Because of the pandemic, exercise bikes have seen a huge rise in popularity. Though you may not immediately consider it, riding with stiff sneakers might be less than ideal for indoor riding. Riding indoors comes with a different set of priorities. Though it likely won't be impossible to ride your exercise bike with the shoes you already own, you might prefer to use something optimized for the purpose.
Whether you're looking for high-quality kicks, or just something a little more durable as you grind out your indoor miles, having a good pair of indoor cycling shoes are designed differently than sneakers. The insides are built taller and thicker than the outside to better support the foot. This will help keep your legs in proper alignment while you're pumping them and should most definitely improve your workout experience.
Read on for my suggestions for the best indoor cycling shoes, or you can go to the bottom of my article for the things you need to know:
My Top Picks for Best Indoor Cycling Shoes
Best for Beginners: Tommaso Pista Women's Road Bike Cycling Spin Shoe Dual Cleat Compatibility
Best for Wide Feet: TIEM Slipstream
Best for Peloton: SHIMANO Women's RP2W SPD-SL Bike Parts, Standard
Best for Studio-to-Road Cycling: Giro Techne W Womens Cycling Shoes
Pearl Izumi Women's W Select Road v5 Studio Cycling Shoe Black
Designed for hot, humid indoor biking environment, Pearl Izumi Studio spin shoes pack a lot of features. The shoes come with Antimicrobial mesh uppers that prevent odor-causing fungus and bacteria. Pearl Izumi shoes provide a synthetic leather collar lining and a closed-cell foam padding that assists in shedding water and sweat.
These shoes come with updated polyethylene sock liners alongside Silvadur antimicrobial top sheets for added bacterial resistance and durability. The spin class shoes also have added ventilation holes in lasting boards that enhance breathability. Pearl Izumi cycling shoes are a great choice for indoor biking enthusiasts.
Louis Garneau, Women's Multi Air Flex Bike Shoes for Indoor Cycling
These are a great indoor footwear choice for fitness enthusiasts to spring into action in any spin class. These versatile shoes are flexible, lightweight, and breathable – making them an excellent option for all your riding needs. Whether you’re commuting, taking a spin class, or even weekend rides, the multi air flex outsole will provide your toes adequate room to flex.
These shoes also come with an HRS-80 system that keeps your heel firmly in place. What’s more, the footwear incorporates ventilated EVA insole to prevent overheating. Besides coming with Velcro straps and heel reflector, the shoes are compatible with SPD cleats.
Tommaso Pista Women's Road Bike Cycling Spin Shoe Dual Cleat Compatibility
Tommaso Pista shoes are designed to provide riders with optimum comfort and power transfer. The shoes offer stiff fiberglass reinforced polyamide soles for effective power transfer, as well as 3-strap adjustability and comfort. These triathlon shoes are available in 3 colors: black, blue, and silver.
These shoes come with durable synthetic leather with just the right amount of padding for ultimate comfort. Also, the shoes feature ventilated mesh portions to help keep your feet cool and dry. This footwear is a great choice for women riders looking for a perfect competition fit.
TIEM Slipstream - Indoor Cycling Spin Shoes, SPD Compatible
The TIEM Slipstreams are ultra-stylish sneakers that upbear remarkable style and comfort. The slip-on construction, single-strap closure, and breathable mesh toe box provide remarkable comfort and style. Generally, the slipstream combines an SPD compatible spin shoe with the aesthetic features of sneakers.
With the engineered mesh and athletic upper textile, the footwear provides excellent breathability all through the class. They also come with recessed SPD cleat along with the rubber outsole, which provides an easy way to walk around the studio while off the bike.
SHIMANO Women's RP2W SPD-SL Bike Parts, Standard
Shimano shoes deliver great quality and features in a stylish package. The durable and breathable shoes provide an effective way to transfer power to the pedals. For a more efficient up-stroke, the shoes come with WR62 that secures your feet into the best ergonomic position. The shoe ideal for recreational riders and club racers.
This footwear builds on a comfortable yet efficient nylon sole that is reinforced with fiberglass. These also feature an offset strap design that relieves pressure on the sensitive areas of your feet. What’s more, the shoes come with extra padded tongues that enhances comfort.
New Balance Women's Wx09 V1 Cycle Shoe
The New Balance cycle shoes are an ideal choice for indoor and outdoor use. The footwear features an adjustable midfoot strap, supportive synthetic overlays, and breathable mesh. Another great feature on the shoes is the full-length midsole board that provides essential power transfer to take you through any spin class.
This NBCycle shoes come with an impeccable sneaker-like style with stealthy inserts for your clips, which can work on any bike pedal or spin class studio. Generally, New Balance shoes are comfortable, stylish, and versatile.
Venzo Bicycle Men's or Women's Road Cycling Riding Shoes
The Venzo black shoes deliver award-winning technology along with unparalleled performance on bikes. The footwear comes with a breathable mesh design that soaks sweat and dries out quickly to give you a comfortable riding experience. The Venzo cycling shoe also features a synthetic upper and textile lining with removable sock liner.
These shoes feature a low-cut construction, which allows it to be lightweight – making it easy to go racing or ride indoor. Venzo shoes are made with full synthetic materials that prevent bad odor from your feet.
Giro Techne W Womens Cycling Shoes
Giro Techne delivers a solid product that combines style and comfort for women. The shoes are designed using a 3/2 nylon outsole that allows you to mount them to your bike for a better spin class experience. To provide maximum comfort, Giro Techne shoes come with a 3-strap retention system.
One fascinating feature is the universal cleat mount that allows you to use SPD or even Delta Cleat configurations. The shoes also boast of a comfortable insole that facilitates users to press more power to the pedals with ease.
Gavin Road Cycling Shoe SPD or Look Compatible
Gavin road shoes are remarkable cycling shoe pacesetters created using flexible yet durable synthetic materials and breathable mesh. The shoes are comfortable and easy to wear. Gavin road footwear allows air to pass through – preventing your feet from sweating even during intense routines.
These cycling shoes come with molded heel cups that offer excellent support. When it comes to the outsoles, Gavin utilizes nylon fiberglass reinforcement to make it rigid. Generally, the exterior is created to enhance the transfer of energy to the pedal strokes. You’ll hardly miss out on the loop straps along with the three adjustable hooks that make it easy to adjust the shoes and ensure a secure fit.
How to Choose Indoor Cycling Shoes
Carbon-soled shoes tend to be lighter and stiffer than their nylon-or carbon-reinforced counterparts. But when you're spinning on a trainer, you probably aren't as worried about weight as you are about comfort.
Don't forget that stiff shoes can cause stress on the knees and ankles, especially if your bike is firmly seated on the floor. A little bit of flex can vastly improve your comfort and alleviate overused joints without sacrificing much efficiency or power transfer.
2. Two or Three-Hole Cleats
Most road shoes use a three-bolt mounting system unless you're using Speedplay. Shoes for mountain bikes usually use a two-bolt setup. If you're looking to do spin classes or exercise on something like a Peleton bike, most spin bikes come with pedals that work with two-hole cleats.
While your road bike might have pedals screwed into the cranks, but if you're putting together a dedicated indoor machine, you might look into getting MTB shoes. With considerably more traction than road shoes, you're going to appreciate the investment, especially when you have to run to the bathroom mid-workout.
Riding inside is a sweaty proposition at the best of times, and the airflow keeps your feet cool as you spin down the road on a mountain bike is, of course, gone. A shoe that relies on pin-prick perforations, therefore, is going to become a sauna.
To keep your feet from becoming too sweaty and uncomfortable, you should look for a shoe that has mesh and an open design.
4. Gender-Specific Models
There are still gender-specific models that you should consider why many shoes are designed for men and women. It's wise to stick with the gender-specific shoes because the anatomy of men's and women's feet can differ.
As women tend to have smaller feet than men, women's shoes tend to be available in smaller sizes. Women also tend to have narrower heels, which leads to changes in the designs for women's shoes.
Women's shoes also tend to come in brighter colors instead of men's shoes, which primarily come in black.
5. Comfort and Fit
There is usually a give and take between comfort and fit when it comes to the best shoes.
The tighter and stiffer a shoe is, the more effective the power transfer from foot to pedal stroke. But stiff and tight fit shoes aren't always the most comfortable and can lead to numbness.
You're probably not going to be using these for running. You want these cycling shoes to help maximize your indoor workouts during spin class, so you'll need to find the best of both worlds.
They need to be comfortable enough not to hurt after long spin classes, while also being stiff enough to transfer the power that shoes for cycling are designed for.
Do you need special shoes for indoor cycling?
Yes, for two primary reasons: 1. If you're looking to improve your performance while taking spin class, and 2. plan to spend no small amount of time training on your exercise bike. If you're someone that cycles three to four times a week, it's best to have a shoe that's has been tailored to your specific feet for proper anatomic support.
How to install cleats on indoor cycling shoes?
Position your cleats under the ball of your foot. Also, consider how your feet naturally align with the pedal when your ride on your bike. Check this video.
How should indoor cycling shoes fit?
They should be snug, but not too tight. Always remember that cycling shoes tend to stretch over time. The fasteners should not pinch your feet, and your heel should be comfortable against the hard sole. When walking, you should not have any slip or wiggle room.