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"glove" like footwear for cycling?
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Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
"glove" like footwear for cycling? on 08/27/2011 14:13:32 MDT Print View

a bit off topic...
i dusted off the old skool this summer and have found myself falling in love.
i'm at the point where i'm ready to make some new purchases, footwear being one.
without spending a fortune, i wanna cut the mustard, just barely.
i can wait til spring to do it right.
to date i've been sporting my chacos (i know, not smart, barely safe), but the vibram soles stick to my pedals and ventilation is killer (in summer).
however with fall coming, naturally i need something with coverage.
i'm thinking a wool sock with a minimalist-type running shoe?
as they again, vibram sole, are lightweight (and can serve me come spring as well).
am i outta my head?
my primary concern being that a late fall and/or early ride could find my feet c-o-l-d.
(this is new england).
also, some have told me that the thiness of the sole would find my feet hurting after a good 30-40 mile jaunt.
got feedback?

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
cycling shoes on 08/27/2011 15:13:51 MDT Print View

A decent shoe for cycling needs to have some reinforcement in the sole so if you are serious about riding I would not use running shoes, there are even cycling sandals with reinforcement - Keen, Shimano, Lake. A simple touring/mountain bike shoe shouldn't set you back too far, take a look at for ideas. You want a shoe you can walk in which eliminates most road bike shoes.
The other issue is if you want to try clipless pedals you need a shoe that takes cleat mounting. Shimano has an easy release cleat [SM-SH 56] paired with an inexpensive mtn. bike pedal that works really well. I don't recommend the combination clipless/flat pedal, most are too much of a compromise, and feature single sided entry, just an opinion, if you go clipless go all the way in.
Feet swell as you ride so you want a good fit in length but not too tight and most bike shoes are European lasted [narrow]. For fall and winter size them for 2 pairs of socks. There are all kinds of tricks to increase warmth like using a vapor barrier between layers or neoprene socks and finally overboots. When it really turns down some of us use toe/insole warmers packs, little dry chemical heaters.
Do yourself a favor, get a bike specific shoe, size it up a bit for cold weather insulation, and consider eventually switching to clipless pedals or power grip straps. Then during the winter grab a pair of cycling sandals when they go on sale.

Edited by pyeyo on 08/27/2011 15:15:00 MDT.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
I guess I had more to say... on 08/27/2011 15:35:02 MDT Print View

Cycling shoes is one place you can cross over the other side, my better half wears men's shoes. That big auction site always has tons of shoes, as a example I saw Pearl Izumi Women's Trans Alps in a 7.5 for 30 bucks, just get a cycling buddy to help you sort through the fodder.Though it goes without saying please support your local bike shop.
If you decide to stick with hiking shoes, try to shoot for minalmist lugs, they just don't mix well with flat pedals, again size them up for cold weather, you can even pull an old sock over them to help a bit. has a inactive menu that recommends levels of dress for ambient temps and expected weather conditions you expect while riding, though this is sponsered by a clothing maker it is pretty easy to crossover to things you have on hand. If you go for a ride and wind up cold check what they recommended and adjust accordingly.There is an old adage that if you are warm standing around before you start riding you will be too warm when you get going, so you want to dress for your expected exertion level.
Cold feet are caused by a combination of convection and your extremites shutting down to keep your core warm, so wear a hat and upper body insulation. You can make homemade insulated insoles out of stuff from the hardware store too.
Getting in the habit of wiggling your toes around as you ride seems to help too.
Good luck and keep us posted on how the riding is going.

Edited by pyeyo on 08/27/2011 15:36:55 MDT.

Troy Hawkins
(ollyisk) - F - MLife

Locale: Germany
Second that on 08/30/2011 05:39:33 MDT Print View

I'll echo Larry's sentiments to go clipless.

It may seem daunting at first because there are so many different options when it comes to clipless pedals, from shoes, to pedals, to style of pedal, to different models of pedals, different release angles, float, etc. You can narrow it pretty quickly though--as Larry said, you'll probably want mountain clipless. They have a recessed cleat, so they're more comfortable to walk in since they're designed to be walked in on trails walking or what-have-you. That instantly rules out half the pedals on the market.

The major three clipless MTB pedal systems are: Time ATAC, Shimano SPD style, and Crankbrothers Eggbeaters. There are others, but these are the most common and the most economical. You may want to check out Nashbar or Performance; they commonly have some SPD-style clipless pedals and shoes comboed for cheap, and they're usually of decent quality.

Once you start riding clipless, you'll probably find it hard to go back to regular platform pedals...the only competition for clipless pedals are a pair of well-adjusted clip/strap set ups, and to really get the benefit of clips and straps, you need to tighten them every time you put them on. Additionally, good clip/straps set ups are considerably heavier than clipless pedals.

Don Morris
(hikermor) - F
""glove" like footwear for cycling on 08/30/2011 07:28:54 MDT Print View

I'll be the contrarian here. I do a lot of cycling (commuting and touring), using toe clips and low cut hiking shoes. I prefer this setup to dedicated cycling shoes. Right now I am using Montrail approach shoes, so I can bike, hike, and climb up to 5.7 or so without changing my slippers. I like the versatility and it reduces my touring load.

There is probably a reduction in my cycling efficiency, but frankly, I think it is rather marginal. I still tour up to 70 or 80 miles a day routinely with no knee problems (I understand some clipless users develop knee problems if there is not sufficient free play in their setup).

I started cycling before clipless pedals came along, and I have just stuck with the old system. I find cycling as I do strengthens my legs after hiking, running, or climbing injuries and really helps my overall fitness.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: "glove" like footwear for cycling? on 08/30/2011 11:25:57 MDT Print View

First thing--there's no single solution for hot and cold weather and you'll need a two-season strategy. For summer I have a pair of Keene spd-compatible sandals that work great. They have the needed sole stiffness for efficient pedaling and yet are fine for walking and general wearing. For fall-winter I switch to what's now a very nasty pair of cool-weather Shimanos. You could consider neoprene socks or overboots for winter--bike shops will carry both. They're quite warm and can be worn with pretty much any shoe.

Old school rat-trap pedals, toe clips and straps will chew up any lightweight running shoes in rapid fashion, plus runners have wide soles incompatible with bike pedals. The cushioning works against you with every stroke.



Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
i want to ride my bicycle, i want to ride my bike.... on 08/30/2011 16:34:50 MDT Print View

hey all,
mighty do appreciate the timely response to my inquiry.
the insight is invaluable; certainly has made me think twice before making ANY purchase of sorts. i'm definitley an old skooler, keep it simple, keep it challenging, risky, adventerous, take it not-so-easy...(word, don) :)
eh, how do you know if you don't try?
for all intents and purposes, i'll do what i always do...
i'll "somehow get by, make (it) work"...
whatever "it" becomes. :)

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: i want to ride my bicycle, i want to ride my bike.... on 08/30/2011 17:58:26 MDT Print View

Hi Leslie,

I have been riding around in my new balance minimus lately on flat mks touring peddles with no straps. It works just fine but you can really feel the contact points through the sole, i have to shift my foot position on the peddles a bit, but i am usually biking to a hike. Chacos have a much stiffer sole and I ride in those sometimes too, they are great, you might just want to buy some gore tex socks and keep on with the chacos. If your feet are too constricted in winter they will get cold and i know some dudes in Minneapolis who bike in sandals all winder long. If you are worried about slush and such, i would get a pair of silnylon booties or splash guards to go over them.

I really don't think clipless peddles are worth it unless you are a long distance roadie or a technical mountain biker.

If you do want to check out shoes still look for some track flats which are minimal but have an underfoot rock plate which will help with power transfer and less foot strain.

Good luck!

Edited by justaddfuel on 08/30/2011 17:59:57 MDT.

Megan Webb
(meganwebb) - MLife
Sandals are great for all weathers on 08/30/2011 19:40:54 MDT Print View

Never liked shoes much and so stopped wearing them. I'm using Shimano sandals and have for years as my only shoe.

Very versatile:
cool in summer
dry off quick in the rain and crossing water.
warm in winter
Sandals with bare feet for summer, add sock layers for shade or warmth.
Casual, or dressy depending on socks/no socks, or the colour of socks. (okay, maybe not everyones idea of a cool look...)

There are Sealskinz waterproof socks in different weights and warmth ratings. They've been used in snow. Easy to layer up on the foot with socks - or use an overboot over the whole sandal.


Clipless pedals give an advantage, but depends how much you ride if you want to go that route. If you do, set them up right. The fear of not being able to "unclip" is because of incorrect setup. Most people (and shops) wind the tension up heaps - which means you have to consciously "unclip". Wind the tension down until you don't pull out, but can "unclip" without having to make any special moves.

I think the reason for high tension is that all the shoe/pedal fastening systems whether toe straps or clipless originated in racing to get more power. In these cases having your foot come of the pedal is "bad" - lose the power, lose the race. Racers race and then stop, and then they worry about getting separated from the pedal. But if your not racing - why do that? Toe straps are on or off, clipless you can adjust. Adjust them right and never have to worry about falling over still clipped in at the traffic lights.

Another option between toe straps and clipless are: Power Grips. Like a toe strap but without need to 'reach down and tighten or release'.

I'm using Shimano cleats, with combination clipless/flat pedal - can mash on the flat pedal, or clip in. I clip in so much, I've thought about just using clip in pedals only, but like the option to not have to. Also, having a platform is good if you might not want to use your clip in shoes and ride. But once your been using clipless for a while, its hard to go back. Every time I have worn non cleat sandals I find my feet lifting off the pedals trying to pull upwards.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
s-weeeee-t. on 09/01/2011 08:35:40 MDT Print View

chacos it is then.
so it DOES work afterall :)
thanks jay.

Stephen Chan
(syc168) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Platform vs Clipless pedals on 09/05/2011 01:50:33 MDT Print View

If you want to avoid clipless, look into "Power Grips" straps ( ) or else the MKS Lambda/Rivendell Grip King pedals ( ) especially with the pedal spikes modification.

You can get pretty good traction using either one - the Grip King + pedals studs are the most flexible, but you will lose out during climbing compared to direct connection to the pedal. Power Grips are relatively close to clipless in terms of providing connection to the pedals throughout the pedal stroke, but are somewhat clunkier than simply converting to clipless. You can also just squash them down when you don't want to use them.

My experience is that mechanical connection to the pedals wins without question during climbs - some contrarians will tell you otherwise, but I believe they are deeply mistaken, or else their pedaling styles doesn't allow them to take advantage of clipless. When you are clipped in and riding uphill, you can use the upstroke of your pedaling to maintain power throughout the pedal cycle. But if you aren't especially concerned about more efficiency during climbs, Grip Kings are as good as it gets in a platform pedal. People claim that BMX sneakers + Grip Kings are the next best thing to clipless (no personal experience with them).

By the way, Keen's Pedal series of shoes are great for clipless compatible shoes that look and work like normal shoes.

Mercutio Stencil
(fuzz2050) - F
Power Grips on 09/08/2011 04:22:34 MDT Print View

I've been trying Power Grips for about a month now; frankly I can't stand them. They have to be adjusted for each shoe, and it's a bit of a pair compared to just pulling a toe strap, they rub a lot more than would be expected when I'm wearing sandals, and if they're loose enough for me to get my foot in, they don't provide a secure feeling connection.

I know other people swear by them, but I'm going back to old fashioned toe clips. Or just platform pedals. More and more of my bikes are going to old BMX pedals.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Power Grips on 11/24/2011 14:56:33 MST Print View

I have enjoyed this article, "The Shoes Ruse".

As for warmth, what about those bicycle booties, those shoe covers I've seen cyclists wear over their shoes? Could they work with Chacos, either as socks or perhaps even over the sandals?

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Shoes ruse ruse on 11/25/2011 09:20:23 MST Print View

Those toe warmers you see for cycling shoes would work fine with any other long as they'll fit over the toe. Cycling shoes tend to be narrower than, for example crocs or Keens. My toe-warmers will fit over Vans, barely, running shoes okay and cycling shoes just right...

The Rivendale article is cute, but silly: it proposes a false dichotomy between cycling in soft shoes and cycling in roadie racing shoes and pedals without float. Beyond that, it injects, wrongly, the idea that it might somehow be better to pedal with the arch of ones foot centered over the pedal/axle.

If you want to pedal around in soft shoes, hey: do it! It's a free country for pretty much anyone accessing this site. For those of you in North Korea, this is still unregulated, so you're good. Just don't fool yourself that you're more efficient and don't even look at how your foot arches down around the pedal...yes, that's why you're sore, but ignore this. Heck, when I wear flip-flops to cruise the beach, I sure do.

Dion Dixon

Locale: Blue Ridge Mtns.
The clipless debate on 12/09/2011 11:02:23 MST Print View


If you dig riding in your Chacos, then keep at it. Going clipless will increase your efficiency, but maybe not enough to increase the enjoyment of your ride.

I am a long time cyclist and I commute everyday. And until a year ago it was a twenty mile round trip to work. I've never even used clips, much less the clipless pedals. And I don't really feel that it has negatively affected my riding at all. I get to wear whatever shoes I want, and if I choose softer-soled shoes, I just imagine that I'm strengthening my feet for more hiking!

And I climb hills faster than most of my friends that secure their feet to the pedals. I know one guy that rides faster and longer than anyone, but it ain't due to his pedals and footwear, he's just a machine.

Stiff shoes can increase your leverage on the pedal and protect your feet. However, in my personal experience, the stiffer sole tends to cause some numbness in my feet due to the shoe not flexing with my foot. Plus, I really like the contact with the pedal to be as positive as possible. Stiffer soled shoes make that connection feel more vague to me. I ride in my 5 Fingers and my Vans (both very squishie and flexible) all the time and prefer them to my burlier shoes.

Keep riding in the shoes you love to ride in.

I guess Ride Your Own Ride.
Or Bike Your Own Bike.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Warmer Weather, But... on 01/20/2012 11:26:44 MST Print View

I live in Florida, and started my mid-distance riding last year. Originally I was riding in flip-flops...that lasted until I lost one in traffic. Since then, I've gone over to a Keen-style (closed toebox) sandal that works really well for me down into the 40s. As long as I'm active, and the blood is flowing through my legs, my toes don't get cold at those temperatures.

For colder temperatures (or wet conditions in the 40s; we hardly ever get precipitation here in Florida below 55 F or so), I'd probably look into buying a set that were a half-size larger in order to use WPB or wool socks.

Most of my rides are in the 40 to 50 mile range, and take me between three and five hours depending on my stops along the way. Not fast, not hard, but fun.

I prefer the closed-toe version of the Keen style because it offers the drainage and airflow of a sandal while still protecting my toes when I hike in them. Your mileage may vary on this one, though.