Cycling shoes could make one faster even though this does not mean you should immediately dash out and go get cleats.
With the right shoes, you can produce significantly more power in your pedaling which will improve efficiency and speed. Moreover, with the right cycling shoes and pedals you will be able to deal with rough terrain, steep hills, and bad weather more easily.
In fact, some studies have found that cycling shoes can improve average cycling speeds by between 1 mph to 2 mph over short to medium distances.
How Do Cycling Shoes Work?
Even though you are free to wear any type of shoes while cycling, what you wear is critical as it may be the difference between performance and comfort and pain and inefficiency.
Cycling shoes usually provide more support for cyclists since they conform to the contours of the pedal. Most will also be attached to the pedal using a cleat and hence the foot is less likely to slip off making the cyclist more efficient.
Since there are several forms of cycling the shoes that you will need will be different depending on your cycling needs. When you are shopping for shoes you will need to take the following into consideration:
Cycling shoes that come with clipless pedals are very popular among professional and avid cyclists since they ensure constant flux when pedaling.
While many cleats may look the same, there are various differences that may have to do with the brand chosen and the type of cycling you will be engaging in.
There are several types of cleat types out there and the most popular are the SPD and the SPD-SL. Since one of the most common clipless pedals is the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics (SPD), many beginners have confused all pedals as being SPD.
SPD-SL usually refers to a more advanced form of the design and usually provides a broader pedal platform and more power even though not all cleats use this terminology.
Some brands will have their own designs and innovations which would mean that you will have to get pedals and cleats from the same company to ensure compatibility. However, most brands provide information on the compatibility of their shoes with SPD cleats.
Type of Shoe Fastening
When searching for cycling footwear, fastening is often one of those things that may be overlooked. The good thing is that there is no wrong or right option on what fastening will be best.
Velcro shoes tend to be lightweight and easy to adjust even though they may not be the best if you are riding in rough terrain. Still, if you need to go at very high speeds they provide maximum support through the ratchet system.
You could also go with BOA lacing which is the best for high speeds. With lightweight stainless steel laces, low friction lace guides, and an adjustable dial, it is easy to adjust laces without endangering chains, cranks, or pedals.
Overall the type of shoe fastening will depend on the environment in which you are riding your bike.
As such when going on a road trip that may last several days you would need to have clothing that can be removed efficiently. Similarly, you will need shoes that will not slip off the pedal if you are riding on rough terrain.
Benefits of Cycling Footwear
If you use the right cycling shoes, you stand to benefit from momentum when riding and at higher speeds. However, there are other benefits that include:
- Maintaining a Safe Ride
Using the wrong footwear can be very unsafe and could cause serious cycling accidents. Some shoes may cause slippage as they do not have enough friction with the pedals. Similarly, you may get your laces caught in the chains if they are too long.
You could wear your everyday sneakers but you will usually not get the support needed particularly on long-distance rides. Specialized cycling shoes can make you faster as they keep the foot stable and flat. The cleats also ensure the foot is secure no matter how hard you pedal which increases the speed and efficiency of your cadence.
- Great Design with Safety in Mind
While cyclists need to have shoes that provide comfort and support, great cycling shoes also provide stylistic designs. The good thing is that there is all manner of brands with stylish choices for different budgets.
How Much Should You Spend on Shoes?
Cycling shoes may cost as little as $70 while the most elite riders could get theirs for as much as $500. However, this does not always mean that the most expensive shoe will get you the best results when it comes to speed cycling.
Therefore it is critical to determine what you want in a shoe before you head out and get one. For some, it may be style, other features, and others just aerodynamics.
Overall the cheapest shoes will usually not have as many features and may not add that much to your speed or comfort. However, this does not mean that you should break the bank when buying cycling shoes unless you are going pro or have found shoes that have must-have features.
What Are the Different Types of Cycling Shoes?
Finding the best cycling shoe depends on your cycling needs. Different environments such as rough off-road terrain, paved roads, or gravel roads call for different types of shoes just like they do different bikes.
For instance, you will have to get mountain bike shoes for offroading and road bike shoes if you are going long-distance biking on smooth paved roads. If you will be riding on varied terrain you may have to get more than one pair of cycling shoes.
- Road Bike Shoes
Road bike shoes come with ridged soles which means greater fiction and better grip that allow you to transmit so much power to your pedaling motion. Combined with protruding cleats, they are super grippy while providing comfort and protection so that you can get up to high speeds.
- Mountain Bike Shoes
Mountain bike shoes are designed to support walking and cycling as you will be riding on rugged off-road terrain for much of the time. They typically come with smaller cleats on their soles as compared to road bike shoes and in addition with flexible soles, they are comfortable for both walking and riding the bike.
- Hybrid Bike Shoes
Hybrid cycling shoes come with significantly smaller cleats so that you can walk with them. They are similar to mountain bike shoes but are made for street walking given that hybrid bikes are often used for commuting and street riding.
- Flat Pedal Shoes
If you are looking to attain very high speeds, this is not the cycling shoe for you. It usually does not come with cleats and hence they are not very efficient as your foot can slip off the pedal at high rates of cadence.
What Speed Can be Achieved with the Right Shoes
It is critical to remember that shoes alone will not make you fast. For instance, you may have the best shoes but if you have a rickety bike that has not been serviced in years you will not go so fast.
However, using cycling shoes that have been designed specifically to enhance cycling will make a cyclist faster. Those that ride on rugged terrain may need shoes with the right support while those that need to ride at top speeds or ride long distances will need comfortable and high friction shoes that are as efficient as possible.