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.

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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

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Choose Your Shoes Wisely before 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.

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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.

1

Road Cycling 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.

round-up shoes

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).

2

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.

Best-shoes-for-mountain-biking

You can also choose shoes designed for racing, which have the stiffest carbon soles for efficient energy transfer; comfort in walking, however, is sacrificed.

3

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.

shoes rubber outsoles

4

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.

Triathlon Cycling Shoes

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.

5

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.

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But keep in mind that power efficiency can be compromised in favor of comfort in these shoes.

6

Winter Boots

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.

BTwin-Road-5-Mens-Road-Cycling-Shoes

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.

Shoes of the Giro

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.

A helmet is not just an accessory, it is a bike safety equipment and a life saving gear. That is why, you should not be riding a bike without one. It may not be too comfortable to wear, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Should You Buy Expensive Shoes?

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.

winter-cycling-boot-redesign

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.

Final Words

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!

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