As a spin enthusiast, not only have I attended online classes on my indoor bike at home, but have also been attending many studios around. After a studio session, I always find myself wanting to get a pair of cycle/spin shoes every time. Not so for the obvious reason of hygiene but because of the fit. Each time with different shoes, the fit would feel different, and if I am lucky, I get one that is just right and comfortable throughout. Because many have also worn the shoes, my usual size may feel slightly bigger or smaller, hence I am either feeling some pain in my toes from a size too small or a shoe that is too loose due to it being overworn.
When I embarked on my research to look for a pair of shoes, I knew nothing about what are some things that you would need to look out for before making a purchase. It was not as simple as finding a nice looking pair and getting it. The last thing you want is to purchase one but find that it is uncomfortable or you are unable to clip in. So here are 2 things I had to look into before making a purchase and I hope this will guide you through your decision making.
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Spin Beginner: What should I look out for?
There are 2 things you need to know – cleats compatibility and shoe fasteners. There are 2 commonly used cleats in spin studios, SPD and Delta. This will essentially guide your choice in shoes as you would need to identify which pedal the cycle studio uses and which cleat is compatible to them. These cleats are attached to your shoe and will require you to clip into the bike pedals. The other is shoe fasteners, which I will further elaborate below.
Cleats: SPD vs Delta
The SPD cleat is created by Shimano and stands for Shimano Pedaling Design. The cleats are rectangular in shape and is defined by 2 holes (right). You may refer to the image below to see if the pedal (left) is what your studio uses.
To identify if the shoe you are interested in is compatible with these SPD cleats, turn the shoe over and it should have 2 holes for the cleats (right) to be screwed in. An example of SPD compatible shoes are Tiem.
Unlike SPD, Delta cleats (bottom image, in red) are attached to your shoes with 3 holes. Triangular in shape, the delta pedals (bottom image, top) also differ from SPDs. Some shoes that use the Delta mechanism are Peloton, Specialized and Nike. You may ask, are there any difference between using an SPD or Delta cleat? In my opinion and personal experience, the attachments do not really matter as the comfort mainly comes from the shoe.
Photo: The Bikesmiths
Lastly, if you are lucky, some studios use dual compatible pedals (image below), as such, you do not need to worry about which type of cleat and which shoe to get as it would fit both.
Photo: BV on Amazon
Shoe Fasteners: BOA® Fit System or Velcro Strap
2 common ways you can tighten your shoes are with BOA® Fit System and velcro straps. BOA® Fit System is a wire mechanism with a turn knob where you can seamlessly tighten and loosen your shoe. It promotes ‘precision fit’ and is ‘engineered and built to perform in the toughest conditions’. Some would prefer using a BOA® Fit System shoe as it it so easy to tighten without much disruption to the workout. Examples of BOA® Fit System shoes include Specialized, Fizik and Shimano.
Others use velcro straps. Some argue that these require more work when you are already tired or it loosens faster than a BOA® Fit System shoe, however I personally do not mind a velcro strap as it feels softer on the top of my feet and just as secured. Some shoes with Velcro include Nike. While browsing, you may also find that most brands carry both velcro and BOA® Fit System shoes seperately, so there really is a wide range for you to choose from! Some may even be made with both the BOA® Fit System and velcro straps; I would say are pretty good as they give the additional support, especially when one loosens.
First Spin Shoes: Summary
Before looking into the spin shoes and design you want, it is important to look at pedals and cleats compatibility. Secondly, do try on the shoe not only for its sizing fit but your preference between having a BOA® Fit System shoe or one with Velcro straps. From my experience, shoes with BOA® Fit System are generally priced higher, however they may be longer lasting due to its durability. Ultimately, like any other shoes you purchase, you should always try them on before purchasing. Especially when your performance may be affected, you would want to look out for something that is comfortable and fit perfectly on you. Last and most importantly as a beginner rider, you would want to be careful of yourself on the bike and to just have fun with your comfortable spin shoes!