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Road Cycling Shoe Selection Dilemma

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Road Cycling Shoe Selection Dilemma

Old 02-25-18, 01:37 PM
  #1  
SparkyCanada
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Road Cycling Shoe Selection Dilemma

Hi there.

I am an intermediate road cyclist.

I cycle year round in Canada.

I decided it was time to upgrade my shoes this year.

I plan on using these shoes when I head out on to the open paved roads of the prairies during the summer.

I currently have Shimano SPD shoes which I've been wearing for over 15+ years. (there doesn't appear to be a model on them - but I can tell you that the cleats are recessed)

I recently went out to my local bike shops and their inventory is quite limited.

I was able to try on a few different types of shoes and discovered certain shoes don't fit as well as other.

Surprisingly the Specialized and Pearl Izumi were not good fits.

The Shimano RP3 fit reasonably well.

Here are my questions:
1. What is the difference/advantages/disadvantages between the Shimano RP & RC shoes?
2. Will I notice much difference while cycling if I choose a road shoe over a triathlon shoe?
3. A friend of mine owns Sidi shoes. Will I appreciate these shoes (with their extra expense) compared to less expensive shoes?
4. Because I would have to order most other shoes online due to limited supply here - is there a site you folks recommend for cycling shoes?

Thanks for all your guidance....

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Old 02-25-18, 01:46 PM
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The first and far and away most important thing to consider about cycling shoes is that they're SHOES.

So, fit trumps everything else, especially because cycling shoes are very rigid and made of materials that will not break in.

If the fit is right, the rest doesn't matter so much. By the same token, if the fit isn't right, nothing else matters at all.
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Old 02-25-18, 01:53 PM
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Different brands of shoes fit differently. Some brands tend to be wider for their length and others narrower. I don't recall if any brands give you a selection of widths for a given length. And none tell you about their instep fit.

I'd be leery of ordering a shoe for a brand that I have not had the chance to personally try on. If the Shimano's are comfortable to you, then you likely have a wider foot. So if you are going by comments and reviews, look for brands that people say "run bigger" in size.
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Old 02-25-18, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The first and far and away most important thing to consider about cycling shoes is that they're SHOES.

So, fit trumps everything else, especially because cycling shoes are very rigid and made of materials that will not break in.

If the fit is right, the rest doesn't matter so much. By the same token, if the fit isn't right, nothing else matters at all.
Thanks for the reply FBin NY.

I agree 100% with what you are saying.

I guess I'm debating on whether to spend extra money on nicer shoes. There must be a reason some shoes are $100.00 a pair and others are substantially more.

Don't believe I need $1,000.00 shoes - but could see myself springing for $300.00 shoes if I knew they would be a better shoe than the $100.00 shoe...

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Old 02-25-18, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Different brands of shoes fit differently. Some brands tend to be wider for their length and others narrower. I don't recall if any brands give you a selection of widths for a given length. And none tell you about their instep fit.

I'd be leery of ordering a shoe for a brand that I have not had the chance to personally try on. If the Shimano's are comfortable to you, then you likely have a wider foot. So if you are going by comments and reviews, look for brands that people say "run bigger" in size.
Thanks for the reply Iride01.

Yes the lower priced Shimano's were a pretty good fit. Which has me debating as to whether I should spring for a more expensive model in the Shimano line...?

Would I notice a difference in their higher end shoes?

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Old 02-25-18, 02:20 PM
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They're just shoes. If they fit well you get secure attachment and power transfer to the pedals. That's true of all shoes, so its about features you prefer, even if they're not really better, and in some case, which cleat system they support.

Sidi's fit me best, and because I have high arches which can be sensitive, I've always liked Sidi's two strap system. The instep strap secures the foot nicely and the ratchet arch strap is rigid keeping the shoe secure and stable without having to be tightened tight. I'll sometimes ratchet it one or two clicks tighter for steep climbs, then relax it back for comfort for long term comfort.

But if Sidi's didn't fit nicely, I'd find ways to like other systems just as much.

BTW- my rule is to find the features I consider important, then buy the cheapest shoe that as them. There's n o need to pay more for features that aren't important to me.
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Old 02-25-18, 04:41 PM
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If you tried on the Shimano shoes and they got will, go with those, you can even get them at the place you tried them on at.

I think a lot of the higher prices are from weight.
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Old 02-25-18, 06:40 PM
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Some of the additional expense is stiffness, likely full carbon soles, or carbon mid-soles.

As well, not all the shoes in a manufactures line fit the same. I’ve used Shimano M087 and R087 mt. and road shoes, that fit very well in wide. The Shimano SH-XC7 shoes in wide, is significantly pricier, fits well, is stiffer, but not quite as good a fit (for my feet) as the 087 series. Close enough though.

I only upgraded as I needed a stiffer SPD shoe to alleviate hot foot, which the better shoe has done, so worth the money.

Note that a good rule of thumb for cycling is spend money on the contact points - Shoes, saddles, shorts, gloves.
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Old 02-25-18, 07:55 PM
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Typically, the fit will be essentially identical as you move up and down within a manufacturer's lineup. As you move up in price, you're typically going to get a stiffer sole, more fancy closure systems (velcro straps, ratcheting buckles, Boa dials and there's laces, which are back in style and showing up at just about every price point) and lighter weight. Some manufacturers will also get in to heat-moldable footbeds, heel-retention gizmos, etc.

I would find the brand that your feet like and then decide how far up the ladder you want to go.
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Old 02-25-18, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SparkyCanada View Post
Because I would have to order most other shoes online due to limited supply here - is there a site you folks recommend for cycling shoes?
Backcountry.com will send several pairs and only charge you for the one's you keep. They will provide free return shipping for the one's you want to send back.

You have to call them and work with a real person, not through the internet.


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Old 02-27-18, 09:41 PM
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I wanted to go with a lighter, carbon shoe this year. I vascilated between Sidi and something else. I settled on Giro Factors because of price and I could try them on. I regret not buying the Sidis. The Giros are comfortable but the buckles suck. I have a hard time getting the right one to release.
Get what is comfortable and affordable. For me, I would be fine dropping 250 or less on shoes because I keep them for a loooong time.
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Old 02-28-18, 02:41 AM
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If Shimano RP3 fit well, then RP5 or RP9 should fit just as well, and will provide more sole stiffness and other bling. A few months ago I went to a reasonably well equipped bike store and tried on all shoes they had in my size regardless of the price - old Shimano SH-R321 were the best fit and Shimano RP5 the second best. At the price difference I picked up RP5 and haven't regretted it so far. BTW, the new RC series of Shimano shoes has a different last and doesn't fit the same as the RP and the old SH-R... series models.

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Old 03-01-18, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiery View Post
If Shimano RP3 fit well, then RP5 or RP9 should fit just as well, and will provide more sole stiffness and other bling. A few months ago I went to a reasonably well equipped bike store and tried on all shoes they had in my size regardless of the price - old Shimano SH-R321 were the best fit and Shimano RP5 the second best. At the price difference I picked up RP5 and haven't regretted it so far. BTW, the new RC series of Shimano shoes has a different last and doesn't fit the same as the RP and the old SH-R... series models.
I can confirm after trying on lots of different shoes, that Shimano shoes vary quite a bit. I wouldn't assume that because one pair of Shimano fits well, all other models will too.

Mail ordering shoes can be a real gamble, and shipping to Canada is also a pain. If you don't have a good shop nearby to try on shoes, you might want to consider ordering from MEC, they have a good return policy.
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Old 03-01-18, 11:07 AM
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BOA closures are great. If you can find a pair with that lacing system, I'd go with that. Depending how they are laced, you can get a lot of adjustability out of them. Personally, I also find the type of cleat/pedal system you use can affect comfort. The amount of float, the cleat size/interface with the pedal can create hotspots too. So, really it's not exclusively about the shoe that can affect comfort. Cost is practically irrelevant, once you get above a certain price point. Very low end shoes will be very bulky, and have crappy closure systems. Really high end stuff may save you a few grams, and have a few extra bells and whistles, but there comes a point of diminishing returns, IMO. I've been happy with my Fizik R5's, which is a middle of the road shoe with a BOA closure.
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Old 03-01-18, 11:38 AM
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I disagree about the BOA - they're expensive and not an improvement over the standard ratched style closures. I have one pair of sidis with 2 straps and a ratchet and another pair of sidis with 2 boas and a ratchet.

I don't know if it's true or not but I've convinced myself that I like a stiffer sole in my bike shoes (and is there really a difference between sidi genius 5 and sidi kaos? My feet think so)

Sidi fits me better than Shimano, the shoe has less foot volume. If Shimano fits you better, might want to stick with that.
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Old 03-01-18, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
I disagree about the BOA - they're expensive and not an improvement over the standard ratched style closures. I have one pair of sidis with 2 straps and a ratchet and another pair of sidis with 2 boas and a ratchet.

I don't know if it's true or not but I've convinced myself that I like a stiffer sole in my bike shoes (and is there really a difference between sidi genius 5 and sidi kaos? My feet think so)

Sidi fits me better than Shimano, the shoe has less foot volume. If Shimano fits you better, might want to stick with that.
I disagree about the BOA
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Old 03-01-18, 01:03 PM
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I assumed you would.
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Old 03-02-18, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mercator View Post
I can confirm after trying on lots of different shoes, that Shimano shoes vary quite a bit. I wouldn't assume that because one pair of Shimano fits well, all other models will too.
I wrote from personal experience of trying all these shoes. I find they tend to fit very similarly between models of the same generation - so RP3 fits similarly to (last year's*) RP5 and RP9, and RC7 fits similarly to RC9, but RPx and RCx fit nothing alike.

* I notice the RP5 and RP9 have been redesigned this year, which I wasn't aware of when I wrote the first post. They look more like the RC series now, but I wouldn't try to guess how they fit without trying.
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Old 03-02-18, 08:10 AM
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LOve my rc7’s, find them more comfortable then the rc9’s I took back and over half the price! Great shoes if they work for you, simple 1 boa design..easy adjustment, stiff and light.
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Old 03-02-18, 08:43 PM
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Sparky,
I’ve been riding Sidi’s for about 16 years and I never consider another brand when I’m shopping for new shoes.
One pair lasted me 9 years and the Velcro closures eventually had no grip, so I needed to replace.

At the end of the day, they may be a little more money, but the quality of their shoes is worth it to me.

You can check Bike Chain Cafe, a UK site that usually has great deals. You can also try Competative Cyclist, a US site that has great return policy if you need to try multiple sizes of the same shoe.
I would also recommend hitting the site, In The Know Cycling. If you link to Comeptative Cyclist through ITKC, you’ll get an extra 10%.
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Old 03-04-18, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Note that a good rule of thumb for cycling is spend money on the contact points - Shoes, saddles, shorts, gloves.
Interesting... I don't wear shoes or gloves at all unless its cold, don't usually wear bike shorts either (but I do wear shorts, just not spandex padding ones, to be clear). I'd say a saddle is very important but then when I think about it I've only ever been uncomfortable in just a couple saddles. I'd say I'm saving a ton of money but I guess I spend it on more bikes lol!
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Old 03-04-18, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by T Stew View Post
Interesting... I don't wear shoes or gloves at all unless its cold, don't usually wear bike shorts either (but I do wear shorts, just not spandex padding ones, to be clear). I'd say a saddle is very important but then when I think about it I've only ever been uncomfortable in just a couple saddles. I'd say I'm saving a ton of money but I guess I spend it on more bikes lol!
Given the numbers of posts on about any cycling forum, concerning shorts/bibs/saddles/gloves/shoes, etc..... it's apparent that for the majority of riders, getting comfortable on any double diamond bike (as in - not a recumbent/trike) is a major issue.

Count yourself lucky that you have no or few physical issues that require supplemental measures be taken to be comfortable. You are not in the majority as far as I can tell.
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Old 03-04-18, 06:30 PM
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2. Will I notice much difference while cycling if I choose a road shoe over a triathlon shoe?
I also use the SPD shoes/pedals. Would road cleats and shoes be faster? Well perhaps for Chris Froome but for me? I value comfort and convenience over that last bit of efficiency that I cannot possible use anyway. I appreciate being able to walk in the SPD shoes normally.
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Old 03-05-18, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
The first and far and away most important thing to consider about cycling shoes is that they're SHOES.

So, fit trumps everything else, especially because cycling shoes are very rigid and made of materials that will not break in.

If the fit is right, the rest doesn't matter so much. By the same token, if the fit isn't right, nothing else matters at all.
+1

I will add that I have been using Specialized shoes and Speedplay pedal/cleats. If I had it to do over again I'd try Sidi Mt. bike shoes with Speedplay Frogs. But, that's just me. No regrets about the Specialized shoes or Speedplay road cleats.
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Old 03-05-18, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Given the numbers of posts on about any cycling forum, concerning shorts/bibs/saddles/gloves/shoes, etc..... it's apparent that for the majority of riders, getting comfortable on any double diamond bike (as in - not a recumbent/trike) is a major issue.

Count yourself lucky that you have no or few physical issues that require supplemental measures be taken to be comfortable. You are not in the majority as far as I can tell.
Very right that I'm in the minority and I do count myself lucky. I'm lucky too I have nice bike trails that are smooth, I think if I was on the rough stuff a lot then pedal retention might be more of an issue, but I can pretty much do a century ride here on nice paved trails. Even having to take many country roads on my last really long ride, a three day several hundred mile trip I had no problem with pedal retention. Perhaps being clipped in would have allowed me to be more lazy with my form but I don't think that is necessarily a good thing even if it is a bit more comfortable and carefree. Anyhow, just a reminder there are alternatives sort of now back to the stinky shoe discussion.
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