You can ride a bike in just about any shoes, but anyone who rides regularly can benefit from shoes designed specifically for bicycling. Learn how the right bike shoes can provide more efficient energy transfer as you pedal. Shop REI’s selection of Bike Shoes at
Hi, I’m Braden with REI. Cycling shoes are a great way to improve efficiency and control in riding. We’ve got plenty of options but ultimately your riding style and the types of pedals you use will help narrow the field. Cycling shoes fall into three categories; road, mountain, and city. Road biking shoes are designed primarily to work with three hole clipless pedals although some are compatible with two hole pedals. Their soles are really stiff which provides excellent power transfer but road soles are smooth and have a cleat protruding from the bottom so they can be difficult to walk in. These shoes are favored by cyclists wanting to ride longer distances on roads; casual riders may find them less convenient than other options.
Most mountain biking shoes work with the two hole system. Their soles are fairly stiff which improves pedaling efficiency and they also typically have deep lugs and a recessed cleat for traction on loose trails. Other mountain biking shoes are designed for use with platform pedals, these have flat soles with sticky rubber to better grip the pedal. These shoes are of course great for mountain biking but many people also use them for road cycling and commuting because they’re more comfortable to walk in and they make it easy to get in and out of the pedal.
City cycling shoes are essentially casual shoes with built in bike functionality. Most use the two hole system with recessed cleats to give you all the benefits of riding clipless in a good-looking, easy walking shoe. These shoes are perfect for commuting, biking through town, and even indoor cycling classes. They are just as at home walking down the street as they are clipped into a pedal. Shoes with laces offer a custom and comfortable fit but you need to make sure they’re tucked out of the way during your ride. Hook and loop straps better handle wet conditions and some shoes use a cam buckle to really clamp them to your foot for extra power.