Tips on Bike Shoe Fit and Sizing
Try these tips for getting a well fitted and comfortable bike shoe.
- Try shoes on when your feet are at their largest. This means in the afternoon or after you have been
physically active. Feet swell and it can make a difference if your normal foot size is at the upper limit of a
shoe size. You will often find that while on a multi hour ride you will need to loosen your straps later in the
afternoon when your feet start to swell.
- Try shoes on with the socks you will be wearing. This includes both summer and winter socks if you will use
them during several seasons. In winter when it is cold your feet won't swell as much but you will need extra
room for warmer socks. Splurge a little by buying lightweight soft wool socks that aren't overly bulky and your
feet won't feel cramped in winter. Merino wool is a beautiful thing!
- Take any custom orthotics or inserts you use for your fitting. Most cycling shoes have a flat footbed and
the insoles that come stock are not the greatest. If you have high arches or other distinguishing features, you
may want to use your own footbeds.
- If your feet are a non standard width and are either very wide or very narrow, consider a brand that has
different widths and half sizes. Sidi offers mega, normal and narrow widths and there are also several custom
manufacturers such as D2 Shoe offering width to fit. Most shoes have a range of half sizes.
Socks and Orthotics
When fitting bike shoes, make sure you are wearing your socks and any orthotics you normally wear when you ride.
This ensures you are getting the same feel of the shoe in the showroom as you will have on the bike. Fasten your
straps starting from the bottom of the shoe and work your way up.
Cycling shoes should have a snug fit. That means no slop anywhere. You need a bit of wiggle room for your toes
and your heel should fit snugly in the heel cup. When you walk slippage should be negligible at your heel even on
stiff soled shoes.
If the width is ok the uppers should not have creases of extra material on the insides of the foot. Conversely
if you find you don't have enough strap for the ratchet, buckles or cam system, or the hook and loop straps
(Velcro®) still have material showing at the bottom then you should look at moving up a size or going
wider. Modern synthetic materials in the uppers will not shrink or expand, so get the size that fits your foot.
It takes some time for the materials in most shoes to conform to your feet. Take a breather (no pun intended)
and let the shoes and your feet get to know each other. Stand up, sit down, adjust your straps if required and see
how they feel after 20 minutes. You may find your feet have pressure points or hot spots that were absent in the
beginning. Let the blood flow in your feet tell the story.
Buckles and lacing systems
Higher priced cycling shoes tend to have a wider array of buckles with cams, ratchets, and other closure
systems. Typically a high end shoe will have a combination of one or two ratchet buckles or cams highest on the
shoe followed by Velcro® straps toward the toes. The buckle systems allow a more secure fit and
better adjustability than a laceup or straight strap system.
Consider the lacing or strap system from a comfort perspective. As you are pedaling you will be pulling up on
your foot as well as pushing down. Are the materials comfortable over the top of your foot or are there pressure
points in certain areas?
Most cycling shoes with stiff soles, especially carbon soles
do not "break in" like a pair of hiking boots. If they are uncomfortable in the shop they will remain uncomfortable
on the bike. Cheaper shoes for urban casual use will become flexy over time and what seems like a break-in is more
often a break-down.
As mentioned elsewhere on this site the cycling shoe aside from your helmet is the most important accessory you
can buy. It is important not to skimp. Buy the best you can afford, because if you plan to do rides of several
hours or more you will need a good shoe.
Browse a wide selection of bike shoes here.