OK, SO I’M a road cycling newbie (two years) and only recently acquired the proper riding kit and let me tell you, it makes a world of difference. I always admired a friend who wore all the right gear when we went on a ride together and thought nothing of it until I discovered for myself why their pedalling seemed so effortless – cycle shoes.
Shoes designed for cycling, known as ‘clipless’, or ‘SPDs’, connect you directly with the bike’s pedals. The result is that you can exert more power because your feet are held in the best possible position on the pedal. The soles of bike shoes are rigid, so your foot doesn’t absorb or dissipate the power. There is also the advantage of the “lifting” action, meaning your leg muscles are active through the downstroke and when you pull the pedal up, so you directly transfer all your power through the pedal, and waste less of your energy on inefficient movements.
The drawback is the learning curve when using the shoes; first, you’ll need to learn how to “clip” in and out of your pedals. To begin with, this can be hard to do and still maintain your balance. Also, when you’re coming to a stop, it takes practice to get at least one foot ‘un-clipped’ in time and avoid losing balance before you get a foot to the ground. Having spoken to a few people, it seems it is a ‘right of passage’ to fall over sideways at least once – until you get the timing and un-clipping action right. Maybe they should come with a warning sign!
My Rapha Explore shoes are as good on the bike as off the bike. I love the rugged, durable look, and they are super grippy, but above all, they’re comfortable.