Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Bike Shoe for Your Riding Type
Choosing the best bike shoe is as important as Choosing the Best Bike Pedal because together they connect you to the bike – providing safety, control and power.
Bike shoes can range from everyday leisure shoes to shoes that increase your pedaling power and speed. Shoes with reinforced toes caps and stiff soles can protect your feet from scrapes and injury when your feet strike the dirt or road. Bike shoes with clips connecting to clipless pedals are reported to be able to increase your pedaling power by some 15-20%.
Let’s take a look at some of the basic options in choosing the best bike shoe related to your dominate riding activity.
There is a wide variety of footwear options available for choosing the best bike shoe for you. Like bike pedals, it is important to consider the type of bike riding activity you prefer (cruiser, commuter, road, mountain, BMX etc.) and the type of pedals you use or want to use.
Casual everyday shoes
Casual footwear are commonly worn on relaxed cruiser/commuter bikes. These bikes typically have flat platform pedals and can easily accommodate shoes with flat soles.
Often people are seen riding cruiser bikes near the beach bare foot, wearing flip flops or sandals. During warm summer weather, this footwear is cool and convenient. They are convenient because they are part of your daily footwear and allow you to just grab your bike, jump on it, and begin pedaling without any need to change your shoes to ride a bike.
However, an important consideration to keep in the mind is that shoes can protect your feet. Your feet are vulnerable to scraps and injury. Riding bare feet, wearing flip flops or sandals while cool do not effectively protect your feet and is not recommended because of that.
Sport Specific Bike Shoe
Mountain biking and BMX
When speeds increase and jumping maneuvers become part of your biking activity, more sport specific bike shoes can be helpful in protecting your feet, staying connected to the pedals and powering your bike.
In recent years, there has been an explosion in the type of performance shoes for mountain biking and BMX. There are causal/skateboard looking footwear with stiffer soles that connect to strong platform pedals with pins or claws, and there are options with mounts for installing cleats for clipless pedals.
Many mountain bike riders like flat sole shoes for the flexibility they offer. You can easily make a variety of foot placement changes on the pedals while negotiating terrain and features, like launching in the air or placing the shoe down on the ground while sliding around a corner.
Another shoe option available for mountain biking are very stiff soles with lugs on the bottom often accompanied with clipless pedals. Lugged soled shoes do not perform optimally in connecting to flat platform pedals. The lug soled bike shoes offer improved traction when the terrain requires getting off the bike to climb on dirt, over rocks or during wet conditions.
Road Cycling Shoes
Bike shoes for road cycling can be more specialized. Choosing the best bike shoe is influence by your riding activity and type of pedals you are using.
If you have flat pedals or pedals with toe clips (toe clips are cages and straps mounted on a platform pedal to secure your foot to the pedal using a strap) you can use a variety of flat soled shoes that are not specific bike shoes.
Once you understand the control and increase in pedaling power/speed that clipless pedals offer, you may want to choose road shoes that have clip mount options on the soles. Moving toward a higher performance road shoe you will want to choose a stiff sole – some are made of a strong nylon or carbon. Sole stiffness reduces or eliminates sole flexing. Sole flexing can dissipate some of your energy transference that could be directed to the rear wheel resulting in more power.
You can see there are a variety of options in choosing the best bike shoe for you. To help choose the best shoe keep in mind the following: your type of bike and riding activity, the desired level of performance, and what is your budget. Bike shoe cost has a wide range of prices from under hundred dollars to over several hundred for high end pro-quality race road shoes.
When choosing the bike shoe options, you can check in with what your riding buddies are wearing and why. You can also check in with your local bike shop pros who typically ride a lot and receive a lot of feedback from their customers about their experience with shoes and pedals. (Thank you Tahoe Sports LTD for providing many of the shoes in the photos).
Choose the best bike shoe for you and get riding – you will notice a difference.
Have fun and see you on the trails.