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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 11-26-07, 08:54 PM   #1
regomatic
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Shoes for a tandem road team

I’ve seen lots of debates and could get plenty of search results on the tandem forum about tires, wheels, saddles, forks and other components but I don’t find any hits when I search on shoes.

I didn’t have any problems fitting into a fairly stiff road shoe when I started riding a single bike

Then we got the first tandem and bought ATB shoes and SPD pedals. They seemed to work well enough to start with. We learned to ride with the stoker clipped in at all times. When we stop, I clip out and hold the bike. Then, when we’re ready to start, she brings the pedals to the proper position to take off. The ATB shoes are substantially more secure to hold both of us upright at a stop light or sign. They’re also a little more comfortable to walk in when we stop at grocery store/ coffee shop rest stops.

I prefer the knobby grip of an ATB shoe for when I have to hold the bike up at starts and stops. But I’d like a stiffer sole than what we have now for sprints on the club rides.

Does anybody have any particular recommendations?

I’ve got about 12,000 miles on some Diadora brand road shoes, and 8,000 or so on the Shimano ATB shoes we’ve been using on the tandem. Specific model numbers for both sets that we have is unknown. Neither of us have particularly wide or narrow feet and are usually pretty comfortable with standard sizing except for brands that lean towards one extreme or the other.

Let us know what you think.
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Old 11-26-07, 09:17 PM   #2
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Shoes for a Tandem Road Team

My stoker and I are sold on SIDI MTB shoes. Their cleats are sufficient to enable you to walk easily with your cleats, and are quite comfortable for rides of 40-80 miles we took over the summer. My stoker said these shoes are much more comfortable than the Shimanos she had before in which she would get hot spots. She didn't experience any discomfort with these.

They are one of the more expensive brands costing anywhere from $150 on up. Again, the MTB models have rubber cleats that can be replaced, and insoles that can also be replaced. I find they are definitely worth the $$.
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Old 11-26-07, 09:39 PM   #3
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We try to go 'modern' with SPDs on our present tandem.
Stoker developed foot issues and asked to go back to mt. bike toeclips.
Pilot doesn't care one way or the other, so switched back to road toeclips.
Works for us!
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Old 11-26-07, 10:09 PM   #4
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Since my stoker and I are primarily single bike riders, our tandem is equipped with SPD-SL road pedals. I own three pairs of cycling shoes and my daughter one pair. I use mine for different things mostly depending on the weather. Shimano 215s when the weather is warm, they tend to run the coolest of the shoes I own. Sidi Genius 5 Mega for cooler weather, they fit almost identically to the Shimano's but the sole is not quite as stiff. The Lorica uppers also do not breathe as well as the mesh. I also have a pair of cheap Performance Cat-1 Carbons, bought them on sale last year, they are the same 44 size as all my other shoes but they are both wider in the toe box and just slightly longer, more like a 44.5. So I use those is real cold weather with wool socks or when it is wet out with lightweight neoprene covers. The work real well for that purpose. My daughter has a pair of Shimano shoes and they fit her very well also. When we ride the tandem we tend to drive to the start of the ride, do the ride, then drive home. There is rarely a chance to stop much less walk around, so the road shoes server use well.

BTW paid under $100 for the Performance shoes and they seem to be holding up fairly well.

The SL cleats have little outboard rubber pads that help prevent slipping when walking, and they do not wear like the old Look cleats so they stay fairly snug for the entire life of the cleat. Since I have three pairs of shoes I replace only 2 pairs of cleats every year and the third pair every two years.
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Old 11-26-07, 10:42 PM   #5
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In general I've always use to preferred road shoes/cleats on our C'dale....BUT after two serious slips this year leaving stop lights .....one in the rain and one on a steep street....I am totally committed to Mtn bike shoes/cleats and the sure footed traction they give me.

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Old 11-26-07, 10:58 PM   #6
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Does anybody have any particular recommendations?
Sidi Dominators....

While I still miss my Detto Pietro cycling shoes, I reluctantly went through the paradigm-shoe shift dilemma associated with moving from quill pedals to click-in, tried all of the various brands and ultimately went with Diadora shoes in '92. They were excellent and fit as well as my Dettos.

However, somewhere around '99 I needed new shoes and discovered Diadora had changed something in their sizing that made all of their shoes either too big or too small in the adjacent sizing. So, I did the shoe-search again and ultimately shifted over to Sidi's Dominator MTB shoes for the road & off-road tandem and eventually ditched my Diadora single bike road shoes for the Sidi Genius as well. Debbie had already been using the Sidi Rampa models since '97 and has since been upgraded to the Dominators.

Over the years since, we've simply found the Sidi shoes to be exceptional quality (even the Rampa models were very good), a good fit, and a good value given their durability, noting that I only buy them when they are on sale, well below their MSRP. In fact, I recently picked up an extra set of Debbie's Rose-colored Dominator shoes when Nashbar put them on clearance which we've tucked away for the future.

The MTB / Dominator's sole seems to be just as stiff as the Road / Genius model with the biggest difference being the weight, noting that the lugged sole of the MTB shoe is clearly heavier than the non-lugged sole. The Sidi Genius that I use on my solo road bike with Campy ProFit pedals probably gets its more solid-feeling vis-a-vis the shoe-to-pedal interface than the shoe's sole. In other words, if I were to use a smaller cleat system with the Genius I suspect the shoe's sole would not feel as solid as it does with the larger Profit / Look-like interface.

As you can see in the photo below, we're fairly-well committed to the Sidi brand.
1. We use the Sidi Dominators for the road tandems with Speedplay Frog pedal system.
2. We use the Sidi Dominators for off-road tandeming also with the Speedplay Frog pedal system.
3. I have the aforementioned pair of Sidi Genius for use on my solo road bikes with Campy ProFit pedals.
4. For winter riding, Debbie has the Sidi Storm MTB shoes and I have the Freeze Road model: it's just a little more convenient vs. shoe covers. For winter off-road I use my cruddy Dominators with Gortex shoe liners and, in retrospect, I too should have gotten the Storm MTB model for both road & off-road.
5. Debbie sticks with her same Rose-colored Sidi Dominators for her solo road bike and I do the same with my fixed-gear.
The lugged sole is, IMHO, the best choice for all but no-kidding racing or time trials: they provide sure footing and are better suited for tandem rallies and tours where a lot of time is spent off the bike walking around on all kinds of terrain. I've also found that Shoe Goo can be used to rebuild the lugs to extend the life of the shoes / cleats. Counsel guy mentioned that certain Sidi models have replaceable shoe lugs: these are I believe their top of the line models.
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Old 11-26-07, 11:17 PM   #7
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Imelda lives!

That's a fair amount of shoes, sir. I am impressed.

I have a pair of the red SIDI Dominators (road) and love them. Much stiffer than my old Specialized road shoes (now my Spinning shoes). A tad wider than the Specs. as well, so easier to accomodate a thicker sock. I have SPD cleats (with the triangular shape; forget the specs, sorry) on them. We use Kool Kovers that we use when off the bike.

I've had them since July, accumulated over 500 miles and have no complaint whatsoever. The rest of my shoes should perform so well.
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Old 11-26-07, 11:22 PM   #8
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I would also throw my hat in the ring for Specialized . I have ridden in Sidis (road, MTB and motorcycle) for years. I love them and continue to think they build great shoes. When I went to purchase the most recent pair of road shoes I though, I'd give them a try and ended up buying them. Note that I am not throwing out my Sidis though.
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Old 11-26-07, 11:48 PM   #9
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That's a fair amount of shoes
Yeah, well... There's a thought here that suggests they'll last 4x / 3x as long if the wear and tear is distributed over a larger population.

Of course, if you reach mid-life and suddenly discover that your feet have -- gasp -- decided to grow a full-size, you can find yourself restocking an entire closet's worth of footwear in a very short period of time. The only thing worse than that is when both you and your spouse experience the same thing.

That said, while I was able to dispatch my two pair of suddenly outgrown Sidi's, I happen to have two pair of women's size 39 Sidi MTB shoes that no longer fit on Debbie's still petite feet. One pair are the Rampa model and the others are the Dominator. If anyone would like to put in an offer on these + $10 for shipping it will keep me from having to put them up on Flea-Bay... something I like to avoid as much as possible.
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Old 11-26-07, 11:51 PM   #10
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Sidi Genius Lorica shoes, SPD SL cleats and Kool Covers for walking for me and the stoker. We use the same setup on singles.
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Old 11-27-07, 12:50 AM   #11
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Sidi with speedplay frogs in all the bikes. We have tried shimanos and specialized but like Sidi much better. The current pairs have served us for more than 10,000 miles. Hot spots?? We almost forgot about hot spots. We may try the old shimano shoes just to remember how hot spots feel like...
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Old 11-27-07, 01:56 AM   #12
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Sidi Gensis Road Shoes with Speedplay 2X pedals both capt. and stoker on tandem these are also what I use on my commuter to work daily.
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Old 11-27-07, 08:19 AM   #13
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My stoker and I are sold on SIDI MTB shoes.

+1 on the SIDI Mountain shoes. We use them w/ plain old SPD pedals. They're expensive, but worth it. In fact, I've retired my road shoes, even when riding my single.
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Old 11-27-07, 09:36 AM   #14
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Not that Sidi needed another vote...

I've only ridden Sidis, so I can't offer any comparison. Started off with a pair of their triathlon specific shoes when I first started cycling (I was doing duathlons) - moved to the Genius when I was doing more road riding than racing. Bought a pair of Dominators for commuting purposes and plan on using them on the tandem when my wife and I start riding that next spring. I use regular Speedplays with my Genius and Eggbeaters with my Dominators.
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Old 11-27-07, 10:05 AM   #15
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Buy whatever fits YOU best. Most all of the top line shoes are equal in quality. I've ridden Sidi's exclusively for years now because of all the ones i've tried - they fit the best. I recently bought some Sidi Carbon road shoes on sale and I have to admit - they are significantly stiffer than my previous Genius Mesh Road shoes and i'm quite fond of them. I run Sidi Eagles on the Tandem - basically mesh versions of the Dominator. As TandemGeek said - make walking much easier - but i'm seriously thinking of switching to road shoes and pedals (I run Time RXS Carbons) on the Tandem as well.
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Old 11-27-07, 10:12 AM   #16
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+1 on the SIDI Mountain shoes. I've retired my road shoes, even when riding my single.
Same here. As the tandem captain I don't want to dump the bike because my foot slipped, and road shoe cleats just seem too risky to me. Besides, I can't tell the performance difference between my Sidi Dominators with Frogs and my old (some obscure Italian brand) road shoes with Look pedals. If I had to, I could do like Zonatandem and go with toe clips and flat shoes and it wouldn't bother me.
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Old 11-27-07, 01:19 PM   #17
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Interesting tread
Me I like been SPD [sandels in summer and shoes in winter**
My stoker has never used clips so we got her some "Power Grips"
I was not so sure about this move but...
She loves them
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Old 11-27-07, 01:59 PM   #18
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Have to agree with Joe,...best to find an shoe that fits your foot. I have always struggled with this,..and although I've been wearing Sidi for the past10 yr.,..I've experimented with others,..but Sidi seems to be the best fit for me. Currently an old carbon ergo. Also,..my stoker/wife wears Sidi,..although she wears the mtn version. I use Speedplay on all bikes,..so I only have one pair of shoes,..and she uses spd,..with only one pair of shoes.
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Old 11-27-07, 03:58 PM   #19
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Shimano SPD sandals are quite popular with the tandem set. We've used them for years in any but the coldest weather. Pluses are cool in the summer, dry quickly after a ride in the rain, and comfortable for walking. Minuses include not being suitable for aggressive cycling, less support than regular cycling shoes.
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Old 11-27-07, 05:44 PM   #20
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Checked out our closet and we have the following brands of non-cleat shoes for with our retro-toeclip set up on tandem and Rudy's single:
Stoker Kayne pair each of Nike, Performance and old silver Bata Bikers.
Rudy: 2 pair Specialized, and one each of New Balance (Trek), Performance and silver Bata Bikers.
Having recently gone to the big bike club swap meet (4,000 +/- buyers/sellers) got rid of some of our older sutff: shoes, jerseys, parts . . . hey when you sell jerseys at $2 each they go pretty fast!
We still have a pair of PowerGrip pedals sitting around and they are much like SPD with the foot movement to disengage. However if you switch to different type shoe, got to redo the strap nut and bolt to readjust. Having narrow feet, had to make an extra adjustment hole for proper fit. Old toesraps are easy to adjust on the fly.
Seeing that we are way past middle-age, our feet have developed some idiosyncracies, so some of K's shoes only fit/feel good when I take an exacto knife to the toebox to take care of her toe issues.
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Old 11-27-07, 06:14 PM   #21
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Thanks for the many informed and informative responses that make this forum such a dependable resource to the tandem community.

I think we’ll be shopping for some Sidi’s in the next couple of weeks.

I also appreciate the additional info with regard to pedals. I was going to put new pedals on too, just because one pair has a lot of miles on it and the other was inherited and I don’t know when either might fail.

I was satisfied with the Speedplays that I had on my first road bike, otherwise equipped with Shimano 105. When I built my first serious bike, it had all Campy including the pedals. It seems to be poor style now to run Shimano shoes and pedals on our Campy gruppo tandem, more so, since we’re not all that fast and need to look good to make up for it.

We’ll also be looking at the Speedplay Frogs.

Thanks again guys!

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Old 11-27-07, 10:28 PM   #22
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Pedals and pedal systems give lots of choices and there is bound to be something that will satisfy at least 1/2 of the tandem team!
As for sticking with all Campy/Shim/Sram/Phil/King or whatever, we tend to run a mixture that suits our needs.
Some of the nicest pedals we've used were the Phil platform/touring pedals when they first hit the market in the mid-70s. Ended up cracking up a pair on them new-fangled speedbumps while crossing the border into Mexico. Then in the '80s bought 2 sets of Italian Vittorio Superleggero 98 grams-a-pair pedals on closeout sale. Was told 'you'll be lucky to get 3,000 miles out of these' and ended up utilizing them on 2 consecutive tandems . . . those pedals were light and comfortable and lasted us over 80,000 miles. About once a year we'd tear 'em apart and re-lubricate and put 'em back to use. The plastic-type pedal cages finally cracked under the duress of our stomping on 'em.
We tried clipless and have reverted back to retro toeclips. Asi es la vida!
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Old 11-28-07, 01:30 AM   #23
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It seems to be poor style now to run Shimano shoes and pedals on our Campy gruppo tandem
Indeed (full disclosure here: my single bike is virtually all-Campy from the early 70's), one mustn't sully one's Campag-snob-lio (as some of us termed the components back then) cranks by pushing them with Shimano shoes and pedals!

Whatever works.

SIDI + classic Look, here
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Old 11-30-07, 03:41 PM   #24
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I have used mountain bike shoes and shimano M520 pedals for quite a few years now. It was natural to fit these on the Tandem when we got it 5 years ago. I do prefer the MTB shoe for walking in but have to admit that after 4 or5 hours riding- the feet were getting uncomfortable on the sole of the foot. I got a new road bike this year and wanted to stay with the same shoes- but I got the road SPD A520 pedal. This has a larger platform for the foot to rest on and the disadvantage is that it is only one sided. Non clip side and I can pedal but not for too long. But the big difference is in foot comfort. No pain after 8 hour rides and I can only put that down to the longer platform for the shoe to rest on.

Now if only I could find a road type shoe with the stiiffer sole that I could walk in- then I might try the Roadies type pedals.
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Old 12-01-07, 06:06 PM   #25
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We are roadies at heart and both ride Time pedals on the tandem. We try not to walk long distances when going for a bike ride. It has to be said that the new Time cafe cleats are a lot better than other road pedals like Looks as the rubberised corners of the cleats really grip well. With these I wear Carnac shoes and the stoker wears Nikes as these fit us best. In retrospect I wished I'd bought another pair of Shimanos as the Carnacs aren't as good.

For track I have some Shimano shoes SH-R212 and use these with SPD-R pedals, which apart from being slightly difficult to click into are the best road pedals money can buy. Someone called Lance didn't like them, and the cleat re-sale business wasn't good (they almost never wear out) so they were discontinued. I really rate the Shimano shoes as well - they are quite wide with a bit of curve to the last, the straps really hold your foot securely and the soles don't bend. When they wear out (going strong since 2000) I will buy another pair.
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