All You Need To Know About Cycling Shoes | GCN’s Guide To Cycling Footwear

published on July 20, 2020

Ollie: You've started cycling and you're interested in progressing to a dedicated cycling shoe but you're unsure what the benefits of shoes like this are and you're confused by all the different types Well, don't worry In this video, I'm going to explain all of that so that you can best decide what suits your needs Like many sports, football, running, ice skating, cycling has dedicated footwear that can enhance your experience of that sport This is my cycling shoe The main area in which it differs from a normal trainer or sneaker, if you're American, is that the sole is very, very stiff,

It doesn't bend Let me try and bend it It just won't budge at all In addition, the upper of the shoe, it is tight and secure and is designed to really encapsulate your foot and hold it solid, a bit like a football boot or a soccer boot, if you needed that translation, sorry There's also holes in the bottom of cycling shoes and these are so that you can attach your clips which correspond to the pedals that you're going to be clipping into Why are cycling shoes like this? Well, the thinking

Is that they help you pedal more efficiently By not having to bend and compress a squidgy sole, you're not wasting any energy, plus having a nice secure shoe on helps you feel more engaged with the pedal stroke Also, by being clipped in, you can pull up on the pedal stroke as well as push down This is useful for engaging other muscles such as your hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors This is especially handy when riding out of the saddle, up steep climbs, or sprinting I'm now going to cycle through the different

Kinds of shoes Before I do, I'm just going to put a hat on because my COVID lockdown hair keeps getting in my face and it's annoying me Anyway Shoes fall broadly into two different categories Shoes that are for the road and shoes that are for off-road Now, the difference between these is that off-road shoes like this are also designed to be walked in as well as cycled in Consequently, they have a more built-up sole on the underside and they also are designed to use a two-bolt cleat system Off-road cleats like this are better

At clearing mud than road cleats Road shoes are designed to be used with road pedals I know I sound like a captain obvious but bear with me Also, if you take road shoes off-road these pedal systems will get clogged with dirt easily, they're not designed for that They do give a greater contact patch and surface area between the shoe and the pedal system This means you have a greater feeling of engagement and more comfort Road shoes are typically much lighter than their off-road counterparts but they're not

Really designed to be walked in although walking a few meters at the cafe stop is absolutely fine The more you walk in them, be aware, you will wear out the cleats on the bottom, talking of which, they typically have three holes on the bottom of the shoe to attach the cleat on a road shoe compared to two on an off-road shoe Here you can see a shoe with no cleat attached, the three empty holes, and here's a sole with the cleat attached, note the three bolts I don't have any here but some shoe designs,

Such as Northwave, actually incorporate both a 3-bolt cleat system and a 2-bolt cleat system into the sole of the shoe so you can use either If you're going to be doing performance road cycling such as entering sport , big Gran Fondos, or maybe even races, then I'd recommend a road shoe as the way to go However, if you're going to be riding off-road, maybe doing some cyclocross, or perhaps just mixed surface riding where you're riding on tarmac some other time but then other surfaces like say gravel, then

An off-road shoe would be my choice and what I would recommend you get Something else to bear in mind is that off-road shoes are very popular for commuting especially if your commute involves any significant amount of walking at any point in it in addition to the cycling I wouldn't stress too much about it because if you fall in love with the sport, which is pretty easy to do let me tell you, then you'll probably end up just getting both I'm now going go into more detail about different

Subcategories of shoes, the different features you can get on them, and then I'm going to explain about different price points on what you can typically expect First up these are my Fizik Infinito X1s They're an off-road shoe designed for cyclocross, cross-country mountain biking, or gravel riding, as well I used these in the rift gravel race in Iceland In addition to shoes like this, you can also get off-road shoes that are really built up a bit like a walking boot like this These have a membrane in them to keep your foot

Nice and dry and warm They're also designed to be walked in These are great for deep winter riding as they effectively combine and overshoot cover that you would add on to these other shoes built-in to the existing shoe Some mountain bikers like our friends over on GMBN often like a flat-soled shoe that they can use on flat pedals as well If you're thinking that you might do some triathlons in the future then a triathlon-specific shoe would be a really good way to go Generally speaking, they're absolutely fine to be used

As normal road shoes Unfortunately, I don't have one here that I can show you in my hands as my tri-curious phase ended a long time ago Here are some images of our friends at GTN using theirs The main difference between a triathlon-specific shoe and a road shoe is that the triathlon shoes are designed to be put on and taken off while you're on the bike to make transition between the different disciplines as fast as possible They might also have a few holes in the bottom that are designed to help water

Drip through from the swim What about fastening systems then? Cycling shoes have loads of different types, starting with velcro which is relatively inexpensive, very simple to use It's also pretty robust Next up you have boa dials and other makes of dials as well but boa are the most common These are great because they allow for little millimeter increments of adjustment Each time you click that dial it adjusts the cable by one millimeter as it pulls it in which means you can really fine-tune your fit and

Get it spot on You also get ratchets on shoes These are lighter-weight versions of the ratchets that you'd get on say a ski boot if you've ever used a ski boot These are less common these days They used to be really common about five years ago The next really popular closure system on shoes is laces like on these Giros Now, laces have the advantage that they're really lightweight and they look cool in my opinion of this They have this retro aesthetic The disadvantage of them is that you can't

Adjust them easily while riding along on the fly, something you can do with boa dials and velcro straps If you're wondering about laces getting caught in your pedals as you pedal along that's not a problem with the cycling shoes because they're much like football boots designed to have the laces tucked in especially out of the way so they're nice and tight and secure when you do them up What can you expect at different price points? What do you get for your money throughout different levels of shoe? Like with many things

In cycling, the more you spend the stiffer the more lightweight the component becomes Shoes are exactly like that If we start entry-level, you can pick up an entry-level pair of shoes much like these for as little as 30 or 50 pounds, euros, or dollars if you go through a shop like Decathlon What you're going to get is usually a shoe with velcro closures on it because velcro is the most cost-effective thing You do find velcro on some really high-end shoes as well because it is pretty lightweight as well

Now, on the bottom of the shoe, the sole is likely to be plastic or fiberglass This is a little bit heavier and less stiff but less expensive than a carbon fiber sole you'll get on more expensive shoes Also, note on these shoes, we've actually got the two-bolt and three-bolt cleat system on there as well which is quite nice That means you could put either a road or an offroad cleat on there If you spend a little bit more than that then brands like Shimano have some excellent entry-level shoes as well below £100 On to mid-level

Shoes which are categorized as being around 90 to 150 pounds, euros, or dollars price point, really popular price point, you get something like my Fizik R5 Powerstraps I've got here The soles have usually moved on from being just plastic to some kine of composite material like these are carbon composite sole which is a bit lighter and a bit stiffer than a normal plastic sole Manufacturers of shoes claim that a stiffer sole is more efficient when you're pedaling along It certainly does feel that way but

A lot of people do dispute this fact That's worth pointing out At this price point, you'll get all ranges of closure systems as well Velcro, like on these, but you'll also get ratchets, dials, and laces too Something else to point out is that mid-level shoes have a noticeably higher quality of construction The quality of the materials used is a noticeable step up from a lot of entry-level shoes This is something that's also noticeable in the next rung which is your top-end shoes

Top-end shoes like this you're talking £150 upwards They can get very expensive indeed These are the best of the best They're what pro riders in the Tour de France will use when they're storming up mountains They have the highest quality of construction in terms of materials used on them as well, and the soles are typically made of the stiffest carbon fiber available Really stiff soles isn't something that's particularly relevant to me if I'm honest I'm not the most powerful sprinter in the world, but I'm reliably informed

By people who are powerful sprinters that having a stiff sole that doesn't bend when they're really hammering out the watts is something that's really important to them However, something that is important to me is weight I like to have as much help as I can and the more expensive the shoe, as I've said before, the lighter they get Shoes like this are typically lighter than a mid-level shoe Something else to consider is your choice of upper material as well Now, I'm quite a simple, traditional guy I like a nice sort

Of plain white upper that's very easy to wipe down, as this means you can keep it clean if it does get some dirt splashed on there, which trust me, will happen even if you're riding in dry conditions If you're going to be riding off-road a lot, then I'd say go for a black shoe, because a nice pair of white off-road shoes will look great for about five minutes, and then they will get covered in mud Just something to bear in mind In terms of finding the right size for you, I would recommend you go to your local bike

Shop and you try some on because it's just like with normal shoes You want to try them on because everyone fits their shoes differently and different brands suit different people better or worse It's one of the reasons why you actually see a lot of pros not tied down by a team shoe sponsor They want to pick ones that really suit them because it is such an individual thing I recommend doing that and also, if you do go to your shop and try a load on and you find a pair that you love, buy them from the shop Support your local

Bike shop Don't blummin' try them on in the shop and then go buy them online Not cool I hope you've found this video useful and informative If you have then, please, give it a thumbs-up and share it with your friends as it helps support the channel and what we do If you've got any questions that we haven't answered in the vid then let us know in the comments section and we'll do our best to answer as many of them as possible Also, if you're interested about the different kinds of pedal systems, so road pedals, and off-road

Pedals, then we've got a video that goes into all the detail of the differences between those We'll put a link onscreen now

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