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  1. #1
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Are cycling shoes really necessary?

    I've been riding with Nike cross trainers on regular pedals. Seems to work just fine. What are the advantages of cycling shoes? They look uncomfortable.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Yes, they are necessary.

    You can joy ride on platforms to your heart's content, but if you start thinking about performance at any level, you need cleats.

  3. #3
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
    Yes, they are necessary.

    You can joy ride on platforms to your heart's content, but if you start thinking about performance at any level, you need cleats.
    Do cleats really improve performance a significant degree? How?
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  4. #4
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    They are not necessary. Just something else to have problems with.
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  5. #5
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Clipless pedals help keep your feet in position on the pedals. Cycling shoes are necessary for using clipless pedals.
    Toe clips on pedals also help keep your feet in position and can be used with other kinds of shoes, although they, too, work best with cycling shoes.
    There are many cyclists, such as 10 Wheels, who use neither and are able to ride a ton of miles without difficulty.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    cleats allow you to apply power throughout the pedal stroke ("spinning" or "pedaling circles", instead of just pushing down "mashing"). Google the quoted terms and you'll find an ocean of information (and misinformation, of course. It's the internet.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Absolutely necessary.

    You are pressing down on each pedal stroke.

    I am pressing down on each pedal stroke - then pulling back at the bottom, pulling up, and pushing forward at the top. I.e. I'm applying power to the full rotation, and getting a LOT more performance (or, at lower speeds, I'm having an easier ride).

    And while on the bike, you'll find that purpose-made cleats with matching pedals are far more comfortable than your cross-trainers.
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  8. #8
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    You can use toe clips, traps, or bands if you don't like cleats. I don't like cleats, except in spin class. The reason you use some resistance system is to smooth out your stroke, generate high cadence, use different muscles in the pedal stroke. I like wearing different shoes depending on my ride plan, virtually impossible if you use cleats.

  9. #9
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
    cleats allow you to apply power throughout the pedal stroke ("spinning" or "pedaling circles", instead of just pushing down "mashing"). Google the quoted terms and you'll find an ocean of information (and misinformation, of course. It's the internet.)
    Yes, I've have used the strategy of pedalling circles in spin class. I am open to the idea of clipless pedals, just not sure about it. I do fine just mashing a ride out and I like to keep it simple.
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  10. #10
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    They are not necessary, but you must have them.

  11. #11
    "Chooch" ciocc_cat's Avatar
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    According to the folks over at Rivendell, they aren't:

    http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse

    (FYI - I'd take this with a grain of salt. . . or two.)

    My take: I agree with Grant's position when it comes to some tourists, commuters and/or casual/recreational riders, but for the majority of us the benefits of cleated cycling shoes in terms of comfort and efficiency far outweigh any perceived drawbacks (IMHO).
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  12. #12
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    "Necessary? - no. People all over the world ride without anything other than simple feet coverings. Useful for certain aspects of riding - sure. In the "old" days, folks rode centuries on single speed bikes over gravel roads with regular shoes and they all survuved and got stronger and enjoyed it.
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  13. #13
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    It all depends on how you are using the bicycle. Years ago I commuted to an office job where I was required to wear a suit and leather soled dress shoes. My bicycle was a Schwinn 3-speed with rubber block pedals. I took up bicycle racing in the early 1970s and used rigid soled bicycle shoes with slotted cleats on cage pedals with toe clips and straps. These were replaced with the new fangled Look clipless pedals that are still in use today. I still own that Schwinn 3-speed as well as 2 single speed bikes that have no toe clips / straps that I use for short trips around town, but if I participate in a race or go on a ride longer than 20 miles I use one of my bikes equipped with clipless pedals and the corresponding shoes. I think the best setup for general cycling are one of the systems such as Shimano SPD in which the cleats are recessed into the sole of the shoe so that you can walk comfortably when off the bike w/o changing or removing the shoes.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teachme View Post
    Do cleats really improve performance a significant degree? How?
    If you try bike shoes with clipless pedals, you'll never go back.

  15. #15
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teachme View Post
    Yes, I've have used the strategy of pedalling circles in spin class. I am open to the idea of clipless pedals, just not sure about it. I do fine just mashing a ride out and I like to keep it simple.
    Then it seems to me that you knew the answer to your original question before you asked. Ride however you prefer and enjoy yourself.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    If you try bike shoes with clipless pedals, you'll never go back.
    That pretty much nails it.

    Also, if you do hills and like to pedal standing on climbs, clipless pedals make a world of difference.

  17. #17
    ES&D t4mv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    They are not necessary. Just something else to have problems with.
    I like the way you think!

  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    No. They are not necessary. If you have doubts about them, don't get them, at least for now. Later you may or may not decide that you want to get them. There is no rush. Many people ride without cycling shoes and clipless pedals.
    I almost always do ride with clipless pedals now, but I did a lot of riding without them before and after I had them.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    If you try bike shoes with clipless pedals, you'll never go back.
    Decades ago, my wife and I set out on a little tour on our tandem. At the time we were fairly strong riders (I rode a double century in eight hours and she followed three hours later a few weeks before the trip). We suspected that we would prefer to forgo the cleats, so we brought some platform pedals with us. We were gone for thirty days, 24 days of riding, 3500 miles. We only used the our cycling shoes/Look pedals for the first three days and then settled into the platforms for the remainder. So, sometimes one may indeed go back, if only temporarily.

    As far as "needing" proper footwear, I saw a gentleman ride several double centuries with platforms/toeclips while barefoot. Do whatever works for you.

  20. #20
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    teachme, Technically no, any pair of shoes on any platform pedal works okay. Toe clips and clipless pedals enhance output through more of the crankarm's rotation, generally most beneficial when transitioning through the 6 o'clock position. It's an aquired skill worth trying, IMHO.

    Brad

  21. #21
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    Absolutely necessary.

    You are pressing down on each pedal stroke.

    I am pressing down on each pedal stroke - then pulling back at the bottom, pulling up, and pushing forward at the top. I.e. I'm applying power to the full rotation, and getting a LOT more performance (or, at lower speeds, I'm having an easier ride)...
    Have to disagree that they are absolutely necessary. For casual "strolls", no they are not necessary. BUT . . . for any type of speed riding, they are indeed absolutely necessary; for your own safety and those who ride around you. When you put on a burst of speed, you will find that you will pull up on the back/up stroke just as forcefully as you mash down on the forward/down stroke. I dare say that anything more than about ten miles per hour ... you need to be clipped in, either the old-fashioned rat-trap clips/straps or the newer "clipless" cleats. Cycling shoes/cleats also keep your feet from slipping off the pedals. That could be very painful, and could even cause you to crash. Again, if you go slow, then you will not have any problems with just about any shoe.

    The other advantage that nobody has mentioned yet is that good shoes will distribute the weight/force across a wider area than street shoes. You will notice that the bottoms of most cycling shoes are very stiff or solid and can't be bent very easily.

    On the shoes looking uncomfortable ... yes, some of them are a real pain...literally. Just like regular shoes, you need to find a pair that fit right.
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  22. #22
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    Not at all necessary, but some people like them. As for enhancing "performance," I'm not sure what "performance" means. I suspect it's another word for speed, something that come cyclists seem to consider important. But if you like cleats and you think it enhances "performance" what's the harm. I'll wager that clipless pedals offer nothing by way of mechanical advantage. If I went cycling with a friend who wore cleats and I used toe clips or no clips, would there be some way to judge any sort of enhancement in performance? I seriously doubt it. He may pedal up, I may not, but our feet are all going in circles. He wouldn't get up a hill any easier than I would. It's all in the mind, I suspect. So many things in cycling are just individual preferences with no valididty beyond preference. Personally, I got tired of cliping in and out and have converted my bicycles to toe clips. Not only have I not noticed any diminishment in my "performance" but I've enjoyed being able to wear any kind of footwear that I feel like wearing. As for the stifness of cycling shoes, I don't care. My cross trainers feel just as comfortable. However you like to cycle is fine. What works, works. Enjoy cycling shoes and cleats or sneakers and platform pedals. It doesn't matter unless you think that it does.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Must just be me, but I would be scared out of my skin if I were to go down a hill at 30+ miles per hours without being strapped/clipped it. Same on a sustained 22-26 mph TT run. Once you ride clipped it, to ride without feels like you are naked...something's missing.

    But, I can understand "recreational" riders going clipless. Being clipped in is a pain when coming to a signal. Do I put on a huge burst of speed and race through the light before it changes to yellow? Or, do I unclip, or play that balancing act, seeing how long I can balance stationary and if the light changes green before I have to twist to unclip. It's just a little game we can play at stop lights. How long can we balance stationary before we have to put a foot down? People who don't clip in don't have to worry about not being able to unclip in time and embarrassingly falling over.
    Last edited by volosong; 07-18-11 at 10:35 PM.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member ItsJustAHill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Decades ago, my wife and I set out on a little tour on our tandem. At the time we were fairly strong riders (I rode a double century in eight hours and she followed three hours later a few weeks before the trip).
    You averaged 25 mph for 200 miles?

  25. #25
    Senior Member guybierhaus's Avatar
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    Short answer, No. I have very wide feet, like "EE". So while I have tried the Shimano SPD system, I've gone back to platform pedals and New Balance walking shoes twice. Partly because the "normal" biking shoes I found were too narrow. Also at least one tip over, and a few close calls with failure to unclip. I found no advantage to the clipless system. But then I'm not a racer, average only 12 mph on a road bike, and at 66, I'm afraid I've lost so much muscle mass, I'm at my peak. I use platform pedals with raised teeth on them, have no problems with feet slipping off, again at 12 mph.
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