UPDATED: November 10, 2021
You’re ready to rock and roll on the bike, but you look down and realize you’re still one step away from saddling up. You need cycling shoes! To get the pair that are right for you, first you’re going to need to know a thing or two about your bike’s pedals and what type of cleats your pedals accommodate – so that you know what type of shoe to buy. Read on for more info on how to make sure you get the right shoes for your ride.
Remember your shoe is connected to your cleat, which is connected to your pedal, which is connected to your bike – which means that SHOE, CLEAT, PEDAL, and BIKE are all important variables in shoe selection. So first, let’s cover some basic groundwork by assessing two important questions related to shoe/cleat/pedal/bike compatibility.
1. How is your shoe choice limited by what type of bike you’re riding?
If you ride a Spin® bike, you’ll want shoes that are SPD-cleat compatible because that’s the type of cleat our bikes work with. But if you’re going to a studio and their pedals only work with LOOK® Delta cleats, then you’re after a shoe that is compatible with this type of specific cleat.
2. What are SPD and LOOK® Delta cleats?
LOOK® Delta cleats provide a much larger platform for you to push down onto – which provides greater stability and power transfer into the bike. Their larger size also makes these cleats easier to clip in and clip out of – and for this reason, they are good for road cycling because you’re clipping in and out of the pedals for stoplights and the like.
Because mountain bikers need to be able to get on and off the bike to walk more easily – think carrying a bike up a hill or crossing a river – a different type of cleat is affixed onto the cycling shoe. These cleats – called SPD cleats – are specifically recessed for walkability, which makes them the preferred cleat for Spin® class, since you can easily walk in them before and after your ride. You are going to learn a lot more about the specifics of both cleats below, but for now, we want you to understand this major difference.
So, before you shop for cycling shoes, remember:
- There are two types of cleats used on indoor cycling bikes – SPD and LOOK® Delta.
- Your pedals might accept one type or the other, though in some cases – like the Trio® pedals – bikes are made to accommodate both. (Refer to the three images below.)
- Most indoor bikes, including all Spin® bikes, are SPD®-compatible.
LOOK® Delta cleat on a road shoe with a Trio® pedal.
SPD® cleat on a mountain bike shoe with standard pedal.
SPD® cleat on a mountain bike shoe with Trio® Pedal.
Now that you have a sense of variables that will help guide your shoe selection, we’re going to dive into the two different types of actual shoes – MTN and Road.
MTB “Mountain Bike” Shoes
MTB shoe and its 2-hole design (outlined in yellow)
MTB stands for “mountain biking,” so these shoes are as much at home on a mountain bike as they are on an indoor bike. They are easy to walk around in before and after you ride. They are tough and durable enough to brave the outdoor elements, but also light and somewhat flexible for maximum comfort and walkability.
MTB Shoes are SPD®-cleat Compatible
MTB shoes have one very important feature – SPD® cleat compatibility. These shoes feature a 2-hole design that allows for a secure and adjustable mounting platform for the SPD cleat.
MTB Shoes Have Recessed Cleats
MTB shoes also have another important feature – they are recessed. Because the cleat design is small, the rugged outsole of these shoes wraps around the cleat and keeps the cleat from touching the ground. This makes walking in your cycling shoe easier, and it gives you more traction, so you won’t slip on any floors. And because the cleat is protected by the rubber outsole, you won’t damage the cleat or the floor every time you take a step. For many indoor riders, this is an important feature, so double check that the shoes you want have a recessed cleat area before buying them.
Road shoe and its 3-hole design (outlined in red).
Road shoes are specifically designed for outdoor road cyclists. They are even lighter than MTB shoes, feature a very rigid sole, and are designed to endure the longest rides.
Unlike MTB shoes, however, these cleats have a triangular 3-hole design. This design is universal for most road cleats (like LOOK® Delta) and offers a larger platform than the smaller SPD® mountain bike cleat. Unlike MTB shoes, though, road shoes do not allow the cleat to be recessed. That means that the outsole does not wrap around the cleat, so the cleat will be sticking out of the bottom of your shoe. This makes standing in and walking around in these shoes a little tricky, and you may damage the cleat or the floor of your gym or home if you step on them too frequently. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you use MTB shoes with an SPD® cleat for indoor cycling.
Introducing our NEW SPIN® PRO Indoor Cycling Shoes!
As you might have guessed by now, the right cycling shoes can make a good ride a great ride! And if you’re on a Spin® bike, the NEW SPIN® PRO Indoor Cycling Shoes are the way to go. They’re comfortable and offer performance, stability and durability! They’re also great if you want to make the switch from athletic shoes or sneakers to cycling shoes. You’ll experience a more comfortable, efficient and safer ride along with increased power and a better connection to the bike with every pedal stroke.
- Reinforced toe and full heel support for improved stability
- Secure and quick shoe closure with ratchet buckle and two hook and loop straps
- Treaded sole for grip and balance when walking
- Perforated uppers for optimal breathability and ventilation
- Perforated insole is lightweight, comfortable and quick drying
- Compatible with SPD® cleats (Typically sold separately though bundled for free upon purchase of SPIN® PRO Indoor Cycling Shoes)
Shoe Size & Fit
Now that you know your shoe options, the details left to contend with are shoe size and proper fit.
Shoe Size Chart
You can find the right fit on the sizing chart below:
Fundamentals of a Good Shoe Fit
Bear in mind that cycling shoes will always feel stiff because of the rigid sole. (Why is the sole so rigid, anyway? A stiff sole allows for an efficient power transfer while you pedal.) While the soles will feel stiff, you will start to adapt after a few rides, and they will feel comfortable. When you pedal in the shoe, it should feel snug but also allow for toe movement and foot expansion under heat. (Think a tighter pair of sneakers.) Please be aware that proper cleat alignment is imperative to a safe and efficient ride – so call a local bike shop if you need assistance with your setup.