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:


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


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.


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


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


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