Cycling and MTB shoes: how to choose them - How to best orient yourself when you intend to buy technical footwear in compliance with your needs: cycling shoes in fact, they have different characteristics depending on the use of pedals and cleats for mountain bikes, racing bikes, indoor cycling (spinning) and triathlon.
Types and classification of cycling shoes
The choice of cycling shoes must be made on the basis of certain canons; as anticipated in the summary we can discriminate cycling shoes based on:
- Alla type of discipline of use: racing bikes, mountain bikes, indoor cycling and triathlon to name a few but also more sectoral cycling disciplines such as track cycling, cyclocross, cross country as well as bmx or trial;
- The intensity level of sports practice: amateur or professional, rather than cycling or hiking;
- To the type of ventilation: for use during the summer season or for winter use;
- To the type of closure desired: typically the velcro strap or micrometric levers;
Disciplines of cycling: to each “pedal” his shoe
The so-called have been used for about thirty years quick release pedals: basically it means as everyone knows that to release the shoe from the pedal you have to rotate the ankle outwards (by at least an angle established approximately 10 degrees) to ensure that the "cleat" positioned under the shoe is move by detaching itself from the hooking system (or springs) that holds it together with the pedal itself.
The advantages compared to the previous system (the hooks or the flat pedal with “free” foot) are easily explained and understood; think above all of the "pulling" phase of the weak leg compared to the "pushing" phase: at the biomechanical level with the quick release pedal no energy is wasted during the gesture.
Personally, I believe that the era of transition to the quick release pedal represented one of the most important quality leaps in modern cycling; an innovation that today is often underestimated in the presence of the introduction of other revolutions such as those of the compact sprocket, the electronic gearbox and without forgetting the evolution of frames, wheels, components and data detection technology which is the great must recent years even for those who are beginners.
Returning to the strait relationship between shoes and pedals it should be specified that the quick release pedals are divided in turn according to the type and cycling discipline:
- there are i pedals for the use mainly of racing bikes (typically looks and compatible models)
- there are i so called SPD pedals (acronym for Shimano Dynamic Pedal) designed for mountain bikes
THE look-type pedals (from the name of the company that was among the first to introduce them) they must be attached to the shoe by means of triangular cleats mounted under the shoe with three screws. The cleat fits on the pedal and that's it.
THE SPD pedals they must be attached to the shoes with a cleat mounted with 2 screws and "inserted / sunk" into the shoe itself. The spring system will tighten the shoe laterally when the cleat is inserted into the pedal and will tend to loosen the ankle by turning to the right will push the shoe out of the pedal itself.
The difference between these two patents resides "mainly" in size of the cleat itself. Traditional “street” pedals have a wide cleat which therefore occupies a large part of the sole in the metacarpal area; the SPD pedals require a reduced notch.
This leads to a different concept of the shoes which can be explained very simply:
- the shoes with the use of SPD cleats they often have one "knobby" sole which then allows you to walk and they are usually also stronger and softer. All typical needs of those who practice mountain biking who often have to put their feet on the ground on rough terrain; the same is true for those who practice hiking or indoor cycling.
- the shoes with the use of Traditional triangular cleats I'm ideals for those who use the road racing bike: the racing models in fact require that the foot be glued to the pedal and therefore an extremely rigid sole which thus avoids dispersing the force conveyed in the gesture and avoiding dispersing it. There are no specific needs to put your feet on the ground.
Racing bike shoes
We therefore summarize the main characteristics of the cycling shoes for racing bike:
- They have one rigid sole in plastic or carbon fiber and / or similar; the sole itself is mostly smooth with a small soft plastic heel on the heel for support on the ground
- They have the cleat to mount the triangular type (but some shoe models support both look and spd)
- They have the upper in leather, rubber or synthetic material with one form it can be more or less high in the malleolus / ankle area
- They have a very smooth and breathable shoe interior with removable and easily washable insole
- They have a closure or lacing system takes place via micrometric levers or velcro straps
Road bike shoes allow a greater discharge of force and therefore a more efficient pedaling on the road; they will also be very light and ventilated to obtain the best possible performance over a period of several hours.
If you want to have other interesting ideas on the topic of Racing Bike Shoes, I also propose this nice video from ENDU, one of the most popular communities for those who sign up for sporting events in the endurance field. These are some tips included:
- understand your sole of the foot: there are suitable shoes for those with a narrow sole of the foot and more suitable shoes for those with a wider plant
- the tip of the foot must have the right space but must not have play: often we often think of stiffness because with cycling shoes you do not move as with running shoes and this is a mistake because in the push and in winter phases Having your toes too close to the bike in winter can cause problems
- the sole: depending on your budget, you can choose between models that have a sole of mere plastic, nylon and carbon or full carbon. The higher you level, the more rigid the sole is and does not lose power in the gesture
- the cover / upper: depending on whether you are a summer cyclist or not, you should choose a cover with different levels of breathability that only synthetic materials can give. The skin will be aesthetically more beautiful but watch out for perspiration
- closure systems: from the wheel to the eye pull to the pressure. The more advanced models distribute the closing pressure on several parts, the less advanced models focus on the instep whose excessive pressure can annoy you on long workouts (I speak from personal experience: I have a pair of spinning shoes with this defect but for an hour it's bearable until I change them; don't make my mistake)
Mountain bike shoes
The mountain bike has a wider target audience than the racing bike; this often means that the pedals supplied are of the “flat” type and fewer people use the “quick release” than those who use the racing bike.
However, for the many who use the quick release pedal also on mountain bikes we can highlight the differences and characteristics of the mtb shoe as follows:
- They have one sole of different plastic materials or carbon fibers but tessellated to be used also for walking
- They have the typical cleat for the SPD type quick release pedal
- They present a profile and a semi-rigid sole to facilitate foot flexion unlike racing bike shoes which do not allow much bending and bending of the foot inside
We now mention the triathlon shoes which are largely one derivation of racing bike shoes but with specific needs designed for those who practice this sport:
- they are ultralight and often designed for changing the swim leg (and therefore often worn without socks)
- have a buttonhole on the heel to better help the fit in the face of race and quick change
Spinning or Indoor Cycling Shoes with bindings
Indoor cycling or spinning shoes are one derivation of mountain bike shoes from the point of view of coupling. Since a phase of walking is required in closed places and on internal even slippery grounds, the spinning shoe is "tessellated" like those from MTB. However, we recommend the choice of very breathable types precisely because indoor use requires good ventilation. Since it is a discipline much appreciated by the fair sex, there are types of spinning shoes with tomanias and look & feel for women.
Choosing the right cycling shoe
There are at least a few dozen manufacturers of technical footwear for cycling and its disciplines on the market. In approaching the choice and depending on whether you have a more professional or amateur approach to sport we remember to:
- Check the compatibility of the shoe with the cleats and the type of pedal in use on your bicycle (running, mountain bike and / or spin bike)
- Check the cleat position when you mount it; this changes according to the person and above all the discipline: the cleat will have a more advanced position on the racing bike and more rearward on mtb. Or more advanced in the case of a race approach and more backward for a more amateur use. From this point of view, I would recommend a visit to the biomechanical for the best possible ride.
Let's now highlight how to best carry out a targeted search on a known and specific e-commerce; I have extracted for you an abundant series of very authoritative cycling shoe brands also used by professional athletes who often act as testimonials. You can evaluate the necessary and the different price proposals and products for cycling shoes, spare cleats and hooks, insoles and socks:
- Men's Cycling Shoes
- Women's Cycling Shoes
- Shimano MTB shoes
- Shimano racing shoes
- Gaerne shoes
- SIDI shoes
- Nortwave Shoes
- Fizik shoes
- Lake shoes
- Diadora shoes
- Look and compatible cleats
- Spd cleats
- Cycling Socks
Other related articles I wrote on IdeeGreen that may interest you are:
- Bike and Cycling Glasses: guide and models
- Bike and cycling lights: LEDs, headlights and lighting tips
- Whistle for dogs: scacciacani for cyclists
- Cycling clothing: the sizes for socks and socks change
Curated by Tullio Grilli