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I'm currently traveling to work by bike. I intend to buy a new pair of sport shoes and discovered that there is such thing like special cycling shoes?

My question: Are they appropriate for wearing in the office, or I need to bring another pair of shoes and change before/after cycling?

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3 Answers 3

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Unless you're using clipless pedals, you really don't need much in terms of special shoes for cycling. However, there are plenty of advantages to using clipless pedals, so many people choose to use them.

The big categories of clipless shoes are:

  • Road shoes tend to have the cleat exposed, and you walk on it any time you step. This is really bad for regular wear off the bike. These shoes are meant to be light and used on the bike.

  • Mountain Bike shoes tend to allow you to walk around a bit. Some models resemble athletic shoes, and some are more firm with stiff soles that make it hard to walk normally. However, you can usually get by walking a bit in these. I wouldn't want to wear them for extended periods of time off the bike, if possible.

  • Urban shoes (like Chrome and DZR) tend to look like sneakers and feel a lot more like regular shoes. They still contain a cleat mount, but these shoes are designed to blend in like normal shoes and walk a bit better than most other cycling shoes. I've worn Chrome and DZR shoes with SPD cleats around all day and didn't really notice much. The soles are still stiff, so they are a bit different feeling than walking around in regular shoes.

If you pick up a pair of clipless shoes, you'll still probably want to swap them out for regular shoes at the office if you're going to be there for a few hours or more. Regular shoes are going to be more comfortable, and your cycling shoes might be a bit sweaty.

If you're not planning to pick up clipless shoes, then look for a pair of athletic shoes that doesn't have a lot of flex in the sole when you try to bend the toe downward. A flatter type of tread on the bottom of the shoe will probably help keep you from sliding on the pedals as much too. Skateboard shoes and Adidas Sambas are generally pretty good choices, but pick what works for you.

If your commute is short, you can always try your regular office shoes. They may not be 'optimal' for cycling, but you don't always have to have specialized gear to ride a bike. Do what works and what you're comfortable with.

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    Clipless can also come in sandals, which can be useful in hot weather conditions.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 25 at 7:11
  • Some folks even like to use sandals in wet and/or winter conditions by utilizing waterproof socks (like sealskinz and other brands) and optionally layered insulated socks.
    – Benzo
    Commented May 31 at 14:43
  • I utilize a fully enclosed cycle, socks only when cold.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 31 at 14:53
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There are also flat pedal specific cycling shoes, such as Five Ten (shown in the image). These are shoes with a special sticky rubber compound which offers better grip on platform pedals. I have not personally tried the model below, but flat pedal cycling shoes are generally more flexible than clipless cycling shoes, since they don't need to be stiff because the pedal already is. This means that they are similar to a normal shoe when walking, while still providing cycling specific benefits such as ankle protection and grippy sole compounds. These can be a worthy alternative if you want to use flat pedals and still have a pair of cycling shoes that are easy to walk in.

Five Ten Freerider VXi Shoe sole

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  • I'll note that these 'flat pedal' cycling specific shoes tend to have a stiff shank inside and are easier to walk in than a typical cycling shoe, but more stiff than a regular shoe. Some models are more geared towards walkability than others. The big advantage is the special rubber compound that grips well on pedals with plastic or metal nubs/pins.
    – Benzo
    Commented May 28 at 17:02
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Not if they're wet or very sweaty, otherwise they can be just as comfortable.

Since starting to commute by bike (initially on flat pedals, now SPDs) I've always kept shoes in work because of that, not because of any discomfort due to the fit. A good pair of touring or MTB shoes (for 2-bolt cleats) can be fine for all day wear; I've hiked and even run in mine as well as wearing them if I'm spending the day on our other site.

If your bike shoes (including any cleats) are more expensive or harder to find than something you'd wear round the workplace, that's another reason to reduce wear on them by keeping work shoes.

Again thinking of cleats, some textured surfaces are annoying even with recessed cleats.

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  • A couple of extra points while the old question was bumped
    – Chris H
    Commented May 22 at 6:15

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