After selling literally thousands of customers and friends cycling shoes over the years I have learned a lot about how feet fit into cycling shoes and what complaints and problems drive people to buy new shoes. I thought I would take a few minutes to share my experience and training with cycling shoes and shoe fit. Every cyclist can benefit from a little shoe education. So here are some quick cycling shoe fit tips I’d like to share with you!!
1. A cycling shoe is the tightest shoe you will ever buy. Cycling shoes are designed to isolate your foot in order to gain the most amount of power and efficiency in the pedal stroke. Different shoes (especially brands) will fit your foot differently, try on as many shoes as you can and choose the one that fits you right. Your foot should not feel scrunched or your toes hit the front, but your foot should have little to no movement in the shoe.
2. Cycling shoes should feel comfortable right away. Cycling shoes do not stretch or “break-in” very much. If the shoe doesn’t feel 100% comfortable when you first put it on your foot, it never will. Don’t bother standing up and walking around when your trying on new cycling shoes... I know its counter intuitive but it literally means nothing to the proper fit of a cycling shoe (its not a walking or running shoe!!). If the shoe doesn’t feel right as soon as you put it on, put them back in the box.
3. BUY INSOLES!!!!! I have yet to see a cycling shoe (or any shoe for that matter) that has a stock insole that it worthy of being under anyones foot. This is a tip for EVERY cyclist out there. Kiss hot-spots and discomfort good bye!! Go out ASAP and buy a pair of over the counter supportive insoles to replace the ones in your shoes. I personally like SOLE brand insoles. They are about $50 and you heat mold them to your feet using your kitchen oven. Using supportive insoles will increase the comfort and power output of every person riding a bike.... period!! Don’t fall victim to the “heat molded” shoes sold by some shoes makers... only the heal cup is moldable, not the whole footbed... and that ain’t good enough!!
4. It doesn’t matter what other riders like or think is cool. Everyone is different, and the shoe that fits perfect for one person may not for another. I often see people come to our store looking for a certain brand of shoe because they read an article or a friend told them to get them... this is a bad trap to fall into. Start from scratch, try on as many shoes as you can (never buy off the internet without a really good return policy) and find the shoes you are comfortable in.
5. Don’t crank your shoes!! I often see riders cranking the straps and ratchets of their shoes really tight on their feet. This will restrict blood flow and is a recipe for discomfort and numbness. If your shoe is properly fit to your foot, you should not have to wrench your straps down... but just tighten enough to secure your foot. If your foot is loose in your shoe, buy a thicker insole to reduce the volume in your shoe and make the fit tighter.
6. If you own more than one pair of shoes, make sure they are the same brand. If you must own more than one pair of cycling shoes (for instance you need road and mountain shoes, or specific shoes for triathlon... etc...) buy the same brand for all your shoes. Brands will often use the same “last” through their entire line and thus will have a consistent fit. This will help your body stay tuned to your fit, and not have to constantly re-adjust.
7. Don’t wear worn out shoes. Some cycling shoes are expensive, but once they get worn out due to years of service its time to replace them. Worn out shoes can sap away comfort and power. Replace those old shoes!!