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.
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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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!