Are Cycling Shoes Worth It? (Detailed Explanation)

By Rachel Lee
Published on
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Cycling is one sport that gives you a complete body workout, and one of the most popular pieces of gear trending right now is cycling shoes. However, do they really help to improve your game, or is it all just hype created by the manufacturing companies?

A pair of cycling shoes can start at $50 and go up to hundreds of dollars depending on the brand, make, quality, type, and other factors. With so much to take in, it’s justifiable for a buyer to try and find out whether cycling shoes are worth it before making that kind of investment.

We scoured the Internet to find the best answer to this question for you. Cycling shoes are different from other shoes because they are designed to improve a rider’s efficiency by helping them exert the optimal amount of effort when riding. This helps in achieving the highest performance without sacrificing comfort. They are also made from special materials to keep your feet dry and happy, so they come with many benefits that set them apart from standard shoes.

Cycling shoes also come in a myriad of different types, so you will further need to decide whether you want clip-on shoes or clipless ones. In this post, we will further discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wearing cycling shoes and much more.

Do You Need Cycling Shoes?

Just like you, I have also been cycling since I was a kid, and I never really needed a special shoe nor did I ever have any pedaling issues with wearing regular shoes. Cycling in regular shoes seemed to be perfectly sufficient. So, are the benefits that come with shoes specifically designed for cycling enough to justify the purchase?

Here’s what I learned and would like to share with you. Similar to many other sports and activities, whether you need special equipment like cycling shoes depends on your riding type. Cycling shoes are typically designed with stiff soles to give the rider a more rigid platform so that more power can be transferred into each pedal. This would not be possible if the shoes are more flexible like the most common types of shoes people purchase.

This increase in power causes less muscle fatigue, which is more prevalent in rides that are longer than an hour or so. If you only use your bicycle for making short trips around the city, you won’t really be able to experience the complete benefits of cycling shoes. They likely would not be a wise investment for you.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages to learn a bit more.


Here are some of the advantages to purchasing and wearing cycling shoes.

1. Comfort

These shoes give you a more comfortable fit than regular sneakers, and this increases your stability when cycling on your bicycle. They are specially built for making your bike ride more comfortable. They give you a better grip and feel against the pedals, more than any sneakers could manage, and they are also not as hard on your legs after pedaling around all day.

2. Enhanced stability

Cycling shoes clip on to your pedals to make it more convenient for you to handle the bike and keep it stable while riding. However, this may have a slight disadvantage, too: you will have to clip and unclip the shoes whenever you start or stop cycling. This will require some practice, but in return, your ride will be much easier. With a new pair of shoes, you may also need to ride a bit slower until you get used to them.

3. Works great for slick conditions

If you are riding on a wet road or over a thin sheet of ice or snow, you do not have to worry about your feet slipping off the pedals. The clip-on cycling shoes will keep your feet locked (“clipped”) in place.

4. Additional power

You get a real power boost with the cycling shoes, thanks to the position of the clips on the shoes. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, they help your feet stay in the best position on your pedal for nonstop pedaling efficiency. When the shoes are attached to the pedal, this lets you engage your hamstrings and go faster than ever.

5. Muscle building

Cycling shoes engage leg muscles like no other sport, particularly the hamstrings following the upward pull at the time of pedal rotation. If you choose cycling to maintain your fitness and improve your muscle mass, cycling shoes can help you get the most out of each workout. You will be able to use the corresponding muscle groups more effectively and put less pressure on other areas when you are riding in a not-so-ideal position.


Just as there are two sides of a coin, cycling shoes also do not come without disadvantages. So, here are a few downsides that you may need to consider when making an investment into cycling shoes for your cycling needs.

1. Needs additional equipment

If you wish to use the latest cycling shoes, you will also need clipless pedals. If you are on a tight budget or you do not cycle enough to get the most out of your investment, this could be a problem. Thankfully, there are many options available for beginners to enjoy.

2. Requires knowledge

You will also need to know how to install and remove the pedals on your bicycle to be able to use your new shoes. You may, of course, pay someone else to do this for you, but this will factor into your overall costs.

3. Potential hazards

You may wonder what hazards there may be. While cycling shoes definitely make riding a tad safer in slick weather conditions, they may also pose certain potential hazards. For example, let’s suppose that you need to suddenly get off your bike to avoid some kind of danger, but you cannot because your shoes are attached to the pedals. In this case, the shoes pose more of a problem rather than helping you avoid certain dangers.

Different Types of Cycling Shoes

Having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of cycling shoes, let us now take a look at the different types of cycling shoes available. It is usually going to be a bit challenging to narrow down the best options for anyone who wishes to buy a specialized pair of shoes for the first time.

Interestingly, there are many subcategories to deal with within the realm of cycling shoes. Depending upon the type of riding you do, you may choose shoes that go with those specific cycling types, with some of those options including mountain biking, cyclocross, road cycling, triathlon, or indoor spin classes.

Mountain biking shoes are a better choice for beginners and people who are, in general, looking for cycling shoes. These shoes come with a thicker tread that aids in improving stability on rough terrain. They also come with a recessed cleat that enables the wearer to walk around easily. Also, like most casual and indoor cycling shoes, they include a two-bolt fastening system.

Road cyclists always prefer road biking shoes because they are light and breathable at all times. They do not have any extra weight that can slow down their speed. The road shoes are the same: lighter material without any tread to keep them smooth yet difficult to walk in when you are off the bicycle.

There are also many fastening mechanisms, which vary widely. You have a lot of different options in terms of laces, BOA systems, and straps to fasten the cycling shoes. The shoes with laces are the most flexible and fit well around the ankle, heel, and instep. However, the biggest downside is that the laces can come loose and may even get stuck or tangled up in the parts of a bike.

Straps are the best choice if you are looking for convenience and quickness. However, with Velcro straps, there is less customizability and, thus, a little less security. The BOA system is a patented lacing system that is designed with wires and a knob used for tightening and loosening the fit with the turn of a dial.

Related Questions

Can I use my running shoes for cycling?

No. It is not advised to use running shoes, as they are not suitable for cycling and have a soft sole that compresses and flexes while pedaling, causing energy loss. When you go on longer rides, the continuous foot flexing and compression of the nerves may cause pain or ‘hot foot’ to occur.

Why are some cycling shoes so costly?

The expensive ones come with a carbon sole that is stiffer, so they provide a better power transfer to the cycle pedals. They are also lighter and give more ventilation and feel more comfortable than the regular ones.