What Type of Shoes to Wear For Indoor Cycling

Looking to get the full benefit from your cycling workout? Then you’re in the right place as we’re just itching to share the shoe and pedal combinations that can totally level up your cycling power up to 16% on your next ride! To see our recommendation, keep reading.

Pedals, Shoes, and Cleats: How Are They Related?

Interested in knowing which pedals, shoes, or cleats you should choose? Pedals are designed to fit a variety of shoe options and usually accommodate caged, flat, SPD, or LOOK Delta compatible options. When selecting a pedal, it is important to go with an option that supports the shoe or cleat type you prefer. Indoor Cycling Shoe, Pedal & Cleat Types: Types and How they Compare;

Clipless

With clipless pedals, cleats are clicked into the pedal with ease for a more active workout. Dual-sized, SPD, and Delta make up the list of common clipless pedal options. SPD Pedals allow only an SPD cleat that includes a two-bolt cleat. The Delta pedal option includes a three-bolt cleat like the Look Delta and is considered a wider option than the standard SPD pedal.

A dual-sides pedal usually accommodates a clipless type on one side and the other side, a clipped type. It is quite normal to find a dual-sided pedal, including an SPD and a toe variation in most fitness studios.

SPD vs. Look Delta Comparison

On the list of popular pedal types, the SPD pedal ranks very high. You would find this type in most fitness facilities and is standard on the majority of commercial-grade indoor cycling options. It is important to note, however, that only a select few peak performance riding shoes accommodate the SPD cleat.

If you belong to a group of high-class outdoor cyclists, then you should be familiar with this pedal option. The LOOK Delta option is a very popular choice of pedal among elite outdoor cyclists as it is usually associated with a broad range of pricey shoes.

Cyclists often wonder if power transfer will be greater with an SPD or LOOK Delta cleat type and the best possible response to this is that there is no definitive answer to this as there are several factors that influence the choice of the cleat.

Rather than focus on the cleat type, it is also important to consider the type of sole. Rigid-soled shoes allow for a more significant power transfer. However, an ankle or feet misalignment in a rider will be much more noticeable in a cleat with a stiff sole.

SPD vs. SPD SL Comparison

The only similarity between these two types is the “SPD” in their name and their common manufacturer, Shimano. The SPD pedal includes a cleat fastened to the cycling shoe by two bolts, while the SPD SL bears a striking resemblance to the Look Delta and, in this case, is fastened to the shoe with three bolts.

The major contrast between both types is that the SPD SL cleat is larger than the SPD with a wider base which allows for better stability.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your workout riding sessions, then the clipless pedal options are your best bet. The pros of clipless pedals and cleats make it a great choice for cyclists.

First, these cycling cleats are structured in a way that lets the rider use all 360 degrees of the pedal stroke, and riders can push and pull without bothering about their shoes slipping off. As a result, pedaling is much more efficient with this type.

Another benefit of the clipless pedal and cleat is that it aids better riding form since your feet are set in a fixed position. Finally, beginner to high-class cyclists is sure to get a kick out of the clipless cleat and pedal options.

Clipped (Toe & Flats)

Clipped pedals do not require special or high-end cycling shoes and make use of regular workout shoes, which can be considered an advantage over clipless pedal options. They mostly consist of toe cages or flats. The usual setup of the toe cage is one where your riding shoes/ sneakers are fastened in the toe cage with a fabric strap and secured by a bottom bracket.

A flat pedal, as the name implies, is simply flat on top. You would most definitely find the clipped pedal on regular bikes at a sporting equipment vendor.

This pedal option allows you to save money on buying a new pair of cycling shoes, and many would consider this a major advantage. However, the flaws are way more than the benefits where this pedal type is concerned. One of the disadvantages of using the toe cage is that if riders do not properly fasten the toe cage strap through the bracket, the toe cage will loosen as the rider begins to pull against it in a standing climb or run.

Finally, toe cages and flats allow for a whole lot of foot movement, which results in a drop in riding form and increases the risk of injury, most especially knee injuries. This type of pedal option is best suited for riders who just got introduced to indoor cycling and are looking to get a feel of it.

Clipless vs. Clipped: Which is Better and Why

If you constantly find yourself in a bit of a pickle when selecting cycling shoes, struggle with deciding on what shoes to buy, or wondering if you should opt for your regular gym shoes for riding, you should know you’re not the only one!

This is a major issue for riders, and we’re here to help you compare pedal options to ease up your decision-making process. So, let’s take a spin on the clipless and the clipped pedal options to see which is better and why.

As a side note, it might seem as though you’re having to spend extra on cycling shoes, but you should know it is worth every penny.

If you plan on using clipped pedals, i.e., clipping your regular workout shoes into toe cages, and wondering if you can get a great workout riding in gym shoes. Yes, it sure is possible, but you would be giving up power, risking your knee, and losing your comfort.

On the contrary, clipless shoes afford you more power with every pedal stroke than a regular shoe. In addition, cycling shoes with more rigid soles, the indoor cycling shoes, in particular, are more convenient as you would no longer feel the pedal on each pedal stroke.

Types of Cycling Shoes and How to Choose the Right One

SPD

This type is very common in the industry and is created by Shimano. These pedals are found on most dual pedals and are suitable for mountain, trail rides, road, general cycling, and indoor cycling. They comprise a two-bolt system that binds the SPD cleat under the ball of the foot of the cycling shoe.

SPD-SL

This type also operates on a three-bolt system to secure the cleat to the bottom of the shoe. This style usually fits with high-end cycling shoes that are also compatible with the Look Delta and Keo. Although these shoe types are similar to the LOOK, they function best with an SPD-SL pedal. These shoes are best suited for competent and skilled cyclists.

LOOK Delta and Keo

The LOOK Delta and Keo cleats consist of three bolts that clip into the pedal. The LOOK Delta shoe style is modeled for outdoor riding and is the common choice for enthusiastic outdoor road cyclists, and works well with Peloton bikes.

Speedplay

Speedplay pedals don’t have as much popularity as the other shoe styles previously discussed. These shoes consist of a four-bolt system and cost more than the other styles. However, the pedal system and shoe combination are the favorites of many active outdoor riders due to their originality and convenient cleat option.

How to Clip-into Cycling Shoes

Clipping in and out your pedals might require practice, but here’s a little guide to help.

First, start by sitting on your bike. Then, place your feet on your pedals with your dominant leg positioned at the top of the pedal stroke.

Next, keep your heel up and maintain that position as you proceed to align your cleat with the clip on the pedal. Lastly, push your heel down to heat the click in once your cleat is properly aligned.

You should note that the way you click out is totally different from how you click in. The best way to get out is to bring your pedals in a parallel position to the ground and quickly move your heel away from the bike with your dominant leg to click out.

Meaning of “Float” on Cleats, and why is it important

“Float,” with reference to cleats, refers to the amount of side-to-side movement your feet have while secured in the pedal. This is particularly important for knee health as it enables the knee to be in the right riding position through the pedal stroke.

Is it Possible to Change Pedals on a Spin Bike?

You don’t have to be stuck with one type of pedal all your life because you bought it with your spin bike. You can switch pedal options as you wish, and yes, it is possible to change your bike pedal to fit the cycling/ riding shoe of your choice.

Bottom line:

You now know that cycling shoes do a lot for the rider, and the right type boosts your productivity, keeps your knee in shape, reduces the risk of joint injury, and helps you maintain your riding form. Therefore, you must make the best selection of shoes to allow you to have the best riding experience. If you’re super interested in riding, then a cycling cleat is a must-have.

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny Author at cyclingindoor.co.uk

About The Author: Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, a seasoned semi-professional indoor cyclist with nearly two decades of experience in fitness equipment. Though retired from competitive cycling and rowing, I'm passionate about sharing my coaching expertise. Join me as I explore the world of indoor bikes and rowing machines in the UK, offering valuable insights to maximize your fitness journey.

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