One of the most asked questions among cyclists is whether cycling shoes make you faster. The short answer is yes, but there are many factors to consider before purchasing.
The right shoes can help create more power when pedaling, increasing speeds by as much as 2%. The right pedals and cleats can also ensure that riders can easily contend with problematic weather, steep hills, and rough terrain.
Not just they are known to make your pedaling more efficient improving performance but also increase your average speed by at least 1 to 1.5 mph if not 2 mph or more in most cases.
The following explains how cycling shoes work, the different types available, the many benefits that the right shoes can offer, and going faster when cycling.
How Do Cycling Shoes Work?
Although other footwear can be worn when riding a bicycle, the shoes chosen could impair the rider’s performance and cause discomfort.
The shoes work by conforming to the contours of the pedal and offering more support to cyclists.
In many instances, the shoe is attached to the pedal using a cleat, ensuring the shoes stay in place. This small mechanism makes all the difference when riding a bicycle, especially when compared to using a flat pedal.
Given that there are several forms of cycling, including track and mountain, the shoes used by a cyclist can vary. When searching for shoes, the following factors need to be considered.
Cleats with clipless pedals are commonplace among keen riders and are placed between the pedal and the shoe and ensure constant flux.
Although many cleats look the same, there can be differences between them. The type of cleat required can depend on the kind of cycling you want to embark on, as well as the brand of shoes you choose.
When checking cleat compatibility, there can be several cleat types. The most common are SPD and SPD-SL. Both terms can cause some confusion among newcomers because the terms derive from the Shimano brand.
First released in 1990, the clipless pedals and cleats known as Shimano Pedaling Dynamics became so popular that it is not unusual for people to refer to all pedals as SPD.
SPD-SL are an extension of this design that aim for more power and a broader pedal platform. However, not all brands use this terminology.
Some brands will offer their own innovations and design, meaning that only cleats and pedals manufactured by the company are compatible.
For example, Look is a brand that bases its design on ski binding technology designed in the 1980s.
Little has changed in the design, meaning the Look cleats would not be compatible with SPD systems, which is also true of other brands.
Many brands will offer information within their listings, but it is worth double-checking compatibility. Simply assuming that a shoe is a good fit could lead to further expense.
Type of Shoe Fastening
When searching for footwear for cycling, many can overlook the type of fastening. There is no right or wrong option regarding fastening, only what will suit your needs best.
Velcro shoes are easy to adjust and lightweight, although they may not suit rough terrain. A ratchet system allows maximum support, which can be essential when attempting faster speeds.
The last option is BOA lacing. As conventional lacing can put the rider at risk, especially when achieving high speeds, the BOA lacing is the perfect substitute.
The patented system comprises stainless steel lightweight laces, an adjustable dial, and low friction lace guides.
The system allows for the easy adjustment of laces without them posing a danger to pedals, cranks, or chains. It also allows the footwear to be removed easily in an emergency.
The right place of footwear will depend on the type of environment you’re riding in. For example, those embarking on a road trip over several days will want the convenience of removing clothing efficiently.
Similarly, those riding on rough terrain will want to ensure that the proper support is in place. Being aware of your surroundings will help you make a better choice when purchasing accessories and clothing for your bicycle.
Benefits of Cycling Footwear
Assuming the right shoes are used, They not only help cyclists gain more speed or momentum when riding but can provide several other benefits that may not have been considered.
Helps Maintain a Safe Ride
There can be several reasons cycling accidents occur, but using the wrong footwear can be a common cause.
Some shoes may have any friction when using pedals, meaning the feet often slip. Similarly, footwear with long laces can get caught in chains.
There is also the fact that everyday footwear doesn’t offer the support needed, especially during longer rides.
Specialized footwear supports the foot by keeping it flat and stable. The cleats also ensure the foot is secure when pedaling, meaning that every effort is made to maintain a safe ride.
Safety Does Not Compromise Design
Of course, cyclists want their shoes to offer support and comfort, but they also want them to look stylish. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices when searching for footwear.
Furthermore, many options are available for different budgets, so cyclists never have to compromise their style when finding the perfect fit.
How Much Should You Spend on Shoes?
Some shoes can cost as little as $75.00, whereas others can have an asking price of $500 or more. However, this doesn’t mean that choosing the most expensive option will yield the best result when cycling.
As such, it can be helpful to what you want from a shoe before making a purchase. Some may be searching for the most aerodynamic option, whereas others will be searching for additional features.
Simply choosing the cheapest pair of shoes could mean the safety features aren’t as effective as they should be. Regular cyclists will also find that the level of comfort is significantly lower.
However, this doesn’t mean that cyclists must spend a lot of money on cycling attire. Instead, they should ensure the footwear they’re investing in can offer all the features they’re searching for.
What Are the Different Types of Shoes?
Finding the right footwear for cycling depends on the type of cycling you want to undertake. Those riding on rough terrain will benefit from mountain bike shoes because of their versatility.
Road users often search for shoes that can support them where it matters.
Those embarking on several forms of cycling may need to purchase more than one pair of shoes or choose a pair that can be used in several environments.
The following is an overview of the different footwear available and the features available with each option.
Road Bike Shoes
Road bike shoes are ridged and afford the rider plenty of power transfer when in motion. This is aided by protruding cleats on the pedal, which allows for more momentum.
Although they do not offer multiple uses when compared to other options, they still provide plenty of protection and comfort, so riders can be confident of reaching the maximum speed in all scenarios.
Recommended Product: Giro Stylus Mens Road Cycling Shoes ( Amazon Link )
Mountain Bike Shoes
Mountain bikes must contend with rugged terrain, and the footwear used also reflects this. Many styles are available when searching for mountain bike shoes but look like hiking shoes.
Some shoes are used for cycling only, but mountain bike shoes are designed to support cycling and walking.
The soles are flexible and have cleats within the sole, which do not protrude, offering versatility when riding a bicycle without impeding their comfort when walking.
Hybrid cycling shoes are flexible with recessed cleats that allow for comfortable walking.
Although like mountain bike shoes, hybrid footwear is only made for street walking, which will be less rugged than their mountain bike counterparts.
Hybrid shoes are a good fit among those who commute in busy areas and riders who like to cycle in areas where terrain changes frequently.
Recommended Product: Tommaso Commuter Cycling Shoe ( Amazon Link )
Flat Pedal Shoes
Cyclists wanting to achieve faster speeds often avoid flat pedal, but there are riders who prefer them. One of the drawbacks of flat pedals is that no cleat can be attached, so the shoes have to carry out the role on their own.
Fortunately, there are plenty of flat pedal options that allow cyclists to pedal at a faster rate, although their effectiveness can vary.
Recommended Product: Giro Chamber Men’s Cycling Shoes ( Amazon Link )
What Speed Can Be Achieved With the Right Shoes?
In normal circumstances, regular riders can expect to reach speeds between 10 and 15 mph. However, there are instances where riders can achieve speeds of 30 mph.
However, it is essential to note that shoes alone do not determine the overall momentum.
For example, a keen cyclist may have the best footwear, but if the bicycle has not been serviced, the maximum speed will not be achieved. As such, cyclists must ensure that there is as much attention paid to the bike as the shoes themselves.
However, shoes designed exclusively for riders will always help cyclists achieve a better speed, albeit for different reasons. Those contending with rugged terrain will find it easier to navigate when the right support is in place.
Likewise, those wanting to reach the top speed possible when road cycling will find that the right footwear helps them build more momentum without causing discomfort or harm.