How to Choose the Best Shoe for Your Next Cycling Journey

The best shoe for your next cycling journey is going to depend on whether you’re running flats or clipless pedals. Once you’ve sorted your pedal system, you can then pick the correct style of shoe for your cycling.

Flats vs. Clips

Flat versus clips can become as great an internet argument as Shimano versus SRAM/Campagnolo. Everyone will have a position from which they argue, and no amount of internet talk will make them change their minds.

With that said you’ll need to know some unbiased advice and that is what we’re going to bring you. Firstly we’ll conquer the fear you may feel about riding clipped in and then we will look at pros to both systems, and by the end hopefully, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

The Learning Curve from Riding Clips

Let us start with a fun fact. Everyone will fall once when they use clipless pedals. There will be one time when you forget you’re clipped in and you’ll come to a stop, have a moment of panic and then fall over. You won’t hurt anything other than your pride. You will also become so embarrassed by it, that you’ll never have that accident again.

One of the best ways to learn riding clipped in is to grab one of your friends. Get them to hold your bike by placing the front wheel between their legs and holding your bars. Then practice clipping in and out, get used to the action and build some muscle memory.

Once, you’ve done this for a little while. Then it is time to head out on the roads. Take a quiet road and again practice clipping in and out. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll have pretty much mastered the dark art of riding clipped in. It really is that easy.

How easy/hard it is to unclip in an emergency

It is easier than you think it will be. The best way is to almost not think about it, and your body will instinctively react in an emergency and bring you out of the pedals. It is safer being clipped in than using toe clips, where you have to bring your foot out and back.

When Flats are Best

If you’re Sam Hill, then the answer is flat pedals win medals, for the rest of us mere mortals there are times when flat pedals will be better and when they will be worse. If you want to ride down mountains fast and loose, then you may want to prefer flat pedals.

If you are starting cycling, then flat pedals will feel more reassuring for getting your feet down should things go wrong. They are not necessarily physically easier, but mentally, they will be.

If you’re building fitness, you might find that you reach a point on a climb where you have to stop. Flat pedals will be easier for you to push off if this happens to you.

You’ll also learn good technique with flat pedals. Your pedaling movement will need to be smooth, and you’ll find learning how to bunnyhop over items will be easier.

Shimano and Polygon flat pedals

When Clips are Best

Clips will also build on your pedaling technique but in a different way. They will not help you pull up, that is an incorrect technique and a bit of a myth. They help you at the bottom of your stroke and the top, equalling out your power.

Your feet won’t shift about or flex as much. The lack of these actions will mean more sustained pedaling and will again help your power transfer.

The final thing is that you’ll find that bunnyhops and other techniques that you’ve learned will become easier. You do want to learn these skills on flat pedals first though, as you’ll then develop the correct technique. Don’t try and shortcut the learning process.

Clips allow you to pedal more efficiently

Gearhead Advice

Knee Issues and Clips

One of the worries many people have about clipping in is that they might develop issues with their knees. One of the best simple ways to avoid this is to buy cleats with as much float as possible. The more float you have, the more margin for error there is when setting up cleats. This piece of advice also works for people that may have existing knee issues.

The other thing to do is to not for mammoth rides once you’ve got clipped into your pedals. Start with small journeys and build your way up. By doing this, you’ll get an idea if niggles are issues with your pedals and not just effort from doing endurance miles.

You also need to remember that your cleat position is a holistic part of the way you ride your bike. You need to make sure that your bike fit takes into account that you’re clipped in.

Adjusting the Spring Tension in Clips

A quick note to start this section. Don’t be tempted to set your clips to their loosest tension. Your pedals will bed in a little bit if you have the tension too low you’ll unclip every time you go uphill, and that ruins the point of riding with clips.

You’ll find a hex key headed bolt on your pedal body. You can use this bolt to increase tension and to lower tension, and it will have a guide showing you which direction to move the hex key. Just follow the direction and always make small changes at a time and see how you get on.

Adjusting spring tension in clips using a hex wrench

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