TCI Friday

Any shoe is a bike shoe once you slap it on a pedal, so in effect, I have a closet full of cycling shoes. That said, I’m a devotee of the tippy-tappy variety that attaches to the aforementioned pedals, if only to maximize my somewhat mediocre power output. The consequence of that devotion is a shelf in the basement, near the bike rack that houses my snow shoveling boots, but also a pod of cycling shoes of various specialization.

Quick aside: Why are they called clipless pedals when clipping is exactly what they do? Yes. I understand it’s a holdover from when the pros rode with toe clips, but it’s wrong, logically and linguistically. How can it be that you are meant to clip into a clipless pedal? And why did we ever call toe clips, clips? They’re more like pockets. You shoved your foot into a toe pocket to gain some level of purchase. Or maybe they’re just crappy stirrups.

The shoes on the cycling shoe shelf are: one pair white road shoes, one pair black mountain (gum sole), one pair Gore-tex winter boot (minimalist), one pair Gore-tex winter boot (maximalist). There is a further pair of old Sidi MTB shoes with a broken buckle that I don’t want to part with. I did buy the replacement buckles, but, and you Sidi folks will know what I’m talking about, I got the small ones not the big ones I needed. So those are “dead stock,” but I will ride them again one day.

MXZ303 001

I know what you’re thinking. You’re all, “He’s just gonna blaze right past that bit about wearing white road shoes.” Look, it is absolutely asinine for a guy who doesn’t shave his legs to wear white road shoes, and that’s exactly why I invested in a pair. The juxtaposition of Euro pro with Hobbit-chic was irresistible to me.

The two pairs of winter riding boots seem like overkill, but cold climate riders will back me up on this. There’s a big, big difference between riding at 30F and riding at 10F. Also, one pair was given to me to review back in the RKP days. When you live in a snowy place boots of all types seem to proliferate like rabbits in the spring. Are my boots mating in the darkness of the nighttime basement? Could be.

Before that visual settles in your mind, let’s get to brass tacks. This week’s TCIF asks, how many pairs of cycling shoes do you own? Is it too many? Just enough? How often do you replace the ones you’ve got? I never know how long they go on, especially since they do so little walking.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    Two pairs for outdoor, one for indoor:
    1. Sidi MTB shoes with SPD pedals for gravel, CX, MTB, and occasional road
    2. 45Nrth Japanther winter boots for the same bikes and temps of roughly 35 degrees or lower
    3. Old pair of Sidi MTB shoes for my trainer (Jan-Mar)

    I also have a backup pair of I-don’t-know-whats in my van in the event that I forget 1 or 2, above.

    I want but haven’t yet justified a pair of the new Adidas Velosambas. I can’t really figure out a use case. But I want them.

  2. Austin says

    1. Specialized Recon Mixed Terrain (black with laces and gum soles) – for pretty much everything clipped in, sometimes paired with shoe covers for wet or colder days (20-25 F)
    2. Pearl Izumi X-alp Flow – recently picked these up for flat pedal mtbing (was using an old pair of Altra Superiors)
    3. Old Specialized road shoes that I got with my first road bike because that’s what the shop told me to get. They now only get used on the trainer because I’ve transitioned to mtb pedals for everything outside because I like walking around.
    4. Chacos – I love those leisurely rides with the wind in my toes knowing the tan lines on my feet are only getting stronger

    I got the recon’s a few years ago to replace an older pair of mtb shoes. Why? The foam in the heel collar of one foot degraded/sank down to the bottom of the cup and the shoes developed a stank after too many rainy rides that I could never get rid of. I don’t plan on replacing or getting new shoes until something breaks. Coming from the sport of running, it always did feel odd that shoes lasted so much longer in cycling. I guess the money gets directed toward the bike shaped object instead.

  3. TominAlbany says

    One pair old, road Sidi’s. Wore them out. Didn’t chuck’em. Probably date to 1995 or before
    One pair Northwave mtb shoes with vent in toes either for air cooling or water draining. Slightly too small. Wear them anyway on MTB or CX bike
    One pair Lake road shoes. The regular wear shoes. First boa shoe for me.
    I have two pairs of early 2000s Lake winter boots that don’t fit. I don’t know why I didn’t send them back. I’m stupid.
    I have a pair of Exustar MTB shoes that I never set up and now they don’t fit. Oughta sell them. They’re old but brand new!

  4. DaveinME says

    I’ve got a white pair of Lake CX237s in wide width. Best shoes I’ve ever had, but close to them is a pair of featherlight CX300s. Old school 3 strap closure with wicked still carbon sole. Finally a 20 year older pair of Lake winter boots which I use for commuting down to -10.

  5. khal spencer says

    Two pairs of road shoes, one black pair and one grey pair that lock into Speedplays. Two pairs of SPDs for the mountainbike, gravel bike, tandem, cross bike, and touring bike, all of which have various generations of Shimano SPD pedals. Those who did not endure the old toe clips and straps don’t know what they are missing. Such as forgetting to loosen the toe straps and falling over at a stop light because you couldn’t get your feet out. Or, hitting a raccoon head on and doing a somersaulted ass-over-handlebars with bicycle still attached.

    My only regret is that I didn’t save my Detto Pietros. Like my first set of Avocet shoes, they were completely worn out and had suffered from too many rides in the northeast rain, but still, they were my very first dedicated “road bike shoes”. I even hammered in my own cleats, which you had to do back then because that’s how the shoes were set up. You rode on them for a while, took a look at where the pedal was putting a scuff on the sole, and then hammered in the cleats with little nails.

    1. khal spencer says

      Oh, two pairs for the road bikes and two pairs off-road or SPD is enough shoes for me. I replace them when they wear out such as the velcro stops being velcro, or when the tops separate from the soles. Otherwise, I keep using them as long as they work. Waste not, want not, as my high school biology teacher, a Quaker, used to say.

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