How to Choose Cycling Shoes

Whether you are someone who has just gotten into the world of cycling or someone who has been a professional cyclist for decades, there is some equipment that you must own.

Aside from the obvious cycling gear such as the actual cycle, the helmet, and the gloves, there is one piece of equipment that is very important and must be owned by every cyclist. Those are the one and only cycling shoes. While professional cyclists already know the answer to this question, if you are new to the world of cycling you might wonder about the necessity of cycling shoes. 

Do You Really Need Cycling Shoes?

Yes, yes, and a hundred times yes. If you are a beginner who is planning on getting into cycling whether it be to meet your daily fitness goals or to venture into the world of professional cycling, a well fitted pair of cycling shoes is an absolute must.

This is because all cycling shoes have been specially designed to be worn when you are cycling. These shoes are great as they help keep your feet stable while you cycle. When cycling, it is necessary to be able to transfer power from your feet efficiently on to the pedals. Cycling shoes are here to do just that. 

Cycling shoes utilize two different types of technology, that is the “clip-less” and the “clip-in”. These have a cleat at the bottom of the cycling shoes which are clipped on to the cycle’s pedals.

The idea behind this is that it helps transfer more energy both during pushing the pedals down as well as pulling the pedals up. This results in higher efficiency as well as faster speed. 

The clip-in cycling shoes are also known to be designed to increase efficiency than any other ordinary athletic shoes. These cycling shoes have soles much stiffer as well as thinner, which helps transfer power from the shoes onto the pedals through the soles.

Cycling shoes also have straps, laces, and sometimes even buckles which help secure the shoes to the feet. Anyone who has cycled in non-cycling shoes knows the discomfort of having your foot slip out of your shoe while pedaling. It is extremely annoying and may even cause injuries.

How to Choose Cycling Shoes?

So now that we have established the importance of owning cycling shoes, let us move on to the next part of this article. The reason you clicked here. That is right. We shall now look into how to choose cycling shoes.

As we have already mentioned above, most pairs of cycling shoes are designed to be compatible with pedals to support your feet in a secure fashion while cycling. To achieve that cycling shoes use cleats. While all cycling shoes have cleats, different cycling shoes are suitable for different people. 

Which cycling shoe is most suitable for you is completely dependent on your type of cycling. Let us elaborate.

  • Road Cycling Shoes

Are you mostly cycling on the roads? Then what you need is a pair of good quality road shoes. Roads shoes are great and they are the top choice for recreational cyclists, essentially people who like to cycle for fun. These shoes are designed to maximize speed, are very lightweight and firm.

These road shoes have a smooth outsole, which is known for being stiff. The stiffness is actually great as it helps the process of transferring energy from your feet to the pedals through these shoes.

Another great feature about road cycling shoes is that they have amazing ventilation. Your feet may sweat but you will not have to worry about stinky feet.

It is important to keep in mind that these road cycling shoes lack traction on their soles, and are lacking in flexibility which makes them extremely uncomfortable to walk in for a long amount of time.

Aside from making your cycling shoes sound like tap dancing shoes when you walk, the cleats protruding from underneath the soles can also hurt your feet, when walked in for extended periods of time. That being said, road cycling shoes are great at what they are made for, and that is to be worn while cycling. 

Speaking of cleats, all road shoe soles have cleats under them and serve their purpose by attaching to the pedals of the cycles in a very secure manner. They use a combination of a clipless pedal and shoes.

Such a system allows higher efficiency and causes for better performance as the cleats secured to the pedals help you pull the pedals up as well as push them down.  Road cycling shoes are mostly compatible with three-hole cleats. This means that most of them have three holes on the soles that have been drilled to make them put cleats on to.

The reason behind preferring the three cleat system is that this system is known to be the most stable while cycling, as well as the most efficient at transferring energy. The large cleats spread the force applied by your feet over a larger surface area of the pedals thus reducing pressure on the pedals and ensuring security. 

  • Commuting and Touring

We have talked about how wearing road cycling shoes for extended periods of time to walk can cause discomfort and sometimes even injuries. While most cyclists can get away with not walking while on cycle rides, what about the commuters and tourists who need to be able to cycle fast as well as walk comfortably? There is a category of cycling shoes that are perfect for people like them. These shoes combine the firmness and stiffness of the sole on road cycling shoes with the ability to be flexible of the regular streetwear shoes.

These shoes with their firm outsoles made of rubber are able to reach the perfect balance which results in high efficiency during cycling as well as high comfort during extended periods of walking. Most of these commuting shoes are designed to be compatible with the two-hole clip system for cleats and can also be used for touring.

The best part? These commuting shoes are fashionable enough as well as androgynous to be worn with most casual outfits.

  • Mountain Biking

If you are someone who wants to venture into the world of mountain biking then the usual road cycling shoes just will not do for you. As you may already know mountain biking refers to the sport of cycling on a mountain bike over various types of trails that are off the road.

In order to navigate through such rugged terrains, you will need high levels of stamina, speed, a good sense of balance as well as technical skills. However, no amount of these inner strengths will help you if you do not have the right equipment. Which in this case are the correct cycling shoes.

Now you should know that mountain bike shoes for cycling are very different from the road cycling shoes, whether you think of their appearance or of their functions. The first difference is that the soles of the mountain bike shoes will have grips and lugs.

These are amazing as they will allow you to walk and even run when you cannot cycle on certain grounds. The next major difference is that the system used for cleats on these shoes is different than the system for road cycling shoes.

Lastly, comes the exterior of the mountain bike shoes. These shoes happen to be made of more durable materials which also are resistant to water making them much tougher than the road cycling shoes.

Let us look at the cleat system used by the mountain bikes in more detail. One of the most important things that you should remember if you are someone who owns or plans to own both types of shoes is that the two cleat systems are not compatible which means you cannot interchange them.

The cleats used for mountain bikes tend to be much smaller than the cleats used for road cycling shoes which is what helps them work side alongside the lugs and grips on the sole of the shoe. Mountain bike cleats can be fixed using as few as two bolts, and they are constructed to not be affected by mud or any kind of debris.

Another very important feature of the mountain bike shoes is their ventilation system. Depending on your needs you can purchase shoes that are either completely waterproof that are highly insulated and great for winter. On the other hand, you can also purchase lighter weight mountain bike shoes that are very well ventilated. 

Final Words

At the end of the day, the best type of cycling shoes is determined by only one factor and that is your needs. Before you decide to purchase cycling shoes take some time to think about what your main usage will be, and you should be able to find perfectly suited cycling shoes for you.


Read: How to Put Cleats on Cycling Shoes.

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