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I've read everything at What should I look for in clipless pedals and shoes? and I'm still not sure I can have what I want. I mainly use the bike for commuting (which will be bike-train-walk) and running errands, including with a baby seat when I don't want to be clipped in. So I'm looking for:

  • Ability to ride in normal shoes as well as cycling shoes.
  • Cycling shoes I can walk some distance in (say a mile at a time), and sit around in on the train.

To me the second point suggests the cleats should be recessed - but does this then rule out the first point? Shimano M424s (cheap/beginner option) and MT50 both allow normal shoes but I can't see how they'd work with walkable clipless shoes. Should I give up and just get some half clips and normal shoes?

I've also looked at walkable clipless pedal shoe to replace normal shoe? but there's no definitive answer there either.

  • I've successfully done shorter rides (<30 mins) on clipless pedals while wearing normal flat shoes. Depends on the thickness of the sole. – Criggie Nov 26 '15 at 1:47
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    @Criggie a rubber sole that conforms to the pedal might work but the main benefit of SPDs for me is that my feet stay in the right place. – Chris H Nov 26 '15 at 7:37
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I have a pair of Wellgo's similar to those pedals, and two pairs of walkable shoes. One pair I had to mod by cutting back the tread around the cleats. The other pair work well with no modifications, but the cleat does touch the ground when walking. I have seen combinations that plain do not work, or worse - the shoe tread jams and you cannot rotate to get out.

The clip part of the pedal sticks up a little, so with soft soled shoes you can feel it, and its less than ideal for anything but short distances.

With any of these its a compromise - Dedicated platform pedals have great grip, but clipless need to be able to rotate to release, so they cannot come close to performance of platforms as a dedicated platform. Shoes for dedicated clipless pedals don't have to worry about the sole catching and can recess the cleat further than shoes designed for those pedals.

Best suggestion I can make is find the shoes you want first and match to a pedal that can be used with those and you normal shoes.

I have a set of the two sides (platform one side, clips the other) pedals in my box of spare parts I tried and found they were a poor compromise that never worked well for me. Think twice before going down that path.

  • I have to say my platforms don't have great grip - that's partly where I'm starting from. But you've given me something to think about. I'm not too bothered about feeling the cleat through the shoes; I'm used to clambering around river banks in thin-soled wetsuit boots (kayaking). Walking with my toes in the air like road riders on their lunch stop would kill my calves though (and the cleats) – Chris H May 8 '15 at 9:53
  • Maybe a different set of platforms would be a good compromise? I adore my MKS Lambdas such that I may never use a different pedal again. – D.Salo May 8 '15 at 14:35
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    If is not about feeling the cleat when walking. You walk much with even a recessed cleat and you wear out the cleat. If you want to walk a mile at a time then cycling shoes are not a good option. – paparazzo May 8 '15 at 17:37
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    I worry more about the polished wood end floor than wearing out a cleat. Rather replace cleats than the above mentioned wooden floor. Cleats are cheap and easy enough to replace wearing them out walking is not a serious concern of mine. – mattnz May 9 '15 at 0:33
  • It is not just the cleats that wear out. I worry about replacing a $200 pair of shoes. If I CX train in cleats I will trash a pair a season and there. Still +1. Good answer to the stated question. – paparazzo May 9 '15 at 18:58
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For many years, I used cheap Forte pedals (Performance Bicycle house brand) with a platform on one side and SPD on the other side. This was on a mountain bike. Shimano M-324 pedals look very similar ($45 at Amazon) I used these pedals for years for all kinds of riding, including singletrack. The dual-sided nature of the pedals made it a bit tricky to get started in difficult spots on the trail, but it would be very easy if you're riding on the road

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I also have Shimano M038 shoes that have a recessed SPD cleat and are very good for walking around. The cleat doesn't touch the ground.

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These days I use a different bike with Shimano M-520 pedals, but I still use the M038 shoes for commuting occasionally.

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    The double sided pedals have a small following for a reason - they are too much of a compromise. Try them, but my experience is few people like them. Most get off the fence and go back to platforms or commit to full clipless. – mattnz May 9 '15 at 0:37
  • Better, ask around as you'll likely find someone who has a set they want to get rid of. – Móż Dec 4 '15 at 1:39
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Dual sided pedals are the worst of both worlds. They suck at being flats and suck at being SPDs, but they do both jobs. My preference is Shimano M324 SPD Pedals. They fit all my different cycling shoes without any problem. They have a flat side and a SPD side, each side has a separate job. You'll find yourself flipping them with your toes frequently whether you wear regular shoes or clipless shoes. I keep them on my commuter because I like to have the option to ride whatever shoes I happen to be wearing. If you try it and hate it, you're pretty much going to want to get two sets of pedals and swap them when you want to wear different shoes.

As for shoes, pretty much any MTB shoe will do so long as you're using SPD cleats, but the market has been leaning more towards walkable lately. Do not get something super stiff with carbon footbed, that's the opposite of what you want. You want a little flex if you're actually walking. My cheap goto is a giro carbide, they are under 90 bucks and are pretty walkable. Giro Terraduro shoes are pretty sweet if you're doing a lot more walking on or off road. If you want more casual, get some Chrome or DZR shoes. I've run both and they might crunch a little bit at first, the cleates sharp edges wear down a bit and feel pretty good for all day wear when walking or riding.

You can't get dual sided pedals in any cleat style except shimano SPD, so you better be intersted in buying in to that system. But, it's pretty reliable. I treat my gear like crap and none of my shimano pedals have failed, they may have rusted a bit, but they still do their job.

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    In the end i went for M424s which are spd both sides but with a plastic surround giving a little grip for normal shoes. I swap them for platforms (some quite cheap but nice Evans own) for family holidays when I'll be in normal shoes all the time. – Chris H Nov 26 '15 at 7:34
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    FWIW my M324s rotate to the same position every time. Hence, if I'm using cleats, I clip in without needing to look and flip the pedals. If I'm using normal shoes, I just step onto the platform from the front, dragging back. The position is always predictable for my pedals. – Sparhawk May 17 '18 at 0:16
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In the end I got the Shimano M424s and Specialised Cadets. The M424s aren't much worse with trainers than my previous Wellgo plastic platforms, but @Trengot is spot on that the spring-loaded bit doesn't do much of any use. I wouldn't fancy wearing smooth-soled shoes on them but hiking boots or trainers are fine.

The Cadets are quite nice on platform pedals as well. To get them to fit cleanly with the M424s I needed to file down some of the grips on the pedals (I could have cut away at the shoe as someone else has done, but pedals are cheaper and easier to repair (drill out and tap in grubscrews for example) had I got it wrong. As for the walkable-shoes sceptics, you can't feel the cleat at all; you can sometimes hear it hit the ground, perhaps on a bit of grit. The sole is claimed to be stiffness index 4, which makes it comparable to hiking boots, they're no problem to wear all day, and even jog a mile or so on hard ground.

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    Thank you for the completion - future searchers will be grateful. – Criggie Feb 1 '18 at 9:59
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I am using Shimano M-324 pedals for decades, always with walkable SPD shoes. I started with Shimano shoes (M38?), then Specialized and now a pair of Keen shoes (out of production, I think). They all look reasonable similar to sneakers. (The Keen shoes look IMHO even outright cool.)

All shoes have recessed cleats and I use them for walking to and through shops, occasionally even the whole day at work.

Walking on clean concrete or shop vinyl works well, soiled paths or carpet (office!) even better. Gravel dirt on concrete is a bit of an annoyance, because the gravel stones can touch the cleats which can make pretty terrible squeaking sounds.

Cycling with this shoe/pedal combo works very well: Easy to get in on the right side (sometimes after a second pedal turn), and getting out is never a problem when you are used to SPDs. Using normal shoes might need two pedal turns to find the right (other) side of the pedal.

My two cents worth...

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All cycle shoes that are compatible with a cleat system are going to reduce your ability to walk naturally to some degree.

However, a system with a recessed cleat (e.g., Shimano SPD or Crank Brothers) is going to create the least interference. If you also choose a shoe like these that allows some flexibility, you will have the easiest time walking while using a clip-less system (which, btw, is called clip-less because it's a substitute for the now old-fashioned toe clips).

As Nik pointed out, you can also find SPD-compatible pedals that have a standard cage on one side, which will allow you to use a sneaker or other shoe when you don't want to clip-in and an SPD-compatbile shoe when you do.

I run those Forte pedals on my commuter bike and they work well, but you do have to be careful to not scrape the cage on the ground when turning as they do hang down a bit.

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M424 don't really allow normal shoes. I had a set of M545s (the same but with a metal cage) and the cleat stands proud of the cage quite a bit.

You can buy single sided pedals* that will let you ride in flats on one side of the pedal and let you clip in on the other. As for shoes, something like the Specialized Tahoe? They're supposed to be wearable as normal shoes.

My preferred solution would be to go for normal clipless pedals + shoes you can walk in as well, then not ride in normal shoes. I know you're wanting to not be clipped in but after not very long it will be completely second nature and you won't even notice you're using them.

*I'm not sure if this is what you meant by half clips, but in case you meant toe-clips, don't do it.

  • I didn't much fancy having to make sure the pedals were the right way up before trying to clip in, but that might be an option. I looked at the Tahoes, but when I saw a picture of the sole I couldn't imagine it fitting on the M424, which by the way looks quite different to the pictures I can find of the M525 (no grips for normal shoes on the M525). Half clips were mentioned in one of the threads I linked, they're stripped-down strapless toeclips, so an improvement on platforms if I can't get what I want. – Chris H May 8 '15 at 9:49
  • My mistake, I meant M545. And I agree, single sided is awkward but probably better than normal shoes on 424s. – Holloway May 8 '15 at 9:51
  • It's a pity no-one shows a side-on view of the pedal. Did you find the spring for the binding to push down was too stiff for normal shoes? I could see my feet moving on the upstroke. Most of the combination ones look like you'd have no grip at all if you tried to ride on the clip side in trainers. – Chris H May 8 '15 at 10:01
  • No, 545s in trainers have no grip at all. Not sure what you mean spring binding with normal shoes. On the upstroke in trainers your feet are always going to move a bit. – Holloway May 8 '15 at 10:04
  • They claim that the bindings are spring loaded: "Pedal can be used with normal shoes, as the binding is pushed flat and the alloy cage supports the shoe." (from wiggle). – Chris H May 8 '15 at 10:09
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I have used Shimano M424 pedals for several years in XC and Commuting, And at least for me, they result in a very good pedal to use even with non cycling shoes. I have even commuted in regular office shoes with them and they seemed comfortable enough for a 15-45 minute commute.

So, for the aim of the original question, this would be indeed my recommendation. Most of the time I'd use good walking shoes or running shoes, as they would allow for quick switching among biking and walking or running, and proper cycling shoes for training.

However, I propose you ask yourself whether you really need cleated shoes for commuting. I have recently "lost" my cleat pedals and I'm kind of "forced" to use regular platform pedals in a bike that I use for commuting and training. While commuting I don't feel at all the need to be clipped, and while training I only feel the lack of them when I want to accelerate really hard. (My feet rolls the pedal forward).

  • That's another interesting take on it - in my case commuting is when I need acceleration, my other rides tend to be rather more relaxed, so if I'm not going to clip in for commuting I'll just get some better platforms (the bearings aren't great any more but more importantly my feet slide forwards very easily in most shoes). – Chris H May 8 '15 at 18:59
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Yes opinion but cycling shoes I can walk some distance in (say a mile at a time) is not realistic. Even a recessed cleat you are going wear out with mile walks. You are going to muck them up if you walk in dirt. And they are just not comfortable over long distances. A walkable cleat shoe is for 100 yards or less in my book.

You should try out some large platform pedals with spike and some street shoes like a Five Ten. You get amazing good traction. I ride a lot and only use cleats on long road rides and when I race. I even train for CX on platform as I don't want to wear out my 200 cleats.

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    I used to ride to uni in clipless shoes and never had a problem. – Holloway May 9 '15 at 19:24
  • Good for you. No idea what that means. – paparazzo May 9 '15 at 19:43
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    I meant I could walk around all day without a problem. 100 yds is a bit conservative. – Holloway May 9 '15 at 19:45
  • @Trengot And I clearly stated that was my opinion. I don't like walking in cleats. – paparazzo May 9 '15 at 20:03
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    Fair enough. Each to their own – Holloway May 9 '15 at 20:04

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