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Shoes

Old 08-08-22, 04:19 AM
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Beddy
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Shoes

Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.

Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.

Cheers,

Dave
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Old 08-08-22, 06:01 AM
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noimagination
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Different people like different things. For me, riding in flexible shoes is painful on longer rides, so for riding I personally prefer a rigid cycling shoe. I ride clipless (have for decades now), but there are options for cycling shoes for riding in clips if you search.

If it's just riding to the store or something, or tooling around the neighborhood for half an hour, then riding in sneakers is fine.
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Old 08-08-22, 06:36 AM
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I think it depends on how much time you're actually spending on the bike. If the bike is transportation to other things that involve a lot of walking, like a commute to work, wear shoes that work better for walking. Or carry a spare pair of shoes.

If you're dealing with foot pain issues, that's another issue.

You can stiffen up the soles of softer shoes with rigid inserts like Super Feet.
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Old 08-08-22, 06:42 AM
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The singular advantage to toe clips and straps is that you can ride in just about any shoes you want to.

When I was riding clips and straps, I did find that after an hour in the saddle I could feel every tooth in my pedals through my sneaker soles. It's possible you'll progress to that point, and want more rigid soles. Superfeet is a good intermediate step.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.

Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.
Are you going to be riding 100 miles or just around the block. If the former, then hard soles and cleats (if you can find them). If the latter, any shoe will do.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:25 AM
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Get nice big flat pedals then you can wear any shoe you want.


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Old 08-08-22, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
Get nice big flat pedals then you can wear any shoe you want.
Except everyone ever who has clipped in and tried to sprint and then tried to do it on flats has immediately found out the same thing that GCN also found out. You can sprint much harder clipped in. That's why you have a cycling computer in front of you and a power meter, you see - you can just do your own research and measure your own performance. I actually do have a power meter also on my commute bike with flat pedals, because, well, why not, it's only 400 Euros / USD.

Then you see one of the reasons why Dylan also races clipped in. So does everyone, actually. While for steady state it doesn't matter (indeed, my 8 minute maximum on flats and clipped in is the same), there's a performance advantage in maximum force situations, my 1 minute maximum is better clipped in and my and 5s maximum is dramatically better.

The other reason is, surprisingly enough, comfort. I did ride about 250km on ordinary shoes in one go once. It works and it wasn't bad, but doing it in properly fitting cycling shoes was more comfortable. Of course, a specially designed flat pedal shoe with a fairly rigid sole might be on par, but... then you're in cycling specific shoes.

The third reason is that the overall feeling of control, of riding, of feedback from the bike is much improved, but I can't really quantify that - but everyone who has went over to clipless and has found a shoe his size isn't going back to flats because steady state power is the same. It's not the be-all and end-all of cycling performance nor comfort.

Look, I get it, I was also dragging my feet before trying clipless because you need special shoes, blah blah, you're just as efficient on normal shoes. I was wrong. Clipless rocks.

Last edited by Branko D; 08-08-22 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 08-08-22, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
Look, I get it, I was also dragging my feet before trying clipless because you need special shoes, blah blah, you're just as efficient on normal shoes. I was wrong. Clipless rocks.
No, clipless are nothing but a ploy by Big Bike to get you to spend money unnecessarily. With flat pedals, you can wear the same gray New Balance you've worn every day since you got them from Goodwill in 1997, and still win MTB races and triathlons, even if no one knows you're in the race.

Did I get that right?
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Old 08-08-22, 12:51 PM
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I'd actually ditch the toe clips and straps in favor of a big, grippy BMX/MTB flat pedal, especially if you're starting out or getting back into the sport. Clip&strap pedals need a shoe with a smooth, flat sole and no bulky lacing, or they'll snag on the shoe treads or stitching, unless you've got the straps so loose that you may as well be on a flat pedal anyhow. Plus you don't have to deal with all the faffing about to flip the pedal right side up so you can put your foot in while you're trying to get away from a stop.

For a flat pedal, you can use pretty much anything; flat-soled 'skate' shoes are popular, I like 'light-hiker/trail running shoes, since they're a little sturdier than typical sneakers, but still comfortable for extended off-bike use.
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Old 08-08-22, 03:36 PM
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I commute and use toe clips on three bikes, the fourth, a folding bike just has flats. I've found that a stiff-soled sneaker works best for me. And since I started wearing arch supports, those have made the soles just a bit stiffer, which works out nicely.
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Old 08-08-22, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
No, clipless are nothing but a ploy by Big Bike to get you to spend money unnecessarily. With flat pedals, you can wear the same gray New Balance you've worn every day since you got them from Goodwill in 1997, and still win MTB races and triathlons, even if no one knows you're in the race.

Did I get that right?
That was me in 1987 wearing my New Balance High Tops with my eggbeater Schwinn pedals on a 52/42 crankset with a 11-21 six speed thinking I was hawt $#!t.
No wonder I quit cycling for 25 years. That was not an enjoyable cycling experience. Sometimes change is good even for curmudgeons like me.
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Old 08-08-22, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.

Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.

Cheers,

Dave
Shoes with harder stiffer soles are better than shoes with very soft soles...and there are plenty of non-cycling specific shoes which are suitable for serious riding and longer distance riding.
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Old 08-08-22, 06:18 PM
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Ive just got some insoles with a stiff bottom that goes almost to the ball of the foot. I'm going to try them in my running shoes to see if it is stiff enough to help with the pain and numbness I sometimes get. I may need something stiffer over a larger area though. I have been using MKS RMX pedals but may try some with a larger surface on them. I'm not ready to clipless and give in to Big Pedal just yet.

I had a pair of New Balance shoes for tennis that had a stiffer sole than my running shoes. Some companies make mountain bike shoes that I think are for platform pedals, they may be something to try.
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Old 08-08-22, 07:30 PM
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Yea, foot retention is good for sprints, but who is doing sprints? Who are sprints important to? Almost nobody is the answer to that, and the answer anyone with a brain would get from the Dylan Johnson review of research on the subject. For the 99.999% of the population that is not Dylan Johnson or some other pro trying to win major races and to whom sprints are meaningless, flat pedals are the way to go.

Flat pedals are also more safe in a crash because you can get your foot down on the ground more quickly to help recover, it is easy to find stories of riders getting serious injuries because their foot was caught in a strap or clip preventing them from using their foot to keep the bike up, or making it so their knee hits the ground first.

The most common thing on this forum is the deeply flawed point that because pros use something for a fractional performance gain, then the general cycling public needs it. If that is the only argument you have, then you don't have one.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.

Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.

Cheers,

Dave
Years ago there were shoes called touring shoes which had a stiff sole and protection around the toe area and also a narrow heel. If you want to use toe clips and have a walkable shoe you can still get mtb shoes which are similar from Five-Ten and Afton and even Vans might still have some.

If you are just doing very short rides certainly anything will work. But if you spend hours on the pedals you should really have some stiff soles. Some of us have neuroma and other foot issues from pedals, some don't.

A friend who was a domestic pro and two time Olympian told me on his first double century he was wearing tennis shoes with quill style pedals and straps. At some point the bar across the pedal sawed through his shoe and he stopped at a store and bought a TV Guide and put part of it in his shoe.

Shoes – Afton Shoes

adidas Five Ten Freerider Mountain Bike Shoes - Grey | men mountain biking | adidas US

Last edited by big john; 08-08-22 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JosephRingo View Post
Holla, have to say in favour of sneakers! I've not found any better shoes for biking.
Sneakers have too soft a sole for riding any distance, is why even inexpensive cycling shoes are stiffer. They better support the foot from the constant pressure on the pedal.

@ the OP, I would recommend a set of mt. bike shoes that have a removable cover where the cleats install, just leave the cover in place. Try some on at a local bike shop.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.
There is a c&v subforum here where clips and straps are the norm on nice vintage road bikes. If you do an advanced search by subforum (c&v) and with "shoes" as the keyword in the thread title, you'll find informative threads like this:

Modern "Classic" shoes

​​​​​​Feel free to search more in c&v, quote somebody for info and "bump" it.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:53 PM
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My favorite shoes for clips and straps or flat pedals are Merrell’s. These are an all-terrain shoe which is reasonably stiff, quite comfortable, and wear like iron. They are a little more bulky than sneakers, but weigh about the same. My current pair have around 500 miles of walking them, and about the same distance cycling. I’ve ordered another pair for when my current shoes wear out.
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Old 08-08-22, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
Yea, foot retention is good for sprints, but who is doing sprints? Who are sprints important to? Almost nobody is the answer to that, and the answer anyone with a brain would get from the Dylan Johnson review of research on the subject. For the 99.999% of the population that is not Dylan Johnson or some other pro trying to win major races and to whom sprints are meaningless, flat pedals are the way to go.

The most common thing on this forum is the deeply flawed point that because pros use something for a fractional performance gain, then the general cycling public needs it. If that is the only argument you have, then you don't have one.
To someone who has won as many races as you have, and to do so by never sprinting, is truly impressive; Chapeau to you, sir.

Or...... Is this a clever scheme to convince the other hobbyist -racers to eschew any perceived (or actual) performance advantage, so that you may claim even more victories, thus adding to your palmares? That would be a strategic masterstroke.
Enquiring minds want to know.......
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Old 08-09-22, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
Years ago there were shoes called touring shoes which had a stiff sole and protection around the toe area and also a narrow heel.
Alas, the pure "touring" shoe seems to be gone from the market.

They are essentially a MTB shoe without all the lugs and bumps on the bottom. A nice smooth sole that's easy to walk in and slide into toe clips.

My wife still uses her Shimano WR35 touring shoes with SPD pedals. You can still find them for sale, used.


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Old 08-09-22, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.

Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.

Cheers,

Dave
From a competition aspect, this was figured out 120 years ago. Lightweight leather shoes with rigid soles and blocks underneath with a slot the pedal rattrap slid into. Pull toestrap tight and it's all there. Foot stays where it belongs, the power transfer to the pedals is as good as it gets and the ability to use more than just the downstroke when more power (or resting tired or injured muscles) is needed. For a century, very little changed. Then clipless was invented. Ease of pickup and disengagement. Float. Real improvement for some but not all. (Lance Arnstrong refused to use his sponsor's pedals; sticking to the earlier clipless pedal that could take a no-float cleat until finally that sponsor provided a no-float option.)

But, if you do not need float, there is no performance difference between toeclips, cleats and straps pulled tight and the best clipless - except for the first 50' (pedal pickup and strap tightening) and the last 10' (did you remember to loosen?). I see this every ride. All my bikes have rigid foot retention because my knees cannot tolerate float. (If my feet are not forced to more toe-in than they will take on their own, I'll eventually need those 3rd party knees. With forced toe-in, my OEMs have gone 200k and seem to be good for more.)

All my riding shoes have rigid soles. For now, I do not have good street shoes for riding and use cycling shoes that a cobbler (or I) have modified with additional sole material for walking securely and not killing cleats and floors. I used to love the LL Bean Ranger Oxfords with the moccasin-style uppers and smooth rubber soles plus a steel shank. Toestraps gripped those shoes really well and I could climb Seattle's NW 65th St to Aurora from both sides on a 42-17. Sadly, they got updated with a lugged sole and I haven't had a pair for decades. (Might try again and grind off the lugs. The shoes make A+ shop slippers after they died for cycling use!

All this is for a guy who's never focused on riding casually. Going fast on a bike has always been for me, so much fun that why would I want to limit it with my shoe/pedal choice? And yes, that is despite being a long, skinny, high wind resistance low powered critter that could only survive races with the gift of drafting until the race got to the hills.

These days I ride: Shimano 600/Dura-Ace semi-platform toeclipped pedals for my fix gears with aluminum Exustar cleats on those shoes, copies of LOOK Delta pedals with the black no-float cleats for my geared bikes and SPDs set with all the toe-in possible for my Raleigh Competition farmer's market, cruising and gravel bike. Road shoes for all but the Competition which gets MTB shoes. Fix gears always get toeclips because that is the only system that guarantees your foot stays on the pedal after a cleat pull-out. And at 200+ RPM, it is very hard to tell anything about how straight you are holding your foot! Same thing trying to go up 18% at an RPM of 20 and using every muscle in my body.

Oh, for toeclips, laced shoes are far better than straps. The straps may make pedal pick-up harder or even near impossible. I pushed my feet to the limit riding the week-long Cycle Oregon fix gear in cleated, strapped cycling shoes. Twice. Both times, issues with chafing, infections and bone bruising from trying to juggle the straps to be comfortable and shift my feet to minimize those issues. I was at a foot doctor after both. Then I cut off the straps and installed grommets from Tandy Leather. Wow! 8 years ago and those are still some of my favorite shoes ever. They've done three fgix gear Cycle Oregons win no issues at all. I've "laced" two more pairs and they get 95% of my riding (out of now 8? pairs of shoes - those foot issue years had me buying shoes looking for answers). Of course, laces were always the answer for toeclips. All that were used for 100 years!
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Old 08-09-22, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Alas, the pure "touring" shoe seems to be gone from the market.

They are essentially a MTB shoe without all the lugs and bumps on the bottom. A nice smooth sole that's easy to walk in and slide into toe clips.

My wife still uses her Shimano WR35 touring shoes with SPD pedals. You can still find them for sale, used.

The ones I had were from Asics. I used them to go across the US in 1990. They were lace-up, had a smooth sole, and extra material where the toe strap contacted the foot. They also had a very narrow heel which I like because I toe-out. I was already using clipless for road riding before the tour but wanted the walkable shoes.

I also had a pair of Specialized Dirt Dogs. Pretty good except I had to grind the heel where it would hit the crankarm.

Nothing but clipless since those days.
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Old 08-09-22, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Beddy View Post
Hello all,
Wondering what the best shoes for riding in toe clips would be.
Hard and rigid, soft and flexible.
As mentioned already, the "best" shoes are subjective, and largely dependent on your personal riding style, intensity, duration, off-bike needs,etc.
Generally, I think something with a stiffer sole than regular running shoes have, is gonna be much more comfortable and efficient (so that's my vote!)
While my road bike has clip'in pedals, and typical rigid-soled road bike shoes, i do have flat pedals on my 2 hybrid bikes, and have gotten to be a fan of riding in non-bike athletic shoes in recent years. The simplicity, economy, and off-bike mobility is huge plus, IMO.
That being said, I use an athletic shoe with a little more rigidity than something like my super lightweight and flexible Brooks running shoes, and if I had any sport shoes with an even stiffer sole,I'd use them ( but I'm too lazy and cheap to go find some! )

Last edited by Brocephus; 08-09-22 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 08-09-22, 06:03 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by beng1 View Post
The most common thing on this forum is the deeply flawed point that because pros use something for a fractional performance gain, then the general cycling public needs it. If that is the only argument you have, then you don't have one.
It's not as common as the deeply flawed claim that if you don't believe something will benefit you personally (whether or not you've even tried it), then nobody else will benefit from it either. You don't have to be a world class pro to enjoy and see real gains from the use of indexed shifting, aero brake levers, modern frame materials, modern tires, or countless other developments--including clipless pedals. If you don't like these things or you find they don't help you, that's fine. Don't use them. Many other amateur or recreational riders benefit from them--millions, in fact. They are not deluded, are not victims of some corporate conspiracy, are not mindless sheep led to waste their money for zero benefit.

I never understand how retro-grouch curmudgeons reconcile the logic of claiming that the 30, 40, or 60 year old bike they ride is the pinnacle of design and technology, and everything that's been introduced since is a pointless waste. Why are you not riding a penny farthing? Or maybe a safety bike with wooden wheels and whatever they called those stupid barely functional brake systems from the 19th century? How is it that your rotten old junky 1960s bike came with everything that any non-pro rider will ever need? By your logic, the bikes that came a generation before also had everything you need, and so did the ones before that, etc. You're essentially saying, "The year 19xx was the point at which bikes came with every worthwhile development, because that's when I turned 18 years old and could afford my first serious bike."

I'm not a fan of disc brakes on road bikes, but that's the direction bike technology is going, so I'm sure I'll switch to them someday. Likewise probably some kind of electronic automatic shifting system, or who knows what. I like the current state of the industry and sometimes cringe when I see how bikes are becoming more expensive and packed with increasingly high-tech gadgets. But I'd be a fool to insistently dismiss all future tech developments without even giving them a try. I love the modern stuff I've already taken on (e.g. clipless pedals, GPS and radar, tubeless tires, a few carbon fiber parts), so I have to at least be open minded enough to accept that good stuff continuously comes to market. It takes incredible ignorance and even personal hubris to believe that whatever the bike world had to offer when you were young is the gold standard... everything prior is obviously outdated, and everything since is needless corporate greed.

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Old 08-09-22, 06:29 PM
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Speaking of shoes, I have these new-in-box Carnac Mens M1 Touring shoes that I bought in 2008 but never used.

They have a nice rubber sole and mounting slots for SPD cleats. Size is 42, which I think is US men's 8.5 (at least they fit my 8.5 foot). Each shoe weighs 397 grams, according to my scale.

If anyone wants them, let me know (and maybe you can cover my cost of mailing to you?). Otherwise, they go out during the next house cleanup.


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