How to Choose The Right Cycling Shoes?
The best cycling shoes enable its wearer to pedal with more efficiency - more power, lesser fatigue. But the best shoes for your fellow rider isn’t necessarily the best shoes for your current riding needs.
You have to ensure that your biking shoes have a snug fit on your feet, as well as complement your bike’s pedals, provide sufficient protection against the elements, and easy to buckle and unbuckle.
Choose Your Shoes Wisely Before Bike Riding
While you can find all-around cycling shoes, you are well-advised to choose based on your current riding needs. You want the best possible functionality from your biking shoes, especially added protection against repetitive stress injuries, natural elements, and accidents.
You also want maximum energy transfer from your legs to your bike’s pedals – and the right shoes for the riding occasion is crucial in it. Biking shoes come in two main categories with several sub-classifications in each one.
Road Cycling Shoes
These are designed for maximum energy efficiency, a concept in biking that refers to getting the maximum transfer of power from the legs to the pedal. You will find road cycling shoes with stiff nylon, carbon fiber, or composite material soles without rubber outsoles on the top (i.e., external cleats).
The soles usually have three threaded holes to complement the Shimano, Time, and Look cleats while others have a four-bolt drilling design compatible with Speedplay bikes.
You may not need road riding shoes with external cleats when you plan to wear them in running errands. Your best choice is road cycling shoes with recessed cleats for more comfort as a pedestrian.
You should also match the shoes to your bike’s pedaling system. This is because cleats and pedals aren’t interchangeable for the most part. You may have to use Look Keo cleated shoes with Look Keo pedals, for example.
Mountain Biking Shoes
These have features designed for rough and tough riding conditions, such as in logging trails, hills and mountains, and forests. These shoes usually have recessed cleats – the cleats are sunk into the outsoles so these will not touch the ground when you’re off the bike.
The cleats, which can come in threes and twos, are attached by bolts; most three-bolt and two-bolt shoes are compatible with many bike brands.
You will also find that mountain biking shoes can be used for walking and running, especially on muddy, rocky and sandy areas. This is because of their aggressive treads and/or studs, as well as their more flexible soles.
You can also choose shoes designed for racing, which have the stiffest carbon soles for efficient energy transfer; comfort in walking, however, is sacrificed.
Leisure Cycling Shoes
These have more flexible soles than road and mountain biking shoes, thus, these are more comfortable to wear in non-biking situations. Many leisure biking shoes even resemble hiking shoes and rubber shoes in appearance. But keep in mind that power efficiency can be compromised in favor of comfort in these shoes.
These have materials suitable for colder weather, such as in autumn and winter. These shoes are cycling-specific shoes with the features of practical riding shoes combined with features necessary for winter riding. Their materials have been proven effective for insulation, weatherproofing, and waterproofing purposes.
Your feet should be as dry and warm as possible under the circumstances. For example, Gore-Tex uppers are incorporated in winter boots to minimize water from seeping into the shoes’ interiors.
You may also use neoprene overshoes for colder weather, if winter boots aren’t in your sights yet. Your regular cycling shoes will be protected from the mud and rain by these overshoes, too.
The bottom line: Choose your shoes based on your planned type of riding – where you will ride (i.e., terrain), when you will ride (i.e., summer or winter), and why you’re riding (i.e., recreation or competition).
Serious riders usually have a few pairs of the different types of cycling shoes just to have all their bases covered – and so should you, perhaps.
Choose Based on Fit
Getting comfortable riding shoes is an absolute must in both recreational and racing circles. Keep in mind that your comfort will contribute to your energy generation and, thus, to your pedaling performance.
The more comfortable you are in your shoes, the more your pedaling power can increase. As your riding knowledge and skills increase, you may have to change your cycling shoes.
You must also regularly check that your shoes still have a snug fit – neither too tight nor too loose - before each ride since your feet’s size can change. For example, your feet may have been bloated before your monthly period (for women) or after eating salty food (for men).
If your feet feel uncomfortable with the cycling shoes on, you can’t dismiss it as a passing thing. You may not have the opportunity to change shoes while on the road for any reason. It makes sense to ensure that all is well between your feet and shoes before going out of the house.
When checking for a snug fit, keep these tips in mind:
- Wear the socks that you’ll likely be wearing to the shoe store.
- Look for brands that suit your feet shape and size. For example, Shimano has a “wide version” of their cycling shoes while Sidi is more suitable for riders with narrower feet. You can also buy more expensive Bont, Lake and Shimano shoes, which have a heat-moldable design for a custom fit.
- Check that the sides of the shoes aren’t squeezing your feet and your toes aren’t against the end of the shoes. Your toes should still be able to move without pinching sensations.
- Check the straps and buckles to ensure that these are easy to buckle and unbuckle while still offering a secure fit.
Should you buy expensive shoes?
Yes and No
Yes, because the more expensive the shoes are, the more likely that these are lighter in weight, better in terms of performance, and sturdier in their materials. You’re getting more value for your money.
No, because you may not need these shoes yet. You may be a recreational rider whose terrain of choice are city roads and the like. You can use a pair of affordable leisure riding shoes instead.
Indeed, the right choice in cycling shoes will result in a significant difference to your comfort, performance and safety, whether you’re an indoor or outdoor cycling enthusiast!