Different Types of Biking Shoes

Did you notice you cannot ride a bike wearing athletic shoes? Biking shoes have stiffer soles and are designed differently from other athletic shoes. There are different types of biking shoes each serving its own purpose. Each of these shoes has different features for different motive, and lets their wearer adjust, relax, and ride comfortably. 

Amidst so many different types and brands, one can easily get confused as to which biking shoe to choose from. We all have gone inside a shoe store and kept wondering which type of biking shoe to buy. To help you choose the type of shoes you need, you have prepared a detailed article about all the different types of biking shoes there is. Check it out!

How are biking shoes different from regular ones?

Biking shoes are not only designed differently but also manufactured using different materials. If you never wore biking shoes before it will be hard for you to understand the difference. Once you switch from regular to biking shoes, you will notice that they help to improve your biking performance, help you to pedal faster with much more pedaling efficiency. 

Biking shoes are lightweight, with a very stiff sole. Although the stiffness of the sole varies among different types of biking shoes. Their unique construction helps bikers eliminate as little energy as possible through sole amortization.

Three most common types of Biking shoes

  1. Road biking shoes: Provides maximum power and efficiency to the pedals. Has a very stiff sole. With cleats connecting pedals and shoes.
  2. Mountain biking shoes: These shoes have grippy soles to provide great traction. These shoes have two holes for cleats and flat pedals.
  3. Casual biking shoes: These shoes are similar to sneakers. They are stylish and have clip-less pedals and have cleats that are fixed inside the soles. 

Road biking shoes

Road biking shoes can be differentiated by their stiff and smooth outsoles. They are also lightly constructed allowing proper air ventilation. These shoes provide power to your feet, allowing them to produce great efficiency while pedaling. If you are looking for speed and outstanding biking performance, road biking shoes are the ones you need.

You cannot casually walk wearing road biking shoes, as they are not designed with traction on their soles. Cleats extend from their soles. Road biking shoes have clip-less pedals, unlike their name, clip-less pedals are used to attach to the shoe’s pedals. You will find road biking shoes have 3 holes in their soles.

These holes provide shoes with the energy and proper stability for riding smoothly. It also helps to reduce pressure in the connecting points. Some shoes also have 2 cleat holes. The number of cleats is for the shoe’s compatibility with bikes of different manufacturing company’s pedal system.

Mountain biking shoes

There are two different types of mountain biking shoes: flat and clip-less. The type of mountain biking shoe depends on how long and what plain you will be riding on. Clip-less shoes have 2 cleat holes in them.

Unlike the road biking shoes, the cleats on mountain shoes are deepset on their soles. Thus making it easier to walk wearing them. You can also wear clip-less mountain biking shoes for cross-country, non-technical, and distance riding.  

On the other hand, flat mountain biking shoes are wider, do not have cleats, and have flat pedals. They have better traction as they are designed with rubber outsoles. You will find flat mountain biking shoes in a wide range of prices.

This is due to its stiff soles, the stiffer the sole the more expensive the shoe is. The expensive shoes also provide foot protection, are waterproof, are lightweight, have enhanced ankle protection, and other handy features. They also have hook-loop straps and buckle-ratchet straps for good fitting and security.

Casual biking shoes

Casual biking shoes are a lot similar to regular sneakers. These shoes are great for recreational, indoor, and outdoor cycling. You can take them as hybrid designs between cycling and casual shoes, and they are also highly compatible with the clip-less pedal system.

You can walk in them, as they have rubber outsoles and attached cleats. They are also not as stiff as road biking or mountain biking shoes. As a result, you will not get as much as pedaling power as the other two. However, they can serve both purposes of walking and cycling.

Types of biking shoes popular in the USA

Triathlon biking shoes

Triathlon cannot be classified as a different type, infact it is a variant of road biking shoes. Quick foot, sockless, proper drainage, entry and exit are its main features. Triathlon shoes help biker switch from swim to bike phase quickly, then from bike to run phase pretty swiftly.

These shoes are for competitive biking, as there is very little time for fiddly buckles during a cycling marathon. Triathlon shoes are usually clipped with the pedals and have single Velcro fastening which is opposed to ratchet straps

Track biking shoes

Track racing is an important sport in the USA. In the past few years, many people have started track racing as a passion sport. Many shoe manufacturing companies have started to produce and design track-specific biking shoes.

These shoes are simple, lightweight, and have a traditional touch. Most of the track biking shoes are contain laces closures for proper fitting with pedal straps. These shoes are constructed using lightweight and rigid materials. 

This allows bikers to ride as long as they want without having to worry about how much pressure they will exert on their pedals. Tracks shoes are compacts and do not stretch or come off or come unclipped.

However, not all bike shoe manufacturers produce track biking shoes. Riivo, Suplest, DMT, and EZNI are some of the track biking shoe manufacturing companies in the USA. 

Touring bike shoes

If you are some who takes his bike and travels often you will need touring bike shoes. Touring bike shoes is not new. Traditional biker tourists previously used toe straps and clips while biking, but now touring shoes are produced with clip-less pedals and designed differently.

They usually have a recessed cleat, allowing the bikers the flexibility of walking and cycling. However, touring shoes do not have the same rigidity and add treads as the other types of biking shoes. 

Types of biking shoe depending on closure types

You can also categorize biking shoes based on closure types, such as lace, velcro, and the ratchet. 


Lace closure biking shoes are highly comfortable with great adjustability. If you are one of those who likes adjusting their biking shoes before a competition or a sprint you will like them. However, their biggest drawback is the laces may get stuck in your bike’s chain.


Velcro straps are to manage during biking. You will find Velcro biking shoes coming with 2-3 straps. This allows bikers to adjust the tension in their feet while cycling. Compared to lacing shoes Velcro straps are easier to adjust. 


These shoes are very handy, as you can adjust them while you are cycling. As a result, most biker prefer shoes with a ratchet closure.

You need cleats to complete your shoes

All biking shoes come with cleats. A few designs may not contain cleats, which mean you need to buy them separately. You can get cleats from any shoe store in your neighborhood. You will find a diverse variety of cleats of different colors and designs for cycling shoes. You cannot ride without a cleat. Your feet will come off from the pedals, and can cause an accident any time.

Types of Cleats

There are two types of cleat available in the market: recessed & non-recessed. In the recessed cleat system, the cleats are smaller and tightly attached with the biking shoe through two bolts. Recessed cleats are great for flatter soles that let people walk comfortably in them. You can cycle as well as commute wearing them.

They are also easy to unclip, and you can also move your feet with much flexibility with them clipped on. Recessed pedals are good for beginner bikers. They do not clack on floors while they bike as the non-recessed ones do.

On the other hand, non-recessed cleats are better for bikers who race or club riders. In the non-recessed system, the cleats are kept apart from the shoes with three bolts.  Road bikers usually opt for non-recessed cleats.

The larger-sized cleats allow people to have a better connection and stability with the pedals. These pair well with stiff shoes and allows bikers and allow them to have a greater transfer of power and make your feet more rigid.

Bottom Line

How that you have read this article, you should about all the different types of biking shoes available. Get the best biking shoe for yourself, and choose wisely. Do not end up buying mountain bike shoes for road biking, as each biking shoe serves its purpose. With that said, soar high into a fun and exciting biking trip with your friends.

You can also read: Best Cycling Shoes for Wide Feet

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