You can ride a bicycle in just about any shoes, but serious riders should always invest in shoes designed specifically for mountain biking or road biking. Compared to cross trainers and typical athletic shoes, cycling shoes are designed with much stiffer soles. The soles help to transfer power from feet to pedals, making riding more efficient and less tiring.
Cycling shoes are typically paired with clipless pedal systems. The shoes and clips work together to provide extra support and reduce cramping and fatigue.
What to look for in cycling shoes
After selecting a bicycle that fits your needs, the shoes you wear will be the second most important piece of cycling equipment you purchase.
Cycling shoes should be comfortable from the get-go. The heel should be snug and there should be plenty of arch support. You should also have room to wiggle your toes. When walking in cycling shoes your heels may slip a bit, this is due to the stiffness of the soles. As long as your feet feel stable when you are clipped into your pedals, there is no need for concern.
The style of cleat for your cycling shoe will depend on the type of biking you plan to do. For road biking, the cleat will protrude from the sole. For mountain biking, the cleat should be recessed into the sole.
Cycling shoes should be monitored for signs of wear. Cleats should be replaced immediately if they are worn to the point where the shoe becomes inadvertently disengaged from the pedal.
Issues created by improper fit
Cycling shoes need to provide enough support to transfer power from the feet to the pedals. Improper shoe wear can cause the foot to collapse through the arch when pedaling. This can result in:
- Arch pain
- Burning, numbness, tingling, and shooting pains through the foot
- Tendon problems
If you have pre-existing problems with your feet, it is important to see a doctor before investing in cycling shoes. A podiatrist can help you find a cycling shoe that will fit comfortably and accommodate foot conditions and deformities.