There comes a point for every cyclist when you decide to take that leap, or in this case climb, and up your cycling game. It doesn’t matter if you are indoors taking a spin class or outdoors riding your road bike; like any form of physical activity, it is important to have the right type of footwear to help you achieve personal records.

So, how do you decide what type of shoes to choose? Bike shoes, unlike most athletic shoes, have a stiffer sole paired with a pedal to allow for more efficiency as you ride. Depending on your biking activity, there are certain criteria to consider when purchasing cycling shoes. Let’s take a look at the following items to help you determine which shoe is the perfect fit for you and your healthy, cycling hobby.

cycling shoesCycling Shoe Styles

For cycling there are three main activity categories to consider: road, city, or mountain. First, it is important to determine the type of riding style and pedals you will use most.

1. Road Biking

To allow for more power to your pedals, road bike shoes are lightweight, have smooth soles, and extremely good ventilation. Due to their inflexibility, cleat and pedal style, they are not made for long periods of walking. As you look at higher priced materials such as carbon fiber, which will decrease the weight and increase sole firmness, you will find these models of shoes to be higher in price. If your goal is to improve proficiency and control in your riding, you might want to consider a shoe system that allows for more customization.

Pedal System

Road biking shoes are designed to work with either a three-hole pedal clip-in system with brands such as Look, Time, or SPD-SL styles, or with a 2-hole cleat system with brands such as SPD, Crankbrothers, or Time styles.  Neither shoe system can be used with clipless pedals. You will want to make sure you match the shoe style up with a compatible pedal.

2. City Biking

If taking an indoor cycling class such as a spin class, or pedaling around your city is more your speed, then city bike shoes are the best option for you. City bike shoes are a mix between comfortable footwear and cycling shoes. They offer pedal compatibility with clipless systems, and have rubber outsoles with cleats for stress-free walking.

3. Mountain Biking

The flexibility of mountain biking shoes is a blend between road biking’s stiff sole and city biking’s rubber outsole. Similar to a city bike shoe, the rubber outsole allows for more flexibility when walking on slippery or weathered trails. In addition, there are cleats built into the soles, which also make walking easier on rough terrain. Frequently, road bikers and indoor cyclists will also choose this style of shoe because it allows for more diversity in their riding. Higher priced models of mountain biking shoes feature such advantages as stiffer soles, lighter weight, foot and ankle protection, waterproof liners, and removable toe spikes for customized riding.

Pedal System

Similar to a road bike shoe, clipless mountain bike shoes use a 2-hole cleat system with popular brands such as SPD, Crankbrothers, or Time styles. You will need to match up the shoe with a compatible pedal. Often, you will encounter mountain bike shoes with flat soles. These do not have cleats and are to be used with platform pedals.

Cycling shoes are designed to help improve your cycling efficiency and performance. If you ride regularly, it is important to learn about the different types of cycling shoes and invest in a pair that you can benefit from. It might take a few tries to find the right shoe and pedal style that suites you. When it comes to enjoying your hobby and getting to that next level of riding, you want to be sure you have all the right tools.