If you are already riding in, or thinking of switching to clipless pedals? The ones with cleats, which you clip your shoe in to (yeah ....we know!), then this is for you...
The shoes you choose is an important decision for an (in our opinion) essential part of your cycling kit. A cycle shoe (and cleat) provides the only constant connection between you and your bike, allowing the efficient (up to 40% more than a regular shoe) transfer of power and if looked after correctly, can see you though many years of happy, comfortable cycling.
Buying a new pair of cycling shoes can turn into an expensive mistake if you get it wrong, so we’ve drawn up some helpful tips to make sure you get the fit right. We’re going to concentrate on the fit and look of the shoe in this blog, rather than which cleat system (Shimano, LOOK, eggbeaters etc) to use. That’s a whole different blog topic, but normally comes down to personal preference or more likely the first ones you ever used and then stuck with!
You’re more likely to switch Bank than cleats, in our experience!
Our 5 top tips to get the right fit
Tip #1: It all depends on the shoe length
With cycling shoes, the correct shoe length is determined differently from when buying everyday or running shoes (thumb width gap between toe and end of shoe, in-case you’re wondering). Since there is limited forward movement when cycling, compared to when you’re walking or running, the foot does not need any additional space in the front of the shoe.
A few millimetres of space in front of the big toes in the cycling shoe is completely sufficient, providing the foot is comfortably held in place by the shoe. If the shoe is too long, the cleats cannot be mounted in the optimal biomechanically position, resulting in a loss of power transmission, thus reducing one of the key reasons for using cleats.
Tip #2: Width must be tight, yet comfortable
Once you have determined the length, check the width of the shoe. The forefoot area is the widest and also the most sensitive area in terms of power transmission when cycling. The shoe should fit firmly in this area but should not press/pinching under any circumstances. Remember that the foot becomes slightly wider during longer training sessions. You should therefore have a few millimetres of room to manoeuvre so that the shoe does not press even after a long period of riding.
If the shoe feels too tight in the forefoot or leaves too much space for your foot, then this brand is simply not made for your foot. Don't make the classic mistake of choosing a bigger size, but better choose another brand of shoe. It may be an unpleasant truth at times, but some brands are simply not made for your foot, no matter how much you want them.
Tip #3: Firm hold
The optimal cycling shoe offers a firm fit in the heel area. You should neither slip out of the shoe when walking, nor should the shoe pinch or cause pain. When the heel is correctly seated, the heel must not move in the shoe. The shoe should also sit firmly on the back of the foot. The upper of the shoe, which is the area that covers the foot, should comfortably enclose the foot firmly there. The shoe should feel firm and comfortable when you try it on.
Tip #4: Close well
Pay attention to the locking system. It ensures that the shoe firmly surrounds the entire foot, even under the greatest strain that occurs during the pulling phase of cycling and provides the necessary support. Buckles and Velcro must not press into your foot under any circumstances.
With twist fasteners (think BOA), it is necessary for the deflection points to be correctly positioned in order to guarantee optimum stability. Make sure that the upper material of the shoe does not wrinkle when the shoe is tightened, as this could lead to pressure points on the foot. If wrinkles appear in the upper material when the shoe is closed, this is often a sign that the cycling shoe does not fit optimally and could give you issues (rubbing, pressure sores etc).
Tip #5: Stiff soles and firm upper material
A rule of thumb for the shoes sole: the stiffer the better. This applies not only to performance, but also for comfort - even if this may sound paradoxical at first. A stiff sole keeps the foot more stable and less tiresome. The upper material is different: At points of power transmission the upper shoe should be as firm as possible, but at more sensitive foot areas it should generally be softer padded.
At the end of the day, there are so many great cycle shoes out there, it’s a case of trying a variety of them to find the brand that fits your own foot the best.
How to look after your cycle shoes
So you’ve now got the perfect fitting shoes, but how do you ensure they last? We’ve teamed up with Charlotte, founder of Jarpz to give you some top tips on how to look after your shoes.
Black marks on white shoes! Acetone and a wet cloth works well to remove them.
Use an (old) toothbrush to make cleaning around the boas, vents and clips easier.
If the fabric/vented areas of your shoes have discoloured, then a simple solution of water with washing up liquid should be enough to get them looking new again.
Scuffs on shoes can be repaired by using a Jarpz repair kit!
You should avoid using harsh chemicals on shoes, especially custom painted ones. Washing up liquid and water works best.
In an ideal world, clean your shoes after every ride.
So you’ve got the shoes, know how take care of them but what if you want to stand out from the peloton?
Are you looking for something a bit different from your shoes, bored of the choice between black and white? Then have you thought about getting your shoes personalised? Not only does Charlotte at Jarpz know how to care for your shoes, she knows how to make your shoes a unique statement of your character and style.
As you can see in these pictures, and featured in Rouleur no less, Charlotte’s talent for making an ordinary cycle shoe into a work of art is there for all to see.
We’re so excited to be partnering with such a talent….now the only question is what design to go for?
Wherever your bike (and shoes) take you, happy cycling.