First off given that I will be sightseeing as well is it worth the extra weight to take a dedicated cycle shoe and a walking shoe or is the extra hassle of having something else that can go wrong not worth it?

I'm wondering what are some good combinations of pedal and shoe for touring. Should I go for a dedicated touring pedal like the A520/A530? I don't know anything about shoes so some recommendation would be good there as well. I will be touring japan in the summer so it will be warm but still possibly quite wet.

Finally, how hard is a pedal/shoe combo to set up correctly for comfort? Is it something that's worth getting done in a shop? I have a good LBS and they will most likely do a basic set up for free.

3 Answers 3


My preference is for SPD clipless pedals and "walkable" clipless shoes. But I still have a pair of lightweight "tennis shoes" in my gear for campsite, days off, etc.

Another option, if you can still find them, is the old-fashioned "touring" shoes and regular toe straps. "Touring" shoes are (or were) quite walkable, and it's reasonable to walk miles in them (whereas you'd not like to do that in even "walkable" clipless shoes).

It is a little tricky setting up clipless shoes -- the cleat position needs to be positioned correctly. Partly this is trial and error (be sure to get your setup early to try it out), but a shop can help you get the right "initial conditions".

(For those who've never seen them, touring shoes look superficially like bowling shoes, with relatively flat, smooth soles, to more easily slip into and out of toe clips. Unlike bowling shoes, however, the soles are reasonably stiff -- flexible enough for easy walking but stiff enough so that the pressure of the pedal is reasonably well distributed over the bottom of the foot.)

  • Yeah, I'd go with SPDs as well. I'd check out an online store and look at the range of shoes available, but the whole thing about the SPD is that the cleat is recessed so the shoes can be walked in as well as ridden in. Note that Shimano do another range, "SPD SL" which despite the similar name are actually the total opposite. These are the type of pedals/cleats that you'll see the pro riders wearing and are totally unsuited to anything other than riding. An example of SPD shoes is wiggle.co.uk/shimano-mt43-spd-touringleisure-cycling-shoes - see what I mean?
    – PeteH
    Commented Dec 31, 2012 at 22:44
  • 1
    If you can't find touring shoes, look for Mountain bike shoes - theres a huge range. I have two sets - one is very stiff and ideal for riding but has good lugs for soft ground. The other is flexible and I can walk all day in them if needed, but not as good on the bike. For a tour with one set of outdoor shoes, the second set would be my choice.
    – mattnz
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 4:02

Grant Petersen has an interesting article about clipless pedals and their perceived benefits for recreational riding. I would recommend reading it and then making up your mind. Quickly summarized it says that you won't have any benefits for normal riding and that you therefore should ride in the type of shoes you find to be the most pratical and comfortable.

  • 2
    I had come to this conclusion on my own prior to reading this article. It's doubly true for touring where you're going to want to get off the bike and see the sites on a regular basis. As a bonus, you don't have to pack extra shoes.
    – jimchristie
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 13:33

Everyone has different strategies for touring. I prefer to travel light and wouldn't want extra shoes. Others prefer to be more comfortable, and prefer to carry more. I'd say an extra pair of light weight shoes are a good idea if you prefer to use clipless pedals and plan to do a lot of walking.

Those pedals are a good choice if you plan to have extra shoes. Just get some comfortable mountain bike shoes (they protect the cleats better than road shoes) with good breathability (I like my Giro Carbide shoes) for riding and take some other comfortable shoes for walking.

Alternatively, If you don't mind eschewing clipless pedals and shoes I've used hold fast straps with BMX platform pedals for touring with regular non-clipless shoes. You have to be careful that they are adjusted properly and that your shoes are not too far forward or back, since improper foot position can cause pain from bad habits like ankling.

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