Getting a Grip with Cycling Shoes
Like every sport, cycling requires its own type of equipment, for safety and for success. Cycling is a sport of speed; consequently, cycling equipment must battle wind resistance while it optimizes the power of the athlete. When spectators look at a cyclist, they notice the tight-fitting shorts and shirts, the aerodynamic helmets and the small, light sunglasses-they rarely notice the shoes.
But cycling shoes are some of the most important, most integral pieces of equipment in the sporting cyclist's repertoire, whether they are riding on the road, on a track or on a mountain. Cycling shoes are available in a variety of styles and are produced by a variety of companies, but they all have the same goal-to win.
Pedals and Pins
While cycling shoes differ depending on the type of racing, they all exhibit four key features: rigidity for the transfer of power, weight and attachments and adaptability for use on and off the bicycle. The four types of cycling, road racing, touring, mountain biking and spinning, each require different amounts of rigidity, different weights and different attachment mechanisms.
For instance, road shoes normally have no treads and the protruding attachment cleats make it impossible for the rider to walk in them. Touring cycling shoes, however, add treads and a smaller cleat so the rider can walk and cycle. Mountain bike shoes are also designed for walking, as riders may need to dismount their bicycles to negotiate difficult terrain.
Modern cycling shoes utilize a clipless pedal system, meaning the shows attach directly to the pedals for maximum efficiency. A cleat on the bottom of each shoe matches a fitting on each pedal, and cycling shoes click into place. Older cycling shoes used a toe clip and strap. The cyclist slid his or her shoes into metal cages attached to the pedals.
A toe clip would also help to hold the shoe in place, but when the rider needed to take his or her feet out of the pedals, he or she would have to reach down and loosen the strap. Not only was this time consuming, it was dangerous as well-in case of an accident, riders could not quickly dismount their bicycles. Modern cycling shoes and clipless pedals allow cyclists to release from the pedals quickly and safely.
Overshoes are also available for cycling shoes. Due to the aerodynamic nature of cycling shoes, and the materials used to make them lightweight and breathable, many are not waterproof. Overshoes are flexible coverings that can be slipped on over cycling shoes for use in wet weather. They are usually composed of rubber or synthetic materials and zip inside of the ankle. The fabric covers the soles but is not designed to be walked on, but it will include a hole for clipless pedal systems.