For the average rider, a pair of good sneakers or trainers will do. On the other hand, with increased frequency in riding and longer distances or tougher trails, it is recommended that you invest in the right pair of shoes. After which the next step is to find the right pedals depending on the terrain, frequency and purpose that you ride with!
The foremost differentiation between normal shoes and shoes designed for cycling is that cycling shoes have stiffer soles to provide more efficient energy transfer to the pedals, thereby expending the bulk of your energy on propulsion. For best results, cycling shoes are usually paired with compatible pedals to keep your feet from slipping while riding. Broadly speaking, there are three types of cycling shoes:
Road Bike Shoes
The basics of these shoes are lightweight build, smooth outsoles and good breathability. The stiff soles facilitate best power transfer to the pedals but make walking in these shoes difficult due to the inability to flex.
Pedal Compatibility: Most clipless road bike shoes use either a 3-hole cleat system or 2-hole cleat system. We recommend the 3-hole cleat for performance riding as it gives better support to the rider. However, for casual cycling the 2-hole cleat will do. It is also easier to clip on and clip off.
Mountain Bike Shoes
Much like road shoes, mountain bike shoes also have stiff soles. However, they have enough flexibility and a rubber-lug outsole to make it possible for the rider to walk on slick or overly-rugged trails. Additionally, the cleats are recessed into the sole, making it easier to walk. This makes the shoe the preferred choice for casual road biking and touring.
Pedal Compatibility: Clipless mountain bikes have 2-hole cleats which allow you to slide the cleats back and forth slightly to achieve the proper angle and placement for comfort and efficient pedalling.
City Bike Shoes
Think of city bike shoes as hybrids between regular sports footwear and cycling footwear. City bike shoes offer compatibility with clipless pedal systems, but also have rubber outsoles and recessed cleats like mountain bike shoes that allow for easy walking.
Pedal Compatibility: The standard issue platform pedals are best for this type of shoe. Platform pedals are clipless and work as a good intermediary when graduating to clipped pedals.
First and foremost, decide the purpose with which you intend to ride, that will help you choose the pedals and shoes. Are you looking at road biking or mountain biking? Then the more integral questions – are you looking at an efficient energy consumption of the clipless pedals or the convenience of platforms pedals?
The word clipless pedals are slightly misleading. The name comes from the change of toe-clips to pedals without toe clips, hence clipless pedals. ‘Clipless pedals’ refer to pedals that allow for cleats, attached to the shoe soles, to slide in and out of the grooves on the pedals. The opposite of clipless pedals would be platform pedals, which have no grooves for cleats
Note: Cleats are sold with the pedals and not with the shoes. So, when you buy cycling shoes, make sure they fit into the system of the pedals and cleats that you have purchased or will purchase.
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