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How to Choose the Right Bike Shoes

Every biker has his own bucket list of trails. But we all know that one cannot ride bikes in normal footwear if he is aiming to conquer every trail on his list. That’s why finding the right bike shoes is as important as choosing the perfect bike.

If you are a regular biker, you will surely benefit from the right pair of bike shoes. It will not only make your ride comfortable, it can also guarantee your safety and enjoyment. Bike shoes have to match your pedal. There are three types of bike shoes on the market today and you must carefully check out which type works best for your upcoming ride.

Different Types of Bike Shoes

There are 3 types of bike shoes on the market today. Let’s check out each one below.

Road Bike Shoes

As the name implies, road bike shoes are made for road bikes and road trips. They are characterized by their super stiff soles which maximize the transfer of energy from your foot to the pedal. Although these shoes are stiff, road bike shoes are surprisingly lightweight. Thanks to modern materials used in its construction.

Road bike shoes also feature breathable uppers to keep your feet cool and dry while riding. The lack of traction and stiff soles make road bike shoes unsuitable for extended walking.

Mountain Bike Shoes

Mountain bike shoes are not as stiff as road bike shoes. The soles are stiff enough for an efficient transfer of energy from your foot to the pedal while a rubber-lugged outsole provides the needed traction for walking along muddy and rugged trails.

Both road and mountain bike shoes have cleats. However, the cleats in mountain bike shoes are designed to recess into the soles for easy walking. Depending on your needs, mountain bike shoes come with lacing systems, straps and buckles systems, or rip and stick systems for easy fit adjustments even while on the go.

City Bike Shoes

For those who use their bike for urban commuting, city bike shoes are a perfect choice. They are great for indoor cycling classes and recreational cycling. City bike shoes are a hybrid of bike shoes and casual footwear — combining the pedalling efficiency characteristic of bike shoes and sporty look of casual shoes.

City bike shoes also have cleats and like their mountain bike cousins, these cleats are designed to recess into the soles for comfortable walking.

Understanding Cleats and Pedal Compatibility

What are cleats? Cleats are protrusions or studs that snap into the pedals to create a secure connection. Bike shoes have holes drilled into them for attaching cleats. Note that these cleats don’t come with the shoes, they are supplied with the pedals.

There are 3 types of cleat designs — a 2-hole, 3-hole, and 4-hole. Most bike shoes only fit one or the other although there are some that are compatible with 2- and 3-hole cleats. A 4-hole cleat design can be modified to fit various shoe styles while a 2-hole cleat system cannot be adapted to fit a 3-hole cleat unless you’re willing to drill another hole! Just kidding!

The 2-Hole System

The 2-hole cleat system is popularly known as SPD or Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. This system is common among road bike shoes, mountain bike shoes, and urban commuting bike shoes.

The 3-Hole System

Commonly known as the Look-Style system, the 3-hole cleat system is popular among road bike shoes. Thanks to its unique design that offers stability and efficient energy transfer while riding. The 3-hole system spreads the cleat over a wider area compared to its 2-hole counterpart. This allows for a more secure connection and lesser pressure on the foot when pedalling hard.

Understanding Bike Shoe Closure Styles

A proper bike shoe closure is crucial to your safety and experience when riding. There are 3 common bike shoe closure styles. Let’s explore each one of them.

Laces

A lace closure system offers the best fit and comfort among the three. The downside is it can get dirty and wet. The ends are also a liability when riding as they can get caught in the chain. When using a lace closure system, make sure that ends are short enough or tucked away neatly to avoid accidents.

Straps

This closure system works great even in wet or muddy conditions. Because straps are shorter than laces, you don’t have to worry about it getting caught in the chain. Most bike shoes on the market come with 2 or 3 straps. The more straps your shoes have, the better you can adjust the fit.

Buckles

This is the most expensive closure system among the three. In exchange, they offer the best security and clamping power.

Taking Care of Your Bike Shoes

Like bikes, bike shoes are quite an investment. So it’s important that you take care of them. When cleaning your bike shoes, wipe off the soil using a towel. While a brush combined with warm soapy water works well for stubborn dirt.

Towel dry your bike shoes as much as you can. Afterwards, remove the footbeds and dry them separately. The most efficient way is to use a shoe dryer. If you don’t have one, pack the shoes with newspaper overnight. The paper absorbs any residual moisture in your shoes. You may need to repeat this process over again depending on how wet your shoes are.

Cleats must be replaced when they inadvertently disconnect from the pedal when you ride. Cracked or damaged cleats must be replaced too as they can cause a safety issue when they disengage unexpectedly when riding.

For casual riders, cleats can last up to 5 years. If you’re a heavy biker, you may need to replace your cleats once per year.

Get the Right Bike Shoes

Getting the right bike shoes is crucial to your safety. Bike shoes can also greatly improve your biking experience. Whether you want to go on a road trip, conquer mountain trails, or just bike to work, make sure that you get the right kind of bike shoes. Here are our recommendations.

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