Barefoot running is a new fitness fad. I don’t know if barefoot cycling is ever going to take off, but from the couple of times I’ve done it, I just can’t see it happening. Pushing a pedal, even a wide plastic platform pedal, in bare feet is nothing short of painful. Of course, running barefoot through the city streets doesn’t sound too great to me either, so who knows.
For those of you, like me, who will keep your shoes on no matter what the current craze is, there are a number of different options for cycling.
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about clipless pedals. Along with these pedals are special cycling shoes – they have cleats on the bottom. Not all shoes are compatible with all cleats, and all cleats don’t work with all pedals, so if you go this way, you want to make sure you have a shoe/cleat/pedal combo that’s going to be functional. Beyond that, there are road shoes and mountain bike shoes.
For road cycling, the cleats tend to be a little larger. They’re external to the sole, sort of like high heels in reverse (it’s why the shoes make a clicking sound when you walk on a hard surface). This kind of shoe/cleat combo has more surface contact with the pedal. This allows for better power transfer, which is important if you’re into going fast.
On the other hand, mountain bike shoes tend to have the cleats recessed into the bottom of the sole. This is a big advantage for mountain biking because if you come across some unrideable terrain, you can just get off and walk/carry your bike, and your shoes are going to be up for it. Mountain bike shoes/cleats also tend to be a little less “grippy” and are easier to unclip than most road shoes. This is important for mountain bikers who might need to unclip in a hurry to maintain balance on a tough corner or obstacle.
Of course, you don’t need special shoes to ride your bike. And to that end, there are any number of options, including:
1. Sneakers. Your standard laced casual shoe is a great choice for riding. The sole is usually hard enough so that it’s comfortable to press down (even pretty hard) on the pedals. They’re also a good year round choice and suitable for a variety of temperatures and weather conditions. Although in the rain, you do have to be careful that rubber soles don’t lose their grip and slide off the pedals.
2. High Heels. I wouldn’t have thought it a natural choice (I am not a high-heel wearer even off the bike) but apparently there are ladies who love it (and entire websites dedicated to it, like Biking in Heels) . I’ve heard that the heel actually acts like a hook, and makes it easier to keep your foot on the pedal. I imagine there’s a limit on the height of the heel too. Riding in stilettos seems like a good way to break your shoes, and possibly a few bones all in one fell swoop.
3. Sandals. A great choice for summer. What better way to keep your feet from overheating in the hot weather than to let them breathe free? They’re also nice in case you get caught in a freak summer downpour – wet feet are a lot easier to deal with and dry off than soaking wet shoes. You’ll want to remember to put sunscreen on your feet though. Also, while plenty of people do it, I’ve never thought that flip flops are the wisest choice for cycling. That one toehold just isn’t enough for me.
What do you Wear?
What’s your favourite footwear for riding? Do you wear cycling shoes on your Montague bike? Do you change it throughout the year? Or do you just wear the same shoes all the time? Do you have a rotation? Ride in boots? Let us hear from you!