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Thread: Cycling shoes?

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    Cycling shoes?

    I recently bought a nice road bike after it became apparent that my comfort bike was not going to be the best choice for longer rides. I'm riding for recreation/fitness-no racing. I was hesitant about the drop handlebar at first, but found I adapted to it quickly. The pedals came with "hoods"-I tried them but took them off. After just a couple of rides I felt more confident on the bike, but I seriously doubt that I will go clipless.

    Now that my rides are longer, I'm trying to add cycling gear without going overboard by buying things that I (personally) do not need. I did purchase bike shorts-that was a good decision.

    Now for the shoes: aside from use with clipless pedals, what is their function? I believe I read somewhere that the soles are stiffer and provide more support than a sneaker would? I've been wearing athletic shoes and have noticed some minor pain across the top of my feet after a long ride; am wondering if I might benefit from cycling shoes? My foot position while riding is comfortable. Would mountain bike shoes work in this situation? How do they differ from road bike shoes?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

  2. #2
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Cycling shoes have much stiffer soles and some shoes are rigid. Conventional thinking has it that they support your foot but this theory, like damned near all cycling 'knowledge', is currently in doubt.

    Having said that, and I'm sure there'll be a lot of others chiming in, stiffer shoes do give more support over sneakers. I've had sore feet wearing normal sneakers that I don't get with cycling shoes.

    I'm currently wearing bmx shoes - not a lot of stiffness but more support than a normal shoe. My rides have not been longer than an hour (because they're used mainly with my commuter) but I really like them and haven't noticed any problems.

    I think the issue to is to avoid dead soft shoes.

    Now, the cleats.

    IF you have the cleats in the CORRECT place, they locate your foot accurately every time for best efficiency and comfort.

    The trouble is, there is a lot of confusion about the 'correct' position. Conventional thinking places the spindle of the pedal under the ball of your foot. Some fitters now, such as Steve Hogg, have realised that this is not optimum and places undue stress on the ligaments in your ankle and calves. They recommend moving the cleats back from that 'over spindle' position. I recently moved the cleats on my SPD shoes back 1cm and found an immediate improvement in power and comfort when climbing. Interestingly, I used to think I rode with my feet too far forward when using toe clips (such as my commuter has) but now I realise that I'd subconcsiously chosen a position similar to the rearward cleat position advocated by Steve Hogg.

    So, the cleats position your feet. They also keep your foot in contact with the pedal and stop it sliding about. This is definitely an improvement in efficiency. The difference between platforms and cleats is measured in light years. The difference between toe clips and cleats is less and more to do with convenience. The modern clipless systems do work very well once you're used to them.

    The lycra set are going to hate me for this but ...
    There's a belief that cleats allow you to pull up on the upstroke, thus increasing your power. This is true for elite athletes sprinting very hard for short periods. However, for a normal rider, you're not adding much if anything. There have been studies done (apparently, I've never seen the numbers, just heard the rumours) that find that all the average club rider is doing is getting his foot out of the way of the rising pedal.

    I recently tried modern mtb pedals - the platforms with all the teeth - on my commuter. I found that my feet floated on the upstroke. Obviously I'm lifting my feet faster than the pedal rises and for me, they didn't work. I went back to my toe clips.

    Cycling shoes are designed to be comfortable doing the job and for that, provided you get the right ones, they are very good.

    Sooo, cycling shoes and clipless.
    If all you're doing is riding the bike (ie, not attempting any walking), good fitting cycling shoes and properly adjusted clipless offer increased comfort, increased support and are the best choice. The type of cleat system is largely a matter of taste and there are some real differences between them.

    If you want to do any walking at all, you're looking at the SPD systems or something like Crank Bros. In my experience, if you do a lot of walking, you'll soon wear the soles to the point where walking becomes a problem, but again, the system offers increased comfort, increased support and ease of use.

    Toe clips and the modern mtb/bmx shoes work very well and allow you to walk or hang around the office as though you wearing normal shoes. I haven't done long rides with mine yet but suspect that this old wombat will still enjoy them after a few hours.

    Platforms don't work for me, but do for some others.

    Any hopes of performance increase are illusory, just like replacing your Ultegra system with Dura Ace, but if that's what you want, I'm not going to sneer or jeer.

    Hope this helps a little.

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

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    Senior Member vger285's Avatar
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    There's a belief that cleats allow you to pull up on the upstroke, thus increasing your power. This is true for elite athletes sprinting very hard for short periods. However, for a normal rider, you're not adding much if anything. There have been studies done (apparently, I've never seen the numbers, just heard the rumours) that find that all the average club rider is doing is getting his foot out of the way of the rising pedal. /////////

    Some people think just because they have been riding a bike there whole life,they know how to pedal/not true-the up stroke with cleats has to be learned,the better fitting shoe the easyer it is,focus is the main point,its easy to learn on climbing hills or in a higher cog,but once you learn it, it will add speed and strength to your stroke.

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    Like a lot of theories- some work and some don't. Cycling shoes do- Forget about going clipless for the time being but cycling shoes haver a very stiff sole. Try walking in them and you will find that they will not bend when walking. Slight bit of movement possibly but nowhere near a trainer sole that will bend as you walk or run.

    That Cycling shoe with no give is comfortable on a bike. The MTB versions are also comfortable for a bit of walking- but I would not like to go too far in them. So if you are cycling- you want a very stiff sole that does not have a great deal of give in it. If you can find a Trainer with a stiff sole it will probably work for you- but for me it is cycling specific shoes and clipless pedals to go with them- but that is my preference
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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    As to the pain in the top of your foot. Think about the forces being applied. A lot of force is applied to the pedals under your toes. That force is coming down the leg and into the ankle from above. In between the toes and the ankle are a number of tendons and muscles that have to carry that load through some sharp angles. Chief among these is the Plantar Tendon but there are a least 4 groups that run through the foot from heel to toe.

    Cycling shoes have additional stiffiners in the sole that provide mechanical assistance to those tendon and muscle groups. There are varying degrees of stiffness throughout the different styles. There are those groups of shoes that are derived from the skateboard community such as the 661 Launch that have additional stiffness but retain a relative degree of freedom for walking. Upward from there you will find touring or sport cycling shoes, stiffer but curved (rocker) so that one may walk when off the bike, MTB shoes (stiffer still and heavily cleated for walking a bike uphill in loose soil), and Road shoes with soles so stiff as to be rigid. Somewhere in that range you will probably find a shoe that provides you with some assistance on the bike while not taking too much away.

    You may also wish to investigate some exercises that help to make the muscles in the foot stronger. I have found that standing and slowly rising up onto my toes and then slowly coming back down is an excellent exercise.

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    Pain top of your foot?
    Shoes Wrong Size, my guess.
    I ride with toe clips No Straps.
    See a Foot Doctor.
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    To me the issue is keeping my feet in contact with the pedals.

    Bumps and such frequently jar one foot or the other off of it's pedal. You have to be careful when that happens or you'll bark your shin. When I make short trips on my beater bike I use whatever shoes I happen to have on. Certainly, however, if the trip is going to be longer than around 3 miles I'll take the time to switch into SPD shoes.

    The vast, vast majority of my riding is done using Shimano SPD pedals and cleated shoes. I tend to be a restaurant-to-restaurant rider so I do a significant amount of walking off of the bike. In well over a decade I haven't encountered the shoe sole wearing issue that europa reports.

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    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Europa........I can attest that when I feel tired while climbing one of those long gradual upgrades that make up this part of the country and remember to use the proper circling technique that I see an immediate and lasting difference in my speedometer (untill I forget to circle the feet again). That is an immediate, verifiable and repeatable "performance" improvement. Pulling the feet upward during the proper stroke is in my opinion, one of the least important parts of the clipless pedal stroke. When I find my feet rising off the pedals when unclipped, or when I feel slack/pressure in the chain when clipped in I need to be in a different gear.

    Clipless pedals work, they aren't necessarily intuitive in that they require the application of different muscle groups, but they do work.

    Having said that, there are times and rides where I do not want to be clipped in. Touristy areas where I am not interested in performance and where traffic presents its own set of problems come to mind.

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    Senior Member curbtender's Avatar
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    If you want to try a stiff soled shoe for longer rides, a touring shoe would be a lighter option then a mountain shoe. They have a strapless toe cage you may want to try if the straps were bothering you.

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    Would mountain bike shoes work? Depends on the shoe. If you are not using clipless/cleats and want to use flat pedals you are going to want a flat soled shoe. This means most shoes on the market will not work. Road shoes have hard plastic or carbon soles and will slide around. Most mtb shoes have big lugs which will get in the way. You want to find some touring type shoes designed for flat pedals, or some mountain bike shoes with flat soles that look like deck shoes.
    I have some old Shimano mtb shoes which are flat and are compatible with SPD cleats but came with the cleat hole sealed so they could be used on flat pedals.
    Any bike specific shoes will be stiffer than running shoes and will usually have a narrow heel and some protection for the front of your foot.
    Some shoe makers offer bike shoes for law enforcement and these will work for flat pedals as well as walking.
    Here is a link to Nashbar and some shoes under $40 and some under $30!
    http://www.nashbar.com/results.cfm?c...ory%3A%20Shoes
    Last edited by big john; 11-02-08 at 03:25 PM.

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    Well most of the stuff has been covered.

    First off cycling shoes have been around for ages. The first pair I had came with wooden soles. Sounds archaic, but they worked just fine.

    Benefits of Cycling shoes

    1) stiff sole transfers power to pedal without flex (a problem with sneakers).
    2) stiff sole prevents the pedals from biting into your feet over time (OW!!).
    3) used with cleats, provides a good stable and safe contact with the pedals (they click out just fine in falls).
    4) nice and light
    5) they last a long time

    So, cycling shoes are more comfortable, provide a more efficient ride, and provide a better contact with the pedals.

    The bad.

    1) If you are using SPD pedals, you can walk reasonably well with cycling shoes. If you are riding full blown road shoes with cleats, you walk like a cow on ice only not as gracefully.

    I highly recommend cycling shoes. In some sports, the clothing is more of a fashion statement. Cycling shoes are very functional.

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    I went from street shoes (athletic shoes) to MTB shoes on platform pedals and noticed an immediate improvement in comfort in my feet. The shoes, made by Shimano, were heavier but much stiffer, and in short time they broke in nicely and I could easily walk in them -- in fact, often did. I rode with the MTB shoes (but not clipless) for over a year, maybe two.

    When I made the decision to go clipless, I was also at the point where I thought my shoes were just too heavy. So I bought a pair of Sidi's which are fabulous, but stayed with a MTB style so I could walk in them too. They're also a velcro type, rather than shoe laces, and I like them.
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    Yen
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    The main reason I went from my running shoes to cycling shoes was to have a pair of shoes I'd wear for cycling only - not my everyday running shoes that were getting scraped, snagged and greasy, and the laces would occasionally get in the way. I bought a pair of MTBs. After about 10 miles my right foot felt like it was on fire, so it was time to find a different pair of shoes. I was also considering going clipless at the time, so I made the decision to "just do it" and bought a pair of MTB Sidi Dominators, which are like heaven to my feet. While just about any type of fitness-type shoe will do for short rides, I find the cycling shoes work best for longer rides.

    Regarding the upstroke during climbs -- In spite of the controversy over increased efficiency on the upstroke, I DO find a very noticable distribution of power from just my quads to the whole upper leg when I use the upstroke on any terraine. The whole leg feels engaged, not just the front. That's particularly helpful when my legs are tired from many miles of continues peddling, such as on long bike paths without any traffic stops.
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    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I use toe clips with loose straps and Nike Air low cut shoes ($1 at garage sale). In the past I've gotten a little tingling during long rides, which is easily remedied buy consciously pulling up on the upstroke, and getting the blood flowing. Recently, however, no problems.

    I had some cycling shoes that were all plastic on the bottom and these hurt my balls. That is, I'd put my foot down at a traffic light, it would slide away on the gravel, and my crotch would smash into the top tube.
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    Wow. Thank you everyone, for the extensive information regarding shoes. I don't have many more rides before winter sets in, but it looks like shoes would be a worthwhile addition to my limited wardrobe.

    (Umm...that didn't come out quite right-I meant limited "cycling-specific" wardrobe! )

    As I get used to this bike I may change my mind about clipless pedals, but for now I don't see them in the near future. It's good to know there is a way to benefit from cycling shoes without being obligated to go clipless.

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    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yen View Post
    After about 10 miles my right foot felt like it was on fire, so it was time to find a different pair of shoes.
    I'm not suggesting that this was the cause in this case, but a common cause of hot spots or pain in the feet is overtightening the shoes. Your feel swell when cycling and if you do them up like you do for walking, you can easily wind up with painful feet. I nearly gave up on my SPD shoes after the first few rides, but once I was taught to tie them 'loose', the pain went away almost instantly.

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    Senior Member flan48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fern53 View Post
    Wow. Thank you everyone, for the extensive information regarding shoes. I don't have many more rides before winter sets in, but it looks like shoes would be a worthwhile addition to my limited wardrobe.

    (Umm...that didn't come out quite right-I meant limited "cycling-specific" wardrobe! )

    As I get used to this bike I may change my mind about clipless pedals, but for now I don't see them in the near future. It's good to know there is a way to benefit from cycling shoes without being obligated to go clipless.
    Fern,
    You may want to consider Power Grips. Here is a link. My LBS feels these are the perfect alternative to clipless, yet very safe vis-a-vis quick release of the foot. Also, they can be used with virtually any shoe.
    here is the link, althiugh you can find them on Amazon as well (and most likely your LBS):
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...All%20Products
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    another option which works very well if you're usin platform pedals with or without toeclips is a good pr of hiking shoes.
    Low cut and 'summer' weight mesh upper works very nice. The key is to find a pair with a shank which goes up thru the forefoot. I was surprised to find so many 'hiking' shoes which had no protection from walkng on sharp and irregular surfaces for any length. But there are good ones out there. Priced about the same as a decent pair of MTB cycling shoes. The shank support really does what a cycling specific shoe also does - protect all the small bones of the forefoot from the pressure of the pedal.
    I have a pair of Hi-Tec shoes Hikers I like a lot, about as light as MTB cycling shoes and much more walkin worthy.
    But they won;t be able to be adapted to clipless cleats, should you ever decide to go that route. Still, if you get that far, then you still have a great pair of hiking shoes for any sort of walking/hiking.

  19. #19
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    Power output. As it rises, the usefulness of specialty cycling shoes increases. Part of the explanation of the varying opinions. I cannot recall being passed when I was riding my road bike by anyone not in cycling shoes and riding extremely well. There are simply limits to the amount of position control and support non-cycling shoes can provide. Even cycling shoes vary greatly in the amount of power they'll handle and their durability under hard loads.

    Even if high power is of short duration, the shoes help immensely. At my age, I don't really ride what I would consider fast, but my wife points out that I can always pop 5 bike lengths ahead whenever I want. I can't do that on my commuter with soft shoes - I'd be on my face!

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