Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money

Cycling shoe reviews:  from the perspective of looking funky, bicycle shoes stand atop the list. And then you’ve gotta love those cleats!

You can also fall and break your neck in the slippery rascals. But while they aren’t made to scale Mt Everest, they are unsurpassed in their specialized function.

Here’s A Macabre Nike Mt. Bike Video That Was Yanked.  Crazy!

What Function’s Needed In A Good Pair Of Cycle Shoes?

I guess it depends on your needs.

Are you a casual biker? If so, you may have no particular specialized needs, in which case you can go ahead and wear just about any shoe. Cowboy boots excepted.

Are you a mountain biker? Now you have to decide whether to go with toe clips or with clipless pedals. That changes which cycling shoes you’ll buy. With clipless pedals you’re more ‘one with the bike’ and thus less able to extricate yourself from your bike when things go wrong, sometimes terribly wrong.

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But on the other hand, because you’re attached to the bike with clipless pedals, it’s easier to do bunnyhops should you get the urge. Toe clips on a mountain bike usually let you get off the bike more easily. They also let you use a wider variety of bicycling shoes.
bicycle shoes Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money

Are you a road biker? Here’s where the bicycle shoes look like they come from a different planet. Some come from France so I guess you could argue strongly for such an origin. Road bikers are almost exclusively clipless enthusiasts, complete with the goofy looking shoes first seen in early episodes of the Jetsons. Why the funny shoes?

Cycling Shoes Power, Baby!

It’s all about power transfer. With the stiff soles of the road cycling shoes there’s no flexing, and therefore no loss of energy from your mighty legs to the crank.

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Tell Me More About This Toe Clip/Clipless Dichotomy In A Pair Of Cycle Shoe Pedals

It’s actually kind of backward. With clipless bicycle shoes and pedals you clip your shoes onto the pedals. Clipless bicycle shoes have a metal or plastic cleat on the bottom that attaches to a binding on the pedal. Toe clip pedals consist of a clip and webbing which you stick your toe into.
3 Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money

Toeclip advantages- These are relatively inexpensive. They are also usually easier to get out of when things go wrong, or when you’re merely stopping on a steep climb, pretending to be waiting for your slower cycling partner. Here’s more, you can use most athletic shoes with toe clips if you aren’t obsessed with loss of power transfer.

Toeclip disadvantages- As has been stated too many times previously, these are less efficient than clipless pedals. However, they’re more efficient than those rubber pedals on your old Huffy.
4 Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money
Clipless advantages- There is a better power transfer since there is very little ‘give’ betwixt shoe and pedal. There is usually a little movement in the ‘shearing’ orientation.

More on that later.

Another advantage is that you can pull on the upstroke when you’re stuck to the pedal using the clipless system.

Clipless disadvantages- They can be harder to get out of. Here’s more…they usually necessitate wearing funny looking shoes.

What About Float In A Pair Of Cycle Shoes?

When cyclists started firmly affixing themselves to their pedals some bad things happened to the knees. Those cyclists who weren’t blessed with perfect biomechanics of the knee couldn’t pedal hour after hour with their knee torqued a little bit off its optimum angle.

So a new bicycle shoe/pedal interface was developed. Praying to the cycling gods on the Acropolis that there would be no loss of coveted energy transfer, the shoe cleat was reshaped in such a way that there is now a bit of twist allowed between the pedal and shoe.

This ‘float’ enables the knee to find its own optimum angle. Cyclists’ consumption of Tylenol decreased.

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Cycling Shoe Reviews…Different Types Of Cycling Shoes

Recreational mountain bicycle shoes- These are flexible in the forefoot so that you don’t have to walk around like a dork. They’re stiff from the heel to the ball of the foot in an attempt to save the precious power transfer.
5 Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money
Racing Mountain bicycle shoes- These babies have a stiff sole, fit snugly, and have an aggressive tread pattern. The tread pattern is for when you’ve got to climb that rise that’s too steep for pedaling.
Road bicycle shoes- Sleekly styled to cut down on wind resistance, these shoes would never be mistaken for hiking boots. Of course they’re stiff to the max and they’ve got a cleat under the ball of the foot. This allows you to walk around like you’re wearing an extreme pair of Earth Shoes, toe in the air.

Road shoes can be pretty narrow. I’ve seen this blamed on the narrow European lasts that they build the road shoe around.

6 Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money

Is there no road bicycle shoe made for the fleshy American foot, for cryin out loud?

Help is on the way! Several high-end brands like Carnac, and SIDI offer wide sizing. Now you can keep your fat ugly feet and still cycle like there’s no tomorrow.

Give Me Some Cycling Shoe Features!

Let’s break down some features of bicycle shoes.

Soles- They’re pretty stiff. Yea, Yea where have we heard that before?

On Mountain bike shoes there is a variety of tread aggressiveness. Aggressive tread enables the mountain biker who is temporarily not cycling to get up a steep slope without harm to his heinie (yes, that’s how you spell it) or pride. No slipping for the aggressive tread wearer!

Uppers- Road bike uppers are often made of synthetics. Mountain bicycle shoes and high-end road shoes incorporate leather into the upper.

Closure- (I’ll bet you wish there was some closure to this article, eh?) Various shoes use laces, buckles, Velcro, or some combination of the above to keep the zapatos on the feet. Some shoes have a ratcheting system to really cinch the shoe onto those fat non-european feet of yours (somehow I can’t imagine sleek, petite, European Polish feet).

But My Feet Are Freezing. Whine, Whine

What do you do when your bicycle shoes aren’t keeping your feet warm enough? I know this is hard to imagine during those hot summer rides when you’re dripping in sweat. However, drop the temperature several notches and the feet can suffer.

You can start by trying thicker socks. This may not work, because I have to remind you that your fat American feet are barely wedged into your shoes to begin with.

You can buy insulated shoe covers. These were developed by narrow-footed Europeans, priced handsomely, and then sold to fleshy footed Yanks.

Another angle that’s been developed is the Neoprene toe cover. Both shoe covers and toe covers keep the toes warmer.

Eastern Europeans developed the plastic trash bag, which is inserted between the sock and the shoe.

Maintain Bicycling Shoes Well So You Can Include Them in Your Will

Some of us don’t mind wearing our bicycle shoes out quickly. It gives us an excuse to buy some newer, more expensive ones. But for those who want to pass your cycling shoes down to your grandkids, here are some tips for bicycle shoe longevity.

Don’t walk around in them. I don’t know why you’d want to, but walking around on cleats wears them out quickly, looks foolish, and because they’re slippery; leads to falls.

Keep your cycling shoes dry. You can prolong their life by keeping them dry. Put some dry paper inside the shoe to sop up all your disgusting foot sweat.

You can make your bicycle shoes smell better by putting a scented dryer sheet into the shoe. This will stimulate your feminine side.

So There You Have It!

As one of my friends likes to say- ‘So there you have it’. I’ve tried to cover the basics regarding cycling shoes. You can find out more about specific brands and styles on some of my other pages. Just hover over the ‘shoe’ navigation tab at the top of this page and you’ll be able to navigate to page after page of wisdom.

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If you think these cycling shoe reviews are worth reading, please link to it, Facebook it, Google Plus it, or bookmark it.  Much appreciated!

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Prices are accurate as of October 31, 2014 12:50 pm. Product prices and available are subject to change. Any price and availablility information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of any products.

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12 Responses to Cycling Shoe Reviews: Choose Properly Or Lose Money

  1. John says:

    Hey Ron,

    Lots of fun on your website. Big question – I’ve been riding the same pair of Carnac LeMond cycling shoes for the last – gasp! – 17 years, and wonder if I should change them? I have been through several bikes and kits, but the shoes haven’t worn out except for the cleats, which I change. I updated my bikes components to Campy Super Record (a dream to ride!) and carbon wheels, and actually bought some new Sidi Genius 5.5 or 6 to go with it, but returned the shoes after reading some of some quality issues in the reviews. So I went back to my trusted and proven Carnacs which still work well, though are dated. My frugal side says if it’s not busted don’t fix it. Do you see any reason to change the shoes, which will probably last another decade? Thanks.

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Hi John, I don’t see any reason to change other than the ‘kick’ a guy gets from buying new gear. I know I’m guilty of getting new stuff just because I want something new. Sounds like the Carnacs are definitely well-made. It is sometimes hard to get shoes that fit well, so if those shoes fit…

  2. Alan says:

    Thanks for the reply, Rey, though I’m not sure what ‘roubaix’ has to do with it. But now that you mention it, it looks like Specialized does have something to fit the bill, like the Sport Touring. Thanks – I’ll check it out.

    • Rey says:

      Roubaix is simply my code for comfortable bike for a baby boomer who likes comfortable seat but enjoys the benefits of a road bike such as speed, climbing & manuvering. I adjust my roubaix bike to sit more upright, but I want comfortable shoes. I do not race but do enjoy long rides, 30 miles, 100 miles. Look forward to hearing about those touring shoes. Thanks

  3. Rey says:

    I suppose someone who rides a roubaix, baby boomer, could use mountain cycle shoes on his road cf roubaix, since I don’t like clips or clipless and the mountain shoes look so comfortable yet stiff in the sole. I would appreciate your feedback.

  4. Alan says:

    Great article, but it didn’t answer the one question I was looking for.

    Back in the last century (yeah, there were 10-speeds back then, which we rode to the well to fetch water) I had a pair of Cannondale shoes that were made for road cycling in clips, but without cleats. They were stiff under the ball, reinforced around the straps, but flat-bottomed for normal street walking. They were perfect for on-road touring. I’m looking for a replacement, but everything I see today has massive, mud-hungry treads.

    You seem very wise to the ways of bike shoes, Ron. Do you know if anyone is making something like that anymore?

    Much obliged,
    Alan

  5. Sumner says:

    This article it quite informative, but a bit oversaturated with jokes, and hard to get through because of that. Less jokes please!

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Hi Sumner,

      I think the proper expression of your sour message would be, ‘fewer jokes’ rather than ‘less jokes’.

      “hard to get through because of that”…only those with superior intellect are able to get through to the comment section, and you appear to be one of the chosen few.

      All joking aside, thanks for the comment.

      Ron

  6. Dave Altman says:

    Ron, what a truly great web site..informative, no BS and full of good advice and humor: the perfect combination. In my bookmarks for sure and will spread the word to the rest of my ignorant friends. Thanks for your time. Dave

    • Ron Fritzke says:

      Thanks Dave. I wish I had some friends…ignorant or otherwise!

  7. Ron Fritzke says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Josh.

  8. Josh says:

    This article is both hilarious and informative. Nicely done!

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