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I have a touring bike which I use almost exclusively for commuting. I am thinking about getting a clipless pedal with walkable shoes. At the same time, my normal shoes which I wear when not cycling need to be replaced, and am thinking that to save money and avoid the need for carrying extra shoes back and forth, instead of buying two shoes I would like to buy a shoe that can both be used as a normal shoe as well as for cycling.

While I see that some clipless pedal shoes are "walkable" I don't see much if any data regarding wearing it as a normal shoe all the time. Preferably I would like to get about the same amount of wear as a regular shoe out of it. Just for normal everyday walking around the office, out to lunch, and that sort of thing.

Is there some specific model recommendations or something specific in terms of feature I can look for, or is using the same shoe for both things out of the question? I think it will be required - and I'm definitely open to - using MTB shoes on a road bike (as I think the increased pedaling efficiency will outweigh the weight drawbacks considering my usage pattern), but if it can't be done I would prefer to not get clipless and just buy some inexpensive shoes and continue to use pedal clips.

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I have two pairs of relatively "walkable" shoes, one Shimano and one Specialized. They use the "mountain" (small) SPD plates. I wear the Shimanos mostly, and I do walk modest distances in them with no difficulty. Have worn them at work on occasion, also with no difficulty. Not what I'd call ideal for full-time walking, though. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 20 '13 at 1:48
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Michael, I rue the day when I went clip-less, thinking I'd out grown and advanced beyond my toe clips. I can never wear a boot again and my foot has nerve damage that annoys me every night when I go to bed. I am 600 miles on big flat pedals in what ever shoe that fits my foot. Google "The Flat Pedal Revolution" and know you have choices. –  Joe Apr 20 '13 at 7:30
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Regarding your claim that there is efficency benefits to using clipless pedals, the science seems to say that there is none. bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/14059/… If efficency is the only concern then you might as well use normal walking shoes. This article may also be of interest. rivbike.com/kb_results.asp?ID=45 –  user1049697 Apr 24 '13 at 11:32
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Given a choice of clips or "walkable" clipless, I would strongly recommend "walkable" clipless unless you are also attempting to run/walk large distances.

I have 2 sets of MTB shoes. One is comfortable for all day walking - not as good as running shoes, as the sole is stiffer. The other is a better show on the bike - but too stiff for a lot of off bike work - great for the odd 100 meter portage..... Depending on the ride and whats happening at each end of it, depends on the shoes.

What is clear to me is the compromise - whats best on the bike is a very stiff sole. Off the bike is something more flexible. You need to decide where the priority sits, but I would go for a flexible shoe if all you are doing is commuting - especially if you commute less than an hour a day.

As far as pedal systems - SPD style cleats are the way to go - theres a huge range of MTB shoes that take these - everything from dedicated cycle though to comfortable street shoes....

Edit: Heres a review of a couple of steet shoes

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So to summarize the review, it appears that the Rondel would be the better choice, only it isn't available any more, and the Midway Pro might be a good choice now that it is available, but whether or not it resolves the reviewer's complaint is uncertain. –  Michael Apr 21 '13 at 15:04
    
Strange that the Midway Pro doesn't appear on the Chrome website, but Google finds places selling it... –  Michael Apr 21 '13 at 15:38
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Looks like the Midway Pro came out after the review, but is already disconnected. However they are still available from some stores so I'm going to try a pair. –  Michael Apr 24 '13 at 3:57
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I just leave a pair of shoes at the office and change shoes when I get there so I don't have to take them back and forth. It's amazing how much space shoes take up in a backpack/pannier. I think that even the "walkable" shoes aren't that comfortable to be in all day. And any cycling shoes that you did want to walk around in all day would lose a lot of the advantages for having a dedicated cycling shoe, such as a stiff sole. My office shoes are just cheap ones I picked up at Walmart. This also has the added advantage that if my cycling shoes get wet from the rain that I always have a dry pair to change in to.

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I use a pair of MTB SPD's on my road bike when I cycle to work - mostly so I can walk in them, but there is no way I would recommend them for wearing at work.

  • The cleat will damage flooring at work. It is as recessed as they can make it, but it still catches on anything raised so you need to be careful where you walk. It is also not good on smooth polished floors - being designed for rough off road use.

  • It is not a very flexible shoe, and I shopped around to find the most flexible one in a range of local and large shops.

  • Leaving a pair of black slip on office shoes at work is just easier - it also means I don't need to spend the day in a sweaty pair of shoes if my commute in was hard/hot work.

YMMV, but I think my solution is simplest and gives the best benefits.

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With the Shimano shoes I have I stay off of polished wood floors and the like, but have never had any indication that they damage flooring in general, and I've never seen any marks left on, eg, vinyl tile. I kinda have to try to get the plate to "clack". Note that if you hear the plate clack on every step that means the plate is being worn on every step. It should be recessed enough to prevent that, on "walkable" shoes. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 21 '13 at 11:57
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You seem to have misunderstood something here. "Walkable" clipless pedal shoes are not designed to be used as a replacement for normal shoes. These special shoes have a solid plate in them so they do not flex like normal shoes. You can "walk" in them, but you can't run, and you have to be careful while you walk. There is no way you can use them as a normal shoe.

Go to any bike shop and try on a pair. Then walk a bit in them. You will see their limitations immediately.

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-1: This answer is wrong, as I have shoes that I walked over 10km in, that take an SPD cleat. They are called "Mountain bike shoes" - see my answer... –  mattnz Apr 20 '13 at 6:45
    
I rather believe Gary to be more correct. SPD cleats make the sole of the shoe slick and dangerous in some circumstances, and few bike or mtb shoes are suitable for most professional work settings. I've a set of Bontrager MTB shoes with SPD and have fallen once because the sole has this slick cleat in it. Sure I could walk a few miles in them if I had to, but they are far from live in shoes. Oh and the cleats can scratch hardwood floors easily. If you can only afford one new pair of shoes in this economy, check out flat pedals, they work perfectly with street shoes for commuting. –  Joe Apr 20 '13 at 7:20
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I'd rather walk on ice (and I do) with my Shimanos than with most regular shoes. –  Daniel R Hicks Apr 20 '13 at 12:20
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Simple test for all who supposedly disagree. Would you wear your clipless pedal shoes for a month instead of your regular shoes? How about a week? How about a day? I know my answer is no, not even for a day. And I use SPD cleats. –  Gary E Apr 20 '13 at 15:39
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@Gary : bikerumor.com/2011/06/25/… –  mattnz Apr 20 '13 at 22:47
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For the last 5 years I've been too lazy to change spd shoes to normal shoes. So I picked my SPD shoes to be a bit more comfortable for walking. Usual scenario for me - commute to destination. Walk there most of the day. Commute back. When I was in Uni, I have done a lot of waking on campus in SPD shoes.

Here are my observations:

  • Usually SPD shoes are getting destroyed from walking on hard surfaces within a 18 months. (My MTB spd shoes already counting 4 years - I don't walk in them)
  • If cleats are well hidden so they don't clack - they are usually hard to clip in.
  • Soft metal cleats (Crank Brothers) wear out really quick - three months and you need to replace them. Shimano cleats are steel and last a year of walking in them.
  • By the end of the day you want to throw away the shoes, as they are not very good for your feet.
  • Forget about running.

Given all the above, plus possibility to keep normal shoes in the office, I cycle to work and change shoes there.

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