Bicycle Shoes: A Quick Guide

When we talk about bicycle shoes, we are referring to shoes that are built with the purpose of increasing the transfer of energy in the pedal-cyclist system, comfort, weight, how the shoe is attached to the pedal, and the flexibility to use them either riding the bicycle or walking (when you stop to see the beautiful landscape.:) or to go to the bathroom!)

Bicycle Shoes Gears and GadgetsSo, let´s talk about some points here that can help you to have a whole idea about the options and types for bicycle shoes

How the pedal system works

How the Pedal System Works

These days, the bicycle shoes are manufactured to be able to work with the clip-in system. The great thing about these systems is that they are similar

Clipless Pedal – By Shimano

to the ski systems, that connects the boots and the ski table. This allows the shoe (like the ski) to be unlocked to the pedal when the heel is twisted outward. Having the shoe attached to the pedal helps to have a better transfer of energy.

These shoes come with different types of holes so that they can be used with different brands of pedals

Different Material and Quality

Well, regardless sole, of course, the good friend “carbon fiber” is present in this topic :D! Basically the more carbon fiber the shoe sole is made of, the better the sole. I mean, cheap sole shoes are made of plastic injected in a model. Middle quality have a mixture of both plastic and carbo fiber. And the best shoes for competition are made entirely of fiber carbon (specially post 2002. Of course the material affect the weight. You can have 400 grams high-quality shoe, while a regular shoe could go up to 900 grams. So, if the weight is an issue for you, you can consider choosing a light shoe. (or, just left half of that dessert, or the last donut, and you´ll have it, with out spending a dime :D)

By the way, some shoes for mountain bike have a flex around the toe area that could help when you need to climb obstacle carrying the bike 😉

Shoes for any Type of Bicycling

Because our bicycle world is full of different variants, same happens with the bicycle shoes. There are shoes for all types according the activity you are performing on a bike. Take in account that most of the shoes are measured in European units. Some supplier will have a conversion chart but be aware of this. So, in European sizing the size range is 35 to 52 in most cases.

I recently knew that with some bicycles shoe manufacture you can have custom sizing! That´s cool…;) So, let´s see the different bike activities and the proper shoe:

Road

The main characteristics of the road cycling shoes is that the sole is smoother, rigid and no really flexible. This kind of shoes are designed mainly for the cyclist being on the bike most of the time, and not too much for walking. In fact the climb attached to the shoe bottom will make you walk with short steps and a clumsy swaying motion :D.

1980 Road Cycling Shoes

Today, almost every road bicycles shoe comes with a system of three holes that allow you to attache the cleat, called “Look Pattern”.

The quality of these shoes can be define for:

  • Shoe´s fit
  • Rigidity
  • Durabiliy
  • Lightness

Triathlon

In this kind of activity you´ll need a shoe that fit the 3 phases of the Triathlon, so 3 main keys are defined:

The ability to exit and entry the foot with minimum effort: When you change activities you´ll need to be fast! Usually the shoes is already clipped at pedals, and you just slide you foot on the shoe after you already mount the beast 🙂

Having a good drainage: Imagine you are coming from swimming or kayak and you put your shoes on, you need to be dried as fast as you can.

Being able to wear the shoes with no socks: This will add an extra step and time, and that is a treasure you cannot spend on this at competitive levels

Track Ciclying

This is referred to a Velodrome Race. Velodromes consist of two straights and slightly banked turns. Their characteristic is speed (It can be above 53 mph!) and keep pedaling most of the time. In fact the bike does not have any brakes, and just one fixed rear gear, which does not freewheel by the way.

2019 UCI Track World Cup Berlin

So, this kind of shoes tend to be simple. The even use lace closures so that it fits better. And the pedals come with straps. Of course the kind of material for these shoes tend to be the lightest and most rigid ones. This way the cyclist can apply all the energy directly to the pedal and not being worry about shoes getting stretched or slipping out. Anything that can use some power of the cyclist.

Bicycle Touring

The “standard” way for bicycle touring is with clip and strap. But now there are several models that can be used with clipless pedals.

They are designed with cleats more “hidden” so you can walk normally. This kind of shoes tend to be more flexible and because the traction needed for different roads, uphills and downhills came with more robust treads. Some kind of “off-road” shoe 😀

Everyday Riding

Well, this is of course, a kind of mixture between a sport shoe and a mountain bike shoe. It has an internal sole which is softer that fits the foot. Also, have a midsole that protects the rider´s foor from the pressure on the pedal. And can spread the pressure more even. You can also attach a cleat for a clipless pedal

Mountain Bike

This type of shoes, like the touring shoes, has a two-slot cleat mounting system that allows you to use with clipless pedals. But since the rider hast to get off the bike more often, the outsole is more aggressive, lugged-type outsole. It´s also possible to add spikes in the front for more traction on mud, for example.

Northwave Rebel MTB 2018 Shoes

Because here you need to walk, some time a lot, pushing your bike (up, generally) the cleats are also shorter that the treads of the sole so that it´s posible to walk normally.

Spinning

This is an indoor bicycle shoe, which it was not really well accepted because the small market.

Booties?

This is not exactly a shoe. It´s more a cover for a shoe, specially for wet weather. The material it´s usually rubber or neopren, witch has the advantage of being stretchy.

For closing, they came with a zip

It´s not a “shoe” designed for walking (altough the boot continues under the sole). If you try to walk, the would not last for a couple of adventures.

You can use it with clipless systems since they have a hole in the sole

Shoes for every Step of the Ride

So, there you have it. Every type of shoe has his own advantages (and disadvantages. Try to ride at 50 mph with sandals :D). So, next time you choose a shoe, take in consideration what will be using the for.

Pay attention to soles, rigidity, isolation. Put them on, and go for a ride!

Happy Ride

Jason

How to Choose a Bicycle Seat – Taking Care of your Pal

How is the Ideal Seat: Soft or Hard, Wide or Narrow? Their components and how they fit together when we want to know how to choose a bicycle seat. The important points to take in account when you are looking for a good seat that will allow you to do a comfortable trip

Looking for the Ultimate Seat

Most of us spend our lives looking for THE seat. That one that you won´t even notice you have your butt on it. It´s like going for the Holy Grail for Catholics sometimes.

Like them who can´t really say what the Holy Grail is, We, the cyclists, are not really sure what and how the “Holly” Seat is 🙂

This is because the level of confort is not the same for you and me and also using the same seat for long time , We can misunderstand comfort and being accustomed to it.

Something that could happen, for example. is you stopped cycling for a while at winter season (yes, I know, It could be hard, right!?) and next spring you are ready to start riding again but then, something funny happens.

That beautiful and “great” seat you bought last year, and of course it cost a lot because “hey…I need a good seat, and the more expensive, the better”, right?, start to not feel “so good” and the tenderness and soft touch of its shapes and forms are not exactly how you remember it.

May be the Seat is Innocent

Can we blame the seat in this case? Maybe if we start riding again, in a few days everything will get to normal and our butt will feel the “love ” again?

A cyclist that went off the bike for a few months, therefore out of shape…will start, at the beginning, with enthusiasm and giving all his/her power, but over time, the legs will start to get tired, the muscles will burn, they will ask for help, so…sooner or later, your body will let it fall weightily on the seat…

Conclusion: Never bought a new seat, when the issue is, at first, US and not the Seat. If we are not in shape, let´s put our self in shape and then, if it is necessarily, go and get the bicycle seat.

So, once we are in that stage, the worst way to get a seat, is for the advice of others. The seat that might be conformable for hi/her won´t necessarily confortable for you. Every body is different, every way of riding is different, and so on..

The best way for this is get to know how your seat is, what can it offer and to value every benefit the seat can give us.

(NOTE: We are not talking about the professional cyclist and the technical rider, who needs a special treatment here. We are talking about the guy/gal that spend a lot o time on the bike, but he/she not on a competition)

SO…Soft or Hard?

The first impulse a cyclist have when he´s not confortable with his seat, is going for a “softer” seat. Something that, most of the time, is not correct. Everybody knows, for example,  that a softer mattress or a softer pillow is usually a bad decision for trying to get a better night. Well, our bicycle seat is the same. Let´s see why

Your Butt is Unique (Yes, I know you know…)

If we seat straight on a wooden board, we will notice that our sit-bones get all the our weight. They are designed for this and they won´t complain about that, except injuries.

In contrast with this, the “valley” ,that will formed between sit-bones, are not prepared to get your body weight at all. So most of the time, the main reason what you feel uncomfortable with your seat is exactly because this zone is getting most of your body weight and not the sit-bones

So, getting back to our example, let´s come back to seat straight  on the wooden, but put a pillow between you and the board. So, now We´ll have not just our sit-bones on the pillow but also the region between them, which is not the situation we need.

So, now We´ll have less body weight on the zone we need more, and more body weight when we need less. This is the same situation with a bicycle seat.

It´s funny to see people pushing their thumbs to the seat to “feel how soft it is”  with a yeah-this-is-the-stuff-I-need face 🙂

By the way…seat manufacturers know this…so, when they want to sell you a seat, they will put the effort in making it soft…The softer, the easier to sell it.

People that feel or perceive this kind of really soft seat as “more confortable” are those ones that ride for short periods, like 1 or 2 miles. On the other hand, this is the worst kind of seat to long-distance riders

“This is What will Solve all my Problems”

The other element that the seat manufacturers use as a marketing magnet, the “final solution” the “hearing prays” is GEL…which is a kind of hallo for the amateur seat seeker 🙂

But don´t get me wrong using gel (“super soft gel”!!) for stuffing the seat it´s a good thing. What I am saying is that this is not a one-way ticket to the seat heaven. And it won´t guarantee you a confortable ride. Because the main characteristic above the “softness” is the design.

And the last player in the the softer the better world, is the Gel Cover..(yeah…) The thing is if you have a bad seat in the first place, adding a gel cover will give you a…well…a bad seat with a gel cover on it :). You will continue to feel uncomfortable on your seat  because the design will still be there. Oh, by the way, you´ll have the same seat as we commented, only more expensive now.

The Seat Rules

If the seat it´s uncomfortable, change the seat. And after you get a good seat for you, you could start to thing if it´s worth it to add a gel cover or not.

Thank you for reading this, and if you have comments or any new idea to write about, just let me know if the comments!

Jason

Tips for Bicycle Touring: 6 Mistakes That´ll Take Out the Fun

I bet you are like most of us, just the idea of jumping onto the road will burn inside you, looking for adventure, discovering new places and landscapes, adrenalin, and be part of this road community, saying hi to every cyclist like you on the road.

TIps for Bicycle Touring

But be careful, you will need some tips for bicycle touring, because if you are not well-prepared for certain things, it´s likely that you will finally understand the concept of …” I told you.” 😀 can ruin your plans

Just a few examples, and maybe you can relate to…

The Sun is almost set and you started to look for the camp out, that “somebody” told you once…

For some reasons you start to feel dizzy, your mouth it has being dry one hour ago, and oops, you water bottle is already empty. I personally like to have an 2 liters hydration backpack for extra water supply

You are “almost” getting to the destination of your day, just 4 hours more…and your brand new seat that you are using for the first time on this trip it´s killing you (well, not you..your “behind”)

You were picked up by a truck driver that smoke like a chimney, and his CD is playing heavy metal so loud that your ears are bleeding. The good news it´s you´re gonna be 5 hours earlier that your friends riding out there…”yeah, who needs to enjoy the fresh air, right?”

You ensure that your fatigued legs, starvation, and a butt turned into a rock with no line between won´t demolish your so-hard-to-earn 15 days of vacation for this year, I will give 5 common mistakes that We all did at least once in our bike touring career 😀

Mistake Number 1

Starting your training on the road

Some people will believe that it´s possible to get in shape while they are doing the actual trip.”Yeah, I´ll be awesome after 5 days on the road, I will grow my legs pedaling, and all will be great”. It does not work that way. You´ll realize soon that You should have done it before.Tips for Bicycle

If you were not riding for a while before your trip, I would suggest to start 2-3 months before.

Start with 15 Miles daily, 3 days a week. After 5 trips like this…

Go for 20 Miles daily, 3 days a week. Just continue add miles little by little, it´s the bes way.

See the longest distance you will ride, and try to reach this as we already mentioned above. And you can even extend this 20% once your are really conformable with this, to check how your body will respond to this.

Mistake Number 2

Prepare your Mind

A lot of people that can´t continue the trip are not mentally prepared for this kind of adventure. Very often, it your head, more that you body that doesn´t allow you to keep going. You will must to be ready for face challenges and problems (wind, rain, storms, pain, fatigue) and work through them. You´ll have to be able to convince yourself that, even really slow, you´ll get there.

Mistake Number 3

To Train without the Equipment

Tips for Bicycle Touring
Train with the Equipment you will carry

If you are planning to do bicyletouring and camping you´ll have to train with all your camping equimpment at maximum load. Specially if this will be your first trip with saddlebags. You´ll need to know that your bike will be kind of transformed “into another bike”. What I am trying to say here is that you will be riding in other terms of stability, driving, and of course energy and water consumption.

You will need to break before than you are used to, since your bike is more heavy now and more momentum. Be careful when you turn, you won´t be able to lin the same way, cause your saddlebags could touch the road.

Mistake Number 4

To Forget to Take Care of Your Butt and Hands

You should pick up a comfortable seat but pay attention to the disign. Some time the big one looks really comfortable but they are made for short trips and from-time-to-time trips on bike with a more upright position

Some riders use specific creams in order to prevent skin irritation due to seat-butt friction. Using baby powder at night is a great option. This will keep the zone dry and clean. Also, change your short every day 😉

But sometimes, the only choice is standing the situation, and perhaps…wait for a few days. If you are going to rent the bike, carrying your own seat could be a good idea.

For you hands, of course a pair of globes is recommended. Do not for get to move your hands, changing the position from time to time around the handlebars. In a nutshell, The more positions your handlebars allows for your hands, the better.

Mistake Number 5

Carrying Too Much Stuff

Take the minimum for your trip. Wearing or using something once a week is not a reason to take it with you for the tour. If you are going to go for a 2-weeks long adventure with no other support than yourself all what you will need should not be heavier than 30-40 pounds.

Do not forget that being prepared for 3 weeks, it the same of being prepared for 3 months 😉

People tend to think to carry a lot of clothes because the weather changes. But here is when the “wearing layers” concept appears. You can combine the same clothes and make it ready for rain and wind, or rain and hot, cold and win. You get the point. You can even regulate your temperature just zipping in and zipping out your jacket 😉

The good news is that the technical advances in fabrics (specially underwear) can reduce the amount of clothes you´ll need to put in your bags

Mistake Number 6

Getting Obsessed with Diet

Let me be clear here: You´ll need energy, you´ll need to EAT. We saw vegans doing a great trip, and we also see people eating fast food doing a great trip. We are not going deep here into nutrition.

But please, don´t go for a bicyling tour for loosing weight, because the only thing you´ll get it getting out of fuel at the very most important moment when you need it most, trust me. Would you enjoy a vacation being tired all the time?

You´ll need carbs as you main source of energy, but also fat (saturated or non-saturated? JUST FAT! For the name of God!) and protein. And of course, a lot of liquids

So, Plan Ahead.

Taking this mistake in account, will help you to have a more enjoyable trip. You can “fix” them the best way for you.

And please, I will love to hear about your experiences, and how you handle this issues

Happy Trip!

Jason