Cycling has become one of the most popular sports in the country. Aside from sponsored professionals, this sport is greatly enjoyed by thousands of amateur cyclists around the world. In the beginning, starting off wearing any comfortable sports shoes will suffice. However, if your hobby begins to grow and you become a dedicated cyclist, albeit professional or not, you may want to consider choosing a specialized shoe.
Footwear has become a fundamental factor in cycling, allowing the athlete to place his or her feet correctly on the pedals and thus, transmitting the full force of the pedal to the bicycle in the most efficient way possible. Just by slightly enhancing biomechanics, the right sneakers can take an athlete to another level of performance. Finding the right shoe, however, can take a bit of research.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Cycling Shoes
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Cycling Shoes
- 4.1 What are cycling shoes?
- 4.2 Can cycling shoes help prevent injury?
- 4.3 Which bike shoes should be used in each mode?
- 4.4 What materials are cycling shoes made of?
- 4.5 Are there differences between men's and women's bicycle shoes?
- 4.6 What are the advantages and disadvantages of locking systems in cycling shoes?
- 4.7 How do you properly attach and fasten cleats to cycling shoes?
- 4.8 How do you clean your bike shoes?
- 5 Purchase Criteria
- 6 Summary
- For those who regularly bike, it’s crucial to acquire the proper footwear to ensure greater comfort and performance.
- You need to buy specific shoes according to the genre of cycling and environments you will be riding in.
- Before purchasing a cycling shoe, you should take into account various aspects such as the type of sole, size, fit and design.
Our Selection: The Best Cycling Shoes
Below, we’ve created a ranking of the best shoes based on both sales volume and good reviews. These shoes vary in their characteristics and advantages, appropriate for various purposes. We’ve done our best to create a diverse list to give you an idea of what option could be best for you.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Cycling Shoes
Before buying a cycling shoe, you need to first remember where and how much you will be cycling. The different genres of cycling range from outdoor all the way to spinning and all require different models of biking shoes. We’ve answered the most frequently asked questions among bikers and laid out the important considerations to keep in mind when finding the perfect pair for you.
What are cycling shoes?
Cycling shoes are special footwear created to allow the foot to securely grip the pedal of a bike. Alongside the helmet and the bike, cycling shoes are an essential element in determining performance level as well as the safety of a cyclist. They work to improve efficiency, saves energy and enhances the overall experience of riding bikes.
Each different shoe can vary in the type of sole it has, the material, the flexibility of it, the ergonomics and other more advanced features that have a profound effect on the pressure the cyclist is able to exert from each area of the foot. All the different designs and builds offer different benefits to amateurs, professionals and those who bike in different regions across the world.
Can cycling shoes help prevent injury?
The numbness or burning of the feet is, among others, some of the most common issues cyclists experience. Usually, this begins to happen due to excessive sweat or running on soft areas of the foot, the improper fit of cleats, bad posture or incorrect distribution of energy onto the pedal.
Choosing a good cycling shoe can help us mitigate these occurrences and avoid injury and discomfort.
It’s important to look not only at the style but functionality and support of the shoe you are looking for.
Which bike shoes should be used in each mode?
Each form of cycling will need to take into consideration different elements.. The bike and the terrain will both change depending on where we desire to go biking. Riding on flat roads will not require the same shoes as riding bikes up high into the mountains. Take a look at the main categories of cycling shoes:
- MTB or mountain shoes: These shoes stand out for their extra hard sole, generally made of carbon fiber, although it can also be made of rubber. Due to the demands of the terrain, it is advisable that these shoes have reinforcement on the toes and heels and are breathable. Two examples are the XC and XCM shoes, with rigid carbon fiber soles that are sometimes mixed with nylon. The "Enduro" shoes (best for crossing mountains) have a more flexible rubber sole to facilitate the stretching of the foot that is needed during walking.
- Trail shoes all mountain: a somewhat “mid” mountain shoes. Trail or all-mountain shoes have some characteristics similar to those used in mountaineering. They are more flexible than XC and XCM, but a little more rigid than "Enduro". Comfort is the main goal with these shoes; often manufactured with different types of rubber.
- Road shoes: Road shoes are much stiffer overall, however often much lighter. They are usually made of higher levels of carbon fiber throughout the shoe and allow a large transfer of power from the legs to the pedals. They are not recommended for mixed outings or activities for indoor use. This type of footwear has an added system of cleats that allows the shoe to be hooked to the pedal, guaranteeing maximum support and stability. When buying these shoes you must take into account the pedal of your bike, as it can have either two or three attachment points. These shoes are usually very breathable and are also reinforced with synthetic material.
- Triathlon shoes: this category of a cycling shoe is specific for this sport, although only appropriate for the cycling portion. Triathlon shoes have a fairly rigid sole, Velcro closure and a wide opening in the back. They're very breathable.
- Spinning: shoes are made for indoor cycling classes and are quite rigid. The millimetric adjustment of the shoe allows a great transmission from the pedal to the bicycle.
- Urban cycling: comfort is the prevailing feature of these shoes. This type of footwear is the most flexible and will be used much more for walking than for pedaling. Because of this, these shoes have no sort of fastening system to attach to the pedals of a bike. However if desires, it’s an option to install your own.
What materials are cycling shoes made of?
The soles are usually made of carbon fiber for comfort and durability. Various methods of constructing with this material can be used such as braiding, unidirectional and high modulus. In medium-low quality cycling shoes, fiberglass or nylon are typically the materials used. The exteriors are made of leather and microfiber the provide ventilation and responsiveness.
Are there differences between men's and women's bicycle shoes?
There is a great deal of debate on this issue, as many experts say that it is not necessary to sell and market to specific genders, regardless of the type of cycling. However, many others argue that both the morphology of the feet and the size are different between men and women.
Many experts and professionals purchasing gender-specific shoes that are said to be more beneficial in the long run. Women’s cycling shoes tend to have a wider toe area and are usually a bit thinner at the heel, providing a more snug fit for smaller feet.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of locking systems in cycling shoes?
In cycling shoes, there are four different classes of locking systems; micrometric type BOA or ATOP, rack-toothed belts, velcro, and lace-ups. Below we’ve created a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each model:
|Type of closure||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Micrometric wheel type BOA or ATOP|| Easy to fasten.
Close to the millimeter.
Avoids discomfort and chafing.
Easy on-the-fly adjustment.
Only found in medium-high and high range designs
| Not recommended for cyclists with a prominent instep.
Increasing the price of the shoe.
|Rack-toothed belt|| Easy to fasten.
Reliable and durable fit.
Easy on-the-fly adjustment.
Found in mid-range shoes
| Add weight to the shoe.
Fixed adjustment positions.
A blow can disable the system.
|Velcro|| Reliable, strong and light.
Easy on-the-fly adjustment.
Found in lower range shoes.
For beginners. They loosen up as they go.
They have a short lifespan
With the passage of time the gluing zone is reduced.
|Strings|| Lightness in the footwear.
Present in some high ranges.
| Do not adjust on the fly.
Less reliable fastening.
They can be loosened on the fly.
The loop can be attached to the chainring.
How do you properly attach and fasten cleats to cycling shoes?
Very briefly, one must first find the middle point of the ball of the foot. Once found, align that mark with the center of where the pedal axle should go, usually indicated right on the cleat, and carefully fasten in with tool given to you along with your purchase.
Keep in mind if you have an inverted or everted foot, as this will affect where the pushing power of your leg goes and how well the cleat will work. There are a number of tutorials and step by step breakdowns one can find on the internet for more specific details depending on the model as well as foot ergonomics.
How do you clean your bike shoes?
Keeping sneakers clean and well-polished is the best way to make them last. Other general steps to take to avoid wear and tear are washing them by hand and avoiding placing them in the sun or in the dryer.
To wash them, remove the insoles and scrubs them with warm water. Use a wet cloth and a gentle detergent to gently scrub the inside and wipe down the skin of the shoe on the outside. If the shoes have mesh linings, it’s best to use a small brush to remove all the encrusted mud.
To clean the sole of the shoe, simply spray or wipe off any mud or small stones that are possibly adhering to the cracks and crevasses. To increase the durability and longevity, you can add a thin layer of Nivea moisturizer to fortify the outer skin.
Because bike shoes are built with subtle and intricate design variations that have a huge effect on the performance of the shoe, it’s important to run through all the varying features a shoe can have to make the best choice. Here is a list of purchase criteria that will help you intelligently pick the perfect cycling shoe, and not solely based off of design:
- Discipline and Style
- Type of Sole
- Type of Closure
Discipline and Style
Mountain biking shoes are not the same as road cycling shoes or those made for stationary bikes. If you are a beginner, mountain biking shoes with Velcro or laces are a great start. They are lightweight, overall very comfortable and functional for most environments.
Type of sole
The sole is one of the most important factors to consider when buying your cycling shoes. Most of them are made of carbon fiber, which gives them flexibility and durability to avoid deformation. Different soles have different levels of elasticity and durability appropriate for varying environments and levels of training.
Regardless of the style, your shoes should fit like a glove. They should be an exact fit, without any extra space or a need to squeeze into it. The toes should have a bit of wiggle room to allow for movement while pedaling. Most often, one shoe size up from what you normally buy will provide the best fit.
The straps over and around the shoe should allow for adequate adjustment according to the width of the foot. It’s good to keep in mind that while pedaling, the foot will widen ever so slightly. Heat and warm conditions can also cause the feet to swell, increasing the need to adjust the tightness of the shoe. The need for socks is another factor that can require the need to loosen the outer straps.
Comfort is by far the most important factor when choosing a cycling shoe. It won’t matter how expensive or elite the company is that you are choosing to purchase, if you simply do not find the shoe comfortable, you will not have good riding experiences. One trick while shopping is to actively flex and place the foot in a pedaling-like position to see if the shoe rubs wrong on any part of the foot.
Type of Closure
The type of closure is usually associated with the type of shoe range. The micrometric closure type BOA is the most precise, however, it is the most expensive option. The ratchet lock is great for its ability to adjust on the fly but increases the weight of the shoe. If you are a beginner, opt for velcro or cord closure.
There are shoes built to ride in the wintertime, shoes built to use in the summertime and shoes built to withstand rain. The main difference between the varying models in this sense is their ventilation features. The different microfiber materials and structure of them throughout the shoe will determine how breathable it is and how fast it can dissipate moisture.
Although never crucial for structural purposes, the design is always an important component when picking out the perfect shoe. With the plethora of designs and models on the market, there’s no doubt you can find one that fits your style and even includes extra desired features such as reflective strips for safety.
The cycling world ventures across roads, mountains, parks and has even entered into fitness centers and home gyms. Whichever environment one may choose to take their cycling hobby, finding the most appropriate cycling shoes to bike with will be a game-changer.
The right choice of cycling shoes will allow you to get the most out of your movement, keeping you energized and safe as you ride. With the infinite amount of models and designs, finding the right one depends on many factors that only those in the cycling world would know. However, with this guide, there’s no doubt anyone and everyone can find the perfect shoe to accompany them on their journey.
(Featured image source: Ammentorp: 41018165/ 123rf.com)