A common question asked by cyclists, newbies and experienced riders alike – Are cycling shoes really necessary? The usage of cycling shoes is entirely dependent on the riders' preference. This article highlights some areas where cycling shoes can deem beneficial to a rider.
DESIGNED FOR POWER
Cycling shoes are designed to be rigid, with stiff soles. This enables the rider to maximize the power actually delivered to the pedal on each stroke. The power produced by the leg muscles goes directly to the pedal, instead of being absorbed by the cushion of your shoes. This makes it easier to pedal—which means you're able to amp up the resistance more than you could while wearing non-cycling shoes. Also, more force applied translates to more power which leads to higher calories burned. Beneficial? I think so.
KEEP YOUR KNEES STRESS FREE
According to several studies, using cycling shoes reduces the probability of cycling related knee injuries. The clipless pedals available in the market now offer varying degrees of rotational float, usually 0 to 15 degrees. A floating pedal system allows the foot to rotate at the ball of the foot, right over the center of the pedal. Having float means that the athlete can rotate the foot into its natural position while pedaling.
These float pedals allow the knee to travel in a linear motion while pedaling thus reducing the stresses on the knee.
INCREASED MUSCLE EFFICIENCY
Since cycling shoes keep one's feet fixed into place, it takes off unnecessary stress from other muscles that aren't actually needed to cycle, like the hip flexors and shoulders. This increases the usage of the muscles actually required to be used when cycling – the quads, calves, glutes and core, thereby strengthening them. This improves efficiency while on the saddle.
FEET, BREATHE EASY
Most cycling shoes are made using breathable materials. Manufacturers of cycling shoes have designed them with provisions for vents/ a surface that prevents ones feet from sweating excessively. In addition, the firm structure of cycling shoes provide support to one's feet – reducing the probability of them cramping while riding.
This ensure that your overall saddle time will be more comfortable.
INCREASED STABILITY, CONTROL AND CONFIDENCE
In general, cycling shoes offer more control over a cycle, especially while standing and climbing. The stability from the shoes will help you with your confidence on the saddle owed to the control you have over the cycle.
WELL ALIGNED, LESS SLIP
When wearing regular sports shoes while riding, one often needs to make a conscious effort to keep their feet in the right position. Cycling shoes, on the other hand, keep your feet locked into place, thus enabling you to put all your attention towards pedaling and utilizing your energy efficiently.
Cycling shoes, since they are fixed to the pedal, gives the rider the advantage of being able to push down and pull up the pedal with adequate power. This balances out the usage of all the muscles in your leg effectively. Pushing down uses one's quadriceps (the front upper thigh). Pulling up, when clipped in, makes use of one's hamstrings and glutes. When pedaling with regular shoes, the leg muscles tend to focus only on the quadriceps, thereby leading to over-development of them. By using cycling shoes, one is able to pull up with one leg as they push down with the other, thereby generating more power.
While cycling shoes are beneficial in many ways, it takes time to get used to riding while 'clipped in' – especially if you have been riding with regular shoes for a while. Remember, it takes time, practice and a couple of falls before getting accustomed to being clipped in. When you start out riding wearing cycling shoes, ride on an empty road, or on a patch of grass – to keep you from heavy injuries if you do fall.