Are special shoes required for spinning class? We get this question over and over again, so we decided to designate some time to this subject. Cesar and I have always worn specialized indoor-cycling shoes because we personally find not wearing them uncomfortable. However, we have many long-term clients and instructors that ride sans shoes because of their own individual opinions. At C-Cycle studio, we respect your choice and will accommodate either type of rider. With that being said, let me try and explain the benefits of riding with an indoor cycling (aka spinning) shoe and let you decide for yourself!
It’s about Structure. A spinning or cycling shoe with cleats, also called clips, is built especially for the activity. This means a stiffer sole that translates into a more powerful pedal stroke. Simply put, an indoor cycling shoe can make the most out of the time you put on the bike. By clipping in, (the way the shoe attaches to the pedal) you have greater control and balance. This allows you to engage more muscle groups. Instead of a “mashing only” pedal stroke, cleats allow you to share focus with the bottom half of the stroke. The combination of pulling and pushing uses your leg (including those often neglected hamstrings) creating a more powerful pedal stroke. Another key characteristic of an indoor cycling shoe is a Velcro® or tie enclosure that runs across the top of the foot, keeping your foot securely in place.
Better Form, Better Comfort Tennis shoes or cross training shoes often have flexible soles that allow the foot to bend, flex and move around in the shoe and cage. This can cause discomfort including numb toes and arch ache. Additionally, the cage can create uncomfortable pressure on the tops of your feet, making the rider use more of the quads to push through the pedal stroke to avoid the pull around. It’s no secret that the combination of a properly fitted bike (saddle height is key) and the use of cleats, can help ensure knees are tracking correctly, allow full engagement of the entire leg and minimize the discomfort of numbing or cage pressure. If you decide to ride with tennis shoes, try to pick ones with a more stiff sole to minimize the flex in the arch and provide a solid foundation for your foot. You also want to make sure they tied tightly to prevent movement and lift in the cage.
The Fear of Falling Riding with cleats can be very intimidating with beginner outdoor riders, but the indoor bike has a very low (if not non-existent) rate of losing riders. This means you don’t have the worry of falling off and not being able to use your feet to catch you. At C-Cycle Studio, we give you the feeling of riding a real bike with our RealRyders (our bikes pivot and turn), yet we eliminate the hazards of road riding. This means you can clip in and trust the bike, therefore concentrating on the fun class and your workout and not your fear of falling.
The Investment Great indoor cycling shoes can be found in local bike shops (go see Brian at OutSpokin’ and tell him we sent you) or online. We recommend a local shop because they will fit you and make sure your cleats are installed properly. The cost of a good pair of shoes is anywhere between $89-125 but they will likely last a very long time. The key is to only wear them inside the studio and minimize walking around outside. Another recommendation is to choose a cleat with multi-release features. This can make clipping in and out, a little easier for both indoor and outdoor riders.
Shimano makes two types of SPD cleats — single release clips (the “normal” SM-SH51 SPD cleats) and multi-release SM-SH56 cleats. With both types of cleats you have to twist your feet to unclip, but the single-release cleats only allow a twist to the side. The multi-release cleats allow a few more angles of release.
The first ride with cleats. When you take your first ride with cleats, be sure to allow extra time to come in and clip in and out a few times. It’s not unusual to feel a slight bit of frustration when getting used to clipping in and out, but you will get the hang of it. Give a shout out to either myself, Cesar or your C-Cycle instructor and we will work to make sure your first “cleated” ride starts off smoothly. You will immediately feel the difference as a new set of muscles are engaged and by increase of power in your pedal stroke.