Cycling Shoes and Everything You Need to Know

5 Feb

I’ve been teaching cycling for 17 years and people are always asking me about cycling shoes.  The most common questions I get are what are the benefits? How are they different? What type do I need?  Where do I get them?  How much are they?  Do they really make a difference?  What is the thing on the bottom and how do I know which one to get? 

I can truly say that they I will not teach a cycling class without my cycling shoes.  One I velcro my shoes, I am ready to ride, and there is nothing better than a strong ride, good sweat, and some killer music!  I hope to answer all the common questions and educate you on the basics of cycling shoes and why you should get a pair.

 Yes, cycling shoes make all the difference, which is why all the upscale cycling studios now rent them to participants.  Before there were upscale cycling studios, I used to pack them into my luggage when traveling.  While it was annoying to stuff them into my already overpacked suitcase, the benefits outweighed everything.  Now, when I go to NY city, I don’t have to worry about packing them, I just rent a pair at Soul Cycle.   

Cycling shoes are much different than your other shoes.  Take a running shoe and try to bend it.  You will see that it bends pretty easily and has a lot of cushion and is rather flexible.  If you tried to do the same with a cycling shoe, you couldn’t because it is hard and has very little cushion.  This is because you do not want your foot to flex as your pushing or pulling the pedal.  This is very important to me because I have very high arches and any movement in my foot bothers my arch.  One of the biggest complaints I have heard is numbness from people wearing running sneakers in a cycling class.  You won’t experience this issue with cycling shoes.  They are much more comfortable because you don’t have to worry about movement of the foot while you are pedaling.

Cycling shoes can also make you more efficient.  Running shoes allow you to push down, but with more emphasis on the push and less on the pull, you put a lot of stress on the quadriceps. With cycling shoes, you can engage the quadriceps and hamstrings by being able to push the pedal down and pull it back up in a fluid circular pedal stroke.  This will create maximal stroke efficiency.  In fact, I have seen my students sprint much faster and be able to climb against harder resistance without putting stress on the knees with cycling shoes.  

Cycling shoes are safer.  You don’t have to worry about your foot coming out of the cage.  You are locked in and won’t come out unless you try to.  Now if you are worried about getting in and out of the clips, pull the instructor aside before class and ask them to show you.  It is easier to clip in when you are standing over your saddle and always slip your left foot out first by pushing your heel away from you.

Most cycle shoes will work in any studio. The upscale cycle studios will often have clipless pedals for both the SPD and the LOOK cleat.  Most regular gyms will only have pedals that fit the SPD cleat.  When you get your cycling shoe, you will need to ask the store attendent to put cleats on your shoe.  Unless you ride outside, I would advise getting an SPD cleat.  Below I have attached pictures so that you know the difference.

SPD CLEATS ( these are the ones I reccomend for Spinning at gyms)

LOOK CLEATS (These are used in most upscale cycle studios and on the road)

So mabye you don’t care about comfort and your just being cheap and don’t feel like buying a pair of cycling shoes.  By wearing your cycling shoes for cycling, you will put less wear and tear on your running shoes which will help them last longer.  In addition, basic models of cycling shoes start at $40 and a pair of clips is $20, which the person at the bike shop will put on for you, so a $60 investment is well worth feeling more comfortable, riding faster, recruiting more muscles, and not having to replace your running shoes so soon.  Running shoes were made to run and cycling shoes were made to cycle, makes sense doesn’t it?  The added bonus:  You won’t look like the NEW STUDENT when you show up in your cycling shoes, even if you are!

If you are in the DC or MD area, I recommend checking out Performance Bicycles stores for your shoes.  You can also go to a specialized bike shop, but you may pay a little more for your shoes.  Don’t go to just any shop and be sure to try on a pair before purchasing them online because they are European sizes and can be different among brands.

Have questions?  Send a comment to this blog.  I’d love your input!

Song of the Day: Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

Free download:  http://mp3skull.com/mp3/stronger_kelly_clarkson.html

In Health and Happiness,

Madeline Dolente

3 Responses to “Cycling Shoes and Everything You Need to Know”

  1. mrs. esca February 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    this site had pretty affordable shimano cycling shoes (sale starts @ $16, cant beat it). id def recommend it, if you know your size.
    http://www.jensonusa.com/Search?q=shimano%2Bshoe&s=l

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