Why invest in a pair of shoes specifically designed for cycling? Surely a stiff pair of trainers is going to do the job just as well? These are commonly asked questions and with good reason.
After all, the cost of a bike plus accessories and clothing adds up, so if there is one area where economies can be made, then it is in the footwear department where many new riders decide to cut corners.
Sticking with the trusty trainers is certainly not a problem if your riding is restricted to the cycling equivalent of a Sunday morning stroll, where the intensity of the pedalling and the amount of pressure exerted on the pedals is minimal.
As long as the sole of the trainer has a tread that offers good grip, then there isn’t a problem.
But of course, the more serious you get about the sport, with a corresponding increase in time and intensity spent in the saddle, then the more important it becomes to invest in specialist footwear.
And, specifically, specialist footwear that is of the correct fit – too large, and your feet will be moving about inside the shoe when they should be forming a solid, steady link between leg and pedal; too small, and cramping is going to make life very uncomfortable, very quickly.
In terms of uppers, shoes come in many shapes and colours; longer boot-type models are available that protect the ankle by means of water-repellant material.
Both lace-up and Velcro-fastening straps are available, the former incorporating a “lace tidy” or tongue flap to ensure that there is no chance of any entanglement with the pedal or chain.
However, it is the sole where cycling shoes come into their own. Firstly, it must be stiff enough to prevent painful feet that can otherwise be the result of pushing against a pedal for a lengthy period of time.
Secondly, it will incorporate a cleat that attaches to the pedal and prevents the foot slipping off. The cleat will be designed to ensure quick release should an accident occur.
A number of models feature a recessed cleat which provides for ease of walking when not in the saddle. In addition, ridged soles can be very useful for off-road, when conditions underfoot may require extra traction.
Serious End of the Cycling Fraternity
Now for the thorny question of price. A good shoe suitable for regular commuting will set you back around £30. As with all cycling items, it pays to shop around so you gain a good idea of what the market average is.
Remember that wherever you source your shoes from, that you ensure you buy the right fitting. As you ascend the price scale, you will find what you are paying for is the weight of the shoe, but this is only applicable to the really serious end of the cycling fraternity where value for money is measured in only tiny improvements in performance.
Having settled on the pair best suited to your requirements and wallet, don’t neglect them. Regular cleaning will ensure that you get the most out of your shoes, both in terms of mileage and performance.