2. Fly Fierce Indoor Cycling Shoes

Fly Fierce Indoor Cycling Shoes Flywheel Sports flywheelsports.com

“Flywheel Sports makes their very own shoes, Fly Fierce. They have a cushioned Ortholite footbed, breathable upper mesh, making them very comfortable and super soft. With my narrow foot the 3 Velcro straps are helpful as you can make the shoe as tight or as loose as possible.”

— Natalie Cohen, Master Instructor at Flywheel Sports

“I have tried many brands, however I really like how cushioned these shoes are. It’s funny, I dislike structure in my running shoes but like the stability for my indoor cycling shoes.”

— Emily Fayette, ACE-certified trainer, Flywheel Sports instructor, founder of Healthy Hustle

3. Sidi Genius 7 Shadow Road Cycling Shoes

Genius 7 Shadow Road Cycling Shoes Sidi amazon.com $259.98

“I love my Sidi’s. I have super-narrow feet and like to feel snug in my shoe so I have a good grip on the wheel (it’s all about the pull UP of the pedal stroke to access your abs and get out of the quads #becauseabs). A little trick is, no matter what shoe you pick, change out the insole for something better. Paragon has some great options where you can try, touch, and feel. Mostly it’s about what works for you so you’re supported and comfortable and can focus on form and rid yourself of distraction.”

— Eve Lynn Kessner, SoulCycle senior instructor, Talent Hack ambassador

4. Soul Legend Cycling Shoes

SOUL Legend Cycling Shoe SoulCycle soul-cycle.com $200.00

“I love the Soul Legend shoes because of how sturdy they are. Plus, the single strap around the top makes it easy to adjust and put on.”

— Roxie Jones, NASM-certified trainer, SoulCycle Instructor, Talent Hack ambassador

Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.

Why buy cycling shoes?

So you’ve taken your fair share of indoor cycling classes and you know how to tap it back with the best of them, but you still haven’t purchased your own indoor cycling shoes. While some studios rent shoes (or even provide them free of charge), there can be a huge benefit in owning cycling shoes.

We scoured the internet and talked to the pros about what to look for in a cycling shoe so that you can get the most out of every class.

As any indoor cycling enthusiast will tell you, using dedicated cycling shoes that clip to your pedals is a game changer. Why? It will give you a more powerful, efficient workout by allowing you to transfer more energy from your pedal stroke to the bike.

Melisa Olgun, a cycling instructor at Uforia Studios in San Francisco, explains that “the stiff sole of the cycling shoes transfers the power from your legs straight to the bike, rather than getting absorbed in the cushion of your shoe.”

Further, wearing properly fitted cycling shoes can help prevent injury by “preventing your foot and ankle from moving around during class and keeping your body in proper alignment,” she adds. And if you have a competitive nature, it can help make you a more powerful rider (hello, leaderboard!) and keep you injury free. Cycling-specific shoes will help you engage your hamstrings, calves, glutes and core, in addition to your quadriceps.

Why not rent?

Many studios offer rental or complimentary loaner shoes. While this can be convenient for a newbie, there are certain benefits to having your own pair of cycling shoes. Allie White, a cycling instructor at Flywheel in Chicago, explains that while her studio provides complimentary shoe rental, “avid indoor cyclists should consider a shoe investment, as each type of shoe fits slightly different and, as the shoes are worn by many riders, they aren’t conformed to just your foot.”

Olgun adds that for germaphobes, wearing your own shoes could also provide some peace of mind. Most cycling shoes are very durable and will last you years, especially if you are primarily using them for indoor cycling classes, making them a great investment in your ClassPass routine.

What different types of cycling shoes are out there?

There are three primary classifications of cycling shoes: road bike shoes, mountain bike shoes and indoor cycling shoes. Each type is optimized for something different:

Road cycling shoes

These tend to be stiffer than the mountain bike and/or indoor cycling shoes and the cleat (the part that clips into the pedal) protrudes from the sole.

Mountain bike-style shoes

These have a rubberized sole and a recessed cleat. They can look more like your typical trainers, meaning you won’t have to switch shoes to hit the weights or the sidewalk after class. Potential downsides include a heavier, less-efficient shoe.

Indoor cycling shoes

Consider these to be something of a hybrid between road and mountain bike shoes, with more rubber on the sole than a road shoe to allow you to walk around the studio without slipping, but a sleeker silhouette than a mountain bike shoe.

If your primary use for cycling shoes is indoor cycling classes, you’re probably better off purchasing a pair that with enough traction to keep you vertical from the locker room to the studio. These can certainly also be used for outdoor rides, but will be a bit heavier than those constructed exclusively for road biking.

The main difference between different types of indoor cycling shoes is the type of cleat, or binding, with which the shoe is compatible. There are two primary types of cleats, each of which is compatible with a different type of pedal.

Two-hole (commonly called “SPD”) system: The SPD cleat is slightly more common at indoor cycling studios and on indoor cycling shoes. White explains that “SPD clips are the most recognized, as most gyms will have the option for the SPD clip or the gym shoe cage. SPD clips make it easier to walk around (they are much smaller and flat). However, newer riders may find they are more difficult to clip into the pedal.”

Three-hole (commonly called “Delta”) system: Again, if you plan to use your shoes for serious road cycling as well, the three-hole option is considered slightly more efficient in terms of energy transfer. The three-hole system is less common among gyms, but major studios, like Flywheel, offer Delta clips on their indoor cycling shoes. White also notes that Delta-style clips “are larger and easier to clip in, especially when indoor cycling in a dimly lit studio.”

What to remember before you buy:

Before investing in a set of cleats, you should check with your favorite indoor cycling studios to ensure that your shoes will be compatible with their pedals. Both White and Olgun use both types of clips, depending on where they are riding, and find both systems to be comfortable and secure.

When it comes to the rest of the shoe (upper, closure systems, tread, etc.), you can pretty much rely on your personal preference.

Here are some helpful definitions of terms you might encounter in your search, along with instructors’ recommendations:

Sole: the very bottom part of the shoe that contacts the ground.

The sole of a cycling shoe can be constructed of plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber or a combination of these materials. The tradeoffs among these three types of materials are affordability versus stiffness and lightness. Plastic soles are the most affordable, but most prone to flexing. Carbon fiber soles are the most expensive, but also the lightest and stiffest. Meanwhile, fiberglass soles and blends fall somewhere in the middle.

Upper: the part of the shoe that covers the top part of the foot, from heel to toe

Most indoor cycling shoes have a synthetic upper, which allows enough breathability to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout your ride. The highest-end road bike shoes will have Italian leather uppers, which offer some increase in performance, comfort and style—for a hefty price tag.

Closure systems: how you secure your foot in the shoe.

The most common, and usually the most affordable, shoes come with Velcro closure systems. This makes them super easy to get on and off in the locker room, while keeping your shoe securely on your foot while riding. Other options include laces, a ratchet system (like you might see on a ski boot) and the Boa system. White recommends the convenience of Velcro straps. “I like to be able to put my shoes on and take them off quickly,” she says.

Where can you purchase indoor cycling shoes?

When buying your first pair of shoes, it is helpful to try on different sizes and models in person. Both White and Olgun wear Shimano brand shoes and recommend them for performance and comfort.

White suggests “going and trying on every shoe and finding the one that fits your foot best.” She explains that in her search for the perfect shoe, she “tried on just about every pair in the store and found the one that fit the most comfortably.”

Olgun notes that your foot should feel comfortable in the shoe from day one: your toes should be able to wiggle around but your heel shouldn’t slide around in the back of the shoe when you walk. When searching for your perfect shoe, you may find a wider variety of sizes and brands at larger chains, but oftentimes you can count on more personalized fittings and service at local bike shops. Finally, you may have to purchase cleats separately and install them before using the shoe. Many bike shops will install the cleats for you at no extra charge.

If you prefer to purchase online, you can find great deals on cycling shoes at sites like Amazon, Zappos, or REI. Amazon carries entry-level shoes for as little as $40, in addition to well-respected brands such as Shimano. Again, you may need to purchase compatible cleats separately.

Still need some guidance? There are online tutorials to show you how to install them yourself, or you can take them to a local bike shop for installation.

The 6 Best Shoes for Your Indoor Cycling Workout

The days of hitting the gym to work your chest, arms or legs aren’t over, but fitness facilities today make it possible to try an array of activities to improve your fitness level. One of the more popular workouts is cycling classes, commonly referred to as spin.

Indoor cycling is great if you’re looking to tone up and improve your cardiovascular health. And the classes are popular, too — if you don’t get there early, you’re destined for a bike in the back of the room, far away from the instructor.

If spin is for you, and you want shoes that will not only perform at a high level but also look good, there are several options available. To help you with your footwear search, Footwear News selected six of the top shoes for men and women — all featuring the SPD cleat system, often used for indoor cycling — that you could purchase now.

Tiem Slipstream

Tiem hasn’t been around long, but it is already showing promise. Its lone silhouette, the Slipstream, comes in several eye-catching colorways that retail for $125. The Slipstream features a breathable mesh toe box, slip-on construction and a single-strap closure system.

Tiem Slipstream, $125; tiemathletic.com

Louis Garneau Chrome

This men’s look from Louis Garneau is sleek and stylish, pairing leather with mesh built for cycling. And the performance of the shoe is just as attractive. The seamless upper makes the style more aerodynamic and helps to eliminate painful pressure points. The outsole — made with reinforced nylon — keeps the shoe tough and light. It comes with a $99.99 retail price.

Louis Garneau Chrome, $99.99; garneau.com

Five Ten Kestrel

For men, Five Ten’s Kestrel is made to take abuse on the trails, but it boasts a cleat system that’s compatible with most indoor bikes. The low-profile shoe features a BOA closure system, breathable mesh upper and carbon-infused shank. The Kestrel retails for $180.

Five Ten Kestrel, $180; rei.com

Giro Whynd

This women’s shoe has the looks of a casual runner but is built for a hardcore spin class. The shoe features a laced closure system accompanied by a wide strap to make sure your feet are in place while you pedal away. You could buy these today for $99.99.

Giro Whynd, $99.99; dickssportinggoods.com

Sidi Dominator 5 Silver Mamba MTB

This women’s-specific shoe is designed for the devoted cyclist, featuring a narrow heel cup made with a female foot in mind, and a low profile Soft Instep closure system for a secure fit. The shoe retails for $239.99.

Sidi Dominator 5 Silver Mamba MTB, $239.99; spinning.com

Pearl Izumi Road Race IV

This men’s look from Pearl Izumi is constructed with a seamless upper, Boa closure system, and power plates with Direct-Vent technology for cooling and drainage. The SPD-compatible shoe retails for $150.

Pearl Izumi Road Race IV, $150; rei.com

What type of shoes are best for the stationary bike?

A stationary bike is a piece of equipment that you can find in most every gym.

Newer models often have everything from virtual reality screens (so you can pretend you’re cycling through the French Alps!) to multiple options for resistance.

Considering how fun a stationary bike can be, you may even forget that you’re working out!

But with the right shoes, you can have a more effective and comfortable cycling workout. Whether you’re looking to pedal on the stationary bike in your home gym, or sweat out your frustrations at the new cycling studio downtown, having good spin shoes will take you to the next level!

Below, I’ll go into detail on how to pick the best shoes for a stationary bike, but if you want a couple of quick recommendations, try these:

  • Gavin MTB Indoor Cycling Shoe (Amazon)
  • Shimano Commuter Recessed SPD Cycling Shoe (Amazon)
  • Pearl iZUMi Select RD IV-M Cycling Shoe (Amazon)

In the end, it is totally fine to wear normal gym shoes on a stationary bike. However, cycling shoes can provide a lot of value. If you’re looking to get the most out of your workout, stay safe, and optimize your health benefits, keep reading.

What to look for when you buy shoes for working out on a stationary bike

Exercising on a stationary bike is a great way to improve your health. From reducing stress on your joints, to building muscle, and losing weight, you can adapt a stationary bike to your workout routine.

Stationary bikes often have two sides to the pedal. One side is flatter with a loop to hold it on your feet. For many people, this is thought to be the easiest way to pedal.

But it turns out…getting cycling shoes can help lock your foot into place AND make your workout more energy efficient. All you need to do is lock in on the OTHER side of the pedal!

How? A lot of pedals have spots that are more grippy for shoes with cleats. In the end, if you’re not planning on using your stationary bike a lot, you may be able to get away with using regular sneakers.

But if you really want to add it as a major part of your workout, or become more invested in exercising on the stationary bike, the following factors are important to consider:


Whether or not you want shoes specifically meant for biking is going to be your personal preference. However, if you do buy shoes made for your stationary bike, take the cleats into consideration.

Cleats are used on the bottom of the shoe to increase grip strength.

When using a stationary bike, shoes with cleats will help lock your foot into place on the pedal. Without having to worry about slipping, you can throw your all into your workout. This means that you can maximize energy efficiency in your pedaling, therefore increasing your power.

Cleats may be sold separately from shoes, so if you are looking for a shoe with cleats, remember to check. The most common type of cleats is compatible with the Shimano Pedal Design (SPD), a two-hole system that is designed to fit on pedals on most stationary bikes. There are also pedals that use a 3-hole system, which are compatible with LOOK Delta Cleats.


To have the optimal stationary bike experience, it is important for your shoes to fit snugly and comfortably.

These shoes are generally more stiff and will not stretch with wear like other shoes might. Because of that, you want a fit where your toes still have some space at the end of the shoe. The toe box should be roomy enough for your toes to barely or not touch the end of the shoe at all.

Because of the repetitive motion of cycling, as well as the strain it might put on your body, the fit of the shoe should include arch support. Although cycling is relatively low-impact, it is important to make sure your foot is supported to avoid unnecessary pain or injury.


For biking and cycling, Velcro straps are usually much better than shoelaces.

The Velcro straps will help ensure a snug fit while still giving you enough room to move comfortably. These straps should be thick, durable, and reliable so that they will not come unstrapped in the middle of an intense workout.

Laces are much more likely to get tangled up in the straps, leading to you needing to stop your workout to untangle them, or potentially yanking on your foot and causing harm.


For a good stationary bike workout, it is imperative that you have a grippy and stiff sole. It will make your workout more pleasant; after all, you don’t want a sole that bends and flops around as you pedal!

The stiffer the sole, the less likely you are to feel cramping or soreness in your feet as you pedal.

A stiff sole also helps put all of your power into pedaling your stationary bike, rather than having your energy get sucked into the sole (hey, it happens)! Some recommend a sole that is made of plastic or fiberglass, although you may see other products used as well.


Nobody likes sweaty feet (or maybe they do, but I sure don’t)! Breathable, comfortable fabric well help promote air flow during your workout. Not only will this make your feet more comfortable, and reduce the chance of blisters due to friction, but it will keep you from issues such as athlete’s foot.

To recap, a good shoe for stationary biking will:

  • Have cleats for extra grip
  • (Normal shoes are fine for more casual workouts)
  • Be snug, but with a little extra room in the toe box
  • Use Velcro straps
  • Have a stiff sole
  • Breathe!

Now, here are 3 awesome cycling shoes that you might want to look into if you’re ready to get serious about your stationary bike workouts.

1. Gavin MTB Indoor Cycling Shoes

Click to see on Amazon

Overview: Gavin MTB Indoor Cycling Shoes are perfect for use on anything from a stationary bike to a trail ride. These shoes are unisex and can be worn by men or women. The 2-bolt cleats are compatible with a variety of pedals, from MTB to SPD. These shoes offer a fiberglass-injected nylon sole.

Major Pros: When it comes to the Gavin MTB Indoor Cycling Shoes, the benefits include:

  • Affordability – whether you’re new to using a stationary bike, or you’re an avid SoulCycle extraordinaire, these shoes are accessible and affordable for all.
  • Breathability – these shoes are extremely breathable. To maximize this, these cycling shoes include mesh paneling and perforated, quick-dry insoles.
  • Durability – these shoes are well-made, with thick Velcro straps and a stiff sole. They hold up to frequent usage.

Major Cons: At the same time, there are a few negatives that you might want to consider:

  • Comfort – some people say that these shoes are too stiff. While you do want a stiff sole, the shoe itself should still be comfortable and have room for your foot to move around.
  • Fit – these shoes run slightly small, prompting people to have to go up a size. This can create worries about choosing the right fit or having a shoe that cramps toes.
  • Cleats not included – although these shoes are at an affordable price point, it does generally mean that cleats are not included and need to be bought separately. (Here’s a basic and inexpensive cleat set on Amazon that should get you started)

Get the latest price & read real customer reviews of the Gavin MTB shoes on Amazon

2. Shimano Commuter Recessed SPD Cycling Shoe

Overview: The Shimano Commuter Recessed SPD Cycling Shoe is made of breathable mesh, with a suede upper and EVA midsole. They are designed with both cycling and walking in mind. These shoes come without cleats, but are compatible with SPD cleats (get some from Amazon here), and optimized for SPD and CLICK’R pedals. This particular shoe is made for men, although Shimano offers shoes for both men and women.

Major Pros: If you’re considering buying Shimano cycling shoes, think about these major benefits:

  • Versatility – with its shock-absorbing midsole, these shoes work both on and off of a stationary bike. For someone looking for versatile shoes (and who may not be ready to go all-in on complete cycling shoes), these are a great option.
  • Durability – these shoes are made from mesh and suede, providing a high level of breathability while also making shoes that last. The ventilation on the shoes ensure your feet aren’t sweating during your entire workout!

Major Cons: Although these Shimano shoes have their benefits, there are also some downsides to consider:

  • Sizing – when you’re riding a stationary bike, you need shoes that fit. These shoes tend to run a little larger than normal, prompting a need to size down.
  • Laces – unlike other cycling shoes, these Shimano shoes have laces to close instead of Velcro. Although they are a cross between normal sneakers and biking shoes, this may be an issue for some.

Get the latest price & read real customer reviews of the Shimano Commuter shoes on Amazon

3. Pearl iZUMi Select RD IV-M Cycling Shoes

Click to see on Amazon

Overview: Pearl iZUMi is well-known in the cycling industry. These SPD compatible shoes (get some SPD cleats on Amazon to go with these) with a synthetic sole offer the look and feel of a professional cycling shoe at a reasonably affordable cost.

Although these shoes are at a slightly higher price point, they work with a variety of indoor stationary bikes. The anatomic closure system has straps that reduce pressure on your foot. This particular shoe is made for men, although iZUMi does offer women’s shoes as well.

Major Pros: If you’re looking for a great shoe for stationary bike use, consider the following benefits:

  • Comfort – the build of these shoes uses a rubber heel bumper and EVA foam, making for a comfortable experience both on and off of the stationary bike.
  • Compatibility – these shoes are compatible with SPD pedals, but also with road pedals (those with 3-slots). They will work on pretty much any stationary bike pedals.
  • Safety – these shoes will help keep your heel in place while pedaling your stationary bike, reducing the risk of unnecessary pain or strain on joints and muscles.

Major Cons: While there are benefits to the Pearl iZUMi Cycling Shoes, there are a few downsides as well:

  • Sizing – the biggest complaint about these cycling shoes is that they run incredibly small and overly tight, causing pain in the feet and toes.
  • Poor construction – some find it difficult to screw in the different types of cleats. Loose cleats increase the chance of slippage or injury during a workout.

Get the latest price & read real customer reviews of the Pearl shoes on Amazon

Wrapping Up

If you’re using the stationary bike in your home or at the gym, you should definitely consider getting cycling shoes.

Although I understand the appeal of using the sneakers you already have, changing to cycling shoes can help maximize your workout.

Personally, I would spring for the Gavin MTB Indoor Cycling Shoes.

They offer breathability and durability, even during long, intense workouts. If you are looking for shoes that are more of a mix of regular sneakers and cycling shoes, though, consider the Shimano cycling shoe above, or others in the Shimano brand. They mix comfort with a design to improve your workout, while still being accessible for all.

Cycling shoes will help your feet stay in place, making your stationary bike workout more efficient while minimizing stress on your body. But to get the benefits, and reduce the potential for injury, you need durable, stiff-soled shoes that are made from high-quality fabric.

You can check out my top pick, the Gavin MTB Cycling Shoes on Amazon right here.

Hope this helps!

5 BEST Indoor Cycling Shoes to ramp up your indoor training sessions!


A pair of indoor cycling shoes might seem a little extravagant, seeing as you’re set up to go at home or in the office, and perhaps you don’t really need all that extra expense, but seriously, a pair of the right shoes will take your training session to the next level…I’m not going to tell you how many foot sores and sore leg muscles (eased a little by this amazing muscle stick) I suffered before realizing I needed some decent footwear!

So yes, if you’re cycling using plain old running shoes, stop! Cycling stresses your lower body in a very different way from running and you need footwear specifically designed to counteract that stress. Cycling shoes are an essential investment for any cyclist who takes their training and performance seriously, and in order to make your hunt for the perfect cycling shoes a little easier, I’ve compiled this list of the best cycling shoes out there for both men and women.

The Best Men’s Cycling Shoes

Pearl iZUMi Men’s All-Road II Cycling Shoe

These cycling shoes from Pearl manage to pack an incredible number of protective features into one impressively lightweight package. That’s mostly down to a very clever choice of materials on the designer’s part – the power plate, for example, is made out of carbon fiber and nylon, which are two very light materials that are nevertheless effective shock absorbers.

Like the women’s version (see below), these shoes feature Pearl staples such as a SELECT insole for longitudinal and transverse arch support and a closure mechanism designed for a secure and versatile fit to suit feet of all shapes. Little wonder these Pearl iZUMi cycling shoes are preferred by so many competitive cyclists! More details HERE.

Shimano 2014 Men’s All-Around Road Cycling Shoes

These Shimano cycling shoes are not just designed for maximum protection, but maximum performance as well. The base of the shoe is streamlined to ensure that power is effectively transmitted through the shoe and into the pedal so all your hard work won’t be wasted. The asymmetrical strap closure preserves ankle flexibility for more effective cycling.

As far as comfort goes, you’ll really appreciate these shoes come the hot summer months. These shoes are optimized for moisture-nicking to prevent your socks from becoming sodden with sweat. Throw in generous cushioning and you’ve got a pair of shoes even the pickiest cyclist would be happy with. More details HERE.

Shimano Venzo Mountain Bike Bicycle Cycling SPD Shoes

Another pair from Shimano, these are perfect for those long rides when your numb and sore feet start to slip out of the pedal – which is not only uncomfortable, but also potentially dangerous.

We’ve seen that clipped in pedals are starting to gain huge popularity among competitive cyclists for this very reason and these Shimano shoes come with compatible pedals and cleats to show off the best of Shimano’s highly acclaimed SPD clipped in pedal series.

Despite being clipped in, these shoes are designed to preserve maximum ankle rotation and are lightweight enough that you can still feel the pedal through the shoe, which is important for quick and responsive bike handling. With their snug fit and superb breathability, these Shimano cycling shoes are some of the most comfortable around. More details HERE.

The Best Women’s Cycling Shoes

My reviews of the following two women’s cycling shoes is largely down to good friends Jane and Susan – thanks ladies!

Shimano SH-WR35 Women’s Road Cycling Shoe

This cycling shoe is one of the most comfortable shoes on the market. In fact, they’re positively luxurious. The synthetic leather shoe contains mesh uppers for superb breathability, keeping your feet cool in the summer. Moreover, the Velcro straps are specially angled to ensure a perfect fit for feet of all widths (hence their asymmetrical look) and prevent blisters. They also offer world-class protection.

The malleable insole, made specifically to fit women, ensures the sole conforms to the shape of your foot, which is crucial for effective impact absorption. Combine this with the glass fiber midsole plate, which provides support for the small bones of the feet and the ankle joints, and you have one of the finest specimens of cycling shoes around. They’re not cheap, but they’re packed with modern features and well worth the money. More details HERE.

Pearl iZUMi Women’s W All-Road II Cycling Shoe

Cycling is a surprisingly high-impact sport, especially if you’re cycling over uneven terrain (and hey, you can even do some damage to your muscles on an indoor trainer!), and the best cycling shoes absorb shock effectively to prevent injury to your leg joints and feet.

When it comes to such protection, these Pearl iZUMi shoes are the ones to beat. Injuries to the instep are the most common, but these shoes stave off such injuries with an anatomic closure and a SELECT insole widely acclaimed for its arch support. What’s more, the built-in power-plate has a concave shape, allowing it to better redistribute pressure on the arch along the entire base of the foot. If you are susceptible to foot injuries, these shoes are definitely a vital investment. More details HERE.

Cycling shoes should be one of the first additions to any cyclist’s arsenal of cycling accessories. As you’ve seen, the very best cycling shoes not only boost your performance, but can also have major benefits for your safety and comfort!

The 5 Best Cycling Shoes for Women, According to Spin Instructors

So you’ve gotten into indoor cycling, but shelling out $3 to rent cycling shoes every time you book a spin class is starting to feel like a waste of money. Or maybe you’re just feeling grossed out by the thought of sharing the same sweaty spin shoes with the million other people who frequent your favorite studio. Either way, investing in your own pair of cycling shoes is a smart choice, since you’re guaranteed to get a comfortable, supportive fit each time.

“I tell new riders who have just purchased shoes to ‘trust the shoes,'” says Felicia Walker, a spin instructor at New York Health and Racquet Club in New York City. “Riding confidently and comfortably will take you to a whole new level in class.”

But because they’re a big investment (most pairs cost $100 or more), you’ll want to do your research to make sure you’re buying the best cycling shoes for your needs. Here’s everything you need to know to find the perfect pair of cycling shoes.

How to buy cycling shoes

When shopping for cycling shoes, experts say you should focus on comfort and fit. “Cycling is a rigorous activity, and proper fit is crucial for a safe and effective workout,” says Natalie Cohen Gould, a Flywheel instructor based in New York City.

Outdoor and indoor cycling shoes are very different, she adds, so you should confirm that the pair you’re considering is for the correct workout (the ones we rounded up below are all indoor cycling shoes, but you can find outdoor cycling shoes on retailers like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Amazon). “You’ll most likely want a different shoe for both if you ride indoors and outdoors, as shoe constructions are very different,” Gould says.

Another important factor to consider when shopping for cycling shoes is to determine whether you need SPD or Delta cleats. “Make sure you’re familiar with the cleats necessary for the gym or studio you frequent,” Gould says. “Some bikes have SPD cleats, some Delta, and some both.” For most cycling shoes, you purchase the actual shoe online or in-store, then the cleats are sold and installed separately. You can buy both SPD and Delta cleats on Amazon.

The difference between the two types of cleats is subtle (SPD clips have two holes and are a little easier to walk around in, while Delta clips have three), but you won’t want to invest in a pair of indoor cycling shoes only to discover that they’re not compatible with the bikes at your go-to spin studio.

Below, five top-rated cycling shoes that deliver serious comfort and support for your next spin class.

RELATED: The Best Running Shoes for Women

Want to get even more out of spin class? Try a pair of cycling shoes and clip in to your pedals!

Clipping in connects you directly to the bike, which means more power and a more thorough workout. Rather than feeling like you’re mashing down on the pedals, you’re able to feel the entire pedal stroke (and believe me, your legs will feel it the next day).

Look Delta: triangular red plastic cleats

If you opt to clip in, bikes at spin gyms typically accommodate one or both of these cleats:

Look Delta, which mount to flat-soled road shoes, and SPD, which mount to mountain shoes (the recessed cleat mounts make the later the more walkable option).

SPD: small metal cleats

It’s helpful to know which style of pedal your gym uses when buying shoes. If you spin at Equinox, Sol Cycle, Flywheel, Revolve, or Asphalt Green, the choice is yours! Those gyms use both. If you spin at New York Sports Club, Crunch, or the YMCA, go for an SPD shoe.

So why are they called clipless if you’re clipping in to your pedals? Back in the day, riders used metal toe clips and straps to attach themselves to their pedals for better power transfer. When cleats became the norm, cyclists cast off their toe clips, rendering the pedals clipless (and confusing everyone).

If you’re nervous about clipping in on your road bike, try it at the gym first! Spin class is a great opportunity to practice without the fear of tipping over at a stoplight.

Want to get a high intensity indoor workout on your own bike? Try one of Habitat’s indoor cycling classes.

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Crunch members take their bike-dancing party under the disco ball with Ride. (Photo: Crunch)

Spinning’s basically become a national pastime, with boutique brands moving into more and more states, and gyms beefing up their offerings to keep pace.

One of them is national fitness chain Crunch, which just re-launched its spin classes at locations across the country with a new Ride program. And it’s way more on par with a boutique indoor-cycling experience than ever.

Ride’s 10 different classes are broken out into three types: Road, Rhythm, and Remixed to reflect the range of indoor cycling interests.

The performance-based Road rides have a competitive, athletic edge, complete with RPM trackers in the front of the rooms (great if you love Flywheel or Swerve), while the Rhythm classes are based on choreography and spinning to the Beyoncé beats (perfect if you’re obsessed with SoulCycle or Cyc). For Goldilocks riders, Remixed lets you have the best of both worlds—with the occasional illuminated disco ball casting a Saturday Night Fever glow across the studio.

The gym says it’s always known the potential of the indoor cycling bike to spark a craze. “Over 15 years ago, Crunch was the first big box gym to offer Spinning classes with the creator, Johnny G,” says Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at Crunch, which has locations in thirteen states.

Ride’s goal is to work off of the energy—and different varieties—of boutique spinning, on a mass (read: budget friendly) scale.”There are so many spin studios opening, all offering their own versions of cycle classes,” says Cyrus. “We’ve always offered all the modalities at Crunch, so we decided to label the classes so that our members could go straight for the spin experience they prefer and get everything they love at one destination,” she says.

Because if you’re getting up at the crack of dawn to work out, isn’t it nice to have options? —Molly Gallagher

For more information, visit www.crunch.com

Everything You Need to Know Before Your First Indoor Cycling Class

At this point, you’ve probably heard of indoor cycling (or SPINNING, if you want to use its trademarked name), but that doesn’t mean you’ve made your way to a class yet. We know the whole experience can seem overwhelming from the outside, so here’s what you should know before hitting the studio for the first time.

The Need-to-Know

More intense than riding a stationary bike, most indoor cycling classes last for 30- to 75-minute sessions. The intensity will vary throughout the class thanks to different body positions (i.e., standing versus sitting), pedal speed, and resistance. The instructor will tell you when to change your settings so your ride feels like it would outdoors—complete with hill climbs, sprints, and coasting. In some special classes, the pedaling is even mixed with upper-body workouts, resistant bands, or a themed adventure (Michael Jackson tribute, anyone?).

Indoor cycling is definitely no ride in the park, though. It will amp up VO2 max (the rate oxygen is carried to the muscles), a sign the body is being pushed.Physiologic responses during indoor cycling. Battista RA, Foster C, Andrew J. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 2008, Sep.;22(4):1533-4287. Plus, all that pedaling will work yourquads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and core. Studies have also found that indoor cycling can help shed unwanted pounds and potentially ward off migraines, while keeping impact on your joints to a minimum.The effects of indoor cycling training in sedentary overweight women. Bianco A, Bellafiore M, Battaglia G. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 2010, Dec.;50(2):0022-4707. Exercise as migraine prophylaxis: a randomized study using relaxation and topiramate as controls. Varkey E, Cider A, Carlsson J. Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache, 2011, Sep.;31(14):1468-2982.

Your Action Plan

Whether you’re a newbie or simply brushing up on the etiquette, here are some tips for a successful joyride:

  • Suit up. The body will definitely work up a sweat, so throw on moisture-wicking clothes to keep cool and dry. As for the feet, cycling shoes are required for some classes, but normal athletic kicks will work fine in most cases.
  • Take a seat. If it’s an option, reserve a bike online to guarantee a spot in the class. Otherwise, get there early to snag a seat. And newbs, don’t head straight to the back—getting a bike up front will make it easier to follow along.
  • Adjust your saddle. Getting the perfect fit on the bike can be tricky, but a general rule of thumb is to adjust the seat to be even with your hip. As for the handlebars, position them so the neck and back doesn’t strain. And strap or clip in the feet: The balls of the feet should rest on the center of the pedal and if you’re strapping in, make sure they’re secure.
  • Know the numbers. Some instructors call out numbers to indicate how far you should be rising out of your seat. Roughly, position one is sitting in the seat, position two is a slight hover over the saddle, and position three is a more dramatic hinge forward, but here are the specifics on each.
  • Insist on resistance. There are no real gears to change, but there will be a resistance knob or computer. This will control how hard the muscles need to work to increase RPM (that’s bike talk for revolutions per minute).
  • Towel off. Keep a towel draped over the handlebars for easy access—you’ll probably need it. And swigging water is encouraged mid-ride to stay hydrated (although the cycle ‘n’ sip definitely takes some coordination).
  • Choose your class wisely. Love the club? Go for sessions with dimmed lights or a disco atmosphere. If seeking more adventure, opt for classes that bring the outdoors to the studio. Getting the mood juuust right (for you) can make your session more fun and more effective.Music and light during indoor cycling. Shaulov N, Lufi D. Perceptual and motor skills, 2009, Jul.;108(2):0031-5125.

Indoor cycling puts things in full gear with its awesome tunes, control over resistance and speed, and overall intensity. Hop on to the nearest bike and give this class a go!

Originally published April 2012. Updated June 2017.

Shoes for indoor cycling

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