We see a lot of people who are fairly new to cycling and full of questions about cycling shoes - not to mention some apprehension about being locked into cleats. There are a lot of good reasons to wear cycling shoes that we are happy to share!
Chief among the benefits;
- Efficiency. Not only does the stiff sole give you excellent power transmission but the support and structure of shoe and pedal allows the pedaling effort to focus more on the major muscle groups. Cycling shoes enable you to pedal more efficiently and with less fatigue. When you're clipped into the pedals, you can take advantage of both the up and down portion of the stroke.
- Comfort. The right shoe should also alleviate or remove aches or cramps in soles or arches of the feet due to the support provided. Cycling shoes should fit quite snugly. The heel should not move and there should be just a little room at the front.
Getting the optimal outcomes in efficiency and comfort depends on a number of factors of course. Cleat positioning is very important and has a huge impact. Done right, it allows the best transmission of power. Done wrong, it can place pressure on knees or minor muscle groups.
The fore/aft cleat placement is important because it determines where power through the foot is focussed during the power stroke. Typically, cleats are positioned so that the pedal axle lies under the balls of the foot, the metatarsals. Equally the cleat should be set up to encourage force to travel in a straight line from knee to middle of ankle and foot (without totally locking the foot up, which is the logic behind allowing float in the cleat/pedal interface, as Time pedals began in the 1980's).
So there is quite a lot to the mechanics and set up of cycling shoes! It is well worth the time to get it right as it will greatly improve your pedal stroke and efficiency, and avoid the risk of injury.
On a final note, everyone has a different foot and different shoes will suit different feet. So it is worth spending time getting the right shoe. We certainly try at Le Knicks to offer a range to suit, but we also send people to try brands that we don't stock if we think they will be a better fit.
And of course, stepping into cycling shoes is a major part of being marked indelibly as a 'cyclist'!
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