Saturday, June 18, 2005

These shoes ain’t made for walking

This is from a thread I started on Bike Forums. The end result is that my new shoes are much more comfortable for non-biking than my old bike shoes.

When I first bought bike shoes and went with peddles you clip into, counterintuitive called “clipless peddles” (but it’s because they don’t use toe clips), I assumed I would only use bike shoes when biking for long recreational rides around the city. So I didn’t care so much about non-biking comfort.

But once you try clipless peddles, it’s hard to go back. They make biking both more fun and easier (and faster). So I found myself wearing bike shoes in many more social situations. But there are no great bike shoe for non-bike use. And that’s the problem. But some bike shoes are certainly better than others when it comes to standing or walking around.

Best bike shoes for city walking.
06-17-05, 12:14 PM

With clipless peddles, what are the best bike shoes for walking comfort? (And a more “normal” non-bike shoe look is also a plus.)

It still shocks me that there are no good bikes shoes for urban life. Even the “recessed” cleats of SPD mountain bike shoes aren’t really recessed; they’re flush with the shoe sole.

For crying out loud, why hasn’t anybody made a shoe that has truly recessed cleats, that you can clip into while riding and still walk around like a normal person? Why hasn’t anyone made a bike shoe in simple black leather that could look normal in a somewhat proper setting?

I use a bike as my sole means of transit in New York City. I like riding with clipless peddles and bike shoes (I have SPD peddles but would gladly consider another peddle system).

When I can, I ride in bike shoes. I use normal shoes on platform peddles 1) when I’m not going far, 2) when I plan on doing a lot of walking/standing when I get there, or 3) on the rare occasion when I can’t wear funny looking shoes. I keep a pair of work shoes at work. But that doesn’t help me when I go out and about in the city.

Best I can figure, SPD mountain bike shoes are the best choice. Is this correct? Are some shoes better for walking than others? Right now I have Sidi bike shoes. I love them for biking. And I can and do walk in them. They’re OK (but not great ) for walking comfort. And with my friends and lifestyle, I can handle funny looking shoes. But they’re a little too slippery (especially on wet metal) But it’s the clicking sound when I walk on anything but a marble-smooth surface that I find very annoying. I really don’t want to have my shoes be a topic of conversation every time I walk. Can anybody help?

Please don’t comment on the merits of clipless peddles versus toe clips versus platform peddles (that’s been done plenty). Given that I like clipless peddles, I would love to discuss the best bike shoes for city life. Thanks.

06-17-05, 04:43 PM
So why can’t somebody make a clipless system where the cleat is actually recessed (as opposed to just flush)? I’ve thought about this a bit (perhaps a bit too much). The problem with SPDs are that the cleats must be flush because the sole of the shoe is what keeps the cleat snug. But you could still make a shoe where everything was more recessed (I imagine the whole sole would have to be a bit thicker).

I think there’s a greater problem here that very little in the bike world is made for the urban cyclist. It seems like everything is either designed and marketed for the professional racer, the lycra wearing rider in Colorado or Marin County, or the naive sucker who doesn’t know better.

God forbid that, say, fenders became standard issue or that companies and stores wouldn’t push 21-speed mountain bikes in paved flat cities. I mean, now you can buy a fixed-gear bike off the rack and yet nobody sees a market for bike shoes you can walk in!? Harrumph.

06-18-05, 12:28 PM
I bought a pair of Specialized Sonomas yesterday. They're comfortable, but I haven't tried them out yet. I bought these simply because the store had them (Sid's in Manhattan on 34th between 2nd and 3rd Ave). I always feel funny about buying shoes on-line without trying them on. So I have to go with what the store has.

I wore my new shoes all day yesterday. Biking, Yankee game, and dinner. They click on sidewalks. That’s inevitable, I think. But they are very comfortable. Just like sneakers. It’s silly I went so long wearing my Sidis, even though they’re very good bike shoes.

1 comment:

Scoutie said...

I've been coveting the Specialiazed Sonoma for women, which look like a pair of mary-janes. When I went with clipless pedals, I bought MTB shoes (also from Specialized) for two reasons: 1.) they resembled normal shoes, and 2.) they were significantly cheaper than road shoes (65$ vs. 130$).

I've had them about a year now, and I will never go back either. As a side note, I have two kinds of pedals on two different bikes: on my road bike, I have Shimano SPD pedals which require special shoes, but on my hybrid bike, I have dual pedals that have platforms on one side and clipless entry on the other. Not only can I take a quick ride to the store without changing shoes, but when I go on long rides and my toes get tingly, I can unclip and pedal flatly for a minute or two before clipping back in.

Check 'em out here: