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Road shoes for gravel - bad idea?

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Road shoes for gravel - bad idea?

Old 01-18-20, 01:29 PM
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melikebikey35
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Road shoes for gravel - bad idea?

I just got my first gravel bike, and am planning to run my normal road shoes, mainly because I have power meter pedals and am not too keen on the idea of having to buy another power meter. But, my question is, how bad of an idea is it to run road shoes for gravel? Will it completely destroy them? Will I be left on the side of the road/trail, swearing, because I'm unable to clip in? Will I constantly be falling on my face any time I try to walk?

I don't see myself doing a lot of single track, hike-a-bike stuff, but I am sure I'll run into some situations that will involve walking through less-than perfect terrain.
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Old 01-18-20, 01:52 PM
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Why not try it for a bit and make the decision.

There's really no reason to not use road stuff, maybe makes it harder to walk if needed, especially on a sketchy surface. Generally though it's not mt. biking so less need maybe to un-clip.
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Old 01-18-20, 01:53 PM
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I'm in the midwest, and I use road shoes on one gravel bike that I have. I'll only use this bike on rides where there is zero chance that I'll be walking the bike. If conditions are muddy, highly technical or steeper than 15%, I'll use mtb shoes.
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Old 01-18-20, 02:40 PM
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If you're going to ride both road and gravel, and only want to deal with one pedal/shoe system, it's probably better to go with mtb shoes for everything.
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Old 01-18-20, 03:15 PM
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The gravel events that I ride are always rain or shine events and most involve at least some singletrack. I made the mistake of using road pedals on my first gravel ride and would never do it again. I use MTB pedals on all of my bikes now.
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Old 01-18-20, 03:32 PM
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If you don't have to walk, road shoes will be faster and lighter
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Old 01-18-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
If you're going to ride both road and gravel, and only want to deal with one pedal/shoe system, it's probably better to go with mtb shoes for everything.
He wants to keep using his power meter pedals.
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Old 01-18-20, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I'm in the midwest, and I use road shoes on one gravel bike that I have. I'll only use this bike on rides where there is zero chance that I'll be walking the bike. If conditions are muddy, highly technical or steeper than 15%, I'll use mtb shoes.
This 100%. Heck even with mtb pedals it can tough to get clipped back in sometimes. With road pedals it would be game over.
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Old 01-18-20, 04:32 PM
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Well, if you don't put a foot down whatever you face, road shoes is the way to go
Seriously, I also have power pedals but change them for gravel rides. Use the power pedals only on the road.
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Old 01-18-20, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
He wants to keep using his power meter pedals.
Iím aware. My answer to that question was implied.
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Old 01-18-20, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I’m aware. My answer to that question was implied.
I need some learning obviously (and am never too egotistical to admit it) but is there a mt. bike shoe that allows use of a 3 bolt road cleat ?. Which is what we are assuming the OP is using ?.
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Old 01-18-20, 06:23 PM
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I went for my first ride today, and I can definitely see how road shoes/pedals could be problematic. I stopped and walked a bit in soft dirt, once, just to see what would happen. After that, clipping in/out become more difficult...oddly enough, it was the clipping out part that was effected the most?
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Old 01-18-20, 06:47 PM
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I've done it without problems.

I use mine more as a rigid mountain bike these days, so I switched. I think I've walked 2-3 miles (cumulative) in a ride, over boulders and sand.
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Old 01-18-20, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I need some learning obviously (and am never too egotistical to admit it) but is there a mt. bike shoe that allows use of a 3 bolt road cleat ?. Which is what we are assuming the OP is using ?.
I've seen posts around here about shoes which accept either type of cleat, but that's beside the point. Part of what makes MTB pedals and cleats so useful for off-pavement riding is that they are designed to shed mud effectively. The fact that they are also much more walkable is helpful, too.

What I really meant with my answer is that, no, road shoes won't work well for gravel riding if the OP plans to get into any messy stuff. (I also can't imagine it would be much fun to be swapping pedals back and forth each time I want to ride a different bike, but that's just my opinion.) If anyone wants to do both types of riding and settle on one pedal/shoe system, then MTB is the way to go, as they'll work fine for road use.

Disclaimer: even MTB cleats and pedals can get gunked up. This race had a long muddy section early on, and I walked part of it...and for the whole rest of the race, every time I stopped, I had a miserable time (sometimes as long as a couple minutes) getting clipped back in.

Last edited by Koyote; 01-18-20 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 01-18-20, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I've seen posts around here about shoes which accept either type of cleat, but that's beside the point. Part of what makes MTB pedals and cleats so useful for off-pavement riding is that they are designed to shed mud effectively. The fact that they are also much more walkable is helpful, too.

What I really meant with my answer is that, no, road shoes won't work well for gravel riding if the OP plans to get into any messy stuff. (I also can't imagine it would be much fun to be swapping pedals back and forth each time I want to ride a different bike, but that's just my opinion.) If anyone wants to do both types of riding and settle on one pedal/shoe system, then MTB is the way to go, as they'll work fine for road use.

Disclaimer: even MTB cleats and pedals can get gunked up. This race had a long muddy section early on, and I walked part of it...and for the whole rest of the race, every time I stopped, I had a miserable time (sometimes as long as a couple minutes) getting clipped back in.
Thatís not answering the (my) question, but no need.

It seems the OPís desire to use his power pedals limits his use of shoes to road shoes unless somebody knows of a mt. bike shoe with a recessed cleat area, plus lugs for traction and that allows use of a 3 bolt cleat. Iíve never seen that.

Possibly he (assumption) will not be cross racing or riding such terrain that will see him wanting a shoe thatís easier to walk in.
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Old 01-18-20, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Thatís not answering the (my) question, but no need.

It seems the OPís desire to use his power pedals limits his use of shoes to road shoes unless somebody knows of a mt. bike shoe with a recessed cleat area, plus lugs for traction and that allows use of a 3 bolt cleat. Iíve never seen that.

Possibly he (assumption) will not be cross racing or riding such terrain that will see him wanting a shoe thatís easier to walk in.
A MTB shoe that excepts a 3-bolt road cleat is not something that I would be interested in, even if it existed...you'd still end up with the mud buildup issue that I'd be looking to avoid.
Honestly, I'm not sure what terrain I'll be riding. During the winter, at least, I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking to dirt roads/light gravel tracks. But come summer time, I'll probably end up riding more technical/messy stuff when I'm able to do riding in the mountains.

I have no problem with having to use road and MTB systems, but I'd prefer not to unless it's necessary, simply due to the initial cost (~$700 on the low end) of doing so...and bases on the feedback here (and my very brief experience, today) I sure it's something that I'm going to have to invest in.
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Old 01-18-20, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
but is there a mt. bike shoe that allows use of a 3 bolt road cleat ?
No. The 3-bolt road cleat attachment scheme is much bigger than a typical MTB recess, and you'd need ludicrously wide lug placement to clear the cleat and pedal.

At any rate, I don't see much point. The main issue with using road cleats offroad isn't the difficulty of walking, it's the cleats getting gunked up and chewed up. I think road shoes usually don't create any larger difficulties walking off-pavement than they do on-pavement.
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Old 01-18-20, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
. I think road shoes usually don't create any larger difficulties walking off-pavement than they do on-pavement.
We actually agree with each other that a mt. bike shoe and pedal system is the best choice, generally. I think even in conditions where thereís no potential for the cleat getting gummed up, walking in slick soled plastic bottomed road shoes, whose cleats stick out of the bottom, is less than desirable as compared to mt. shoes. My experience anyway.
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Old 01-19-20, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
A MTB shoe that excepts a 3-bolt road cleat is not something that I would be interested in, even if it existed...you'd still end up with the mud buildup issue that I'd be looking to avoid.
Honestly, I'm not sure what terrain I'll be riding. During the winter, at least, I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking to dirt roads/light gravel tracks. But come summer time, I'll probably end up riding more technical/messy stuff when I'm able to do riding in the mountains.

I have no problem with having to use road and MTB systems, but I'd prefer not to unless it's necessary, simply due to the initial cost (~$700 on the low end) of doing so...and bases on the feedback here (and my very brief experience, today) I sure it's something that I'm going to have to invest in.
You could get one of those wind measuring power meters. $300-$400 able to switch bikes, not dependant on pedals/cranks/wheels. Ant+ compatible. Supposed to be accurate.
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Old 01-19-20, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
If you don't have to walk, road shoes will be faster and lighter
So don't pee, or do anything other than trackstand at stops, and minimize duck walking out of your garage.

...People always underestimate how much they walk, even when they think they don't at all.
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Old 01-19-20, 09:35 AM
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I used road shoes for the first year or so of gravel. I ended up wearing out the cleats pretty quickly. I understand the desire to keep using your pedals, I would just keep an eye on your cleats and replace them when they get worn
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Old 01-20-20, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
I just got my first gravel bike, and am planning to run my normal road shoes, mainly because I have power meter pedals and am not too keen on the idea of having to buy another power meter. But, my question is, how bad of an idea is it to run road shoes for gravel? Will it completely destroy them? Will I be left on the side of the road/trail, swearing, because I'm unable to clip in? Will I constantly be falling on my face any time I try to walk?

I don't see myself doing a lot of single track, hike-a-bike stuff, but I am sure I'll run into some situations that will involve walking through less-than perfect terrain.
It really depends on the type of gravel you will be riding and how frequently you would need to walk. If you ride the same routes frequently and know the conditions don't require much or any walking you can probably get away with road shoes. Plastic road cleats will clearly wear out more quickly if you have to walk frequently. But are you going to be happy when you do some gravel rides where you do end up doing hike a bike stuff or walking more than planned. If it was me, I'd just go with mtb pedals and shoes and go without a power meter for awhile.
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Old 01-20-20, 01:11 PM
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Started out with my normal SPD-SLs on my gravel bike. But after a few bits of having to walk, I bought SPD pedals and shoes for it. Difficult to walk very far or up a steep slope in the road shoes, and once they get some mud in them, difficult to clip in and out.

Still use the SLs on my pure road bike.
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Old 01-20-20, 02:02 PM
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I went ahead and ordered MTB shoes/pedals...I went for another (longer, more isolated) gravel ride yesterday, and it convinced me that it's the best route.

However, another issue that I have with going with MTB shoes/pedals is, I have a large leg length discrepancy and I'm not sure how well having to run running shims works with them. The main benefit to the MTB setup is the recessed cleats, so having one protruding outwards does kind of defeat the purpose, no?
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Old 01-20-20, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by melikebikey35 View Post
I went ahead and ordered MTB shoes/pedals...I went for another (longer, more isolated) gravel ride yesterday, and it convinced me that it's the best route.

However, another issue that I have with going with MTB shoes/pedals is, I have a large leg length discrepancy and I'm not sure how well having to run running shims works with them. The main benefit to the MTB setup is the recessed cleats, so having one protruding outwards does kind of defeat the purpose, no?
The main benefit to the MTB setups is a cleat interface that doesn't clog up easily. When you're off pavement, a slightly protruding cleat will mostly just sink into the surface; it'll likely be most problematic when you're on pavement or indoors, and the front of your foot is supported on a small piece of metal.

If it's a big concern, one option might be to make custom MTB shoes by starting with road shoes that have a 2-bolt cleat interface and bonding scrap tire tread to the soles as the lugs.
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