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I'm trying to find a good (and preferably cheap) pair of shoes to wear while commuting. I've only got a relatively short commute (around 3 miles) and I'm using an old mountain bike I had lying around (again, it's cheap).

I started out wearing a pair of old tennis shoes, but when it rained the shoes got completely soaked and were still wet when I finished work and rode home. I then bought some lightweight shoes because they'll dry out really quickly, but because they've got a very thin sole it's quite uncomfortable to ride in them.

Is there any kind of shoe I should be looking for (or any general thing) which would be a halfway-house between the two; quick to dry out if they get wet, but also comfortable to ride in?

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    The trick is to stuff your wet shoes with newsprint when you get to work. Swap out the wet pages for fresh ones during lunch, and maybe again around 3. They'll be pretty dry when you leave. – Paul H Sep 4 at 13:52
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    "Stuff" suggests packing it tight. The paper should be loosely wadded. – David Richerby Sep 4 at 22:21
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    For 3 miles I would have dry shoes (and socks) at work, and accept wet feet for the commute.If its cold, (as in frostbite level cold), then your into a different ball game where of staying dry and warm it important. How much effort you go to to get shoes dry for the ride home then becomes a trade off between effort and three miles of minor discomfort. – mattnz Sep 5 at 4:44

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Before I went for clipless pedals and shoes to suit I found there were 2 options:

  • sports sandals, ideally with some protection for your toes. These dry almost instantly, and all but the very cheapest have decent soles.
  • ankle gaiters or shoe covers with trainers meant for cross country running. My Hi-tec trainers drain freely and absorb very little water.

Waterproof shoes alone are worse than useless - the water runs down your legs and into the shoes, then stays there

  • When you say sports sandals, do you mean something like this? amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MY8V24Y I'm not worried about getting wet since it's a short commute, I just want them to be dry 8 hours later when I go home :P – Joe Sep 4 at 12:09
  • Those are very similar to the ones I bought for commuting (as opposed to something more like these which I otherwise prefer - I find the soles curl down at the toe and can touch the road on corners. – Chris H Sep 4 at 15:24
  • Waterproof shoes alone are worse than useless - the water runs down your legs and into the shoes, then stays there Which is why you have to use fenders to keep the spray off your lower legs, and wear tights pulled outside of and over the tops of the shoes to direct the water that does get on your legs outside of your shoes. Because if you're riding clipless pedals, purposely-waterproof cycling shoes will be designed to prevent water from entering the shoe through the cleat bolt holes. With normal cycling shoes, water WILL come through the cleat bolt holes. – Andrew Henle Sep 4 at 21:58
  • (cont) But if you ride long enough in a steady rain, nothing matters as every bit of you will be thoroughly soaked and water will be squirting out of your shoes with each pedal stroke anyway. – Andrew Henle Sep 4 at 22:00
  • @AndrewHenle good full mudguards here. I've never seen figures long enough to overlap my shoes; many refuse to even overlap my socks. Shoe covers for the gap and are actually waterproof. They're the only solution in winter rain, but too hot in summer. In winter I tape over the cleat bolt holes on the inside. – Chris H Sep 5 at 7:05
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Rather than buying new shoes you might consider neoprene shoe covers. I have just been out in the rain a couple days with them and they keep the shoes (almost) dry. The shoes would probably have been completely dry if I had worn my leg warmers over these instead of inside. They have a velcro closure around the ankle for the seal. They also double for warmth on cold days.

  • Neoprene is good for the cold, but will still soak in water over time. Plus many of the"racing" or aero styles have holes underneath for cleats to poke through. Its quite hard to find overshoes that don't have holes under them, but they do exist. – Criggie Sep 5 at 2:34
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You can get running shoes with stiffer soles designed for runners with arthritis; they would have about as stiff a sole as you can get in an athletic shoe and, being built for running, should dry reasonably quickly. Brooks makes one, and Hoka has a couple. The problem is that they might not be cheap. (The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17, which is one of the cheapest runs A$120.) These typically have a synthetic mesh upper, and will dry fast with the standard newspaper treatment.

A light trail shoe would have a stiff sole, but would be a bit heavier and wouldn't be as fast to dry. I don't want to edge into product recommendations but Brooks, Adidas and Salomon all make "trail-running" shoes which are lighter and more breathable than typical trail shoes. These are more pricey, though, all above US$100.

At that price point, though, I would simply opt for an entry level MTB shoe; the Shimano ME1 would run about A$100.

To get something inexpensively it might be best to just browse your local discount store, looking for cross trainers or any other athletic shoe with a reasonably stiff sole. I wouldn't recommend sandals, though, I've partially ripped off a toenail wearing open-toe sandals on a bike with metal pedals.

  • Thanks - that's probably a bit more than I'm looking to spend, but good information. Would you consider something similar to amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VYGSTYZ to be stiff enough, or would that still be too soft? – Joe Sep 4 at 14:05
  • @Joe It says those have EVA plastic soles, but that could be made into a range of degrees of stiffness. Without actually feeling them, it's hard to say. They do have a noticeable toe spring, so they're not totally soft; at that price it might be worth trying them. – DavidW Sep 4 at 14:21
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I recently made the switch to clipless pedals on my commuter, but for quite a while, I was wearing Chuck Taylors, which aren't bad for riding. There are some pedals that are more supportive for street shoes than typical rat-traps and bear-traps. I also carried a pair of very lightweight shoes to wear at work, until I scored a locker and could leave them there.

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I have had good luck with hiking shoes(not the over the ankle type). Brands such as Merrill, Keen, Teva or Columbia. The soles are generally thick. They are available in waterproof and insulated models. You can walk in them comfortably if needed.

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Go with your lightweight shoes and get some Pedaling Innovations Catalyst pedals. The pedals are longer than average pedals and thus support both the ball and heal of your foot. I uses them for commuting and I ride in VivoBarefoot shoes which have soles about 5mm thick. Forget about keeping your shoes dry and just pack a separate pair, or leave some at work for rainy days.

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I choose to leave a spare pair of shoes at work, so if my shoes got wet in the morning and haven't tried over the day, then I have the option of wearing the spares home while the damp ones continue drying.

A second option I used to use was to wear full-on gumboots while riding to work on rain-days. This worked brilliantly when combined with overtrousers. The main downside was the gumboots (rubbers / galoshes / wellingtons) are harder rubber and tend to be a bit slippery on the pedal when wet.

Harder sole shoes work better on flat pedals. As you've noticed, the softer sole shoes tend to wear through quite quickly. Flat pedals with pins or tread or sharper edges tend to eat their way through your shoe soles too.

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You can search amazon for "cycling sandals." There are multiple brands in the space, and they generally include screws for mounting bindings on the bottom of the shoe. They are not cheap, however.

I had a pair of KEEN "Commuter II" shoes for about 5 years, and loved them to death. Naturally, they got discontinued. (I swear KEEN is doing everything possible to go out of business.) They are up to the "Commuter 4" version at this point. Shimano also makes at least one pair, as do various Chinese knock-off companies.

In general, when I was commuting I had a backpack that carried my laptop and rain gear. The rain gear included a helmet cover, backpack cover, jacket & pants, and shoe covers (as mentioned by various other repliers).

For snow commuting I wore a "space suit" made from Carhartt/Walls insulated overalls and a snow parka, plus some rubber overshoes with spikes for snow/ice and a facemask, either a beardski or a neoprene mask. (All this because I was working at an investment bank, and they kept the office temp at 80 because secretaries, so thermal underwear was a non-starter- my gear had to be "external" so I could put it on/off easily.)

NOTE: All the links I have provided are for Amazon US. I don't know where you are, so YMMV. Also, these are the "first found" links, not the actual products I own (except a few brand names) so I don't recommend them or discommend them, I'm just showing you examples.

NOTE 2: Be careful with the neoprene masks. I was commuting at 0530, and I'm pretty sure I almost got shot by the first cop that pulled up beside me in the dark and looked over at me when I started wearing my "horrorshow" mask...

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Keep a second pair of socks and shoes at work (to use at work).

In the summer you can wear sandals which should dry quickly. In spring and fall you can use any kind of synthetic “sport” shoe. For increased warmth and comfort you can wear waterproof socks (e.g. Sealskinz). In the winter you can wear waterproof boots.

To dry your shoes faster, take out the insole, open them as wide as possible and put newspaper into them. You can use baking soda against bad smell.

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If your commute is three miles, you don't need special shoes. Just wear what you have on. Having platform pedals on your bike facilities this convenience.

When it rains, I use NEOS -- the best thing going for cyclists. I use them as a year-round cyclist in Chicago and they work great! Get the uninsulated ones -- you generate enough heat cycling. In cold months, make up for it with thick socks.

Good luck!

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