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Why Cycling Shoes Are a Good Investment

If You Spin, Try Clipping In: Cycling Shoes Rock

Indoor cycling classes make for lovely gams, this is true. But with cycling shoes on your feet, the ones that clip into the pedals, you will be toning your muscles much more effectively. Rather than overworking your quads by mashing the pedals downward to make the crank move, when you're "clipped in," you can make a smooth circular stroke that activates your hamstring, too. Pulling up with your heel at the back part of your pedal stroke utilizes the power of your hamstring — I for one am always trying to figure out new ways to work my backside. When you work the entire leg, you bike stronger and more efficiently, too, so you tire later and can really kick out the jams throughout your sweat session.

Another feature of cycling shoes is the stiff sole, which decreases the chances of your feet bugging you in class by going numb or developing hot spots. The stiff shoe also ensures that the power you put in to pedal moves the pedal rather than flexing the shoe. Cycling geeks like to wax poetic about the "power transfer," but when you're in standing sprint, rocking out to the latest Rihanna remix, you want your pedaling to move the crank, not bend your shoe.

If you're looking into purchasing a pair of kicks dedicated to your spinning obsession, look for mountain biking shoes with SPD cleats for two reasons: most spin bikes are equipped with pedals to fit this cleat style, and the shoes are much easier to walk around in than road bike shoes that tend to have very big, slippery plastic cleats. The Women's Spirita Touring Shoe ($90) by Specialized has a great stiff, nonslip sole for easy walking to and from the cycling studio. Cycling shoes may seem like a big investment, but in my experience each pair lasts for many seasons, unlike running shoes, which I find need to be replaced every 300 to 400 miles.

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katie225 katie225 4 years
as a cycle instructor for three years, i feel i have some good input. all of this is true for many people, particularly the bit about your shoe bending. this is not true for me, however, because my feet are small and fit in the cages on the indoor cycle bike just fine and thus my shoes don't bend. the part about lifting your foot being a great workout for your hammies is true, but you can get that just by tightening the cages on the pedals around your existing shoe. there are buckles and such that you can adjust to be nice and snug, then you can pull your upstroke up just fine. if you have a nice stiff-soled shoe (i.e., no vibram five-toes shoes or nike frees) then you don't need a cycle shoe. some people SWEAR by them, and some people go without. i had a pair of cycle shoes until my clip got stuck in the bike and the maintenance person misplaced the shoe when he removed it from the pedal the next day. i had paid over $100 (on sale, nonetheless!) for my cycle shoes and got a good long time out of them. but now i lost my day job and i can't afford to drop any more money on cycle shoes. i go without, and i've never ever EVER noticed a difference except for when the buckles on the cages get loose. then i just tighten them and i'm on my way. a cycle shoe does a great job of aligning your foot on the pedal so that you're pushing with the balls of your feet with every stroke. it IS possible to get this effect without a cycle shoe by placing your foot in the cage on the pedal, being careful to place the ball of your foot on the pedal, and tightening the buckle so your foot stays in place. and as long as you have some tough shoes on, you'll never notice the difference. so there's my economical solution to cycle shoes which i honestly feel like *i* don't need. if you need them, go for it! i always tell people to do what makes you comfortable and allows you to avoid injuries while getting the most efficient workout. oh, and don't forget to weight train. :)
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