Bike Shoes Buying Guide

Not only do cycling shoes  look sleek, they have major practical benefits too. The hard sole of a bike shoe economises the energy you put into pedalling, increasing your efficiency and improving your performance. Sounds good, doesn't it? While the beginning cyclist may be content with athletic shoes at first, pretty soon, he or she will want to upgrade to bike shoes.

Features to Look For

  • A Stiff Sole
    • Your favourite running shoes are probably built with a thick PU or EVA sole, while the best cycling shoes have a thin, stiff, carbon fiber sole.
    • The stiffer the sole, the less energy you'll lose between your foot and the pedal.
    • A perforated sole is best to drain water.
  • A Good Fit
    • ALWAYS try cycling shoes on before you buy to ensure proper fit. Search online for deals.
    • You should buy your shoes about a half-size smaller than your normal size to ensure a proper, snug fit.
    • If your feet slide around at all, you should try a different shoe.
    • Some brands feature shoes designed specifically for women that may offer a better fit.
    • Cycling shoes can come in a number of widths depending on the brand.
  • Breathable Materials
    • When your feet start to sweat, it's best to be wearing a shoe that is made with a moisture-wicking material. That way it will draw the perspiration away from your foot, so that it doesn't slip around inside the shoe.
    • Mesh patches allow the feet breathe.
  • Easy On, Easy Off
    • With Velcro and hook and loop strap closures it's very fast and easy to adjust the tightness of a shoe, a necessity when on a long ride with varied terrain.
    • An easily adjustable lacing method is best so that you can maintain the best fit no matter what the circumstances.
  • Quality and Cost
    • You get what you pay for. You can buy a pair for as little as £30, but they range to over £150.

Shoe Type

There are a few different types of shoes designed to suit the needs of each type of cyclist.

Casual Riding

These shoes are meant for more casual riding, either on trails or in the city.

  • They are much like trainers, although some are designed similarly to hiking boots or even sandals.
  • You'll notice they are more flexible and padded than racing bike shoes, so that you can easily hop of your bike and walk around without a hassle.
  • They usually don't have any cleats, just a sole with basic traction.
  • Pair casual bike shoes with clipless pedals .

Road Shoes

Road shoes  are not for walking. Off the bike, they're awkward to walk in and easily damaged.

  • They're the stiffest shoes around and should be as lightweight as possible with a very thin sole.
  • Advanced carbon fibre soles prove to be an excellent match for road bikers.
  • If you're doing competitive riding, look for a shoe with a fast closure system.
  • Triathletes should look specifically for triathlon shoes .

Mountain Biking/Off-Road Shoes

Mountain biking shoes  are built for intense riding and some walking on rough terrain.

  • The most rugged shoe available.
  • They have a stiff sole, though not nearly as rigid as road shoes. The sole is also a bit more padded.
  • They usually have recessed cleats and serious treads. Toe cleats, for better grip when off the bike, are optional.
  • Recessed cleats make walking easy. Ideal for just about everyone who isn't exclusively a road cyclist. Great for city bikers and messengers.
  • Look for lace covers and durable uppers.

Cleat Compatibility

Bike shoes must bind to the pedal is some way. The two methods are with clipless pedals or toe-clip pedals. Whichever you choose, you must be sure that the shoes match the type of pedal you are using.

  • Toe Clip Pedals 
    • These are inexpensive plastic or metal clips that wrap over the front of the foot and toes.
    • They are the best option for casual cyclists since they can be used with any type of shoe, whether or not they are cycling shoes.
    • Easy to get out of, but harder to get into.
  • Clipless Pedals 
    • This is the pedal/clip combo of choice for serious riders as it will allow you to easily get your feet on and off once you figure out how to use them and they offer much better pedal efficiency and conserve stroke energy. You'll want to make sure you're locked in properly when using cycling shoes, however. If you don't have your cleat aligned correctly, your leg will be in the wrong position, as well as cycle through in the wrong direction. This can cause serious knee injuries over time, so make sure your knee is straight!
    • Keep in mind that the clipless pedals have to be compatible with the shoes you are wearing.