A buyer's guide to cycling shoes

A buyer’s guide to cycling shoes

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A buyer's guide to cycling shoes
Cycling shoes should fit perfectly!

The new cycling season is well underway, and as every year, it’s time to check, renew or add to your cycling equipment.

Today, we’re going to talk about shoes, or more specifically, how to find the right ones for you. After all, it can be quite the daunting task, especially considering how many different models there are now. Fortunately, there are ways to significantly reduce the number of options, one of which is by asking yourself the following simple question:

What kind of bike do I have?

In addition to the question above, you should always ask yourself what you need the cycling shoes for.

Road bikes

A buyer's guide to cycling shoes
GIRO – Trans E70 – Cycling shoes.

Road cyclists, who always seem to be looking for a boost in speed will find that special road bike shoes have a particularly rigid sole. This serves to provide stability, even when you’re riding aggressively. The sole itself is usually kept smooth and has little or no tread.

Mountain bikes

You’ll notice a difference between mountain bike shoes and road bike shoes the second you look at the bottom. In contrast to road shoes, MTB shoes do indeed have tread because mountain bikers are often places where they’re forced to hop off their bikes and walk. To be prepared for all eventualities, it’s best to get mountain shoes. Their special tread makes it much easier to climb uphill on foot. Plus, they provide the necessary stability and surefootedness as well.


A buyer's guide to cycling shoes
Sidi – MTB Buvel – All-round MTB shoes.

A special kind of bike shoe is a BMX shoe. These shoes should not only be very tough and dirt-repellent, but lightweight as well. BMX shoes come equipped with a slightly softer rubber sole, which provides the necessary grip on the pedals, whilst simultaneously allowing for freedom of movement for all those cool tricks.

The importance of a bike shoe’s sole

Only by forming the perfect connection between your shoe and the pedal can you achieve optimal power transfer and pedal efficiently. Plus, this connection can reduce or even eliminate fatigue as well as muscle and joint pains on long trips. In general, you can say that the stiffer the sole, the better the power transfer. For this reason, they’re really well suited for fast cyclists and long trips with some elevation gain.

Optimal security thanks to the clipless pedal system

A buyer's guide to cycling shoes
The sole of the Pearl Izumi – Cycling shoes.

In addition to the construction of the sole and its characteristics, there’s another factor that promotes power transfer and a safer riding style: a clipless pedal system. This is a two-part system, with one part being a pedal with a locking mechanism and the other a cleat that attaches to your shoe. By having your shoe connected to the pedal, you generate power not only by pushing but also by pulling. More specifically, each time you pedal, one foot pushes one pedal downward, whilst the other pulls the other pedal upward. This results in much higher speeds, increased efficiency and thus increased power output.

Bike shoes just have to fit

In addition to all the features and cool technology, your cycling shoes should fit you, as with any other shoe. You don’t have to be a cyclist to be familiar with the consequences of ill-fitting shoes: they pinch, cause hot spots and blisters. This is something you should never underestimate, especially when it comes to sport shoes. Why? Well, as a result of increased activity, the shoe and thus your foot will be subjected to much more significant amount of strain. Pesky blisters can form in a matter of minutes, which can often lead to you stopping whatever it is you’re doing entirely. The same goes for cycling shoes. The constant pedalling causes the foot to be strained in exactly the same way every time you’re on your bike. Even if you feel the slightest discomfort, a fun day of cycling can turn into quite the ordeal very quickly. To prevent this, be absolutely certain that the shoe fits perfectly and you don’t experience any pressure.

As with other shoes, several cycling shoes have a removable insole, which you can replace with an orthotic if you so desire. This can really improve the fit and feel of a shoe, which will in turn make for a more enjoyable ride! Besides, who wants to cycle in pain? Not I!


A buyer's guide to cycling shoes
Lightweight, breathable and sturdy – the Yara TR from Vaude.

There are enormous differences when it comes to materials (with the majority being made of modern synthetics and high-quality leather), but one thing’s for sure: your cycling shoes should be breathable. The breathability of the individual models can vary depending on everything from the kind of closure the shoe has to the mesh inserts. For particularly warm weather, summer shoes will be your best bet, because these naturally keep your feet cool. For bad weather, it’s a good idea to get yourself some overshoes!

As for the closure, the majority of shoes today come with either a hook-and-loop closure or traditional lacing. Both allow you to achieve a precise fit and lock down the foot nicely. A combination of both, however, will give you even more security.

Find your cycling shoes >>

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Alpinetrek-Expert Guest author

One Comment on the Article

  1. David 15. May 2021 09:08 Uhr

    Great post!

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