It’s important to choose the right shoes for your bicycle trip.
Sure, you can hit the road in any old pair of sneakers, but their soles are flexible and won’t provide the right support for your feet and ankles. To see this, pick up a normal sneaker and try to bend it. Now pick up a cycling shoe and try the same thing. You’ll see that the sole of the cycling shoe is much firmer.
When buying a cycling shoe for touring, look for these features:
- Recessed Cleats – Since you will be hopping on and off the bike to do your shopping and short walks, you want recessed cleats to make this easier. Many bike touring shoes with recessed cleats are comfortable enough even for several hours off the bike.
- Velcro Straps – Laces are a hazard because they can fly around and hook onto your front chain ring which is quite scary if it happens at high speed! If you can’t find shoes with a velcro strap, make sure to tuck the laces in under the tongue of the shoe before you ride.
- A Good Brand – We are not ‘brand people’ in general but when it comes to shoes, we’ve found names like Adidas, Nike and Shimano are worth the extra money. They last at least 50 percent longer than cheaper shoes like those from Decathalon and need fewer repairs.
Aside from conventional closed shoes, you can also get open-air touring sandals for summer trips or bike tours in tropical countries. The feeling of air flowing around your feet is refreshing and they are also comfortable for walking when you’re off the bike but expect some wild tan lines on your feet!
Sandal options include:
- Shimano SD65 (pictured above) – Not terribly beautiful and heavy at just over 1kg but sturdy and comfortable, these seem to no longer be available
- Shimano SD66 – Slightly lighter than the SD65 model and arguably a nicer design. (£ 65.77 from Amazon)
- Keen Commuter Sandals – Weighs under 1kg and the design protects your toes from bumps and scrapes. Models for men and women. See a review of Keen Sandals from the Epicurean Cyclist. ($54.83 from REI)
When it rains, you can pair the sandals with waterproof socks (we like Sealskinz Thermal Socks).
Another option is to forgo cycling specific shoes altogether and tour in a sturdy pair of hiking boots. Their stiff sole will be supportive, and they’ll be great if you do a hike for a few days, but the downside is that they can get very hot in warm weather. Get low-cut boots if you can, so that your feet are less likely to overheat.
Whatever you do, don’t get shoes designed for road or racing cyclists. They have no tread and are terribly uncomfortable for walking any further than 100 meters to the nearest cafe.