How To Choose The Best Commuter Bike Shoes
You probably think that you can cycle just with any type of shoes. Well, technically, yes, you can. However, the best shoes will enhance your ride to a whole other level.
If you ride your bike to commute to work or school and back, you face different challenges on the road. But with the right pair of shoes, you can get the support, comfort, warmth, and efficiency that you need. Keep reading to find out how to choose the best commuter bike shoes and other important stuff you need to know!
Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Commuter Bike Shoes
Before we get to the top 10 commuter bike shoes, let us first discuss some important factors to consider when choosing a pair. There are many styles, models, types, and designs out there it can easily be overwhelming. So, let me help you by walking through all the details you need to know!
Types Of Bike Shoes
First, let’s talk about the different types of bike shoes. Generally, there are three that you will often see: road bike shoes, mountain bike (MTB) shoes, and city bike shoes.
1. Road Bike Shoes
Most, if not all road bike shoes have smooth and stiff outsoles, breathable uppers, and lightweight construction. In fact, their exceptionally stiff soles that enable power transfer from your feet to the pedals are often used as a way to distinguish them from other types. These are constructed to be used with larger platform road pedals.
However, road bike shoes are not intended for walking for extended periods since the soles are not flexible and lack traction. If you are looking for higher-end models, materials like carbon fiber are known to increase sole rigidity and decrease weight.
Fit systems also give you a greater range for customization. Usually, you will find small rubber pads on the heels which provide the only point of traction.
One famous and notable niche under road bike shoes is triathlon-specific shoes or tri shoes. These are built for racing since they provide maximum energy transfer. They are also easy to wear and remove so you can quickly transition on and off your ride.
Road shoes can come with a variety of closure systems like lace-up to velcro or BOA systems that allow you to adjust the fit even while riding. The boa system utilizes a dial to even out the pressure across the forefoot. Laces are great for aerodynamic and allow you to customize the tightness across the foot.
Pedal Compatibility of Road Shoes
Most clipless road bike shoes utilize a 2-hole or 3-hole cleat system, and you have to match them with a compatible pedal. They are also not meant to be used with non-clipless pedals. To check the compatibility, look at the specs of the shoes or consult a sales specialist to ensure you can mount to the pedal system of your bike.
2. Mountain Bike Shoes
Like the road bike shoes, MTB shoes have fairly stiff soles for efficient power transfer and pedaling. However, MTB shoes allow for just enough flexing and feature rubber-lugged outsoles that provide excellent traction for walking on rugged trails and other challenging surfaces.
They have more grippy rubber soles than regular shoes or even road bike shoes. MTB shoes also perform well in a variety of off-road activities. There are cross-country racing shoes that are lightweight but high-performance or enduro shoes that can be used with cleats and clipless pedals or flat pedals.
The cleats are usually recessed into the soles which allow for easier and more comfortable walking. MTB shoes are a popular choice for indoor cycling classes, touring, and road biking as well.
The higher the price, you get to enjoy features like a lighter weight, enhanced ankle and foot protection, waterproof liners, stiffer soles, and a better fit and foot security. You can also find MTB shoes with removable spikes for loose or soft ground situations.
They often come with a lacing system, camp straps with buckles, or a rip-and-stick system for fit adjustment.
Pedal Compatibility Of MTB Shoes
Clipless MTB shoes use the 2-hole cleat system. Some MTB shoes may also have flat soles with no cleats or any way of accommodating cleats. These are the ones specifically designed for platform pedals and optionally, toe clips. As with road bike shoes, make sure you choose something that will be compatible with your bike’s pedals.
3. City Bike Shoes
If your activities consist mainly of indoor cycling, recreational cycling, and urban cycling, city bike shoes are your best bet. Mainly, these are a hybrid between casual and cycling footwear.
City bike shoes also offer compatibility with some clipless pedal systems although they come with recessed cleats and rubber outsoles for easy walking.
City bike shoes can be further categorized into commuter shoes and flat pedal shoes.
Commuter shoes are best for people who spend more time walking or standing rather than biking. These shoes are more flexible for easier and more comfortable walking. They come with treaded soles for traction as well.
Flat Pedal Shoes
Flat pedal shoes look a lot like skate style trainers although they have stiffer soles for better pedaling efficiency. They usually contain more internal padding for comfort. However, this also means that they absorb more water and take a lot longer to dry up.
Flat shoes may use ultra-traction rubber soles inspired by climbing shoes or some lace cover to decrease water absorption.
Bike Shoes And Pedal Compatibility
Another thing to consider is the pedal compatibility of bike shoes. Most of them are designed to be compatible with clipless pedals and come with holes in the soles where the cleats are attached.
Cleats are features that snap into the pedals for a more secure, non-slip connection. These cleats are often sold separately from the shoes but may come with the pedals themselves.
As you may have already noticed, some bike shoes are compatible with both 3-hole and 2-hole cleat designs which makes them great especially if you tend to switch between bikes with different pedal systems.
However, most shoes will accept either one of the other. Shoes that are made for the 2-hole system cannot be modified for a 3-hole system. A 4-hole Speedplay pedal system, on the other hand, can be adapted to fit many shoe styles.
The two-hole system is also known as the SPD system or the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, which is the first such system to be introduced. This system is used for all types of riding including mountain biking, commuting, touring, and road cycling. In shoes, the recessed cleat design allows the user to walk more easily and with less noise than any other system.
The 3-hole system is also called the Look-style system, which is again the pioneer of this system. It is most often used for road cycling since it provides the most efficient energy transfer and stability. This is because the size of the cleat is larger, allowing the force to be dissipated and spread over a larger area. This helps maintain a secure connection when you are pedaling hard and also reduces the pressure put on the connection points.
Bike Shoe Closure Styles
Next, you should also consider the bike shoe closure system or style. Cycling shoes may feature any or a combination of several types of closure.
Lace-up closure systems are probably the most common. They also offer the most comfortable and customizable fit. However, they can allow water to seep in and get your feet wet and dirty during inclement weather conditions.
When using shoes with laces, make sure that the ends are either short enough or tucked away securely to prevent them from getting caught in the chain especially if there is no chain guard.
Rip-and-stick straps like Velcro are convenient and quick, which is why these are often used for children’s shoes. They remain grippy and usable even in wet and muddy conditions. Also, these straps stretch less than laces and so are less likely to come off or undone. While most shoes feature 2 to 3 straps, more straps mean you can adjust to get a better, more customized fit.
Notched Cam Straps
If your priority is the security of your feet and clamping power, opt for notched cam straps with buckles. These come with a higher price tag but is the most reliable closure system.
Bike Shoe Sizing
Just like in any other type of shoes or footwear, you need to make sure your bike shoes will fit securely and comfortable right from the start. Because bike shoes have stiff soles, they may take a while to break in and have less chance to conform to your feet later.
The right size of shoes will typically have enough room for your toes to slightly wiggle around. The arch should be well-supported and snug while your heels should not slip or slide up and down.
However, when trying on bike shoes, you may notice that your heels will slip a little as you walk. This is again, due to the stiff soles which are designed to stabilize and support the feet while cycling. If you feel like the slippage is caused by a poor fit, try on a smaller size or opt for a different shoe model.
Bike shoes may also come in various sizing systems, usually European or U.S. However, the sizing usually depend on the manufacturer. So, make sure to get your exact measurements and compare these with the size charts of a specific brand or shoe model.
Watch this video to know how to properly size your shoes:
Bike Shoe Care And Maintenance
The durability and length of service of your commuter bike shoes will also depend largely on how you take care and maintain them. Here are a few tips on how to do so:
How To Clean Your Bike Shoes
Bike shoes should be cleaned every after use by simply wiping them off with a rag or towel. If there is any stubborn dirt like mud or stains, you can use a soft brush with a little dab of soap and some warm water to remove them. Then, finish off by wiping with a clean cloth before drying.
How To Dry Your Bike Shoes
Leaving or storing your bike shoes while they are wet is always a recipe for disaster. This will not only risk them getting permanent marks and stains but can also damage the material.
So, make sure to thoroughly dry your wet bike shoes first with a towel and then a boot or shoe dryer. A boot or shoe dryer uses a gentle flow of warm air that will slowly but completely dry your shoes within a couple of hours.
One technique that you can do is to pack the shoes with crumpled newspaper and leave them like that overnight. The next day, the newspaper will have absorbed the excess moisture from your shoes. Depending on how wet your shoes are or how quick your shoes to dry, you can also replace the newspaper every few hours or so.
Replacing The Cleats
Once the cleats are worn to the point that they disengage from the pedals, you need to replace them. Any cracks or breaks are also grounds for a replacement since damaged cleats may unexpectedly fail or not function properly.
For avid riders, cleat changing may need to be done as often as once a year. For casual riders, cleats may last for up to five years before needing to be replaced.
Bike shoe covers are booties often made with a rubberized laminate or neoprene that offers water protection and insulation. You can slip these over your cycling shoes whenever the weather is wet or cold.
Bike shoe covers often have holes or cutaways where the lugged soles or cleats can pass through. Note, however, that shoe covers are solely meant for riding so always remember to take them off when walking.
Aside from shoe covers, there are also toe covers for slightly chilly rides. These are less bulky and more convenient but can only provide some level of warmth.
Commuter Bikes Shoes Reviews
Now that you are pretty well-versed with bike shoes information, here are my top 10 favorites available in the market today to help you narrow down your search:
Commuter Bikes Shoes Reviews