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Shimano Cycling Shoes

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Bicycle Touring Shoes | Bike Touring Shoes For Cycling Tours

This guide to bicycle touring shoes is designed to help you choose the best bike touring shoes for your next trip. Find out about SPD shoes for touring, whether regular travel shoes are suitable for a bike tour, and just how many shoes you really need!

A guide to bicycle touring shoes

Why You Need Bike Touring Shoes

I've met all sorts of crazy people whilst bicycle touring. Hey, I'm one of them, right? Some of them seem to be touring with next to nothing, and others were towing quite literally the kitchen sink behind them.

The one thing everyone had in common though, was that they were wearing something on their feet. That's because footwear is one of those non-negotiable items of kit you have when bicycle touring.

Your feet are the major contact point between you and the bicycle, so you better look after them!

Bike touring shoes provide support, comfort, and can even help with cycling efficiency. It's only the style that varies.

Best Cycle Touring Shoes

Here's a list of the Top 10 Bicycle Touring Shoes – Best Shoes For Bike Touring

How Many Shoes Do You Need On Tour?

For the actual cycling itself, you only need one pair of bicycle touring shoes. It's what activities you choose to do off the bike that will determine how many other pairs of shoes you need!

Some people tour with just the one pair. They use them for cycling, walking on the beach, hiking up a mountain, and anything else that happens along the way.

Other people have bike touring shoes they use just for cycling, and additional pairs for other activities they undertake on the tour.

I tend to have a dedicated pair of bicycle touring shoes, and carry a pair of light travel shoes as well as a pair of flip-flops/thongs with me.

This covers me in most scenarios, and also gives my cycling shoes a chance to dry out if I get caught in the rain.

As with anything to do with bicycle touring, how many shoes you take is up to you. After all, it's you that has to carry them around on the bike, no-one else!

Touring Bike Shoes

There are two broad choices you can make when choosing footwear for bicycle touring. These are, should you use specifically designed cycling shoes, or should you use regular travel shoes for cycling?

Each one has its benefits depending on the type of bicycle tour you have in mind. Below, I give a breakdown of the different types of cycling footwear, along with examples of where they might be most suitable.

I conclude with my own opinion on what footwear is best for bicycle touring based on what has worked for me.

Road Cycling Shoes

If you are a road cyclist, you will already be familiar with road cycling shoes. They have a cleat which means that you can ‘clip in' to the pedals, and this helps with cycling efficiency.

The cleat itself is not smooth with the surface of the sole of the shoe. Instead, it protrudes outward. So, while this makes it an ideal shoe for cycling, they are not much use as touring bike shoes. You wouldn't want to walk more than a hundred metres or so, as it's just uncomfortable!

Pros – Great for cycling efficiency.

Cons – You can't really walk anywhere in them, meaning another change of shoes is needed for time spent off the bike.

My Opinion – Not really bicycle touring shoes for a trip of longer than a weekend.

Note – Rather confusingly, road cycling shoes are sometimes known as SPD-SL shoes. Let's keep things simple and just refer to them as road cycling shoes.

SPD Cycling Shoes

The other type of cycling shoes available, are SPD shoes. These also have a cleat which ‘clips in' to the pedals.

Unlike road cycling shoes, these cleats are recessed. This means that you get the cycling efficiency, and can also use them for walking when off the bike.

Even better, there are a range of specific bicycle touring shoes available with SPD cleats. These include enclosed SPD cycling shoes, and also sandals.

Many people prefer the sandal type SPD shoe with their open toes for cycling in hot weather. It goes without saying, they absolutely suck in colder climates!

Shimano SPD Sandals make great bicycle touring shoes

 

Pros – Great cycling efficiency. You can use the SPD shoe or sandals off the bike to walk in.

Cons – Whilst you can walk in SPD bicycle touring shoes, you need to be careful when on rocky or slippy surfaces. Whilst suitable for wearing on an average day off the bike, you wouldn't really want to do a days sightseeing or hiking in them.

My Opinion – You can remove the cleats from the bottom of the shoes if you want to walk some distance. In practice, I have never known anyone do this! Wear the shoes around the campsite, short walks to the market etc. You wouldn't really want to wear them all day for longer hikes though.

Regular Travel Shoes

Of course, you don't need specific cycling shoes at all. Believe it or not, I completed my first bicycle tour of 4000kms around New Zealand in Timberland boots! So, if you want to wear a regular pair of travel shoes or sneakers on a bicycle tour, then go ahead.

Shoes with stiffer soles are best, and obviously the lighter they are the better. Whilst you won't be able to ‘clip in', you do have the option of using toe-cages on the bike to aid with efficiency.

Pros – Wear them on and off the bike. Wear any shoes you like!

Cons – If you are going to be wearing the same pair of enclosed shoes for cycling and everyday use, be prepared for the smell!

My Opinion – Having tried every option at one point or another, I prefer a dedicated pair of bicycle touring shoes. Whilst my Timberland boots worked great during that first trip, they had to be thrown away soon after! Well designed bicycle touring shoes will last a long time. After all, they are designed for the job!

Shimano MT5 (SH-MT5)

I tend to prefer a bikepacking shoe that is built to last. That's certainly the case with the MT5 Shimano shoes! This SPD MTB shoe might not be the lightest on the market, but it's going to last for years. They already have, actually!

SHimano MT5 cycling shoes

I find the MT5 touring cycling shoes are a comfortable fit, and I can use them on or off the bike.

I wouldn't just to do my city sightseeing in these Sh-Mt 5 shoes, but they're fine for walking around camp and quick trips on foot for supplies.

The speedlacing lock, and lace-tidy clip-hook are perhaps a bit gimmicky, (a little bit like reinventing the wheel if you'll forgive my cycling pun), but combined with the velcro strap it all works fine.

Best Bike Touring Shoes

Here's a look at some of the best bike touring shoes available through Amazon.

Shimano offer a somewhat bewildering array of footwear. Actually, ALL their ranges including components are as equally bewildering!

The Shimano SH-MT3 Cycling Shoe is perhaps the pick of the bunch though. It's a versatile cycling shoe which also doubles as a reliable hiking shoe should the need arise.

The Cyclo Tour from Mavic is another bike touring shoe worthy of consideration. In my opinion it's not quite up to the Shimano standard, but it is a little cheaper.

A Guide to choosing the best bicycle touring shoes for your next bike tour.

 

 Final Thoughts on Shoes For Bicycle Touring

You can ride a bike in just about any type of shoe. The longer you ride a bike for though, the more you will appreciate bicycle touring shoes specifically designed for the job.

In my opinion, the best shoes for bicycle touring are recessed SPD type shoes. These help with the overall efficiency of cycling, and can also be used off the bike in most everyday scenarios.

I generally prefer a closed shoe as opposed to an open sandal type design, mainly because I don't like the idea of stubbing my toes! I then take along with me another set of footwear for days spent off the bike.

Do you have any thoughts to add or questions to ask regarding bicycle touring shoes? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

FAQ About Shoes for Cycle Touring

Here are some commonly asked questions about shoes for bike tours.

What shoes for cycle touring?

A pair of stiff soled shoes is best for cycling, as less energy is lost when pedaling. Dedicated cycling shoes are best for more serious cyclists and especially bike touring, as they improve the efficiency and power output.

Do you need special shoes for cycling?

Casual cyclists do not need any specific shoes for cycling – anything will do! Dedicated cycling shoes with cleats do have advantages though, as they increase cycling efficiency by allowing the hamstrings to be used on the upstroke.

What is the point of cycling shoes?

Bike shoes that attach with cleats to the pedal are designed to increase cycling efficiency, especially on the upstroke as the hamstring can be used to its fullest potential. Cycling shoes typically have stiff soles to maximize the transfer of energy from your legs to the pedal. 

Bikepacking Gear List

Now you've got your footwear sorted, you might also like to check out these other posts:

Filed Under: Bicycle Touring Gear

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Finding the perfect bicycle touring shoe is a challenge… but not impossible! There are plenty of cycling-specific shoes that are good looking, designed for maximum performance on the bike, and comfortable to walk in once you step off your two-wheeled vehicle at the end of the day.

Below you will find 17 stylish pairs of SPD cycling shoes that are perfect for commuting, mountain biking and/or bicycle touring because they look good both on and off the bike and they can be walked in with relative comfort (thus reducing the need for many traveling cyclists to carry two separate pairs of shoes). Below each of the shoes on this page will find a yellow “Buy Now!” button, which you can click if you are interested in purchasing a pair of these shoes for your own commuting/touring/mountain bike adventures.

Mavic cycling shoes

Mavic Cruise

Cruise into comfort and style, on and off the bike, with Mavic’s Cruize SPD cycling shoes. Mavic’s Trail Grip outsoles are stiff for efficient pedaling and they have rubber lugs for shock absorption and traction. You’ll also love the softshell uppers and the ergonomic insoles that fit and feel great. There are also reinforced toes and heels for protection and durability.

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Shimano MT33L

These Shimano MT33L bike shoes feature stiff midsoles and great tread patterns, making them ideal for mountain biking yet completely at home while commuting, touring and riding casually.

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Shimano gray SPD touring shoe

Shimano Recreational Touring Bike Shoe

For casual riding, you need a comfortable shoe, like the Shimano SH-MT44 shoe. With a breathable mesh upper, and an easy-to-use drawcord closure, it’s perfect for recreational riding, with or without clipless pedals. And with the extra roomy toe box, you won’t feel like you’re cramming your feet into tap dancing shoes, which is perfect if you find yourself having to walk your bike.To ensure a tunable fit, the upper is built out of a blend of stretch-resistant mesh and synthetic leather. The mesh panels improve airflow to keep your feet cool.

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Pearl Izumi bicycle touring shoe

Pearl iZUMi Men’s X-Road Cycling Shoe

Synthetic leather and mesh. Madmade sole. X-Road nylon plate delivers great pedaling stability, power and efficiency with off-the-bike comfort and walk-ability. Blown rubber lugged outsole for superior traction and durability. SKYDEX heel crash pad for excellent off the bike shock absorption. Flexible forefoot and a running shoe beveled heel.

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Mavic Alpine

Mavic Alpine shoes feature a balance of rugged support, breathability, abrasion resistance and the Trail Grip Outsole for trail traction, efficient pedaling and all day comfort. Plus, the best part is, these cycling-specific shoes don’t look like traditional shoes made for bicycle riding.

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Pearl Izumi bicycle shoes

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek V

The X-Alp Seek V is an update to Pearl Izumi’s best selling, most versatile cycling shoe ever. It looks as good walking through town as it does riding your favorite trails.

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Pearl Izumi Fuel Cycling Shoe

Pearl Izumi Fuel II

A crossover, dual-purpose shoe, the lightweight Pearl Izumi Fuel bike shoes boast a running-shoe-style upper and a rubber lugged bottom for efficiency and comfort when cycling or walking. Comes in both men’s and women’s styles.

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Giro SPD cycling shoe

Giro Rumble

A stylish and comfortable cycling shoe designed for mountain biking, for also used for commuting and touring purposes. Season: Year-round items. Type/Intended use: Mountain/Commuting/Touring. Pedal systems-Compatibility: SPD.

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Giro MTB shoe

Giro Terraduro

Giro’s Terraduro Shoes address all the shortcomings of traditional mountain bike shoes by making your pedaling as comfortable as traversing obstacles by foot. The Terraduro features a robust nylon shank that pedals as an XC shoe should, but it’s combined with a Vibram rubber outsole with flex engineered in the forefoot to inspire confidence when side-stepping rocks and logs. The fit is secure and supportive thanks to Giro’s micro-adjustable buckle and two hook-and-loop straps. To keep things cool, perforations and a breathable microfiber interior let air flow, which is treated with Aegis for microbial management. On the durability side of things, a reinforced toe box protects from impacts and brushes off abrasions.

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Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek IV

The Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek IV bike shoes boast a running shoe style upper and a carbon rubber lugged bottom for cycling and off the bike adventures.

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Do you have experience with any of the SPD bike shoes listed on this page? If so, what do you think of them? Also, are there any other stylish SPD shoes that I missed that should be included here? Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to say!

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Darren Alff

My goal as the "Bicycle Touring Pro" is to give you the confidence and inspiration you need to travel by bicycle anywhere in the world. I'm here to help you plan, prepare for, and execute your first bike tour and remove all the guesswork, wasted time and frustration that plagues so many first-time bicycle travelers.

Sours: https://bicycletouringpro.com/stylish-spd-bicycle-touring-shoes/
Searching for the PERFECT Minimalist Cycling Shoe

This is the first post in my new blog series, Q & A Friday’s. Every Friday I will choose one comment I received, either in the comment section of one of my blog post or on my social media platforms. This week the question I will be answering is, “What are the best cycling shoes for bicycle touring?” I have used almost every type of cycling shoe on the market in the past 5 years, from the stiffest and lightest road racing shoe to the heaviest, most flexible bike touring shoe you can imagine. It has given me a good perspective of what is the best shoe for bicycle touring.

Do I really need cycling shoes?

First, you may be wondering if you really need cycling shoes? If you are going to be CYCLING, then my answer is always yes. Cycling shoes make such a huge difference that I could not imagine not using them. In fact, I even find it an inconvenience to ride a few kilometers to my local grocery store without wearing my cycling shoes. That is how accustomed to them I have become.

Clipless shoes VS Flat shoes:

When choosing your cycling shoes, you have a choice between clipless or flat styles. A clipless riding system is actually the opposite of what it sounds. Riding clipless means your shoe (cleat) clips into your bicycle pedal, whereas a flat pedal is the standard bicycle pedal that is a flat surface, compatible with any shoe. I recommend clipless cycling shoes for the following reasons:

Clipless shoes are great, because they allow for a smoother transfer of power between your leg and the pedal. Clipless cycling shoes allow you to “clip in” to a special type of cycling pedal using cleats. This allows you to exert power not only when you are pushing down on the pedal, but also when you are pulling up. It ensures that your leg and foot muscles work in harmony with one another, and avoids the scenario where you put more strain on one muscle group than the other.

Clipless shoes are not just better for performance! They are also far safer to use than flat shoes. Sure they may take some getting used to, but once you are comfortable in a pair of clipless cycling shoes you will feel why they are superior. Cycling shoes that clip in to your pedals will keep your feet and legs stable. This is important, as it allows you to have a greater control of your bicycle. If you are cycling on bumpy roads, especially at a high speed, then clipless cycling shoes will keep your feet connected to your pedals at all times.

Now that we have established that you need a pair of cycling shoes (and clipless at that), you still have to decide what TYPE of cycling shoe you are going to choose from.

Different types of cycling shoes:

Cycling shoes can be split into 3 categories. They are…

Mountain Bike Shoes (SPD) –

Mountain bike shoes are designed to be more flexible than road cycling shoes, while still being better for performance than Hybrid shoes. You get a wide variety of mountain bike shoes. Some MTB shoes look more like hiking shoes than cycling shoes, while others closely resemble the appearance of a top of the range performance road shoe. What I like about mountain bike shoes is that, unlike road cycling shoes, cleats on mountain bike shoes are recessed into the soles making it easier to walk in. The cleats on MTB shoes are made of metal and since they are recessed into the soles of the shoe, it is difficult to damage them while walking. Road cleats on the other hand, are made of plastic and need to be replaced after a month or two of use. Finally, mountain bike pedals have a greater ability to shed mud and dirt that would, on a road pedal, prevent you from clipping in.

mountain bike shoes

Road Bike Shoes (SPD-SL) –

Road cycling shoes are great if your only goal is to ride as fast as possible on the road from point A to point B. They are purely performance based. Because they do not require the same ability to shed mud and dirt, road pedals have a large interface surface with the cleat. The advantage of a larger cleat is that it is able to spread the force being applied to the pedal over a wider area. This increases power output, while making for a more comfortable ride and reducing the possibility of hot spots.

The down side of road bike shoes is that they are a nightmare to walk around in. They make a horrible “click-click” sound, because you are stepping on the cleat and the heel of the shoe. Not only that, but they are not safe to walk in. I wonder how many accidents have occurred at the coffee shop from people walking in unstable road shoes? I am just joking, the answer is probably not many but you get my point. Road cleats also do not last as long as MTB cleats. They need to be replaced constantly! If you do not replace your road cleats when they are worn you risk “clipping out” while riding at a high power output, which could end badly. Lastly, if you plan on doing any type of off-road riding then road bike shoes are a bad idea, because road pedals are not good at getting rid of mud and dirt. I know from personal experience how annoying it can be when you cannot clip in with your road cycling shoe because of a dirty pedal.


road cycling shoes

You can read more here: Road Cycling Shoes VS MTB Shoes: What should you buy and WHY?

Hybrid Bike Shoes

Hybrid cycling shoes are similar to mountain bike shoes, in the sense that they are versatile and suitable for both cycling and walking. Just like with MTB shoes, the cleats on hybrid bike shoes are recessed in the sole of the shoe. On the outside, hybrid bike shoes look like casual shoes. You actually get some very stylish hybrid bike shoes, that you would not even know are cycling shoes unless you looked at the bottom and saw the cleat! While hybrid bike shoes look great and are extremely comfortable, they are not good for performance. The flexible nature of the shoe means that you will lose power. This may or may not bother you. If you are used to road or MTB shoes, then I do not recommend switching to hybrid shoes in the future.

What type of cycling shoe is best for bicycle touring?

The best type of cycling shoe for bicycle touring is without a doubt Mountain Bike Shoes. They offer a perfect combination between a good performance cycling shoe and a shoe that is comfortable to walk in.

If you use mountain bike shoes, you never have to worry that your shoes will slow you down. This is especially true if you are conducting a bicycle tour! In fact, some of my most impressive cycling performances on the road were achieved while wearing mountain bike shoes. If you are conducting a bicycle tour, you will undoubtedly be walking around in your cycling shoes more than if you were doing a normal training ride. You always have to stop at grocery stores while touring to buy food and water. Also, what I found while touring is that I often had to climb over fences or push my bike across tricky sections of road. It happens when you are cycling in a new place and you do not know what to expect! That is when mountain bike shoes come in handy. Even while bicycle touring in Europe, which has an endless variety of smooth tarred roads… I still found MTB shoes to be superior to road shoes.

Mountain bike shoes are low maintenance. You do not have to worry about replacing your cleats while touring. They are also practical. Say for example you are doing an off-road bicycle tour and it starts raining… you do not need to worry about your pedals filling up with mud and preventing you from clipping in. There are literally 100 benefits to using mountain bike shoes while bicycle touring and not a single con!

bicycle tour shoe

Cycling Shoe Closure Types

We have already discussed the bottom of cycling shoes, and the benefit in having recessed cleats, but the top of a cycling shoe is important as well. You need to be able to adjust the tightness of your cycling shoe quickly and efficiently; this is where closure types come in. Cycling shoes have three main closure types, namely:

Laces

Laces are by far the most impractical closure type you will find on a cycling shoe. Laces on cycling shoes are a terrible idea, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is impossible to adjust them while cycling. I adjust the tightness of my cycling shoes during almost every ride. If you are riding, your feet will often swell and you will want to loosen your shoe. Alternatively, you may also feel that your shoes are too loose and want to tighten them. Laces take minutes to redo and will require you to get off your bike to do so. The closure type I use (which I will talk about soon) takes only a second to adjust. Secondly, in wet and muddy weather laces get dirty and pick up a lot of water. Lastly, if your laces become undone during your ride they could end up getting stuck in your chain!

cycling shoes with laces

Velcro

Velcro straps are a quick and easy way to open and close a shoe. I like velcro straps, because they will allow you to adjust the fit of the shoe, even while cycling. One disadvantage of velcro straps is that they get dirty easily, especially if you ride in the mud, so you will have to clean them more often.

cycling shoes velcro straps

Boa lacing/dials

BOA lacing is a dial system that can evenly distribute pressure across the top of shoes, creating a more snug fit. To adjust them, you can simply turn the knob for a tighter fit or quick release to loosen. On newer model shoes with boa lacing, it is possible to tighten or loosen your cycling shoes by turning the boa dials either way, instead of using the quick release. For this reason, boa dials are now used on all top of the range road and mountain bike shoes. Cycling shoes with boa dials are my favorite, because of how easy they are to adjust and the snug fit feel they create.

cycling shoes with boa dials

What shoe closure type is best for bicycle touring?

If you are on a tight budget, velcro straps will be cheaper than boa lacing. If you do have a bit of extra cash to spend, I strongly recommend boa lacing. You will appreciate the comfort and convenience that boa dials provide. I also recommend that you look for a boa dial shoe that can be adjusted both ways.

What about cycling pedals?

The type of cycling pedals you use will depend on the type of cycling shoes you buy. For example, if you buy mountain bike shoes you will need mountain bike pedals. With that said, there are a number of different mountain bike pedals you can choose from. The good news is that MOST mountain bike pedals are dual-sided – that means you can clip into either side of the pedal, which makes starting from a stationary position a lot easier.

For a bicycle tour, it is a good idea to choose a pedal with a wide platform. Here is a example of what I am talking about:

cycling pedals for bicycle touring

You can see that the pedal on the left is small and designed to fit mountain bike cleats only. The pedal on the right is designed to fit mountain bike cleats, but also has a wide platform around it for if you decide to commute with casual shoes. This is perfect for someone who is conducting a bicycle tour! If you are staying somewhere for the night and do not want to put on your dirty and sweaty cycling shoes to ride to a restaurant, you can use your casual shoes instead.

What cycling shoes are best for bicycle touring?

To summarize, the best cycling shoes for bicycle touring are mountain bike shoes that use a boa dial system that can adjust both ways. I also recommend dual-sided pedals with a wide platform. This is the best bike packing shoe and pedal setup I can imagine. It also offers a good combination between what is practical and convenient, and what is good for performance.

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