You can ride a bike in any type of shoe. But those who ride often get the biggest benefits from investing in a specific cycling shoe. Compared to typical athletic shoes, both road shoes and trail bike shoes are designed with stiffer carbon soles, heel cups and superior arch support. These elements provide a more efficient energy transfer as you pedal. They come in a variety of styles for all levels of riders.
The best shoes depend on the type of activity they’re needed for. For road cycling and racing, a stiffer, lightweight, road shoe with a carbon sole and wider, protruding cleats that clip into the pedal like a ski binding ensures smooth pedaling efficiency. These are not designed for extended walking with their relative lack of traction, stiff arch support, inability to flex and pedal-specific closure systems.
Most cycling road shoes use a 3-hole or 2-hole cleat closure system. For mountain biking, or slightly more casual riding, the shoe should be less stiff, have a more lugged exterior for easier walking when the trail gets too rough to ride, and have recessed cleats to protect them when walking. Some versions even offer toe spikes, heel cups, extra ankle protection, and waterproof liners for more rugged conditions. Mountain bike shoes utilize the 2-hole cleat system and also require compatible pedals. City bike shoes are best for urban, recreational, or indoor cycling. They are a hybrid of trainers/gym shoes and cycling shoes with a clipless pedal system, but have rubber soles and recessed cleats for even easier walking.
What are cycling shoes
Cycling shoes are designed to be light and stiff for solid arch support and greater pedaling efficiency. They often include built in drainage holes or mesh panels to keep feet cool and dry during rainy or hot conditions. The stiff carbon soles and cleats provide mechanical like connection to pedals and increase stability, while the closure system ensures proper binding to the pedals. Cycling shoes also come with various styles of closures. Laces offer the most customizable fit and comfort. They can, however, get wet and dirty in inclement conditions. Alternatively, velcro straps offer snug control with easy removal.
When using a pair of cycling shoes with laces, be sure that the ends are short enough or are tucked away to prevent them getting caught in a chain. Velcro straps offer quick closure and remain usable in muddy, wet conditions. Usually, velcro straps stretch less than laces and are more likely to stay on securely. Most cycling shoes have either 2 or 3 straps; the more straps, the more you can adjust the fit. Notched cam straps with buckles are more expensive, but they offer the greatest clamping power and security. The adjustable powerzone wire guide systems, like BOA, and similar style wire dial closures hold feet securely and allow for micro adjustments.
How should a well fitted cycling shoe feel
The connection between a pair of cycling shoes and your pedals is one of three touch points you have with your bike while you are riding. That is why it is so important that cycling shoes fit properly and are easy to adjust, with the proper arch support. Poor shoe fit means a lack of power in the pedal stroke and may result in injury or pain to feet, ankles, knees, or hips.
A pair of cycling shoes should feel comfortable from the start. If the shoe feels distinctly uncomfortable when trying it on there is little chance that it will feel better when riding. Most cycling shoes on the market should allow enough room in the toe for slight movement and align the arch support correctly with the included insole.
At first, there may be heel slippage when walking in a pair of cycling shoes. This is due only to the shape. They are built to hold riders’ feet in while on the bike, not extended walking. While on the bike, heels should not be able to slip in and out of the back of the shoe and should be kept secure and comfortable. Most cycling shoes on the market are sold in both European and Standard US sizes. The conversion and reference sizes can be found on the sizing chart.
What should you look out for when shopping for cycling shoes
With so many different varieties of cycling shoes, closures, cleats, and accessories it’s important to look out for what you as a rider find most valuable. First, choose between road bike shoes and mountain biking shoes. Then, note that weight between shoes fluctuates and can affect the efficiency or ease felt when pedaling. The pedal compatibility is a large factor when choosing a shoe.
The style of shoes can range from 2-hole to 4-hole cleat systems and each require a matching pedal. It's important to regularly clean, dry, and protect both the upper of the shoe and the cleats. Replace cleats if they are worn to the point that disengaging from the pedal happens inadvertently.
They must also be replaced if they break or crack since damaged cleats may not function properly or even fail unexpectedly. Mountain biking enthusiasts may need to change cleats as often as once per year. Casual riders can have cleats last up to 5 years between replacements. If you can’t find the all encompassing shoe you’ve been dreaming of, there are several accessories that can be added onto a previously worn shoe to change their use or benefits. Bike shoe covers are booties made of neoprene or rubberized laminate to provide protection from the elements and add warmth over the entire foot. They are built with bottom sole cut outs that still allow for cleats connection with the pedals. Toe covers are a lighter option that go to the end of the toe for a small boost of warmth on chilly rides.
In particular, keep these two aspects in mind as you shop for your perfect cycling shoes:
Power transfer: the pedal-foot interface is one of the most important ways in which power transfer occurs on a bike. Most experts agree that for optimal power transfer to the pedals, all of the bones and joints in the feet should ideally get limited in range by a well-fitting pair of cycling shoes with the proper arch support. In other words, you are at risk of losing significant power transfer from shoes to bike pedals if you use improperly sized poor shoes or if your pedals are not configured correctly.
For optimal power transfer to the pedals, all of the bones and joints in the feet should ideally get limited in range - with solid arch support - by a well-fitting cycling shoe.
Clipless pedals: one great way to maximise power transfer is by using shoes designed to be used with clipless pedals. Cycling with easy to adjust clipless pedals allows riders to engage more foot and leg muscles through the pedal stroke. With more energy being concentrated through a clipless pedals and shoe combo, riders will enjoy more powerful forward momentum with each pedal revolution. A big plus with clipless pedals is that they also provide more power on the upstroke, when the hamstring muscles generate the most power.
In general, cleated cycling shoes are the most popular. The main benefit is that they provide a much more efficient pedal stroke by ensuring that the shoe remains in optimal contact with the pedal during the upstroke.
As a result, poorly fitted cycling shoes will hinder the foot and shoe position. This will result in increased stress on the feet, plus additional pressure on the knees, which could lead to chronic pain down the road.
The solution is to stop in to Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop and have one of our cycling experts assist you. Bring in your bike and they will teach you the optimal bike fit for your size, and then show you how to adjust your cleat positioning. If you are looking for a new pair of cycling shoes, our team can help you purchase cleats that ensure a greater degree of float.
These tips will help you to avoid foot pain while cycling - and ensure powerful performance with every turn of your pedals.
In summary, here are the key benefits you can expect when purchasing a pair of high quality cycling shoes:
- More powerful and efficient energy transfer to your pedals
- On long rides, cycling shoes are much more comfortable than regular sneakers
- Cycling shoes with SPD compatibility enable you to clip them into clipless pedals for a no-slip cycling experience
- High quality cycling shoes are designed for hard riding, which means that they are much more durable than conventional shoes
In conclusion, if you are looking for the best quality cycling shoes in Austin Texas, Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop should be your number once shopping choice. We stock all the best brands and offer first-rate service from experienced staff who all all avid mountain biking and road cyclists themselves. It doesn't matter whether you are looking for road cycling shoes or trail riding shoes, Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop has you covered.