Cycling Shoes buying guide
Choosing the right shoes and pedal set up can take some consideration. Especially if you do more than one discipline and also like to ride all year round in all conditions. You may need more than one pair!
When choosing your shoes, there is no right or wrong really unless you want to ride off-road and you choose a road shoe! That’s wrong! Taking into consideration that you will turn your pedals hundreds of thousands of times and with each pedal stroke you are using your feet to deliver the power to propel you forwards means that you should take choosing your cycling shoe carefully.
If you like to ride a couple of times a week on the road and like to ride with the Sunday club, you should maybe avoid flat pedals that you can’t clip into. Being clipped into your pedals enables you to feel more secure on the bike and help to keep your feet in the right place which then allows you to be more efficient on the bike. Being clipped into the pedal means you can pull up as well as down and can make more powerful efforts safely and effectively. How much you want to spend is totally up to you and your budget. If you are just starting out and have never worn cycling shoes before then you may find a high-end carbon shoe hard to get used to. Going for a mid-range shoe may be more comfortable to start with.
Road Shoes come in a massive variety of shapes, designs, materials and fasten/close systems. Deciding what to go for is down to personal preference. Some riders may argue that one system is better than others, but we all have different shaped feet and different preferences. The variety of fastening systems available are the Boa system, this is a dial that works to evenly spread the pressure over your foot to eliminate pressure points and to achieve a nice tight secure fit around your foot. They are very robust and popular choice.
There is also a simple, yet effective Velcro system. A Velcro system is often used on slightly cheaper cycling shoes, however, still a very popular choice as they are easy to fasten and now with improved wider Velcro straps on a lot of higher end cycling shoes means the pressure of the strap is evenly displaced over your foot. They look stylish and are widely available.
Laces are not a hugely common way to fasten your cycling shoe as they can tend to be time consuming to put on and can come loose with use. They are not easy to adjust on the go either. Having said that, with the fairly new Techlace system from Giro, the laces and Velcro system has proved very good, meaning you have the benefit of the stylish lace style and the even pressure from the design of the laces, but with the hassle free Velcro fasten.
Ratchet systems are still widely used on cycling shoes, they are simple and effective but can have a little limit to how tight or loose you would like them as the tighten in small increments.
The sole. The sole of a cycling shoe can vary in materials. A lot of high-end performance cycling shoes are made from carbon. This helps to give the sole stiff and non-flexible for increased power transfer. They can help a cyclist to stay injury free as they support the leg position and help to eliminate unwanted movement. Other cycling shoes sole are made up of rubbers, plastics and mixed materials.
Road Cycling shoes need to be worn with a cleat system. Unless you are using a trainer type shoes and flat pedals on the road.
Cleats – All road shoes are compatible with LOOK, Shimano and Speedplay cleats. If you wish to use SPD’s then you will need to purchase a different shoe.
Shoes for Summer and winter – Do you like to ride all year round, like most of us, we don’t want to use our lovely clean aerodynamic, lightweight, breathable shoes for the winter and or wait until the weather picks up before riding again!
You may want to consider a pair of cycling shoes for winter. Winter cycling shoes will have fewer vents so your toes stay warmer and may even have thermal insulators inside them to help with the biting cold. If you are looking for a compromise then bear this in mind when purchasing your shoes. A mid-range shoe that isn’t specific to the season could enable you to use the same shoes all year round. Team them with some winter overshoes and this could work great. (just be aware that some black overshoes can leak dye onto white cycling shoes)
Mountain bike shoes
MTB Shoes look slightly different to a road shoe and have a knobbly tread on the bottom to help you maintain grip if you have to get off the bike. MTB can be muddy so grip is needed in these conditions. They support SPD cleat set up, eggbeaters and Speedplay Syzr pedals. Some mountain bike shoes can also look like a pair of trainers, with a thick hard sole and sometimes a high ankle support to protect the ankle from knocks and bangs. They come also in boa, Velcro, laces and ratchet systems. Whatever your preference you can use them alongside a flat pedal but also with a set of spd cleats if you want to be clipped in. This is your choice.
Downhill and freeride shoes can be used with or without SPD’s and again is a personal preference. Some downhill riders like the freedom to be able to take their feet off the pedals quickly, whilst others like to be clipped in. The shoes supports a larger surface area for increased contact area and stability with the pedal and have a stiff strong sole to protect your feet from flying debris.
It’s the little things that make the big differences.
Like all cycling shoes you can really look into the detail and ensure that you have the perfect set up for your riding style.
Some cycling shoe brands offer custom fits to help with your arch support and power transfer. Everyone’s feet are slightly different so when you are focusing on delivering as much power as possible to need to ensure that the shoe is in the correct place and that your foot isn’t rising up out the back of the heel, or your foot isn’t sliding backwards or forwards in the shoe and losing valuable watts. There are many factors that can affect the fit of the shoe and there are specialised shoe and bike fitters in the UK to ensure you have the right set up.