10 Best Indoor Cycling Shoes (Buyer's Guide)

So you're either thinking of signing up for indoor cycling classes, have taken a few sessions or maybe you're a seasoned indoor cyclist but still stand clueless about the footgear you use for this endeavor. No matter your situation, this article will thoroughly discuss all things indoor cycling shoes.

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What are indoor cycling shoes?

Indoor bike shoes can be thought-through to be a mix of both road and mountain bike shoes. Spin shoes have more rubber lugs on the sole than their road counterparts to properly walk around the studio, while also constructed to be sleeker than mountain cycling shoes.

They borrowed these features from the bike shoes mentioned above to make up a unique build designed specifically for cycling for indoor fitness. They can also be used outdoors but will feel heftier than road cycling shoes.

Indoor cycling shoes are also commonly referred to as spin shoes or indoor spin shoes. They obtained this nickname due to possibly two reasons:

  • Through a company called Spin, which popularized the indoor cycling fitness trend.
  • Or through the main pedaling motion being done while cycling, which spins around in circles.

 

How do they work?

Indoor bike shoes work like any other clipless cycling shoe. Their primary purpose is to keep the foot connected to the pedals to promote dynamic and more efficient pedaling.

These indoor cycling shoes clip into the indoor bike's pedals and allow the wearer to push and pull the pedal without slipping. 

The clip-in mechanism promotes the use of most leg muscles via the push and pull of pedals. The rubber lugs, on the other hand, help the wearer walk comfortably inside the studio.

 

4 steps to choosing the right indoor bike shoe

Before spending your money on a pair of indoor bike shoes, it is wise to familiarize yourself with what factors go into a good pair.

 

1. Cleat System

The first thing to do is to inquire with your chosen studio what type of cleat system they use. This is to ensure that you will acquire a compatible pair of shoes. The slightly more popular cleat system used in cycling studios is the two-bolt option, while others such as Flywheel use the three-bolt system.

First, let's rewind it back a bit... What are two-bolt and three-bolt, you ask? These terms refer to the holes inbuilt into your indoor bike shoes. Cleats are then installed in these holes, clipping the shoes into the pedals.

Two-hole system (SPD)

Three-bolt system (Look Delta)

The two-hole cleat system is more recognized because most gyms offer SPD clips or caged pedals. Shoes with two-bolt cleats make walking around easier as it is smaller and flatter than the three-bolt option. The only downside to this setup is that beginners might find clipping into the pedal more difficult.

This type of cleat design might be less popularly used in studios, but the major gyms, like Flywheel, offer this option. This one is recommended to cyclists who plan on doing road cycling as well. The three-bolt cleat design is bigger and, therefore, easier to clip into bike pedals.

 

2. Sole

Indoor bike shoes also come in the same sole materials as ordinary cycling shoes. They can be crafted from nylon, fiberglass, plastic, carbon, a mix of all these or EVA rubber. 

Plastic soles are the most affordable but are also the most likely to be flexible, while carbon soles are the most expensive, yet they are considered the lightest and stiffest. Indoor bike shoes with EVA midsoles and rubber soles usually resemble running or every day sneakers.

 

3. Upper

Shoes for spinning usually employ uppers crafted from synthetic materials. Many different brands design their version of synthetic uppers, such as Sidi's Italian-made eco-friendly Microfiber Techpro material. 

Moreover, Italian-made uppers are said to be the most expensive type of upper in bike shoes. Casual bike shoes and modern-inspired models also use suede and knit uppers.

 

4. Retention System

There are a number of closures used in indoor cycling shoes. The most common type is Velcro straps, which are preferred for their ease of use, lightness, and budget-friendly cost. Other options include lace-up, ratchet system, BOA dials, or a combination.

 

How should spin shoes fit?

Indoor cycling shoes are modeled after road and mountain bike shoes. If your chosen spin shoe looks more like a road shoe, then the fit should be snug without any pressure points. If you chose an indoor bike shoe that resembles an MTB shoe, the fit is a bit more giving without compromising the supportive feel.

Since indoor cycling is considered less strenuous compared to road cycling and mountain biking, more models look like running shoes or skate shoes. These types of spin shoes fit more like the said footwear it took inspiration from.

Here are a couple of reminders to guide you in your next purchase:

  • When you first try out any bike shoe, it will feel rigid because of its stiff soles.
  • Check if the closures cause any pinching or pain when tightened.
  • Walk and make pedal motions while sitting to check if there is any moving or slipping action happening. If there is, try the next size down.

 

Frequently asked questions

Why should I use indoor cycling shoes?

Can I wear sneakers to spin class? Are indoor cycling shoes worth it? These are some of the most asked questions by budding indoor cyclists.

Correct footgear determines the ease, consistency, and efficiency of the ride. Ask around a crowd of indoor cyclists, and they will tell you about the significant difference brought by using indoor cycling-specific shoes compared to using ordinary sneakers. Using the wrong footwear can cause short-term discomfort and long-term injuries.

Truth be told, any type of bike shoe can be used for spinning as long as it suits you excellently and clips into the pedals of your chosen cycling studio.

Why? All clipless cycling shoes are built to provide power transfer and snug fit, albeit in varying degrees, but essentially contains these integral features no matter the cycling endeavor.

 

What are some of the indoor cycling models made for Peloton?

Before answering this question, let’s define what Peloton is since the term gets thrown around frequently. Peloton is basically a brand that sells their proprietary stationary bicycle design. 

This bicycle can be bought for personal use at home and features a 22-inch touchscreen where the individual can watch and stream both recorded and live classes. This particular feature made the brand skyrocket to fame among indoor cycling enthusiasts.

With that out of the way, let’s get onto the main question. Generally, any type of bike shoe will work with the Peloton bike as long as it employs the three-bolt cleat system (or commonly called SPD-SL or Look Delta.) Although it is worth noting that the brand also sells proprietary Peloton cycling shoes.

Check out some of the spin shoes suitable for Peloton below:

  • Sidi Trace
  • Pearl Izumi Tour Road
  • Tommaso Strada 100

 

Are indoor bike shoes the same as their outdoor counterparts?

Since shoes for spinning are derived from its outdoor siblings, it is only natural that they share a couple of similarities. Some features that all cycling shoes have in common are grounded in three main elements, which are:

  • Power transfer (stiff soles)
  • Durable uppers (snug upper design)
  • Lightweight closures (Velcro straps, lace-up, BOA, ratchet buckle)

The main difference is that indoor spin shoes mostly employ the most basic features such as Velcro straps, upper with mesh inserts, and not so stiff soles. The reason behind this is that spinning shoes' primary purpose, other than for walking comfort, is simply to keep the wearer connected to the bike.

 

How do I know when to replace my indoor bike shoes?

Like any other pair of cycling shoes, there will be signs when you need to retire your trusty old indoor spin shoes. Below are some of the indications you need to buy a new pair:

  • Parts are starting to come off or break, such as hardware or upper materials.
  • Materials start to feel inefficient, which hinders your performance or comfort. Maybe the sole feels more flexible than usual, or the upper no longer provides a snug fit.

The best indoor cycling shoes in every category

Now, are you ready to buy indoor cycling shoes?