Starting with the basics, what are cycling shoes? and how are they different from normal sports shoes? Cycling shoes use "Clip-less" or "Clip-in" technology; with a 'cleat' on the bottom of the shoe you clip into the pedals. This has the advantage that you are able to generate a more fluid effort in the whole of the pedal stroke; pulling up on the pedals as well as pushing down. The result is increased efficiency and ultimately speed!
Clip-in shoes also increase efficiency through their construction compared to normal sports shoes. They tend to have stiffer, thinner soles that flex less as you pedal; translating into better power transfer through the pedals. They also feature buckles, straps and laces that help to strap your feet firmly in position, avoiding uncomfortable slipping and movement that you may encounter in traditional sports shoes.
So, cycle shoes are made specifically to be more efficient and comfortable than normal sports shoes. However, to further add to the advantages of cycle shoes, there are many adaptions to the "Clip-in" shoe. In this guide we consider the different designs, to help you get the most from you cycle shoe purchase.
Road cycling shoes
First up, road cycling shoes. Road shoes are easily identified; they normally have a smooth low-profile plastic or carbon sole, without grips or lugs (except maybe one on the heel). They often have vented uppers to allow your feet to remain cool in hot conditions.
Triathlon cycling shoes
Triathlon cycling shoes are similar to road shoes in some aspects, but fundamentally different in others. The main difference is that triathlon shoes are designed to be easily removable, even whilst riding (to speed up transition). They are also likely to be softer lined, so that you can wear then without socks if you wish.
Mountain Bike Shoes.
Mountain bike shoes are significantly different to road and triathlon shoes, both in function and appearance. The first and most obvious difference is that mountain bike shoes have lugs and grips on the sole, which enable you to walk and run when you are forced to dismount to open gates or in muddy conditions. The second feature is that they have a different cleat system (more on this below). A third difference, is that these shoes tend to be made of tougher, water resistant materials such as synthetic leather, to help keep out the trail muck.