Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Riding Shoes with Cleats

Bontrager SSR Multisport riding shoes with cleats
I wore athletic shoes (classic Adidas Country) the first year (2014) I got back into cycling and they suited me just fine. I wasn’t keen on the idea of being somewhat locked into my bike’s pedals with cleated riding shoes nor could I justify the expense of purchasing cleated riding shoes and new pedals when I seemed to be doing just fine without them.

Riding with athletic shoes and normal pedals even served me well on a forty-seven mile ride on the Great Allegheny Passage, from West Newton to Ohiopyle, with a night’s worth of camping gear in my rear panniers and strapped to the rear rack. The three other people I was riding with, however, were wearing cleated riding shoes. Two of the riders were on touring bikes and wore touring cleats. The other was on a duel sport bike and wore more athletic shoe looking cleats. I saw how easily they clipped in and out of their pedals and began thinking maybe I would give them a try.

At the beginning of my second year (2015) I stopped by the Trek store where my 3.2 DS was purchased and saw that most of their cleated riding shoes were on sale. As I was trying on several pair for fit the clerk said that cleated riding shoes would either help me ride longer distances, ride faster, or both.

Since I ride mostly on rail trails, some paved, some packed with crushed limestone, some dirt,  often miles from the nearest access point or civilization, I wanted a shoe I could comfortably walk in in case something happened to my bike and I would have to walk a few miles. I settled on a pair of Bontrager SSR Multisport riding shoes because they looked more like an athletic shoe than a riding shoe and because they were designed for multisport riding rather than road cycling.

Since riding shoes do not come with cleats installed nor work without pedals designed for cleats, I also purchased and had installed Shimano SPD Pedals and cleats, but I will say more about the pedals in the next installment.

Riding shoes do not come with cleats because there are various styles and brands of cleats made to attach to various brands and styles of pedals. When you purchase pedals for cleats the cleats will usually come with them and will have to be attached to the riding shoes. Since my cleats were attached by the retailer where I bought the shoes and pedals with cleats, I cannot say much about how easy or not easy it is to attach them.

I have now ridden over 1,200 miles while wearing cleated riding shoes and I love them. I do indeed think they have helped me ride farther. Occasionally, when I have needed a quick burst of speed, they have helped me ride faster. They have certainly helped me ride up hills with more ease.
Here are links to previous posts in the series:

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