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Cycling shoes are stiffer, lighter and comfortable than casual footwear. More rigid soles help you transfer more power through the pedals which improves your performance.
A snug fit with quality fastenings keep your feet planted in the shoes to prevent rubbing, chafing and blisters. On longer rides this is key to comfort.
Cycling shoes come in two types – clipless & non-clipless.
Clipless Shoes – fix to a cleat which then clips in to your pedals. You get a firmer and more stable contact with the pedal. This improves efficiency.
Non-clipless Shoes – also called flat shoes don’t feature cleat systems and look just like casual trainers.
Before buying cycling shoes, make sure they’re compatible with your pedal’s cleat system. Most pedals use a 2 or 3 bolt cleat system.
2 bolt cleat system
Mainly on mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats. This makes walking easier. Common 2 bolt cleat systems are Shimano SPD and Crank Brothers.
3 bolt cleat system
Mainly on road cycling shoes where the cleat protrudes from the shoe. This makes walking difficult but greatly improves pedaling efficiency thanks to a firmer platform. Common 3 bolt cleat systems are Shimano SPD-SL, Time, Look and Speedplay.
Flat pedals have no cleat system so you can wear any non-clipless (flat) shoes.
This will come down primarily to cleat compatibility as discussed above.
Road cycling shoes
3 bolt compatibility
Road cycling shoes are low profile and fitted with a stiff nylon or carbon fibre sole. Their main function is to improve energy transfer.
You’ll find no grips on the sole as they’re not designed for walking. Ratchet style fastenings are common on entry shoes while micro-adjustable BOA fastenings offer the best fit.
Mountain biking shoes
2 bolt compatibility
More rugged and bulky than road shoes, they also come with grips on the sole so you can walk on muddy conditions. Recessed cleats are built into the sole – for off-the-bike comfort.
XC racing shoes are lighter with stiff carbon soles and minimal tread, they look like beefed up road shoes. Clipless skate shoes are loved by gravity riders thanks to a casual style, comfort off the bike and a cleat that’s placed further back on the sole for more ‘feel’.
Flat cycling shoes
Often skate inspired design. Stiffer sole with extra tacky rubber soles for traction. Great for commuting and recreational riding.
Women’s cycling shoes
Designed with a narrower heel and shallower height between the sole and upper. These shoes come in smaller sizes too.
The most common cause of foot numbness is improperly fitting shoes. Check the size guide for sizing and if you're between sizes go for the next size up. This is because your feet will swell slightly so a tight shoe will contrict blood vessels, making toes and feet go numb.
Another cause could be improperly aligned cleats. You could consider positioning cleats further back towards your heel to offer more even pressure across your foot.
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