Cycling Shoe Overview
There are a number of important factors to consider when purchasing cycling shoes, and these are certainly not limited to your beginner or average everyday cyclist. It’s a well-known fact that a cyclist has three major contact points with their bicycle – the handlebars, seat and pedals. Ensuring that these contact points are optimized for both comfort and efficiency is vital in preventing injury, improving comfort and maximizing performance. Additionally, it is important to note that the shoe/pedal contact point is one that has the most variables, meaning it is crucial that careful consideration is taken in order to make the correct purchase decision.
By now, it’s likely that you’ve become acquainted with the different pedal systems available on the market as seen in our Bicycle Pedals Overview. Shimano, for example, offers the most popular pedal system utilized worldwide, and has specifically designed the ‘Shimano Fusion Concept’ to integrate their apparel and footwear products with their own componentry. While this concept combines to create a leading, well-refined solution, it does not mean other shoes are incompatible with the Shimano pedal system and vice versa.
There is a massive selection of cycling shoes available for sale, ranging from the beginner or entry-level cyclist, all the way through to the most elite performance cyclist.
Major styles of Cycling Shoes
You can initially break down the selection of cycling shoes by determining the intended cycling discipline:
Road cycling shoes are typically optimized for performance. They are more aerodynamic in design, use light and breathable materials, and are usually stiffer to provide the most efficient transfer of power.
Skip straight to our selection of road shoes.
Perfect for off-road action, mountain bike shoes are more durable and offer superior protection from the elements and improved on-foot traction compared to your standard road cycling shoe.
Skip straight to our selection of mountain bike shoes.
Triathlon specific shoes are designed much like road shoes, but instead feature retention systems designed for quicker transition in and out of the shoe.
[Skip straight to our selection of Triathlon shoes.(/s/triathlon-time-trial-bike-shoes)
Built for the city, these shoes provide a cleat option with uncompromised walking ability in an inconspicuous design.
*Skip straight to our selection of Urban Cycling Shoes. *
Other factors to consider
You can further refine your selection by making decisions regarding these specific cycling shoe components:
Choosing how much to spend can be the main battle. In the simplest sense, more expensive optional will be offered in additional size and width variants. They’ll likely also offer more refined retention systems, improved comfort, greater pedaling efficiency and a lower weight.
Perhaps the most important factor is getting a shoe that fits. Cycling shoes are now available in more sizes than ever before, ready to complement feet of any shape or size. Half size and width options are important sizing factors to consider, and it is important to consider that sizing may differ between brands. It is usually best to confirm by checking a sizing chart for each relevant brand and whenever possible, actually try them on before buying.
Many different methods of tightening your cycling shoes now exist on the market. Beyond the more traditional velcro strap option, a ratchet system or dial may be preferred for a more precise and refined adjustment. Alternatively, laces are back in fashion and offer that classic look!
Higher-end performance models may provide a heat mouldable option for a custom fit. While this option doesn’t necessarily need to be used, it may provide additional comfort and benefit those with wider feet, custom insoles or different arch heights.
Let your imagination run wild and choose from literally hundreds of different style and color options!
BikeExchange has a range of cycling shoe accessories that are the perfect complement to your cycling footwear and apparel selection. Cleat covers will slow down your cleat wear and tear, allowing you to walk around at the café worry free, while our selection of insoles will provide that additional comfort for any arch shape.
Shoe covers from leading brands like DeFeet, Velotoze and BBB will keep your feet warm, dry, aero or colourful – the choice is yours!
Regardless of your pedal system selection, cleats are mounted to your shoe and are what lock you in to the pedal. As mentioned in our bike pedals section, this ‘clipless’ setup allows the most efficient transfer of power and speed through your bike. Road shoe cleats have a three-bolt system with a larger surface area so this transfer isn’t compromised in any way, while your typical mountain bike cleat is a two-bolt system designed to consider walking and debris clearing.
Apart from different system compatibility, the main difference in cleat selection is that of ’float’. Float is measured in degrees, and is the range your feet are allowed to move freely without restriction on the pedal surface. Generally, the less flexibility and experience you have, or the more at risk you are for knee or leg injury, then the more float you should adopt.