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Are bike shoes really necessary?

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Old 12-13-04, 01:29 PM
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becnal
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Are bike shoes really necessary?

Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
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Old 12-13-04, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
I think they are worth it but I just had my first serious accident using them so be very careful. I haven't been on them since but will try it again because I estimate you're about 15% more efficient. I'm still looking for shoes where the cleat doesn't hit the street with every step. Does anyone know of a pair of SPDs that don't make noise every time you walk on the sidewalk?
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Old 12-13-04, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
I know how it looks. Most sports have goofy parafinalia and one wonders if it really is necessary. However, it has been my experience that most of the cycling specific apparal has a practical and noticeable application.

Well, cycling shoes might not be absolutely "necessary" but they do make a noticeable difference. The advantage of cycling shoes is that they have rigid soles and the rigid soles give you two benefits. The first benefit is a smooth transmission of power to the pedal for you performance oriented types. The second benefit is the pedals will not bite into your feet and wearing cycling shoes is noticeably more comfortable over any non cycling shoe. A third benefit is that you can use cleats or go to clipless pedals. Both approaches greatly improve your foot's contact with the pedal and improves your pedalling comfort & efficiency.

Going to an inexpensive pair of cycling shoes and a pair of clipless pedals is the first "upgrade" I would recommend. It is well worth it. Also cycling shoes last a long time with any kind of reasonable care at all. So it isn't like you are going to be replacing them all the time.

Also another test of cycling shoes is how long they have been around. Cycling shoes that are very similar to our current models appeared over 100 years ago and have been the choice of the overwelming number of serious cyclists up to the present day. That fact alone should tell you something.
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Old 12-13-04, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
You can say the same about golf shoes, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, baseball shoes, soccer shoes, running shoes, etc....

Even my coffee bike requires cycling shoes.....

Last edited by roadfix; 12-13-04 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 12-13-04, 03:07 PM
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I've been a power grip user since the time they came out, but I recommend clipping in on a road bike, it does improve your pedaling cadence. But I still have power grips on my three non road bike set up.
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Old 12-13-04, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money?
the answer is yes to both questions.
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Old 12-13-04, 03:22 PM
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I have both clipless and toe clip equiped bikes. For short rides, not races, it makes no real difference which you use. Once you start riding more than an hour, give or take, you can really start to feel the difference. One place is the sole of the shoe as mentioned above, but the bigger difference, to me, is the feeling of pulling the peddle while clipped in as opposed to pushing up on the toe clip. Also, I always hate messing up my shoes in toe clips after a couple of long rides.
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Old 12-13-04, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
There are two real advantages
1. They are stiffer and help you transfer more power to each stroke
2. They can accept cleats for clipless pedals so you can apply power throuought the whole stroke.

Keep in mind you don't need clipless to get the stiffness advantage, but that the real advantage of cycling shoes does come with clipless. In otherwords you can get a pair of cycling shoes get some advantage, then decide later to add clips.

You can get a variety of shoes:
-Mountain bike and touring shoes most often have recessed clips so you also walk in them quite well. This makes them good for communiting and errand running (in addtion to mtb and touring)
-Road shoes may be stiffer and engineered to be very lightweight, but they are only good when you are on the bike.
-You can even get sandals that are fairly stiff (but not as much as the pricier mtb and road shoes) and also accept cleats. This is what I use. I love 'em.

Relative to a lot of other cycling gear they are not a gimmick at all.

Al
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Old 12-13-04, 04:42 PM
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I think they are an advantage. I feel like I am more solidly connected to the bike. On the upstroke your muscles can contribute to the pedaling if you are attached to the pedal.

I'm not a racer and am fond of comfort so I use inexpensive mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats so that I can walk comfortably off the bike.
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Old 12-13-04, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance
Yes they are. But you don't have to spend hundreds for Sidis or whatever. I'm still riding with a pair of $79.00 Shimano road shoes from 6 years ago.
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Old 12-13-04, 08:23 PM
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Gaul..I would hate to have them install clips on the souls of my feet..
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Old 12-13-04, 09:40 PM
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IMO the biggest advantage of cycling shoes is that it gets rid of hot-spots on you're feet. Then of course they are more efficient and then comes the "cool factor"(or geek factor whatever you want to call it) when non-bikers see you wearing them.
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Old 12-13-04, 11:15 PM
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I ride flats with skate shoes. Likely never use anything else.
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Old 12-13-04, 11:46 PM
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I own a pair of Eggbeater pedals and Specialized road shoes. They make a definite difference, but I only use them for tours and long rides. At all other times I use bmx style pedals. They have a wide surface area and pins for traction, so they work well with my Airwalks, (errands,) or my work boots,(commuting.) I consider it more of a hassle to carry extra shoes everywhere I go than to have that extra flex. I like toeclips but I can only find the cheap plastic ones these days, and they wear out so quickly. So are they really necessary, depends on what you do with your bike, they are nice if you're a racer, tourer or messenger, but overkill if you're a casual cyclist.
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Old 12-14-04, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I think they are worth it but I just had my first serious accident using them so be very careful. I haven't been on them since but will try it again because I estimate you're about 15% more efficient. I'm still looking for shoes where the cleat doesn't hit the street with every step. Does anyone know of a pair of SPDs that don't make noise every time you walk on the sidewalk?
Specialized Taho still make a bit of a clop if you hit it right, but NOTHING like most of the cleats. I love mine, and they're pretty comfy to walkin also
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Old 12-14-04, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Are bike shoes really worth the added expense, or are they just a way for some companies to make money? I've never tried any, so I'm asking for your learned opinions.

Thanks!

Lance

If you want to find out for yourself, Performance has a shoe, the Forte for about $25.

For shoes you have choices, platform or cleated. The Forte comes as a platform, but you can cut away a section of the sole with a blade to make it a cleated shoe.

BTW that is the shoe I use as well, it looks like a street shoe, comfortable, and the sole is stiff enough that my feet dont hurt after a nice long ride. Only hurt I had was on a 60 mile ride....I need a stiffer sole for that kind of riding, and the forte only has a fiberglas reinforced sole.

To me, it made a pretty large difference, and was one of the better $25 I spent as far as performance and comfort goes.
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Old 12-14-04, 06:19 AM
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Thanks for all the input folks. I do lots of cross-europe riding (I live in Germany). I am looking at getting the Lake MX 155. They don't look goofy while off the bike. Does anyone have experience with these? Are the good for long tours with a lot of off-bike as well?

What are clips and cleats and straps and platforms???
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Old 12-14-04, 09:52 AM
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Cycling shoes are definitely worth the expense. Of course you can do without them - especially if you're riding for fun/recreation. But they sure are nice. When I switched to clipless pedals 8 years ago my riding instantly went up a notch. You make such better contact with the bike and feel much more stable, plus you can apply force through your entire pedal stroke. Yes, they do require a little bit of getting used to... You can get a variety of shoes, too. Ultra-light super-stiff racing shoes are available, and expensive, but you can't really walk in them. You can also get mountain-style shoes that are much easier to walk in but maybe a little heavier. I have a pair of SIDI shoes which I use for road racing/fast training and a pair if Nike mountain shoes which almost look like a pair of casual shoes. I wear these in the winter, because they're warmer then the racing shoes, and on long rides and while touring, because they're quite comfortable to walk in. Try it - make the investment, you'll like it.
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Old 12-14-04, 10:05 AM
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No they are not worth the money unless you are riding longer distances or have few stops. For short around the town rides, sneakers and flat cage pedals work quite well.
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Old 12-14-04, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelstrom
I ride flats with skate shoes. Likely never use anything else.
There is a store up the street from me selling skate board shoes. I bought a pair because they were cheap and I liked their looks. Found out that the stiff sole makes for a terrific cycling shoe, yet they still are comfortable for walking. I like hiking boots for the same reasons, but boots are a bit heavy for use off the trail.
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Old 12-14-04, 02:57 PM
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I can not believe you can really get good traction on the pedals without bike shoes...Not for serious, long distance rides at least.
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Old 12-17-04, 07:31 AM
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i have a pair of exus e-sm600 which is not too bad for walking and looks good, but after the touring iceland this summer i found that my toes were numb for several months only to regain the feeling recently due to the coldness. any solution to this? wear hiking boots?

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Old 12-17-04, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by forum*rider
IMO the biggest advantage of cycling shoes is that it gets rid of hot-spots on you're feet.
You've obviously been lucky first up.

Cycling shoes, as a generic term, are *not* a solution to hot-foot or hot-spots and can actually cause them. I speak from PE.
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Old 12-17-04, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by becnal

What are clips and cleats and straps and platforms???
Platform pedals are plain ordinary traditional pedals.
Clips or toeclips are the metal/plastic cages which bolt onto the platform pedal and position your foot.
Straps are leather or nylon straps which thread around the pedal and clip and hold your foot tight.
A Cleat is a thing which bolts onto the underside of your shoe and has a slot which engages with the edge of the platform pedal.
This was the traditional setup for racing and fast touring until clipless systems came along in the 1980s.

Platforms/toeclips/straps are still useful but for safety you never cinch the straps tight and the cleat is never used. If you want more efficiency then its much safer to use a clipless system.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:43 PM
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Bike shoes are cheap when it comes to comfort. Performance has their own mountain brand for spd pedals for under $40 all the time. You can walk in these but I wouldn’t want it to be too far. In 1979 I got my first toe clips and bike shoes. What a difference. When I started bicycling again in 1999 I bought spd pedals and shoes. Even better. All my bikes have spd pedals. My everyday shoes have 20,000+ miles on them. Can you get that out of any other type shoe? For the recreational rider I do not recommend road pedals. They are lighter, not cheaper and anything over a few steps on the ground is painful. When you first install them practice starting and stopping until you are proficient. It becomes second nature. Once you use them for a while you will never look back.
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