Cycling shoes are a type of shoe that rather than being meant to walk in, instead are meant to twist and clip into a specific pedal called a “clipless” pedal. This essentially attaches you to the bike, and has both some big upsides and some downsides.
So why would you want to have cycling shoes? Cycling shoes are worth it to you if you are looking for extra stability, more power, and comfort. However you should keep in mind, that they can be expensive, and challenging to learn how to use if you are not an experience cyclist.
The benefits of using cycling shoes
Just like everything in this world, there are some upsides and downsides to any purchase. Let’s take a look at some upsides of cycling shoes such as added stability, more power, and of course comfort.
1. Added Stability
By having your shoes connected to the pedal, your foot does not move around the pedal. This is a massive benefit if you are cycling for a long time (like with gravel bikes) or in wet conditions.
You genuinely feel connected to the bike, and it gives you the confidence to push yourself and the bike harder.
This also means you spend considerably less brain power, and concentration on keeping your feet from slipping off of the pedal, and considerably more of that energy on moving forward instead.
2. More Power from every pedal
One of the main reasons seasoned cyclists use cycling shoes (like these ones) is for the increased power you can put down into the pedals.
By connecting to the pedal, you can make use of all your leg muscles and not just your quadriceps when pushing down. Once you have got used to using the extra muscles, this improves your pedaling efficiency.
You get used to where to apply the pressure for optimal results.
Meanwhile, without cycling shoes, your body isn’t maximized to the fullest extent, and you easily lose power.
3. More Comfortable
By locking your feet into the pedal at the correct position, you do not risk overstraining or causing injury to your knees from constant movement in your foot’s position on the pedal.
Although for short rides, this may not be an issue. If you are in the saddle for hours on end, the consistent position that cycling shoes provide is noticeably more comfortable for your muscles and joints.
If you are someone that finds themselves struggling with strain, and having problems with comfort on a bicycle, then cycling shoes may make a significant difference to you.
The downsides of using cycling shoes
Of course, not everything is good about cycling shoes. Here are some downsides.
1. Higher Cost
You do not need cycling shoes if you are just starting, there really is no way around that. Instead, you should focus on building up your fitness and falling in love with the sport.
Once you are ready, then the investment of buying new pedals (like these Shimano clipless pedals) and shoes will be more worthwhile.
From what I have found, with any hobby, if you tend to be the person that buys all of the expensive items right up front, you will quickly get bored of the sport, as it becomes about the gear, and not about the enjoyment of the sport.
Instead, start small, and work your way up. It will be more fun!
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2. Getting used to cycling shoes
They do take some getting used to, as you don’t have nearly as much freedom with your feet, due to them being locked onto your bike. This can result in you falling over, or hurting yourself, if you aren’t ready to remove your foot every time you stop.
If you have an indoor trainer, start using cleats on that first, where you do not risk falling.
Once you are out on the road, you need to practice twisting your foot before putting it on the ground.
It will soon become second nature, so you do not need to worry about forgetting to unclip at a busy intersection where “everyone” is looking at you.
How are cycling shoes different than regular shoes?
At a quick glance, cycling shoes may look just like any other normal shoes!
However the primary difference between regular shoes and cycling shoes is that the bottom has a clip that completely clips you into a bike pedal.
Secondly, the shoes tend to be build almost a little like a mini version of a ski boot, to make sure that you don’t slide around within the shoe and hurt yourself in the process.
While cycling shoes don’t look that much different from normal shoes, they have a very different purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cheap, and expensive cycling shoes don’t make a ton of noticeable difference. Get ones that fit you and are comfortable. Once you master cycling with these, you likely will find yourself wanting to refine them and will end up going more expensive to get what you want. However this doesn’t really mean it makes much of a difference.
Cycling shoes can make you faster! This is due to more power making its way into the crank arms because of the efficiency. When you don’t have cycling shoes, some of your strength goes into stabilizing your feet, and with cycling shoes that is not a concern.
Not all cycling shoes can be used as normal shoes, and even those that are rated to be able to be walked around in, should be used as a daily shoe. We recommend you bring other shoes with you to wear when you are walking around, and change into your cycling shoes when you are ready to go cycling.
So are cycling shoes worth it? Yes, they are, for the improved stability, performance, and comfort they provide on longer rides.
However, do not put too much pressure on yourself. Fall in love with cycling before spending too much money on cycling shoes.