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Normal cycling shoes plus cover or winter specific boots?

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Normal cycling shoes plus cover or winter specific boots?

Old 01-24-21, 12:54 PM
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Normal cycling shoes plus cover or winter specific boots?

I am thinking of picking up integrated cycling boots but they are expensive and not very versatile since only Jan and Feb are cold enough to require their use. Does anyone use boots and do they offer any advantage over the shoe cover? I use Specialized shoe covers and they are warm enough for up to -15C. Any colder I need extra wool and fleece socks.
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Old 01-24-21, 01:46 PM
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Shoe covers hold up very poorly even to tiny amounts of walking. The stroll from the bike rack at work to the dressing room would be enough to wear out a pair in less than a season for me.
In comparison, winter boots last ”forever”.
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Old 01-24-21, 02:08 PM
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You are using neoprene covers and they aren't good enough?
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Old 01-24-21, 03:03 PM
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I can only speak in a commuting context, but it is true that shoe covers do wear out quickly so you may not want to throw too much money there.
Do you really need cycling shoes? Maybe, when it is really cold, you can switch to some less expensive, insulated outdoor boots (+ socks)?
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Old 01-24-21, 03:11 PM
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If you are riding at that temp then money shouldn't be an issue, if it is then stop riding when it is so cold. If you let you feet go numb you are going to get sick.
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Old 01-24-21, 08:22 PM
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I did shoe covers for ages before I switched to boots. My biggest problem with shoe covers was the size. I wear size 44 (US 10 1/2) in the summer but I jump up 2 sizes. The very largest neoprene covers were a struggle to get on to the shoes and the shoes had to be fairly smooth. Mountain bike lugs on the shoes made it even worse.

I agree that walking in the shoe covers stressed them...although Performance brand covers were very tough. One issue that hasn’t been addressed is traction when you stop or try to walk in on slick surfaces. It’s not quite as bad as walking in road shoe but damned close. Boots have more traction if you need to walk and when you put a foot down.
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Old 02-12-21, 05:34 AM
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Came in hoping for some updated boot recommendations.

I’ll add to the pile on- neoprene covers are a royal pain to put on & remove and aren’t even as good in use, either thermally or as wet protection, as Press-N-Seal (at the grocery store, near the Saran Wrap and Aluminum Foil), and the durability is maybe 20x better than PnS- which is really just one time use.

I live where the roads are heavily salted so both of the 45nrth boots look like they’d really not be up to all of the task, given their exposed boas.
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Old 02-12-21, 09:06 AM
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I haven't found neoprene shoe covers that work for size 49 MTB shoes, but I've had pretty good luck with Showers Pass zip-on shoe covers. The pair I have now survived 4-5 winters (not counting this one) of commuting, including treks to and from the garage and to and from the bike shed at work.

Still, they're a hassle. I generally don't bother with them above about -5 to -7C (25-20F, if I calculated correctly). Down to -10C, they keep my toes toasty on a 45 minute ride; I wished for something warmer when it was -14C.

I looked at winter boots every winter, and every winter (so far) decided they weren't worth it for me because of:
- Cost
- Storage space
- Most winters here I'd only use them a dozen or two days per year.

If I lived 200 miles north, where they have months instead of weeks of winter, I'd have bought boots by now. YMMV.
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Old 02-12-21, 10:40 AM
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I have a pair of lightly-insulated hiking boots. When it's really cold, it's those and wool socks. Well, actually it's wool socks 365*. Generally I find that if I keep my core warm enough my fingers and toes aren't a problem, so I layer up in multiple thin layers just a bit more than is really necessary and peel if I really need to.

* In 1973, buying boots in a serious boot store I got chewed out by the salesman for having cotton socks. It was summer, and he said if I tried wool just once that I would not go back. I tried, and I have not gone back. Cool in summer, warm in winter, no more heel burns and callus. Not at all what I expected, regarding summer.

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Old 02-12-21, 10:51 AM
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I use Performance brand neoprene over-boots, over size 46 mt bike shoes., The Performance booties always ran big and I use the largest (XL), they've also discontinued them. They do sell a Louis Garneau neoprene designed for mt. biking and I would get the XXL if I was ordering new.

I also invested in Lake MX303 winter boots to use in temps down to 15F. In truth I don't find them much an improvement over my Shimano shoes with neoprene booties. My Lakes are size 47 and I likely should have ordered 48's as they seem tight.

My feet also get cold in late August so I admit I'm a special case as folks generally find the Lake boots warm.
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Old 02-16-21, 07:05 PM
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I used Performance neoprene shoe covers for many years which got pretty ratty, and they were also not super warm. Recently I got some Castelli Estremo shoe covers, they are rated down to 15F and are a big improvement over my neoprene covers. Along with working great they appear to be much more durable. I have MTB shoes with cleats and they are not hard to put over once you get used to it. These are working well enough and I have few enough days a year when it is below 40F that I see no boots in my future..
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Old 02-17-21, 08:01 AM
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What type of pedals are you using when you ride in the winter? When riding in the snow do you not find you are having to put your foot down more often due to unstable conditions? I recently picked up a pair of Goretex, water proof hiking shoes figuring I can use them to hike as well as bike in. I'm using flat pedals as I can't even imagine trying to unclip while riding on snowy trails but that's just me.
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Old 02-17-21, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
* In 1973, buying boots in a serious boot store I got chewed out by the salesman for having cotton socks. It was summer, and he said if I tried wool just once that I would not go back. I tried, and I have not gone back. Cool in summer, warm in winter, no more heel burns and callus. Not at all what I expected, regarding summer.
Wholeheartedly agree, Smartwool for me. https://www.smartwool.com/
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Old 02-17-21, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
What type of pedals are you using when you ride in the winter? When riding in the snow do you not find you are having to put your foot down more often due to unstable conditions? I recently picked up a pair of Goretex, water proof hiking shoes figuring I can use them to hike as well as bike in. I'm using flat pedals as I can't even imagine trying to unclip while riding on snowy trails but that's just me.
I think you are asking me that because I mentioned MTB shoes.. I should have added I am only on the road in the winter, it is a mudfest 95% of the time on the trails in the winter here. And I'm too cheap to buy two sets of biking shoes.

For MTB I agree flats all the way in the winter. I still have clips on my MTB but bought a pair of flat pedals not too long ago to try out (not in the winter though).

Re: socks, I have been using wool blend socks with a minority of wool (Darn Tough brand, great socks) but I was recently noticing how incredibly warm the long underwear I have which is higher in wool content. So I ordered some Rapha Deep Winter socks. It sounds like they are equal to a shoe cover in added protection. I look forward to trying out the socks without shoe covers in the 30-40F range. Also I will have something for those rare high teens - low 20's days here.
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Old 02-17-21, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
What type of pedals are you using when you ride in the winter? When riding in the snow do you not find you are having to put your foot down more often due to unstable conditions? I recently picked up a pair of Goretex, water proof hiking shoes figuring I can use them to hike as well as bike in. I'm using flat pedals as I can't even imagine trying to unclip while riding on snowy trails but that's just me.
The ones I use unsnap easily. I remember the old LOOK (I think that's what they were) pedals that required a special twist.
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Old 02-17-21, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
What type of pedals are you using when you ride in the winter? When riding in the snow do you not find you are having to put your foot down more often due to unstable conditions? I recently picked up a pair of Goretex, water proof hiking shoes figuring I can use them to hike as well as bike in. I'm using flat pedals as I can't even imagine trying to unclip while riding on snowy trails but that's just me.
I use dual sided mountain bike clipless pedals. I use the same pedals off-road during the summer with different shoes and have never had a problem getting a foot down when needed.

When I ride in snow and ice, I keep my foot attached to the pedal and resist the urge to put down a foot just as I resist the urge to “catch myself” in a crash. In neither situation is putting out a hand or foot going to help and are likely to result in a far more serious injury. I’ve learned this the hard way. I was shortcutting through a skate park with snow on it once when I pulled my foot out of my pedal to “catch myself”. I didn’t realized the surface on skate parks are glazed and the bike went one way while my leg went the other. I strained my hamstring and was off the bike for a couple of weeks. This was the day after being cleared to ride following a broken ankle and surgery to remove old hardware.

At least it wasn’t as bad as what happened to a mechanic at my local co-op. He slide on ice while commuting to work. He put his foot out to “catch” him, hit dry pavement while sliding, and folded his lower leg to a 90° angle in the wrong direction...not that there is a “right” direction to fold your leg. He was in traction for 2 weeks, endured multiple surgeries...including one to fix a secondary infection...and spent 9 months off his bike. Had he just ridden the bike down, he would have had some bruises.
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Old 02-17-21, 09:57 AM
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Having gone through this very thing myself (though at much higher temps, I just have really cold feet all the time) the answer is boots, 100%. I tried every type of sock known to man, as well as a handful of different shoe covers. No joy. Then I found a pair of Bontrager OMW Boots on eBay for $40 and snapped them up immediately. Here in SoCal I might have to wear them half a dozen times a year, but man are they good. Sooooo good. And so warm I wear them with liner socks-- you know, those wispy thin ones designed to be worn under other socks. Meanwhile for hiking/walking, I have to wear wool socks so thick I have a pair of shoes one size bigger to accommodate them.
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Old 02-17-21, 10:50 AM
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I ride in walking boots with regular socks, the same as in summer. This has worked for me down to -28C/-18F, but currently it only gets down to about -20C/-4F . I stay away from junky, from my pt of view, cycling specific attire, but clearly it works for some. My boots are currently Hush Puppies Beauceron Ice+ Short. They facilitate walking on ice .
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Old 02-18-21, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I use dual sided mountain bike clipless pedals. I use the same pedals off-road during the summer with different shoes and have never had a problem getting a foot down when needed.

When I ride in snow and ice, I keep my foot attached to the pedal and resist the urge to put down a foot just as I resist the urge to “catch myself” in a crash. In neither situation is putting out a hand or foot going to help and are likely to result in a far more serious injury. I’ve learned this the hard way. I was shortcutting through a skate park with snow on it once when I pulled my foot out of my pedal to “catch myself”. I didn’t realized the surface on skate parks are glazed and the bike went one way while my leg went the other. I strained my hamstring and was off the bike for a couple of weeks. This was the day after being cleared to ride following a broken ankle and surgery to remove old hardware.

At least it wasn’t as bad as what happened to a mechanic at my local co-op. He slide on ice while commuting to work. He put his foot out to “catch” him, hit dry pavement while sliding, and folded his lower leg to a 90° angle in the wrong direction...not that there is a “right” direction to fold your leg. He was in traction for 2 weeks, endured multiple surgeries...including one to fix a secondary infection...and spent 9 months off his bike. Had he just ridden the bike down, he would have had some bruises.
Yikes, that's incentive to not put my leg down, will try and remember that. I also found the snow on bottom of my shoes made for lousy grip on the flat pedals and slipped off easily. I'm a road cyclist so all my pedals and shoes are Shimano SPD but would not want those on a bike riding in the show. I definitely want something I can clip out of with little effort.
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Old 02-18-21, 09:16 AM
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Completely different, 540 degree away, strategy here. At any moment I am ready to jump off the bike and let the bike fall under me, escaping without any bruises. In winter your control over what you are riding on is naturally limited and the bike will slip occasionally whether you like it or not. The key is to make it an irrelevant event. When I was young and dumb, I used toe clips and straps - all now eradicated.
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Old 02-18-21, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
Yikes, that's incentive to not put my leg down, will try and remember that. I also found the snow on bottom of my shoes made for lousy grip on the flat pedals and slipped off easily. I'm a road cyclist so all my pedals and shoes are Shimano SPD but would not want those on a bike riding in the show. I definitely want something I can clip out of with little effort.
I ride clipless off-road. Getting out of the pedals has never been a problem if I have to dab on a trail. Being clipped in also provides incentive to fight to stay upright if possible. I also tend to stay in the pedals even when stopped...which does wonders for your balance. On ice and snow, however, crashes tend to go much faster and there’s usually no time to even consider putting a foot down.
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Old 02-18-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Completely different, 540 degree away, strategy here. At any moment I am ready to jump off the bike and let the bike fall under me, escaping without any bruises. In winter your control over what you are riding on is naturally limited and the bike will slip occasionally whether you like it or not. The key is to make it an irrelevant event. When I was young and dumb, I used toe clips and straps - all now eradicated.
I’ve had 40+ years of winter riding experience and I’d really like to know which direction you take to “jump off the bike”? Do you jump up? Sideways? Off the back of the bike? Of the front of the bike? All of those have major issue, not the least of which is the bicycle itself.

Paraphrasing here: winter crashes tend to be unplanned and instantaneous affairs. I’m not sure what you mean by making it “an irrelevant event” but when I feel my bike slip (if it happens in slower motion than most times it has happened) I try to stay upright but if the bike is going to fall, I stay with the bike and let it take most of the fall. A broken or bent handlebar is cheaper and easier to fix than a broken leg, arm, or wrist.
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Old 02-18-21, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by xyz View Post
If you are riding at that temp then money shouldn't be an issue, if it is then stop riding when it is so cold. If you let you feet go numb you are going to get sick.
Not my experience at all. I grew up outside Boston. Went to school in Ann Arbor. Didn't own a car until I was in my 30s and never lived near reliable public transportation. Some of us rode because money was an issue and riding was far cheaper than owning a car. I rode in (then) $30 LL Bean boots and wool socks. (It did cost me needing to send the boots back twice as often for new bottom.) Later I rode with neoprene covers or several plastic bags and creative sock arrangements.

Numb feet and getting sick? I grew up next to a pond. Many days of skating/hockey until too dark to find the puck, slipping my very cold feet into -10C boots and walking on wooden blocks back to the house. Bike's no different. My health held up just fine. Never did get frostbite but I probably got pretty close.

I have gotten softer in my advancing age. I now have the 45North Fasterkats. A true luxury! Now they are rated for -4C (25F). The warmer version (forget the name) goes to -15C (5F).
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Old 02-18-21, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Not my experience at all. I grew up outside Boston. Went to school in Ann Arbor. Didn't own a car until I was in my 30s and never lived near reliable public transportation. Some of us rode because money was an issue and riding was far cheaper than owning a car. I rode in (then) $30 LL Bean boots and wool socks. (It did cost me needing to send the boots back twice as often for new bottom.) Later I rode with neoprene covers or several plastic bags and creative sock arrangements.

Numb feet and getting sick? I grew up next to a pond. Many days of skating/hockey until too dark to find the puck, slipping my very cold feet into -10C boots and walking on wooden blocks back to the house. Bike's no different. My health held up just fine. Never did get frostbite but I probably got pretty close.

I have gotten softer in my advancing age. I now have the 45North Fasterkats. A true luxury! Now they are rated for -4C (25F). The warmer version (forget the name) goes to -15C (5F).
Yeah, I rode many winters because I was poor too, but I wasn't doing 20 miles, it was a few miles to work. And letting any part of you body go numb for an extended period is asking for bad things to happen. You weaken you immune system, doing hard exercise for an extended period takes it down a couple of notches for a few hours even without letting body part go numb.
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Old 02-18-21, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I’ve had 40+ years of winter riding experience and I’d really like to know which direction you take to “jump off the bike”? Do you jump up? Sideways? Off the back of the bike? Of the front of the bike? All of those have major issue, not the least of which is the bicycle itself.

Paraphrasing here: winter crashes tend to be unplanned and instantaneous affairs. I’m not sure what you mean by making it “an irrelevant event” but when I feel my bike slip (if it happens in slower motion than most times it has happened) I try to stay upright but if the bike is going to fall, I stay with the bike and let it take most of the fall. A broken or bent handlebar is cheaper and easier to fix than a broken leg, arm, or wrist.
The bike itself is pretty much ensured to be bomb proof, i.e., pretty much no matter what happens the bike can be picked up and ridden on. Luggage has some safety cord so that it can be picked from snow if it tries to detach. That is the bike side. On my own side, the instant I feel that I cannot recover, I let the bike slip from under me. The legs go wide so that no part of my body can get caught under the bike. The bike usually goes forward a bit besides going to the side. The goal is just to get a leg of pants just rubbed a bit and this is it. If I take some slight bruise, nobody cares, I do not even check - part of life. I.e., it sounds similar, maybe I take a bit more active role in keeping myself apart from the bike when the fall becomes inevitable.

As to staying upright, the most important for me is to tame ambitions, recognize that turns can be made a sufficiently low speed but not high, that stopping takes a distance, etc. I certainly put a foot down when certain terrain cannot be ridden at high speed and the low speed inertia + terrain do not allow to keep balance. If it is more economical to walk, I walk, whatever it takes. Usually it just takes a short stretch to get to some easier route.

To add, my winter boots have the soles shown below. Outside of what they are marketed for, I started using such soles on occasion in summer too - great on wet slippery rock.

Last edited by 2_i; 02-18-21 at 12:58 PM. Reason: Sole
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