Why Are Cycling Shoes So Narrow? Detailed Explanation

By Rachel Lee
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If you have ever seen a pair of cycling shoes, then you will know that they run a little bit narrower than standard shoes. Ever wondered why this is? Want to know whether the narrow shoes have an impact on your cycling ability? Let our experts explain absolutely everything that you need to know.

So, why are cycling shoes so narrow? Well, it is because if they weren’t narrow, your feet would be bouncing around in the shoe. This expends extra energy and means that you are not able to put as much force down onto the pedal. The result will be far more inefficient cycling. 

Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story about why it is so important to get the right fit for your feet when you are cycling. Let our experts go into things in a bit more depth for you. This way, you can be sure that you will end up with the pair of shoes that complement your cycling rather than works against it. 

Why Are Cycling Shoes So Narrow?

There are a couple of reasons why cycling shoes are so narrow in comparison to other shoes.

The main reason is because when you are cycling, you do not want your feet to be moving around too much. This will be expending energy that would be better place into the actual cycling.

If your feet move around, then you will also be putting uneven pressure on the pedal. This could slow you down. It may only slow you down a little bit, but the result is having to put more effort into your cycling in order to maintain a fairly consistent speed. 

While you can cycle in wider shoes, it isn’t something that we would recommend if you are doing a lot of cycling. It will require too much energy, and you really will be traveling far too slowly.

Some people also believe that cycling shoes are narrow due to their manufacturers. There is some evidence that people living in Europe have narrower feet than those living in the United States. Since many of the best cycling shoe manufacturers are located in Europe, then the shoes are going to be naturally narrower. This is especially true with shoes that have been manufactured in Italy.

In recent years, more and more American cycling shoe manufacturers have started to appear. If you are looking for shoes that have a bit more width to them, then you should be picking up cycling shoes from an American manufacturer. However, do bear in mind that you still need that ‘snug’ feel to the shoes, otherwise you really won’t be helping yourself.

Why Is Fit So Important With Cycling Shoes?

As we said, poorly fitting cycling shoes will cause your feet to bounce around a bit. This means that you are going to be unable to transfer consistent power to the pedals. It can make cycling a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

In addition to this, poorly fitting cycling shoes are just uncomfortable to wear. When you are pedaling and your feet are bouncing around, there will be a lot of pressure on the heels and the balls of your feet. There is a strong chance that this can lead to injury. If it doesn’t lead to an injury, then it will almost certainly lead to blisters.

Of course, your cycling shoes could be too tight too. If they are too tight, then your foot movement will be restricted. Once again, this means that it is going to reduce your ability to cycle correctly. It is also going to get pretty uncomfortable after a short while of riding. This means that you won’t be able to cycle anywhere near as far as you should be able to. 

See more: 18 Benefits Of Wearing Cycling Shoes

How Do You Choose the Right Fit With Cycling Shoes?

As you can probably tell by now, a pair of cycling shoes is meant to fit a bit tight. It shouldn’t be uncomfortably tight, but your feet should be snug inside of them. Basically, your feet should not be moving around inside of the shoe, especially when you are pedaling. If you feel discomfort on the top or sides of your feet then you have selected a pair of shoes that is wrong for you.

In an ideal world, the sides of your feet should be well supported as should the top of your feet. However, your toes should have the ability to wiggle around a small amount. As long as your foot is not rocking from side to side then you should be fine.

It is fine for your shoes to be a tiny bit tight. Cycling shoes, like most shoes, are going to be stretching a little bit over time. 

If you can, you should always try on a pair of cycling shoes before you commit to them. However, do not just put them on right away. Instead, you will need to ‘warm’ your feet up. This is because as you cycle your feet will start to swell up a little bit.

This means that your cycling shoes will become a little bit tighter. Ideally, you should be trying on the shoes near the end of the day, or at least after a strenuous activity. This will be much closer to the foot size that you will have after some intense cycling.

Remember, all manufacturers will size their shoes a little bit differently. Once you have found a manufacturer that works for you, then stick with them. There is no better feeling in cycling than knowing that you have secured an awesome pair of shoes.

Related Questions

Do you need proper cycling shoes for cycling?

Not necessarily. However, if you are planning on cycling a lot then it makes sense to properly actual cycling shoes. Your feet will be a lot more comfortable during the ride. You will also find that you are able to pedal a lot more effectively. This will translate to a far more pleasurable and faster bike ride.

Should you purchase the size up when you buy cycling shoes?

It depends. Most of the top cycling shoe manufacturers will be sized correctly. However, if your feet do sit on the wider side of things then you may wish to purchase a size larger than you normally would. It is always worth reading proper reviews for cycling shoes.

Most reviewers will happily tell you whether their shoes were sized incorrectly or not. Listen to this advice and you have the best possible chance of finding cycling shoes that are right for your feet.

Can cycling shoes be used for more than cycling?

Most of the time, no. Due to their tight feet, it wouldn’t be that pleasurable to walk around in them. In addition to this, many of the best cycling shoes will have soles that do not work that well away from the pedal. If you are planning on taking some walks during a long bike ride, then it is perhaps worth bringing along a spare pair of walking shoes.

Remember, quality cycling shoes can be clipped to the pedal whereas normal shoes cannot. This means that you will be enjoying more efficient cycling. 

See Also:
8 Regular Cycling Shoes for Men and Women
How Long Do Indoor Cycling Shoes Last?
How Cycling Shoes Should Fit