Which Biking Shoes Are You Looking for?
While you can ride a bike in your rubber shoes, leather shoes, and running shoes, you will benefit from wearing the right cycling shoes. This is because bike shoes have features designed to provide you with increased safety, comfort and power.
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Indeed, the energy transfer from your leg muscles to your bike starts in the pedal-foot interface! Let’s start with the basics first. Cycling shoes come in two basic types according to the technology used:
- Clip-less shoes have stiff soles that provide protection and support for the feet resulting in more comfort. These are also designed for more efficient energy transfer, which explains their popularity among frequent riders.
- Clip-in shoes have cleats at their bottom parts, which can be clipped into the pedals. These also have stiffer and thinner soles, which have less flex when pedaling resulting in better power transfer and energy efficiency. These also have straps, laces, and buckles, which are used to strap your feet in position to avoid unnecessary movements.
With clip-in shoes, you will be able to generate more powerful energy from the start to end of a pedaling cycle. Your ride will be more energy-efficient, which means more speed given similar power on pulling and pushing on the pedals.
Which type is the best? Clip-less shoes aren’t necessarily better the clip-in shoes because the bike, riding conditions, and rider preferences must always be considered in making your choice. You will likely avoid using toe clips and straps on your mountain bike, for example, for added control and safety.
Best Choice for Certain Conditions
You will also find that each type of bike requires specific styles in cycling shoes. For example, you will require road shoes for a road biking trip and mountain bike shoes for your mountain biking adventures.
You may be able to interchange their uses but you will realize soon that each type of shoe has specific features suitable for specific cycling conditions.
Let’s take a look at the best shoes for each type of bike. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines so you can experiment with the types of shoes available, from road cycling shoes to city biking shoes. Your best guide in choosing the best bike shoes according to each type is discussed below.
Road Bike Shoes
These usually have the stiffest soles with lightweight ventilated uppers for breathability. The soles are made from composite materials, nylon, or carbon, all of which are known for their light weight resulting in maximum pedaling efficiency.
The uppers are made of real or synthetic leather materials. You can easily adjust the fit of the closures on the fly, thanks to the ratcheting buckle or Velcro strap closures. You can make them tighter when sprinting or climbing and looser to let your feet relax.
Look for these features in road shoes for the right fit:
- Cleat compatibility: You have to ensure that the shoes are compatible with your bike’s pedals so that these can be fully functional. You will find most road shoes have a three-bolt cleat mount compatible with clip-in systems, such as the Look and Shimano SPD-SL systems.
- Choice in fastenings: You have three choices – Velcro straps, ratchet buckles, and BOA cord fastenings – with your final choice largely depending on your personal preferences. Velcro straps are lightweight yet reliable and strong.
Ratchet buckles provide a sturdy and firm hold on your feet while also being easy to adjust on the fly. BOA cord fastenings are the lightest choice, aside from eliminating the uncomfortable contact points in other systems.
- Ventilation: You have to choose road shoes based on the level of ventilation required for the weather. You will find winter shoes with minimal holes and mesh for greater insulation against the cold as well as summer shoes with greater breathability (i.e., holes in the mesh uppers and sole).
Mountain bike shoes
These are usually designed with fairly stiff soles and rubber-lug outsoles, which allow for efficient pedaling and effective traction especially on rugged trails.
Their cleats are also usually recessed into the soles since these make for easier walking on slick and muddy ground. You can also use mountain bike shoes for casual riding, indoor cycling, and touring purposes.
You will that mountain bike shoes also come in a wide range of features. These include lacing systems like cam straps with buckles and rip-and-stick system; waterproof liners; and cleat systems ranging from two to three holes. The more features, the more likely the price will increase.
City Bike Shoes
These are suitable for recreational biking, indoor cycling, and urban cycling but not for road and mountain biking. These shoes are a hybrid of casual footwear and cycling shoes, thus, thee offer the benefits of both types.
You can use them with clip-less pedal systems while riding and wear them as walking shoes, too, thanks to the recessed cleats within the rubber outsoles.
Triathlon Cycling Shoes
These have several similarities with road shoes although there are also fundamental differences. Triathlon shoes are easily removable on the fly for fast speed transition and are designed with softer lining for a no-sock functionality.
Here’s what to look for in triathlon cycling shoes:
- Heel loops and strap closures: Look for shoes with a single yet wide Velcro strap since this will make it easier to adjust and undo it while on the fly. Check that the heel loops are also functional since these will allow for quick pulling off during the transition.
- Cleat compatibility: Look for the same compatibility as with road shoes although the norm is a three-bolt mount.
Let’s talk about the hole system in cycling shoes. The 2-hole system, known as the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD), is suitable for all types of riding including touring, commuting, and road cycling. The 3-hole system, known as the Look style, is best for road cycling since it provides maximum energy transfer and stability while riding.
The final advice on starting on the right foot by choosing the right cycling shoes: You have to make function including snug fit, ease of use, safety, and efficient energy transfer your first priority in making your choice. Your style should be a second priority.