“A shoe is not only a design,” said Christian Louboutin, “but it’s part of your body language, the way you
walk ride. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes.”
I admit that Christian Louboutin, a Parisian designer of fancy French footwear, is not an objective critic when it comes to shoes. He sucked out his fortune, some $85 million, from the exotic leather-and-rhinestone purses of American celebrities who were enamored with his lacquered stilettos. But I believe in his idea:
Purchasing a pair of cycling shoes can be a daunting experience. Shoes matter a lot and the more miles you ride, the more they matter. Some feature adjustable heel cups, others Boa closure systems, and some heat-moldable shells.
But when it comes down to it, the best cycling shoes are judged by one criterion: How quickly you can put it on, and how quickly you can forget that you have them on.
Pearl Izumi – Ride Men’s Tri Fly IV Carbon Cycling Shoe
Any shoe that costs as much as mortgage payment had better be able to deliver the goods, and the Pearl Izumi does not disappoint. Targeted at male triathletes, the Izumi weighs less than a few sticks of butter and features a tough, stiff carbon insole for maximum power delivery.
See, the triathlete cannot tolerate the nuisances that plague regular cyclists. No one wants to run 6.2 miles during an Olympic triathlon with numb toes, foot blisters and “hot foot.” Therefore, triathlon shoes must prioritize long-term comfort.
As a triathlon shoe, the Izumi boasts three special features:
- It is designed to be worn without cycling socks for faster transition times.
- Acres of synthetic mesh vent the entire foot, top to bottom, draining rogue rainwater and preventing moisture condensation.
- The shoe features an Anatomic TRI closure system composed of a two-strap, hook-and-loop system that reduces pressure on the forefoot, thereby eliminating numb toes and hot foot.
Buyers’ notes: Buy one size larger than you think.
Shimano 2015 Women’s Club Recreational Riding Road Cycling Shoes
Are you trying to decide if you should invest in cycling shoes for spin class? You should. Here is why.
When you bike wearing sneakers and pushing on flat pedals, most of your power comes from the downstroke. The second half of your stroke, the upstroke, is mostly useless. This cyclical pattern “flames” your quadriceps muscles and, in general, leads to a bad attitude.
Clipless pedals, which, ironically, have clips, alleviate this issue. By connecting your foot to the pedal, you maximize efficiency and power by sharing the workload between your quadriceps and hamstrings.
The Shimano SH-WR42 Women’s Shoes offer road racers and spin bike enthusiasts the ability to use 2-hole mountain bike cleats or 3-hole road bike cleats. Secured by two hook-and-loop straps and an ankle ratcheting mechanism, the SH-WR42 road cycling shoes have stretch-resistant leather and a forgiving Dynalast sole.
Buyers’ notes: Most crotchety customers complain that the shoes run a size small. Also, the shoes may be too narrow, which adds pressure to nerve endings in the foot and may cause numbness or aching pain.
Giro 2015 Men’s Apeckx Road Bike Shoes
Not everyone has the inherited trust fund to pay $300 for a pair of specialty recreational shoes. The mid-level Giro Apeckx shoe offers several high-end features for a fraction of the normal price.
Unlike long-distance racing road shoes, the Apeckx shoe has recessed cleats. You can dismount and walk without feeling like you’re tottering about on peg legs. It accepts SPD, LOOK and MTB cleats and, like most great road cycling shoes, they come from Europe.
It has been said that wearing one pound on the foot is akin to carrying five pounds on the back. Every ounce – or gram, if you come from across the pond – matters. Thanks to its thin, breathable upper and lightweight EVA footbed, the Apeckx pair weighs about 1.8 pounds.
Buyers note: This shoe, thanks be to the Good Lord, has an antimicrobial treatment, which is a politically correct way of saying it eliminates some of the noxious foot fumes you generate after a 100-mile “Century” ride.
Where Giro saved some money is the closure system: a classic trio of Velcro straps. Velcro straps, unlike regular shoe laces, can be easily adjusted with one hand while riding, but Velcro straps will not last as long, nor be as snug, as ratcheting mechanisms.
Venzo Road Bike For Shimano SPD SL Look Cycling Bicycle Shoes & Sealed Pedals
Most cycling propaganda shows HDR photographs of Grand Teton sunsets and Moab Slickrock, but in truth, most cyclists see lots of white plaster and flat-screen televisions. It’s a new, different type of cycling, one without the honking horns and brutal climbs and damned headwinds of the outdoors. And for these athletes, these indoor cyclists, few shoes offer as much for as little as the Venzo road bikes shoes.
Available on Amazon.com, the Venzo road bike shoe package comes with the shoes, Wellgo R096 pedals, cleats and bolts. The system is compatible with all SPD, SPD-SL, KEO and LOOK pedals. And the whole shebang costs less than $100. That’s so low, it’s almost extortion (since the shoes are from Taiwan, that may in fact be the case).
But all jokes aside, the Venzo package is an incredible bargain. There are a few caveats.
Buyers’ notes: In spite of what Venzo says about a running beveled heel and a flexible sole, you can’t walk on these things. The cleats stick out like two giant noses. If you must dismount, protect the cleats with rubber covers to prevent grime from fouling the holes. These shoes are best for indoor cycling and low-traffic trails, not stop-and-go city commutes.
Hint: When sizing a cycling shoe, you want just enough room to wiggle your toes. Your ankle should feel like it was set in cement.
Pearl iZUMi Women’s X-Alp Seek III WRX Cycling Shoe
Unlike the other shoes on this list, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek III WRX – I’ll shorten that name to what Pearl calls the “Ppure” – is a running shoe first and a cycling shoe second. Designed for hardcore hike-n-bikers, the Pure features a tough, non-flex sole for biking and a rugged, carbon-lugged outer sole for hiking.
Most cycling shoes sport synthetic mesh uppers to vent sweat moisture. The Pearl Izumi Pure adopts the opposite tactic: the softshell upper, manufactured from a breathable and seamless synthetic fabric, is coated with a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish.
Stiff soles, thick tread, water-resistant fabric – sounds like a shoe made for Grizzly Adams. You can use these cycling shoes in spin class and then walk over to other areas to work out in other areas of the gym without having to change your shoes. They are that comfortable. And to be sure, you could even wear this shoe for a 2-week Ride-n-Run stint through the Michigan U.P.
So whether you hike, commute or spin, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek III-whatever can keep up the pace.
Buyers’ notes: If you ride through a rainstorm, stuff your shoes with newspaper while they dry. It will help preserve their shape.