What makes a cycling shoe a cycling shoe?
1. The sole
The crucial characteristic of a cycling shoe is the sole because the stiffness of the sole determines the degree of power transmission. The soles of standard cycling shoes are made from Nylon. Possible reinforcements in the pedal area made from carbon partially enhance the stiffness. Demanding cyclists prefer soles with higher overall stiffness. These are soles made from Carbon-Nylon-composite material and of course soles made completely from carbon. The higher the carbon ratio of the sole the stiffer and more lightweight it is and the more expensive the shoe becomes.
All soles have a cleat cutout in the pedal area. MTB cycling shoes are compatible with SPD pedals, road bike shoes with SPD-SL pedals. Sidi cycling shoes are renowned among performance oriented cyclists and well known for their extremely high grade and efficient sole constructions.
2. Upper shoe
The upper shoe is responsible for a perfect hold within the cycling shoe. The foot must have a firm hold without sliding otherwise the power transfer would be reduced. In cycling shoes the upper shoe usually is made from faux leather. There are only a few high class shoes made from natural leather. The upper shoe should be ergonomically shaped, embrace the foot completely and feature a low friction finish. Summer cycling shoes have to be well ventilated, either by the use of mesh material or by perforations in the leather. The elasticity of the material should offer comfort without compromising the hold. Reinforcements in heels and toe areas provide additional firm hold.
3. The Fastening
The optimum fastening enables you to individually, quickly and easily adjust the cycling shoe to the shape of your foot. In this context it is important to keep in mind that the shoe might need to be re-adjusted on bike. For traditionalists the classic lacing system remains the best choice. On bike though it is difficult to lace. Lacing is accomplished in a much easier way either with Velcro straps which might give in over time though or with a combination of ratchet closure on the instep and Velcro straps across the front of the foot. Ratchet closures can be quickly and reliably fixated and they also allow for micro adjustment on bike. More and more cyclists opt for Dial closures (e.g. BOA). Fine wires serve as wide range lacing and are continuously adjustable with a dial closure. The dial closure is super easy to handle on bike. Dial closures are also combined with Velcro straps very often.
4. The insole
The insole of a cycling shoe should offer support for your foot and regulate the foot climate. For this purpose the insole should be ergonomically shaped, quickly wick moisture away and should feature a bacteriostatic, odour inhibiting surface. Often insoles can be removed and replaced with an individual insole. In some Scott cycling shoes the sole can be adjusted to the arch of the foot with two inserts of different thicknesses.