While you can ride a bike in just about any shoes, anyone who rides regularly can benefit from shoes designed specifically for cycling. Compared to typical workout or running shoes, bike shoes are designed with stiffer soles to that more efficient energy transfer as you pedal.
Cycling shoes are usually paired with a compatible pedal to hold your feet securely on the bicycle. This clipless shoe-pedal combination offers unmatched control with a minimum amount of your pedaling energy lost
Types of Bike Shoes
Road Bike Shoes
Virtually all road bike shoes offer lightweight construction, smooth outsoles and good ventilation. They are distinguished by their exceptionally stiff soles to facilitate power transfer to your pedals. While great for cycling, these shoes are not good for extended walking as they offer no traction and little flex.
Price is driven by materials. More expensive shoes use materials such as carbon fiber which offers the benefit of lighter weight and stronger soles
Mountain Bike Shoes
Mountain Bike Shoes are less stiff but still offer efficient pedaling They have ample flex and a rubber-lug outsole to give decent traction for walking on slick or rugged trails. The cleats on these shoes are typically recessed into the soles, which makes for easier walking. While called Mountain Shoes, the features they offer make them a good choice for more casual road biking, touring and indoor cycling classes as well.
Again, price and quality go hand in hand. As you move up in price, you get features such as stiffer soles, lighter weight, enhanced foot and/or ankle protection, waterproof liners and additional rip-and-stick straps or a buckle-and-ratchet-type strap for an improved fit and foot security.
City Bike Shoes
City bike shoes are best for urban cycling, recreational cycling and indoor cycling classes. A hybrid between cycling footwear and casual footwear, city bike shoes offer compatibility with clipless pedal systems, but they have rubber outsoles and recessed cleats to allow easy walking.
Most bike shoes are designed to work with clipless pedals and also have holes drilled in the soles for attaching cleats. Cleats snap into the pedals to create a secure connection. Be aware that cleats are supplied with pedals, not the shoes, and that your cleats must match the shoes for compatibility. There are several Cleat Drill Hold Configurations:
The 2-hole system or SPD system (short for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, which was the first such system.) - good for all types of riding, including road cycling, mountain biking, touring and commuting. When paired with some shoes, the recessed cleat design allows easier walking and less noise than other systems.
The 3-hole system or Look-style system (for the pioneering manufacturer of this system) - The 3-hole system is most often used for road cycling, because it offers the most stability and energy transfer while riding. The large cleat is able to spread the force being applied to the pedal over a wide area.
Laces offer the most customizable fit and comfort.
Rip-and-stick straps offer quick closure and remain usable in muddy, wet conditions. Straps stretch less than laces and are more likely to stay on securely.
Notched cam straps with buckles are more expensive, but they offer the greatest clamping power and security.
Comfort Rules! Due to their stiff soles, shoes that are not comfortable initially have little chance to break in and become so later. All shoes should allow your toes enough room to wiggle slightly. Your arch should be snug and supported and your heel should not slide up and down.