep clean in messy situations. Most will have 2 or 3 straps allowing you for a better fit.

Buckles with notched cam straps are best but more expensive. They offer secure clamping and provide more security when it comes to fastening feet to the pedals.

The shoe size

You will need to consider the size of the shoes when fitting. Snuggly fitting cycling shoes are ideal with a little room to wriggle your toes. Remember that you will be wearing the shoes for a long time in some instances, and so they need to be as comfy as possible. The inner padding needs to be comfortable enough to avoid blistering long the way.

Ensure that you go for shoes with ample aeration to avoid excessive sweating. Those that combine this feature with waterproofing are ideal especially if you ride in wet conditions.

Dion Lewis

My name is Dion Lewis.I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.In my college life, I took a part-time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or bike gear.

1 Comment
  1. Thank you for writing this article. I’ve been riding a hybrid mountain / road bike for several years now. Over the past 2 months I have been laid up with foot surgery. My biking friends are riding further snd further, while I’m rolling around my hone in a knee scooter. I’m sure my friend are also riding faster and faster as well. Last week, I got the green light from my doctor to walk and wear a shoe. I did my first 30 minutes on a treadmill yesterday. No pain, just a little discomfort. I’m a photographer and I’m set to shoot my first wedding in 2 months this Saturday. 8 or 9 hours on my feet. I better be ready. After I get past this wedding, I’ve deceived it’s time to start riding again. However, I will ride with new cycling shoes! Thanks for your article on selecting bike shoes. Jeff

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