Shoes for the bike

In english, can anybody explain what the best type of bike shoe/pedal combo is for the novice triathlete.

I have some SPD ones as the shoes looked like I could walk in them but the road spec ones look much stiffer and have holes to let the sweat/water out......

I have small/fat feet if this helps?...


  • They all work on the same idea.

    Normaly onesided where you shove your big cleat(oh er miss)

    I started out and still use LOOK pedals, they cleats will bolt to most shoes.

    SPD ones sounds like you have mountain bike shoes/pedals?
  • This may or may not be helpful...

    I've just bought some shoes (Specialized Sport and pedals Shimano cheap ones!). Shoes feel good and I can hobble reasonable in them, but I do find them a faff to put on. Mine have lots of ventilation cold now but I can image in the summer they'd be great. I decided not to have the £100 tri shoes as I was being tight and it was just after Christmas. I am wondering if I made the wrong decision now. There is no way I could get into them clipped onto the bike as it was moving. Definitely ram my hoof in and get on the bike.
  • Yep; little two sided pedals. Shoes have cleats on but they are recessed below the sole.

    They clunk click OK, I'm way better with them than with flat normal pedals. Just wondered as they are classed as MTB and I don't have one of those wether I'm missing out on the other type.
  • MC most of us mortals "hobble" with the bike out of T1 and mount at the line.
    I can get OUT of them for T2 with no dramas and run on my feet.

    Secret is to learn how to unfasten them on the move then when done, slap you bare foot on top(as you normaly ride with them) thus they don't t*at the floor.

    Once both done, level the pedals and get ready to hop off and run with the bike.
  • Stump I can't actualy see a problem useing them. they fit the bike and you can wear the shoes.

    Onesided pedals and bike shoes, look the part(pounce)

    Something about the stiffness but that can cause problems to some feet
  • The speed of mount etc probably isn't that important as I'll be slow in transition anyway, its more the ride between transitions and wether or not it effects this
  • Still "slow" after my "episode" but

    The stiffer sole pushing down on the large area of pedal gives more force and feed back. cos all you want to do is go fast in straightish lines.

    Thats why they are used.

    MTB double sided to "click" easier on either side as you need to make it easier.
  • You're better off with a cleat that allows better transfer of power to the pedal. Therefore look or SPD SL are probably you're safest bet. Whether or not there's a big difference between the 2 I'm not sure.
  • The weenie MTB ones are easier to run / walk in, and in fairness for sprint and oly are probably fine. If you are looking at doing middle or long distance races where you're on the bike for 2hours+ then the larger cleat reduces the pressure and can be more comfortable.

    Personally I use Shimano TR02s on the cheapest Look pedals. If I was starting now then I'd probably opt for shimano SPD-SLs, but really there's not enough differnce to make me change.

    By novice then I'll assume you mean 'mid packer' in terms of there to complete rather than win, so a few seconds in transition doesn't mean all that much in the grand scheme. So you could argue that the MTB shoes and recessed cleats would be better. However, the problem is that they won't be that comfy if you try wearing them without socks, and trying to put socks on over wet feet is a hassle. So, I'd suggest you consider getting some of the John Luck or Gaerne tri shoes (both cheap) as these are both comfy to wear sockless and dry out really quickly.

    As for pedals, then the base shimano is the pick of the bunch really. There are few that could reliably tell the difference in performance between them. So save some pennies and get the cheap ones. Only reason I suggest the shimano ones is that they last better than the look ones which wear out fairly quickly, especially if you walk on tarmac in them.
  • Stump, I use spd pedals with road shoes and have had no problems so far. Instead of changing your whole pedal/shoe system you could get yourself some road shoes that will take an spd cleat. Then you have the option of changing to a "road" pedal at a later date.
  • I hadn't thought of socks!


    Duncan - No mate by novice I mean "has never done a tri of any sort and has first bike in 20 years" novice. Mid-Pack? No chance!

    MW - like it
  • Stump - well I didn't want to be presumptious as there have been people coming from top end cycling or running that manage to be competitive first season... ;-)

    Mister W's suggestion is good, but I'd suggest you make sure you get 3 bolt shoes and then use an adapter to fit the spd cleat as opposed to the rare and obsolete 2 bolt road shoes. Also be wary of gettting a 'road' shoe over a 'tri' shoe as some of them have a lot of straps and locking doodahs that are great for long rides, but a real pain when you're tryign to put them on in a hurry with wet and cold fingers.

  • Some entry level road shoes (particularly Shimano) have holes for "road" cleats and spds so you could look out for a pair of those, Stump. And I agree about the straps and locking doodahs. Look for a shoe with the minimal number of straps. My shoes have just two and I can get them on with one of the straps already fastened.
  • TT thanks I am thinking it is one to practise, probably along with a wet suit, paddling pool and no self respect lol

    I saw some Specialized shoes with a ratchet thing and 2 straps, the shop recommended against it for tri. although I don't think my transition times are going to threaten anybody...
  • 3 bolt adpapty whatsit? I new this was going to get technical at some point. I take the cleat down the shop and just point at the pretty shoes?
  • I have 2 straps and a rattshit thingy, on my Spidis.
    With my transition skills I'm not going to worry about an extra minute or 2 over IM distance.
    Just get what you are comfortable in- 180km is a long way and you dont want to be crippled when you get off the bike, your R's and back will already be sore when you get to T2, your feet don't need to be in agony to.
  • Stump - MTB cleats have 2 bolts holding them onto the shoe - side by side. Road cleats have 3 bolts arranged ina triangle with one in the middle under towards the front and then two towards the back. Note that the two are wider than on the MTB cleat so you cant' screw it on directly and need to use an adapter. If you want to use mtb type cleats then use an MTB shoe, if you want to use a road / tri shoe then spend the extra UKP30 and get the R540 road pedal. Obviously the above is more 'what I'd do is' than any gospel intstruction ;-)
  • Duncan - makes sense, Ta.
  • "probably along with a wet suit, paddling pool"

    I used my wesuit in a sauna plunge pool then practice hopping out and stripping off.

    Odd look was not the word!
  • Just to muddy the water for you even more, Stump. You can get road shoes that will take an MTB cleat (two bolt holes) or a road cleat (three bolt holes).

    Should I mention Speedplay pedals here (four bolts!!!)?
  • What do you do with 4 bolts!
    bolt each corner of your foot down? :-)
  • ....and you need a spanner to unclip ;-)
  • My spesh body geometry shoes take both spd & road cleats, and have the option of putting shims in the shoes should you have out of alignment knees & bits.

    Dont get too hung up about mtb -v- road nomenclature. Either works, and as a relative newby I'd suggest using all the kit you've already got until you a) know more about it, and what new kit you want, and b) the better/lighter wankier kit would actually make a difference to your speed/comfort. Quite a few of the more experienced pirates are ex/current MTB'ers and use spds on their IM bikes, and it dont seem to bother or slow them too much, although as a wannabe bike ponce I've got Look Keo Sprints ...

  • Are there people who buy new kit because they think it's going to make a difference instead of because it's pretty? Weird.
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