How to Use Cycling Shoes

How to Use Cycling Shoes
In 1984 the first clipless pedal, a pedal that allowed cyclists to attach their cycling shoe directly to the pedal using toe cleats, was created. Since their creation toe clips, clipless pedals, and cycling shoes for casual, fitness, and adventure cycling have come a long way. Available in a wide variety of options, from spiked cleats for clipless riding systems to cleatless fitness shoes that can be used with toe clips or without a pedal clip system at all, cycling shoes ease a rider's workout. While the proper use of a cycling shoe is relatively simple---relying almost solely on the pedal clip system you are using---there are a few important things to consider before you ride.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cycling shoes
  • Clipless or toe clip pedal system
Step 1
Use cycling shoes with a clipless pedal system. The clipless pedal is a misnomer, because you do, in fact, "clip" into the pedal. This type of pedal system allows you to attach your toe cleats directly to the pedal without the top strap of a rudimentary toe clip. Cycling shoes with a two- or three-cleat toe system on the stiff-soled toe bed slide into the clipless pedal and click into place.
Step 2
Practice getting in and out of your clipless pedal system with your cycling shoes on. Clipless pedal systems are designed to keep your foot on the pedal, so the body's natural reflexes when dismounting doesn't work. To clip in, place the front clip into the pedal with your ankle angled away from the bike laterally. To clip out, lift your heel at a 45-degree angle and and move your ankle away from the bike laterally, and you'll come right out of the clip. Practice on soft surfaces and expect to fall a few times before you get the hang of it.
Step 3
Use cycling shoes with a toe clip pedal system. A toe clip system is made of a strap that goes over the top of the foot with another strap that intersects it from the toes. Toe clip systems are generally preferred by casual riders, because you can use them with any type of shoe. To get into the a toe clip system you'll need to flip the pedal up, because the weight of the straps makes it hang upside down. Once in the toe clip, tighten the straps so that your foot fits snugly, but don't tighten them so much that you cannot remove your foot for quick stops or dismounting the bike.
Step 4
Buy the right cycling shoe for your clipless pedal system. If your bike came equipped with one, you'll need to make sure you buy the correct cycling cleats to fit the system. The box will indicate the type of drill hole pattern with an SPD, SPD-R, or Look® adapter plate. SPD is a two-hole system and is considered an industry standard, SPD-R is a three-hole system that requires a special shoe, and the Look® adapter allows any Look® shoe to adapt to an SPD pedal.
Step 5
Read the directions. If you're installing your own pedal clip system to be used with cycling shoes, be sure to carefully read the directions. If you don't properly install and clip in, you will not be reaching your full potential on the bike and may make riding harder on yourself. Keep in mind that clipless systems are generally one-sided for road bikes and two-sided for mountain bikes.

Tips & Warnings

A toe clip system doesn't actually clip your shoe into anything, while a clipless pedal system does clip your cycling shoe into the pedal using the toe cleats.
Most cycling shoes are clipless-compatible, but do not have to be used with a clipless system, if you haven't yet installed one on your bike.
Learning to use cycling shoes is like learning to ride a bike. You will fall. Practice on soft surfaces until you get the hang of it.

Article Written By Jillian Downer

Based in New York, Jillian Downer has been writing travel, fashion and active lifestyle articles since 2004. Her work has appeared in "Travel + Leisure," "Outside magazine," "Women's Health," "Footwear News" and "US News & World Report." Downer holds a Master of Arts in comparative literature from New York University.

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