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Many people think of cycling shoes as being just an item of clothing, as they are in many other spheres. When it comes to serious cycling though, nothing could be further from the truth. The shoes you ride with are fundamental pieces of equipment that have as much effect on your comfort on the bike as the handlebars or pedal that you attach to your bike.
That importance must be at the back of your mind as you select a pair. As with any other cycling purchase, you’ll have to determine what your priorities are in advance so you’ll be able to make any trade-offs necessary much more easily. Will you be racing or just commuting from home to work and back, or will you be doing triathlons or downhill racing? There are shoes for every purpose here at Bike Chaser.
The products you’ll come across in the course of your search for cycling shoes online will fall into two broad categories: clipless cycling shoes which are made for use with compatible pedals, and regular footwear which is intended to be used with flat pedals, with or without toe clips or straps.
Flat pedals shoes are commonly used by casual riders, and you’ll find that they look very much like sneakers; stylish and with tough uppers as well as grippy soles that make them suitable for both riding and walking. They have stiffeners in the soles to protect your feet and help with pedalling, but the soles are still somewhat pliable to help with walking. You should get a pair from this category if you’re going to be walking a lot as you ride, and don’t want the hassle of having to change your footwear. This could be when you’re going on a tour or intending to use your bike for short commutes.
BMX and mountain bikers might also prefer flat-pedal items though, especially if they often ride dirt jumps or street. You’ll be able to float your feet on the pedals and move your bike independently to perform tricks and styles.
Clipless shoes are designed for more committed cyclists. They work with clipless pedals by locking onto them via cleats on the soles. The system is reminiscent of how step-in ski bindings work.
By securely attaching to the pedals, they provide maximum pedalling efficiency and utilise less power as you ride. Also, because they have stiff soles, they eliminate foot flex and ensure that more energy is transferred to the pedals, thus giving you a speed boost. In addition, the soles and ventilated uppers are much lighter and comfortable, especially on longer rides.
ROAD CYCLING SHOES – Designed for riding on roads where minimum weight, aerodynamics and maximum energy transfer efficiency are the most important considerations. They are easily recognizable by their smooth, thin and extremely rigid soles, often made completely from plastic, carbon fibre or a composite.
They usually have 3-hole cleats that protrude from the bottom of the soles, thus making them very unsuitable for even minimal amounts of walking. You’ll find different fastening systems, from the BOA system which uses a dial to tighten a thin cable to close the shoe around your foot to traditional laces or a combination of Velcro and buckles. Popular cleat systems include Shimano, Look and Speedplay.
MOUNTAIN BIKE SHOES – The best MTB footwear is designed to be much more versatile than road bike products, though this will cost you some of the aerodynamics and power transfer abilities. They usually have stiff soles too, but with a little more flex to accommodate some walking. That purpose also shows in the way they are constructed to be much more rugged and able to withstand the harsher environments of off-road riding. Naturally, they will be somewhat heavier, but if you’ll be riding in such conditions, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra protection.
MTB SHOES are mostly compatible with 2-hole cleats and you’ll find that most of them have a lace, buckle or closure (or a combination) fastening system with BOA systems being less common.
TRIATHLON SHOES – In terms of their construction, triathlon cycling shoes are very similar to road biking product. Nonetheless, they possess a number of features that make them invaluable if you intend to participate in any multi-sport event.
The first thing you’ll notice if you look at a Shimano cycling footgear made for triathlons is the tabs at the back, which are intended to make transitioning into or out of the cycling part of the event much easier. You simply open the Velcro fastenings, pull the tabs and quickly transition to the next part of the race. One thing you’ll notice with triathlon bike shoes is that they are heavily ventilated in order to allow your feet dry much quicker after a swim.
Women’s sizing – Generally, women have narrower heels than men, and also need products that are shallower since their feet are not as large. Many manufacturers such as Sidi, Bontrager and Shimano offer footwear made to fit those requirements, and in even smaller sizes than their male ranges. At Bike Chaser, you’ll find women’s products that will keep you at the top of your game without having to sacrifice comfort.
Fit – A tight fit around your feet is very important; more-so than your regular athletic shoes. However, be sure to not constrict your feet so tightly that you hinder proper blood circulation. Check the size guide for different brands thoroughly to be sure that you’re getting a product that’ll fit you just right.
Most riding footgear has features that ventilate your feet properly to keep them cool and dry, but that could be a problem if you’ll be riding in cold or rainy weather. In that case, you could get cycling overshoes to protect your feet from moisture and cold.