Cycling shoes are a type of footwear that’s designed to be worn while you ride your bike. It’s a good idea to wear cycling shoes when you’re riding on the road, but they’re not necessary for mountain biking or BMX. Cycling shoes have cleats on their soles so that you can use them with clipless pedals and attach yourself securely to your bike.
Here’s everything you need to know about cycling shoes: what they are, how they work, why they’re useful, and what kind of things you should look out for when shopping for them.
What are SPD pedals?
SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. It’s a system of clipless pedals developed by Shimano and still the most popular system in use today. You probably know these as “clipless” pedals, and they’re used on road bikes, cyclocross bikes (cross bikes), touring bikes, and some mountain bikes.
You might also see them referred to as “mountain bike shoes.” The first SPD-compatible shoes were introduced in 1992 with a total of five models—one each for road riding and mountain biking, plus two pairs that could be used on either type of bike (though they were marketed as being more appropriate for off-road use).
SPD is a popular choice among cyclists who ride road bikes, but it’s not always the best option when you want to go on an off-road ride. If you’re looking for a more versatile pedal system, look into getting some platform clipless pedals or traditional flat pedals instead!
Is there a difference between clip-in and clipless shoes?
There are two types of cycling shoes: clip-in and clipless. Clip-in shoes have a strap that holds the shoe to the pedal; they’re easier to get in and out of, but don’t provide as much support when pedaling. Clipless shoes use a cleat to attach directly to the pedal; this allows for more efficient power transfer and greater comfort on long rides, but makes it harder to stop quickly if needed.
How do clip-in pedals work?
A clip-in pedal is comprised of three main components: the cleat, the pedal body, and a spring-loaded mechanism.
The cleat is attached to your cycling shoe by way of a spring-loaded mechanism that locks into place once you press down firmly on it with your foot. The opposite side of this mechanism is attached to the sole of your shoe by way of screws or glue—whatever method suits you best! When you’re ready for takeoff, all you need do is press down firmly on this end as well (using either your heel or entire foot) and away you go!
What are the advantages of clip-in pedals?
You’ll get a number of benefits from riding with clip-in pedals.
- Increased control. If you’re new to cycling or have never used clipless pedals before, it might be a bit uncomfortable at first. But after some practice, your feet will become more accustomed to the feel and you’ll be able to make sharper turns without having to worry about losing control.
- Increased safety. When you’re clipped in, the only way for your foot to come off of the pedal is if something goes wrong with its connection or if there’s an unexpected jerking motion on it (such as in case of an accident). This makes for safer cycling overall—you won’t be distracted by worrying about whether or not your foot will slip off while racing down a hill or going through puddles in wet weather conditions.
- Increased efficiency: Because clipped-in riders don’t have extra energy being used up just trying keep their feet attached during every pedal stroke, they can focus more fully on other aspects like technique and power output instead.
- Reduced effort: Clipping into pedals makes pedaling easier because every rep counts towards moving forward; there isn’t any wasted effort spent holding onto position instead of traveling forward.
- Comfort: If you’ve ever worn regular shoes while riding before then chances are good that at some point during those rides (or perhaps even just one ride), either one or both feet hurt due to constant pressure against hard surfaces such as concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads.
Choosing the right clipless pedal cleats
Choosing the right clipless pedal cleats is a matter of knowing your shoe type, the pedal type you’ll be riding on, and your shoe size. Some of these factors are linked. Most mountain bike shoes have recessed soles that require special cleats with a longer platform to ensure proper engagement with the pedal. Road cycling shoes (with their flatter soles), on the other hand, can use less specialized versions of clipless pedals’ cleat system.
There are benefits to using road cycling shoes with mountain bike pedals: The low profile of these shoes makes for better control during cornering and acceleration; plus if you end up doing an impromptu trail run or hike in them later, there’s no need for new footwear—you’ve already got what you need in your pocket! This also means that it’s possible to ride both off-road and on-road without having two pairs of bikes at hand—a luxury not afforded by other riders who rely on different types of pedal systems altogether—but this isn’t recommended unless you’re comfortable riding one style exclusively (road vs mountain).
Different Types of Cleats
- Cleats come in three different styles. They’re available in the standard flat style, but you can also find them with a recessed hole (called “dual release”) or an upward protrusion designed to make walking easier.
- Cleat sizes are measured according to length and weight capacity, so they’re always listed as such. How much weight they can hold depends on their size and shape as well as their material composition.
- There are numerous colors and styles available for cleats, including black, silver/chrome, gold/bronze/copper/bronze high-gloss paint finishes; gold/silver chrome accents; polished aluminum; matte black rubberized finish (vibram); red plastic accents; reflective sidewalls that glow when light hits them at night (blaze). Some of these varieties also come with extra features—such as magnetic or nonmagnetic closures—that might be worth considering depending on your preferences and needs!
Three-Bolt Road Cycling Clipless System
Three-bolt road cycling clipless systems have three holes in the sole of the shoe and are therefore compatible with any pedal that has three bolts. The three-bolt system is by far the most popular system used on road bikes, and almost every manufacturer offers at least one model with a 3-bolt cleat interface. The majority of pedals also come with a three-bolt cleat interface.
This means that if you buy any brand of cycling shoes, they will work on any brand of bike if they use 3 bolt system (except some very old bikes).
Two-Bolt Mountain Biking Clipless System
The common two-bolt mountain biking clipless system is one of the most popular and well-known systems on the market. It’s also a great option for beginners looking to get into cycling shoes.
The two-bolt system differs from other types of cycling shoes because it features only two bolts: one at the toe and one at the heel. The first bolt connects your shoe to the pedal, while the second bolt keeps your foot from slipping out of place when you’re pedaling down hills or pushing hard on flats.
Do Mountain Bike Shoes Come With Cleats?
Mountain bike shoes are commonly made with a clipless pedal system, which is popular in mountain biking because of the nature of the sport. The cleats on these shoes will be compatible with clipless pedals, so you can use them for both road and mountain biking—but be aware that some models don’t come with cleats included. If you intend to ride your bike using clipless pedals and your favorite pair of road cycling shoes doesn’t have any built-in cleats, then you’ll need to buy separate cleats before you can use them in this way.
How Bike Shoes Should Fit
To determine whether your shoes are the right fit, there’s a simple test:
- Wiggle your toes. You should be able to wiggle both of them in the front and back without feeling like they’re being pinched. If you can do so easily, you’ve got some room for adjustment with your shoe size.
- Your heel should fit snugly but not painfully tight at the back of your heel—if it pinches too much when you walk, even with socks on, then they’re too small. This is especially important if you’re planning on using clipless pedals (see below).
- Your foot should be able to move up and down within the shoe while pedaling; this gives more control over how much power goes into each stroke as well as helping prevent injuries caused by repetitive motions (e.g., shin splints). It also means that if part of your foot is touching something hard within the shoe itself (like a cleat), it’ll hurt like hell when riding long distances!
How to Take Care of Your Bike Shoes
To keep your cleats and cycling shoes working their best, it’s important to take care of them. Here are some tips for making sure that they stay in good shape:
- Check the cleats regularly for wear and tear. If they begin to show signs of damage—such as cracks or chips—they should be replaced immediately.
- Replace the cleats when they are worn out. As a rule, riders should replace their shoe-mounted pedals every 1,000 miles or so (1,600 kilometers) to ensure that they’re performing at their best and won’t fail during a ride or race. You may want to use an online calculator like this one from Shimano to estimate how long it’ll be before you need new ones based on how long you’ve been riding with the old ones installed on your bike shoe soles.* Replace damaged or unsecured cleats immediately.* Replace any pair of cycling shoes (including those without built-in clipless pedals) every 500 miles (805 kilometers).
We hope we’ve answered all your questions about cleats and how they work. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us at our customer service line!