Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Non-Clipless Cycling Shoes: What Do You Look For?

Velcro Sneakers!
For those of us who don't use clipless pedals on our roadbikes, it would seem that the issue of cycling shoes is simple: Just ride in whatever shoes you like. However, at least for me it doesn't really work that way. The shoe has to feel right to cycle in, or I am miserable on a long ride. 

The most obvious factor I look for is sole stiffness: My feet must be able to push the pedals without the soles of the shoes bending over the edge; otherwise it feels weird and tiring over the course of a strenuous ride. This is why most types of sneakers and casual slip-ons don't work; they are too flexible. The shoe must also be made of a breathable, yet waterproof material. It is uncomfortable to cycle in soaked cloth shoes in the rain. It is also uncomfortable to cycle in leather dress shoes, because my feet get too hot. Finally, the shoes should not be bulky, so as to fit into my Power Grips and generally not take up more space than necessary on the pedals. 

I've been wearing Adidas running shoes on the bike, which have considerably stiffer soles than other sneakers and are also less bulky. They've been working well, except for one thing: the shoelaces. I tie the laces as securely as I can, then tuck them in under the "vamp" of the shoe to keep them away from the drivetrain. Mostly they stay there, but once in a while they come out and then I have to either stop the bike to fix them or risk getting them caught. And I have gotten the laces caught on the crankset a couple of times, so I am paranoid about it. Particularly on my fixed gear, the cranks are very narrowly placed and my feet are close to the drivetrain. I really do not want to get anything caught in there, and having to constantly watch for my shoelaces coming loose is annoying. So I reverted to childhood and bought velcro shoes. I've actually managed to find a pair of Adidas Originals, a special edition made with velcro instead of laces. Same stiff sole and breathability only nothing seems in danger of getting caught in the drivetrain. They look kind of silly, but as long as they work for me I don't care. 

What shoes do you wear on the bike if you don't ride clipless?

88 comments:

  1. Stiffer sole and no shoelaces as they get caught in the chainring easily.

    But honestly, I don't look for "special" shoes for biking. Just what I wear everyday.

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  2. Once I find that a particular pair of shoes works especially well for cycling, I stop wearing it off the bike, only because I don't want to wear it out. So they become defacto bike shoes. Which shoes have you found that have stiff soles and no shoelaces?

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  3. Oh boy. Tried PowerGrips once, did not like them.

    If I ride clipless, I use flip-flops, clogs, top-siders, dress shoes, and boots. Flip-flops are chilly in the winter, but otherwise, often in the summer, enough that I get tan lines.

    Stiff sole is not so much an issue for me; wide feet, high arch/instep, meaning, strong feet. Lots of shoes (most bike shoes) don't fit.

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  4. I've cut laces out of an old inner tube before. Once you get them adjusted, You can clip the ends very short & still get your foot in the shoe.

    May not be an esthetic choice for everyone, though.

    When I wear shoes with regular laces, I deliberately tie them off to the outside of my right foot, instead of the normal, centered position. Then I knot the loops of the tie together, still off to the side away from the crank. That a) shortens the bits that can flop around and b) provides an extra level of tie security.

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  5. dr2chase - You go roadcycling in flip-flops?.. I am not talking about transportation cycling here, but roadbike-specific.

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  6. I'm constantly getting comments about how amazing I am to commute by bike in heels. My feeling is, for short rides like that, it honestly doesn't make a difference what you wear. For longer rides I usually wear Justin roper boots. 100% leather (ie. breathable), stiff sole, completely waterproof, and they get just as many compliments as the heels.

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  7. Dromati makes some really nice leather shoes. They almost look like bowling shoes. If I was going to give up clipless, that's what I would wear (or maybe bowling shoes).

    I really think, however, that you should give clipless a more significant effort. The shoes are soooo good and so optimal for cycling. It just takes a little practice before it becomes second nature.

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  8. on a roadbike w powergrips for long rides - timberland shoes with thin but stiff vibram soles. A bit geeky looking perhaps, but far better than any sneaker bottom. Also, one can wear spd sneakers without (or with) the cleats inserted, though they are all likewise awful looking. Merrill Jungle mocs are also decent to ride in, they offer enough resilience underfoot that the pedal doesn't bruise one's foot.

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  9. Have you tried tucking the laces back under themselves instead? My old running shoes (before I switched to the Vibrams!) had wicked long, floppy laces, which were terribly annoying to deal with while running. I'd take the loops and loose ends and stick them underneath the cris-crossed laces down the length of the top of the shoe. This seemed to work well and I couldn't feel them shoved under there, which I suppose might be a problem if you're tucking the laces under the vamp itself.

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  10. Pardon, because I know this isn't the answer you're looking for, but I much prefer cycling with clipless pedals and cleated shoes. It's just much easier to get your foot in the right position without worrying about where the toeclip is when starting off, and easier to get your foot off the pedal when you stop. The only disadvantage is the need for special shoes just for cycling -- but, as you note, you end up wearing special shoes anyway. There are several cycling shoes that look just like running shoes, so if you could wear running shoes you could wear cycling shoes, too. I usually wear Exustar Stelvio, which have leather uppers and look like conventional dress shoes, at least from a distance.

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  11. Jon - I would like to ride clipless. And I am fine with the look of clipless shoes. I very rarely find myself in a situation where I am on a roadbike, but wait, I might also want to visit a museum or a 5-star restaurant - so the whole "cycling shoes look silly" thing does not worry me and I have no desire to even disguise them as anything other than what they are. Anyhow, I am still learning clipless and it's taking me a long time to get comfortable with them enough to transition from practice in the back alley to riding in traffic (and I always need to ride through traffic in order to get to the countryside riding). So, not yet. Possibly next summer.

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  12. For road cycling, I've pretty much converted to clipless exclusively-- SPD for trails/dirt road riding and SPD-SL for strictly road riding.

    However, before converting to clipless, I had luck with toe clips using clipless road shoes with the cleats removed! Occasionally I'm tempted to go back to that, but every time I ride clipless that temptation gets erased.

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  13. Oh, and as weird as it seems, my Shimano SPD mountain shoes use laces, not velcro straps! They're made from suede and look and feel like hiking shoes.

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  14. I love Nashbar's ragster cycling sandals. They are stylish and walkable. Of course they aren't waterproof and not for the winter. I use these for road cycling, touring, and commuting.
    http://anniebikes.blogspot.com/2011/05/bike-sandals.html

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  15. I had a guest post on Chic Cyclist a year or so back that talked about a pair of Westerleys that I had from Fluevog which are still, to my mind, my favorite cycling/pedestrian shoe. Slim, stiff tunite sole, fits easily in toeclips, comfortable for walking, easy to clean. Most of my complaints about the shoe (wanting a monk strap buckle instead of laces, more durable leather at the toe) are still present, but I haven't found another shoe that addresses that.

    I pedal from time to time in shoes that have thicker soles and always find it less than optimal and sometimes raise my saddle to compensate (which then causes the handlebars to feel lower than normal, etc.)

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  16. oh, but for pure road cycling, I normally go with clipless, unless it's the Raleigh or if I'm doing something like riding to an apple orchard to pick some fruit. Then it's the Westerleys or a pair of canvas sneakers as mood dictates

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  17. @Velouria:
    The ones I use daily are Helsinki Bicycle Toe Slip On by Ecco. Very comfortable, no shoelaces, sole is not really that stiff, but is good enough for my taste.
    http://www.eccousa.com/shoes/mens/dress/helsinki-bicycle-toe-slip-on/2245/detail.aspx
    Funny how they are called Bicycle Toe...

    But I realized that you meant shoes for road cycling. I use clipless only: just a regular Shimano road shoe (can't remember the name), 3 velcros, black, with fiber glass sole. I picked these because they were not as stiff as most road shoes, which means I can walk in them too.

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  18. Chrome shoes are my go-to riding shoes of choice at the moment. I like the slipons and I frequently wear them riding with the smartwool short cycling socks: http://www.chromebagsstore.com/shoes/tobruk.html Also a local shop in SF called Pushbike does reviews of cycling specific shoes occasionally: http://pushbikesf.wordpress.com/

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  19. On one long tour (eight days), I wore my Shimano SPD shoes without cleats and used regular pedals. They were comfortable enough, and I was able to walk around just fine. I've also found that a good pair of comfortable (men's) dress shoes feel almost the same as the Shimanos, but I have to be a bit more particular about them.

    Incidentally, my first racing shoes had wooden soles, which puts me in a mind to wonder whether a paid of Dutch clogs might not be an option...if somehow they didn't slip off so easily.

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  20. I ride my road bikes, which have platform pedals, wearing Keen sandals--the kind that have a covered toe. They make a cycling-specific version that takes SPD cleats, but I use the Newport H2 model. I used to use a pair of New Balance cross-training sneakers, but those were worn out by the end of a tour in Ireland a couple years ago and I reluctantly tossed them in a trash can.

    I find that even waterproof shoes get wet on the inside as water wicks down the socks into them. And then waterproof shoes don't let the water out, so my feet start sloshing around. The sandals solve that problem. I use Smartwool socks: the thin cycling-specific ones when it's over 50 degrees, the thicker Ph.D. hiking model when it's colder. If it's really cold, or if I'm in a cold rain, I put neoprene covers over the sandals. Wool stays warm even when it's wet, and the closed-toe sandals keep my toes from cooling due to convection (and evaporation, if the socks are wet).

    I've tried riding with cycling-specific shoes, as a way of working up to clipless, but my feet are shaped oddly and I find that after 5 miles in cycling shoes I start to get numb spots. I even stopped using my Power Grips last year because the pressure from them on the top of my foot was causing problems. But I've done long rides (up to 200K) in cross-trainers and sandals without any foot problems.

    There hasn't been much peer-reviewed research on cycling with rigid soles vs. flexible soles, but what little there is suggests that for sustained effort at moderate intensity (i.e., recreational riding, not racing!), the advantage of rigid soles is reducing fatigue in the knee flexors and extensors. They don't seem to result in an increase in efficiency of pedaling per se. I posted a couple of pubmed links on the subject in this Internet-BOB thread last summer.

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  21. In the past, I have tried SPD cycling shoes (Keen) and just left off the clip part of the shoe. It didn't work out for me, and I am, unfortunately, still on a hunt for a workable cycling shoe. I've even experimented with actually using clipless pedals, but honestly, it's just not for me. I often feel like such a shoe for those of us who don't want to clip in doesn't exist because everyone seems to just use the darn clipless pedals. Very frustrating.

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  22. V, I am a Puma addict and have numerous pairs, I had read wear Grant Peterson recommended Addidas Sambas, (Basically indoor soccer shoes) that got me thinking that I had some Puma's that I bought several years ago off fleabay that were basically billed as SPD compatible sneakers and very similar to Samba's, but after I had bought them I dicovered that the SPD marked area on the bottom was basically only for looks and was not infact removable!??? So they went in the closet until I started riding non-SPD pedals again, now they are my "go to" shoe's. Like yours they have velcro closures, minimal padding and a breathable synthetic Upper that dries quickly when it gets wet! When these die I think I will go looking for some of those sneakers that are made to be worn in water, most have elastic instead of regular laces and obviously you don't have to worry about getting them wet! ;-)

    MASMOJO

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  23. http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/hikingbikinglacing.htm

    This is a link to a special way to lace up your shoes so that the ties go to the outside. That way your bow and knots is farther away.

    I use leather martial art shoes. They're form fitting to the foot. Sweating isn't a problem here, but keeping my feet warm!

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  24. I use pedals with plastic/nylon cages on my FG. Got my shoelace caught yesterday for the first time. I realized what was happening and braked, but could feel my shoe getting tighter and tighter... then the lace snapped! Never had this happen in 17 years cycling.

    I find that most shoes are very slippery on touring pedals when it rains, but very occasionally there's a rubber sole that will let the pedal bite well. I wish I knew how to tell when shoe shopping.

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  25. I wear Keds flats for cycling...I found that my running shoes don't offer enough control, so my food was always slipping off the pedal (even though I have old metal spikey petals of death). The keds are flat on the bottom and sturdy, but in no way waterproof! When it rains that much, I take the bus...I can't brake in the rain anyway..

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  26. Campers were the best for cycling. Those bubbled soles! They were narrow enough to fit in my toe clips easily and had enough traction to grab the pedal nicely. Now that they're passe I am usually wearing clogs, which I find to be fantastic as the slight heel hooks on to the pedal. They elicit a lot of commentary from other riders, who usually can't believe I can ride in them. Bensimons are good, too, tho they offer less traction. Afraid I don't go sportier than that! I do miss those Campers.

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  27. Pamela Dallas - Reno, NVNovember 9, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    I've been a fan of Power Grips since I got my first recumbent bike about 10 years ago. I wear Keen H2 sandals year round, and find them comfortable for both walking and cycling, which, being car-free, I do a lot of! Fortunately Reno gets little rain, and what snow we do get usually melts off within a day or two.

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  28. I use clipless pedals when I road cycle, but DH opts for the Grant Peterson-recommended Adidas Sambas for road cycling w/toe clips.

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  29. I'm JB Welding a carbon sole to my Five Finger toe condoms.
    Going to run them with Speedplays.
    Blow minds.

    A friend has a friend who designed a clipless system to attach to the SIDE of her shoe. I don't know the reasoning, she is not my friend. Even if she were she wouldn't be after I found out about these shenanigans.

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  30. @V - bikes is bikes. I ride all my bikes about the same, except that I'm more careful of the 3-speed popping out of gear, and the Big Dummy can handle potholes and no-hands easier than any of the others.

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  31. The Dromarti shoe referenced by Anonymous 10:19 is made by Maressi. Some of the shoes even have the big embossed "M". Seems to be a British marketing scheme for selling Maressi.

    Maressi makes great shoes. Seldom sold stateside, they have long been right behind Sidi, or next to Sidi, as the favorite of the pro peloton. The price is high, may be worth it.

    Small size vintage shoes that look a lot like the Dromarti are always available cheap. Above 42 you will be very lucky to find anything. Size 40 and below it's almost a giveaway.

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  32. I've given up on toe clips, powergrips and the like for the most part, and these days either ride clipless or flat BMX-style pedals. With the flats my favorite footwear for above-freezing temps has turned out to be Teva Hurricanes (which, it turns out is another Grant Peterson favorite).

    The rare occasions I do ride with straps (or when it finally gets too cold for sandals) I favor low-top Converse or better yet slip-on canvas deck shoes, which solve the laces problem, and the relatively low-profile sole slips in and out of the straps easily. I tend to use a pretty broad pedal so don't find sole stiffness to be a major concern.

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  33. Funny, I arrived at Adidas on my own, then later learned that Grant Petersen recommends them. FWIW, I don't think it's just the Samba model that works - I've worn several models over the years and they are all great. It's something about the way Adidas makes their soles, compared to other sneaker manufacturers. Have not tired Puma. Tevas give me blisters for some reason, so even in the warmer months they are a no-go.

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  34. I often wear soft-sole shoes for cycling, and without problems. That might be because I have comfortable pedals to which the front of my feet fit very snugly. I think I could actually cycle barefoot on these pedals. Those are not road bicycle pedals but they work for vigorous cycling over longer distances.

    Conclusion: If you have problems finding the right shoes for cycling then it might help to try different pedals.

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  35. Oh yeah, Matt's comment reminds me: flat, spikey downhill pedals on incongruous bikes.
    Follow my journey at UglyBicycle!.com

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  36. i have this childhood phobia of having things attached to my feet, so making the jump to toe clips was a big one. a week into it i wondered how i ever rode a bike before! i dont use power grips, never tried 'em. i chose metal toe clips with a leather strap. i find that i wear a variety of shoes because i feel the toe clips keep my feet in the place i want them. i have found they offer enough room to work with the variety of shoes i wear through out the year. i ride year round and have toe clips on both of my bikes. i have a road bike and a mixte with fenders for the bad weather. i mostly city ride and dont feel like going clipless is going to happen. but who knows if i ever got the right bike to do long rides i might feel differently. all of that being said when i flip my hub and ride fixed i only feel comfortable in rubber soled shoes. the leather sandals slide around too much and i dont like that feeling, of not being in control.

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  37. I used clipless sandals for years with both SPD and non-clipless pedals. Got a pair of Keen Newports this summer and love them on and off the bike.

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  38. Merrell Chameleon shoes have very stiff soles and are excellent for biking. They make a number of different varieties from stretch to gor tex to ventilator models

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  39. Nice, the pictured Adidas model was the average 1985 West German gym class shoe for those who weren´t able (or to lazy) to tie laces - me included. I always hoped this design to emerge from the past for retro reasons. It´s funny to recover them here, as I´ve started reading this blog for style reasons in the 1st instance.

    For cycling I´ve tried professional Keen shoes which turned out to slippy for casual MKS Sylvan touring pedals. A friend of mine, a bike messenger who doesn´t like clips either, recommended me ZEHA "Liga" shoes. They´re Berlin made and their shape is inspired by 1950s soccer shoes. My pair has a really stiff sole and vamp preventing footstraps from cutting in on long distances. These shoes even look nice and pushed me back into the tender arms of Cycle Chic Manifesto as a side benefit.

    Now that the days are getting colder I randomly discovered that Clarks "Mass Boots" are a fabolous model for autumn cycling as the laces are coverd and the sole match the shape of my pedals perfectly.

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  40. Nothing beats a pair of Keen sandles

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  41. Never used any kind of cycling specific shoes before I always ride in my heavy thick leather lugged work boots. I got the old metal rat trap pedals on mine and do a little off road stuff with my roadie so the work boots for me have always just well worked lol besides the fact with the lugs they hardly ever loose contact with the pedal. I know not everyone's cuppa tea but for me it's what I'm used to
    Cheers
    Jim

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  42. For long rides (50km+) I use a pair of cycling shoes without the cleats, especially if I'm riding a bike with metal pedals. It's greatly reduced foot pain and fatigue for me. They're not warm enough for winter, but my winter cycling is mostly for transportation, so it's not an issue.

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  43. I just can't imagine biking in non-bike shoes anymore. Even for my commute, I've got clipless Pearl Izumi MTB shoes (and Eggbeater cleats/pedals) that are decently comfortable off the bike. With tendon and plantar fasciitis issues, anything else just becomes too painful after a couple of miles (not necessarily during the ride, but that night and for a long time afterward). The few times I have to ride without my feet stuck to the bike, I really wonder how people do it. It feels unnatural.

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  44. This is something I think about waaaaaay too much.

    For now, I wear a pair of trail-running shoes. They're not waterproof, but if it might rain I wear thicker socks. I spent the day Saturday riding 102km in shortie Smartwool socks and trail runners....it rained all day (and it was mid-40's F) and my feet got chilly but not unbearably so.

    They dry pretty damn fast, which is nice. When I lace them up, I double-tie them, then I tuck the loops into the lacing. I didn't used to, and then on The Big Trip there were a couple occasions where the lace caught on my chainring, and once almost ripped clean through. Oops.

    Most of the time, they're fine...but I did get "hot foot" a few times, where it felt like I was pedaling onto spikes or something. I think I just needed more support near the front of my foot. I'd get off the bike and rest my feet, walk around, and get back on. Or I'd pedal with the other side of the pedal, which doesn't have the toe cage, so I could change the position of my foot. (I specifically only buy double-sided pedals so I can do this, also because some shoes don't fit my toe cages very well.)

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Chaco sandals for riding, as they have a ton of arch support and are the perfect stiffness. Also, no lacing! But the sandals are only good for hot weather unless you don't mind rocking the sandals'n'socks look. (I *used* to do that all the damn time, actually...then suddenly got self-conscious about it. Wish I hadn't.) They make actual shoes, but not only are they leather (as a rule I don't buy leather new) but they are truly fugly. I'd rather wear the sandals with socks!

    I did bring a pair of Chacos on The Big Trip, and they were excellent on super-hot days. I could have worn my sneakers (and some days I did) even when it was hot, but I love sandals too, so I brought both pairs.

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  45. Chrome Kursk shoes work well for me. Stiff soles, lace retention built into the shoe and they look decent. Walking in them is comfortable. Terrible in the rain though.

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  46. Oh, and I haven't tried them riding long distances yet, but last year I bought a pair of calf-high Totes boots that are SUPER warm and mostly waterproof. In fact, they're so waterproof that when they *do* get wet inside (either from sweat, or the kind of downpour that has water trickling down my legs) I have to stuff the toes with newspaper or they never ever dry.

    The only problem, of course, is they don't fit in my toe cages very well. SIGH. But they were grippy enough that I just pedaled with the other side of the pedal and I was fine, just had to be careful cornering or I'd scrape the cages on the ground. (This is part of why I have cheap plastic toe cages.)

    I know that Chrome makes shoes specifically for biking with toe cages/straps. It seems like lots and lots of places make regular-looking shoes that are clipless...why can't more places make cycling-specific shoes for flat pedals/cages/straps?! It's so frustrating.

    Dear cycling shoe manufacturers of the world: Not everyone can/wants to ride clipless. There are plenty of serious cyclists (especially people who tour!) who want cycling specific shoes for platform/cages/straps. Bonus for making them out of something that isn't canvas or leather.

    I used to really really like a pair of mary-jane style shoes made by Jambu, but the strap broke while walking uphill one day. I was so bummed--they fit in my toe cages perfectly, they were stiff enough to be perfect for long days of riding, but still comfy for walking in, and they were SUPER CUTE. I returned them, and now I wish I'd just had them repaired, because they only make them in leather now. The more I think about it, the more I think I might just buy the leather ones because I loved them so much.

    Sorry to post twice, and such long posts, but I spent MONTHS trying to find a shoe that fit everything I wanted before The Big Trip before just giving up and buying trail-running sneakers and Chaco sandals.

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  47. I dislike clipless with such a passion that only vile cuss words spring to mind when I need to discuss them. They are devices of the devil !!!

    I do, however, support Velouria in her choice of both shoes and pedals since both make good common sense !!

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  48. I wore a pair of Keene Oslos for a week-long, fully-loaded tour, and was pretty happy about it. Fairly stiff soles (much stiffer than, say Adidas Sambas), but not too stiff for walking; the boxy toe bumper fit well into toe clips; they look somewhat presentable for dinner, too. Hot in the summer, though.

    I also wear Chrome Kursks for riding with toe clips; they're too stiff for walking around, but very good for their intended purpose. They have a nifty loop that retains the laces well.

    'Course, for everyday transportation I wear my usual shoes for work, which are usually leather-soled dress shoes. Today: Allen Edmonds Walton.

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  49. All of my bikes either have no retention or clips and straps. I can wear any shoes I want on any of them. For short trips, around town, to school, groceries, less than a couple miles, I'll ride in whatever I have on my feet at the time. Other than that, I wear an inexpensive pair of Shimano "touring shoes".

    Right now I'm on a pair of SH-M021. The soles are stiff enough that I don't get hot spots, they're walkable enough that if I have to spend an hour or so on my feet it's OK, and they don't look like something out of a sci-fi flick.

    There are other, similar shoes from Shimano and just about all the other cycling shoe makers. Any of them would probably suit me just fine.

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  50. I used to use deck (boating) style shoes when they were fashionable (at least amongst my uni friends) 20 odd years ago. They seemed to grip the pedal well and go into toeclips or not quite happily. Doc Martens boots and shoes all seemed fine too at the time.

    Most shoes seem fine if the pedal is right. I have used pedals that are not wide enough and the best case scenario was they had a groove gouged out on the outside matching the lip of the pedal. Otherwise the side of my foot started to feel sore after a while as it pushed over the edge of the pedal and was unsupported. If my shoe doesn't grip the pedal right then I find my foot dances about trying to get into a position I am happy with.

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  51. Oh, and for the shoes I regularly cycle in I have rethreaded the laces - see this site
    http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/hikingbikinglacing.htm

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  52. Running shoes + inserts + quality BMX pedals = done with that problem

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  53. I love Keens too. I have Keen cycling sandals that I use without cleats, and a a pair of Presidio Keens (look more like regular shoes). I also use them without the cleats.

    On the regular Keen sandals that I have, the heel is a little wide for comfortable riding, at least the way I ride. I apparently tend to turn my toes out and my heels in.

    I ride on the MKS Lambda (AKA Grip King) platform pedals. I love them.

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  54. Shoelaces: cut them shorter and melt the ends so they don't unravel, or get shorter laces.

    Shoes: I like the Merrel Barefoot but I've been using MKS GR-9 platform pedals, so the stiff soles thing isn't a problem because there are not spikes digging in to my feet. Even with shoes with stiffer soles I didn't like the standard MKS road pedals as there wasn't much contact area.

    For winter I would like to get the new Merrel Gore-Tex barefoot shoe. It's also designed to be worn with thick socks. I often wear thin socks with my other barefoots anyway. You can put the shoe in the washing machine,too. That's pretty cool.

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  55. I wear whatever. For me the biggest issue is that the boot doesn't come too high when I am bending my legs ( had to give away a pair of rain boots that hit the inner part of my knee when I pedaled) and slippage of the sole. Today my foot slipped off the pedals while going off hill. Not very graceful....

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  56. I use Keen Newport sandals, with
    MKS sylvan pedals and Velo Orange
    deep half clips:

    http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/vo-deep-half-clips.html

    These work great for me, especially when touring, as I only have to have this one item of footwear. I use various wool or coolmax socks depending on the temperature, but if it is really cold and wet I use Sealskinz waterproof socks.

    In two weeks time I embark on a 6-month tour of South America with these.

    John I

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  57. cris, like I needed another reason to love John Fluevog, seriously! Enjoyed the guest post link.

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  58. 4000+ miles last year on a variety of bikes and rides, all with toe clips and Birkenstock sandals on either MKS GR9 or AR2 pedals. My footwear generates lots of comments (mostly snickers) from other riders, but:

    1) The soles are thick enough and wide enough to not feel bendy on the pedals

    2) My feet never overheat or sweat as they do in most enclosed leather and cloth shoes

    3) It's easy to adjust foot position if needed during a ride, thus avoiding hot spots and repetitive use injuries

    4) Simple to configure for different riding conditions by choosing which socks to wear

    5) The same pedals and toe clips will let me cycle with other shoes (or even boots), on those occasions when it is going to be really wet during a ride.

    6) There is no special dressing or shoe changes needed to go for a ride, or to leave the bike and walk around awhile when I get somewhere.

    I've actually tried clipless several times, and don't have problems getting my feet into and out of the clipless pedals. i simply don't like the set up, including the limited position of feet on pedals, the feel of the shoes and cleats, the overheating I get with enclosed shoes in hot weather, the awkward walking around off the bike, and the extra hassle of having to put on special shoes to go for a ride.

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  59. Almost any shoes will do. I've gone through lots of pedal types, and at the moment I am loving my cheap pair of Wellgo BMX pedals with studs built into the. After ditching the SPD clipless pedals on my less-than-ten-mile-trip bike (an older Jamis Aurora that I adore-a), I used powergrips for a bit. The problem was that they didn't accomodate varying show sizes unless I adjusted them. Not good for colder weather (i.e., bigger shoes).

    The studded pedals have lots of grip, and are easy on-off. I'm super happy.

    I agree with @hjill that Campers are some of the best shoes for everyday riding. The bubbly soles are great, and they are a close fitting show. I disagree that they are passe, and even if they are, why should that matter? They work. I'm wearing them as I type this...

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  60. I just wear whatever I am wearing for the day as I don't ride long distances anymore. When I used to train on the bike, I wore running shoes, it never ocurred to me that I could catch the laces in the chain and thankfully it never happened. Now I wear dress shoes or flip flops or leather flats, and leather boots in winter. Haven't worn heels yet and I probably won't either.

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  61. I put on trainers, running shoes when I started riding. But now, just anything fitted for the occasions, flip-flop, leather shoes, etc.

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  62. I've tried all-stars, dress shoes, and a few others, but have discovered that typical sports shoes don't work, as I use toe clips on some bikes. There is too much tread, sticking my feet to the pedals.

    My all-time favorites are Adidas Sambas - they seem eventually to soften up with time, especially with old-style quill pedals.

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  63. Usually canvas sneakers. I use Aurora Collective pedal straps with MKS Sylvans. Much better retention than Power Grips, which never felt right to me. There are also numerous BMX pedal versions.

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  64. Summers, I wear keen newports everywhere, in the fall chrome saipans, in the winter keen targhe low cut. If my feet didn't overheat I'd wear the targhes year round. The chrome shoes are fine, but a little narrow for my duck feet.

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  65. I want to try these http://www.studyfootwear.com/blog/2011/05/20/coming-race-near-you/.

    Though I'm having a hard time imagining them as a better option than a pair of ordinary trainers.

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  66. Any trekking sandals with a toe lip and velcro top. Lightweight. Waterproof. Breathable. Great in summers as they let the breeze through. Easy to clean (just put them under running water). Doubles as camp wear (infact for my last tour I simply used one pair for everything). Can be put on in a jiffy like flip flops. Grip nicely with Ergon / Shimano "non-clipless" pedals. Not sure about cold weather usage though....

    Personally i find Keen sandals too heavy and way too stiff for walking over rocky terrain.

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  67. I can't quite believe Velouria is so keyed in to the aesthetics of her bikes, and yet uses power grips, probably the most agricultural solution ever invented to the problem of how to secure foot to pedal. I'm not being insulting, I really find it strange, like a kind of aesthetic blind spot. Still, "De gustatibus non disputandum". Personally I ride clipless with straps as well as half-clips. I'll wear anything that fits in the clip, which means everything except steel-capped boots. One of my favourites are these and I wish there was a modern counterpart: http://tinyurl.com/cf9754c
    But I also wear a plain black dress shoe quite regularly. Leather toe-clips covers are a necessity to avoid rubbing sore patches on the toes of each shoe.

    My friends who ride clipless report that they often have cold feet as their feet are not doing any exercise. I don't have that problem as the un-reinforced sole of ordinary shoes demands that the muscles in my feet work to transfer the power into the pedal. b

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  68. Ha : )

    Well, I am not so "keyed up on aesthetics" as to value it over function. I have said this repeatedly at this point and really don't know what else to add on the subject. But also, I honestly don't think Power Grips look that bad. Who said I have good taste, after all?

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  69. I do truly appreciate your use of "agricultural" there, Nanseikan.

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  70. Bike riders need good shoes.

    Old racing story. My little brother was racing. Category One back when that meant something. Had some problems with his feet. Went to the orthopedist. This was before Sports Orthopedics was a specialty but there were docs working the turf. The doc he found also did Mike Ditka, Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito........

    Doc looks at brother and tells him these are the best feet he has ever seen. Not even close. Doc is really interested, he has clients who would sell their soul for such feet. Asks if maybe a couple riders from the team could drop by for a quick exam.

    I went to see doc with a friend. Walking into the office we shook hands with Ernie Banks walking out. Doc looks at our feet. He announced "That's three out of three. Three best pairs of feet I've ever seen." Doc also checked our shoes. Detto Pietro and Duegi. He pronounced the shoes good.

    This sport works feet hard. Real hard. You need good shoes. In the end doc had no advice except to take a break sometime and to wear the best shoes you can find.

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  71. Weirdly, I really like very soft-soled shoes on my roadbike (I don't have clips). So, for long rides, I actually wear ballet flats with the really flexible soles, because I like the feeling of the pedals on my feet coming through the shoes.

    For city cycling, I agree with your comments about having a stiff-soled shoe. Also, given the cold weather here, having a shoe that can accomodate warm socks/tights is important and doesn't catch on the pedal. I don't like to wear heavily-treadded shoes and usually settle for some type of a small boot or a loafer. For me, city cycling usually means that the leather shoes stay home, though I have been known to rock the high heels for short distance commutes to various events. ;)

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  72. I ride in whatever I have on! I've taken to considering biking before I purchase a pair of shoes, granted, and no riding in wedges, but I'm a bike commuter and don't get much in the way of speed. Flip flops, sneakers, boots, heels--I just pedal along!

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  73. V, Sorry, but I am an old skateboarder who grew up on Vans and especially for platform pedals they are hard to beat. The sole is a very grippy rubber, that seems to really grip the pins on the platforms real well, the soles would not be overly stiff if it weren't for the fact that they are faily thick. If you get slip on's they will not have laces to get in the pedals or chain! Before I had "bike Shoes" I had Van's and they Still work great. The Chrome shoe's people refernced above are more or less copies of skateboard shoes and Van's are the original!

    MASMOJO

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  74. In my experience, the distance and terrain sort of dictate the shoe. Since your post is about road cycling, I think if you get to putting on big miles with a lot of climbing on a regular basis, you need to consider a good stiff cycling shoe (the clipless or not discussion aside). I ended up with a bad arch injury from doing a lot of sustained climbing in a basic mountain bike shoe. This might be getting well ahead of the cycling you're doing at the moment. But as I continue to read your blog and your enjoyment of longer distance road cycling grows, I imagine you'll be discussing climbing sometime next year! :) When that point comes, cycling-specific stiff sole shoes will be worth consideration -- especially if you have any biomechanical issues that can pop up out of the blue from the repetitive stress that sometimes comes with the big the miles.

    I guess the right shoe just depends on the conditions.

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  75. For almost six months each year, it's just too cold here to wear anything but big, bulky snow boots. For the other months, I wear Keen sandals, like others have mentioned. Reading all the comments now, I have a perverse desire to try riding while wearing my tap shoes...

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  76. I've been using Marresis. The soles are not road racing stiff but they are stiff enough for my purposes. Because of this they also work just fine as a "hang-out-in-a-coffee-shop" shoe. Very comfy.

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  77. Velouria,

    I bought a pair of Pearl Izumi mountain bike shoes to wear while I'm riding my Rivendell. While I am using SPD pedals, the shoes do have an insert over the cleat opening so you can use them without cleats. The soles are stiff and there is an elastic band over the tongue that you can put the laces under after you've tied the shoes. I think they would work great for riding cleatless. One caveat: they have a tread on the bottom, so might present a little difficulty getting out of Power Grips or toe clips.

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  78. My Merrill Moab Ventilators are lightweight, breathable, fairly stiff-soled and reasonably water-resistant. They are very comfortable for riding and walking and look nice enough to wear to work (unless I need to be really dressed-up). I usually wear them with a good pair of merino wool socks for comfort and breathability. I don't need, or want my feet attached to my pedals when I ride.

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  79. For distance riding I like my Nike soccer shoes - they are light, narrow and stiff-soled. And the cleats help keep my feet positioned on the pedals without locking them in place. Just tuck the ends of your laces down between the tongue and the crossed-over lacing if you want to keep them out of your chain.

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  80. Chrome Kursk Pro's....I have been riding in these for a year now and I am completely in love. Chrome has thought of every little detail...from a stiff sole, yet comfortable to walk in, recessed clips so you don't look like you just learned to walk, a lace retention strap that works great, weighted shoelace end caps to help keep the ends from flopping, a toe cap for when you run the old toe clip style so it won't dig into your toes, a reflective strip at the back, and water resistance...and Chuck Taylor-esque good looks. The Chrome branding is also very low key, which I like. These shoes are so versatile that I road race in them, rock them on my city bike, and also hit the trails in them. Doesn't get any better in my opinion...

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  81. I am a recovered, reformed clipless rider. Three of my four bikes have toe clips and straps; the fourth has a set of those wide wraparound straps that are something like more refined, yet tougher, versions of Power Grips.

    I find that I like shoes with thin but dense, but still somewhat flexible, soles. My favorite cycling shoes have become two pairs of Skechers "trainers" that look like a cross between trainers and dance shoes. I've also found that Tom's espadrilles are good for an hour or two of riding.

    I find that running shoes are thicker and wider than I like for cycling. Plus, their soles tend to be made of less dense materials, which provide less protection against pressure from the pedal.

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  82. Adidas Samba soccer shoes. I've been wearing them since I was BMXing in, like, 1980. At one point I had 3 and a half pairs and would just grab a right and a left and hope they were worn in to about the same degree. The pair I wear now are my favorite non-bike specific bike shoes of all the non-bike specific bike shoes I have and get used all the time. They really aren't very stiff but when I'm riding any real distance I wear real road shoes so it's OK. I don't know if they are any good for soccer or just a poseur shoe but I like em'(which probably MAKES them a poseur shoe...).

    Spindizzy.

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  83. If you want very classy cycling shoes for use with pedals with toe clips, get Dromarti Storica "Black" or "Classic" shoes (http://www.dromarti.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10_28_27&products_id=30 ) They work great and look terrific.

    You may also want to consider the shoes from Quoc Pham which are a little less expensive. (http://www.quocpham.com/products/index.html )

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  84. Who would chose clips over clipless?

    I don't like to walk around in conventional biking shoes, I can understand that - which is why I bike in biking sandals which cost a little more than conventional sandals and last probably 4 times as long as a standard sandal.

    Why would anybody prefer to use clips over clipless? The discomfort of clips rubbing against the top of your foot disqualifies any possible benefit. The reason that traditional biking shoes are rock solid on the toe is because of the clips rubbing against the top of the shoe.

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  85. I bike in Sambas. The sole is stiff enough for me but I too have a fear of getting my laces caught in the chain ring of my 10 speed and tumbling arse over teakettle in the streets of St. Louis. Clipless is not my thing so I am wondering if I can tie my shoes under the enormous tongue Sambas have. I may try it tomorrow.

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  86. Late to the game, but for who don't like riding clipless and want a stiffer sole, see if you can find a pair of Keen Coronado Cruisers roaming around the internet. They were designed for cycling and have a grippy sole and metal shank for stiffness. I love mine. They don't make them anymore (only plain Keen Coronados) but eBay and some discount stores still have them.

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  87. http://www.rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=45

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  88. I wear soccer shoe bands over my shoes to prevent the shoelaces from coming undone.

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