How to Choose Series [2]: Bike Shoes

Ok folks, we’re continuing the ‘How to Choose Series’ with a complete guide on bike shoes. As you know, you can cylcle in any type of shoes, but those who ride everyday can hugely benefit from specifically designed shoes. It’s true: after finding a bike that finally meets your specific needs, getting cycling shoes and pedals will make a big difference in your riding.

Bike shoes are way different than typical atheltic shoes, having stiffer soles that offer superior energy transfer when you pedal. In addition to this, bike shoes sometimes come with a specific type of pedal for a more secure connection. This shoe - pedal combination provides highly superior control with just a minimum amount of the pedaling energy lost.

Types of Bike Shoes

We’ve created a table that explains what’s the difference between the main types of bike shoes. Let’s see the quick comparison.

Table with difference between bike shoes

Road Bike Shoes

Road bike shoes provide a lightweight construction, great ventilation, and smooth outsoles. How do you recongnize them? With really stiff soles, road bike shoes facilitate the power transfer and do not allow extended walking because of their inability to flex and lack of traction.

Higher-priced alternatives are usually made of carbon fiber to further elevate sole rigidity and decrease weight, boasting fit system that offer incredible customization. Many models only have a tiny rubber pad placed on the heel, which is actually the only thing that provides traction.

It’s worth mentioning the triathlon-specific cycling shoes in this part of the article. “Triathlon shoes” are specifically built for speed with high energy transfer and simple exit/entry for transitions off and on your bicycle.

Road bike shoes offer high energy transfer to the pedal.

Mountain Bike Shoes

With a really stiff sole boasting efficient pedaling, yet with a rubber-lug outsole and enough flex to provide great traction, mountain bike shoes boast cleats that are integrated into the soles. This makes them easier to walk in. For this reason many people opt for these shoes even for indoor cycling, casual biking, or touring – MTB shoes come with a good lacing system to help adjust the fit of the cycling shoe.

The expensive range of MTB shoes offer lighter weight, stiffer soles, improved foot/ankle protection, additional straps and waterproof liners – all for an enhanced foot security. Also, many shoes have removable toe spikes for better traction in loose or soft ground conditions.

MTB shoes offer lighter weight.

City Bike Shoes

The perfect choice for urban/indoor/recreational cycling. As a hybrid between casual footwear and cycling footwear, city bike shoes are compatible with clipless pedals as well. The best thing? You can use these shoes for casual walking, due to their rubber outsoles.

City bike shoes - good for indoor/urban/recreational cycling.

Pedal Compatibility

Cycling shoes are usually designed to function well with clipless pedal systems and boast holes in the soles – for cleats (which fix into the pedals for increased connection). Know that cleats come with pedals, and not with the shoes. That’s why you should check for compatibility.

There are two main kinds of cleat designs: the 2-hole system and the 3-hole system and they are not interchangeable – meaning that you cannot use shoes with a 2-hole system for a 3-hole cleat.

But where’s the difference?

The 2-hole system - called the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics system (SPD). The famous brand was the first company to develop such system. SPD system can be used almost for every type of bike and can be used for walking with less noise.

The 3-hole system - known as Look-style system (again, because of the manufacturer who first developed it). This one is used especially for road cycling, offerind huge energy transfer and stability while riding. That big cleat spreads the force over a wider area and reduces the force applied on the connection points. Go for this one if you plan to pedal hard.

Pedal compatibility matters a lot.


Opt for comfort. Know that many shoes with stiff soles aren’t comfortable when first trying them on, but can become so later. Choose those bike shoes that offer enough room for your toes. Your arch has to be well supported.

If you feel some kind of slippage in your heel when you’re first trying on cycling shoes, rememember that this has to do with the soles’ stiffness. Bike shoes are cleverly built to support the feet in a specific position while riding. Go for a smaller size if the fit is poor.

Care and Maintenance

Cleaning. Keep you shoes clean by wiping them off regularly with a rag or towel when soiled. Use warm water and a small brush for stubbord dirt.

Drying your bike shoes. Do your best with a towel first, and remove the footbeds to dry them separately. Always dry your wet bike shoes. Another great method of drying the shoes is by packing them with newspaper for about 10 hours – this will abosrb the moisture inside.

Replacing cleats. When disengaging from the pedal starts taking more effort, that means the cleats are worn and they need to be replaced. Also, if they crack or break, they may not work properly. Avid cyclists will need to change cleats each year. If you’re a casual rider, have no worries, cleats last up to 4 years between replacements.

How do you find replacement cleats? Since they match the pedals, just take the pedal with you or take a picture and identify what you need.

Stay tuned for the next article on bike clothing!


Bike shoes.

Related Tags :

bicycle biker shoe

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