Having the right equipment can make all the difference while cycling. From head to toe, what your wear can improve your ride or be holding you back. Shoes are especially important while riding. They offer support, increase your power delivery to the wheels, and make the ride much more comfortable – you feel more one with the bike.
Wearing cleats is a great choice while cycling because it has a harder sole than normal shoes which can help you pedal more efficiently without much effort. The part of the cycling shoe that is a cleat is the mechanism that attaches the sole of your shoe to the pedals. There are many benefits to wearing cleats while cycling.
More Power During Rides – especially up hills and when accelerating.
As mentioned before, wearing cleats while cycling will help you pedal more efficiently while riding and give you more power as you pedal without having to give more effort. The two key differences between standard shoes on a flat pedal vs cycling shoes in cleats is: firstly the cleats enable you to add power on the “upstroke”, and secondly cycling shoes have a stiff sole. Normal shoes are designed to bend as you walk, and when riding with these on a bike some of the power your legs produce is lost in the flex in the shoe. The primary gain with cleats that clip into pedals is the ability to have an “upstroke” with one leg and a “downstroke” with the other at the same time. In normal shoes you can only push down on the pedal, meaning that your leg contributes nothing while your leg is going upwards. With cleats your main power output is the leg going downwards, but also the leg going upwards adds to this power. This is particularly relevant if you are standing up out of the seat for example climbing a hill or in a sprint. You can drive that attached knee upwards, markedly increasing your power to get over the hill or through the finish line. This is also useful if you need to accelerate to get past someone or through an intersection, and also when starting off from a stop sign. The “oneness” with the bike that the cleats enables, gives you a greater confidence that you can quickly be where you need to be.
Mountain Bike and Road Bike pedals
There are specific kinds of shoes and pedals for both road biking and mountain biking. The road biking ‘clipless’ pedals have stronger connectivity than the mountain biking specific pedals. The mountain bike ones are often easier to click into and out of (good for beginners, or if you need to quickly click out off road). The mountain bike cleats can often be integrated into shoes with a degree of flexibility in the sole which makes short walks easier than stiff road bike pedals. The question is do you want maximum power transfer, or greater flexibility to get in and out of them and to walk off the bike?
Wearing cleats during a ride is more comfortable than wearing regular sneakers. Cycling shoes with cleats into clipless pedals offer a stiffer sole that bends less than regular shoes, which allows cyclists to transfer force efficiently from their foot to the pedal. The stiff sole spreads the pressure across your foot, rather than parts of the pedals poking into the part of your foot over the pedal. This particularly is useful on longer rides.