If you’ve caught the indoor cycling bug or are interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, you’ll need the gear to optimize your workouts. And perhaps most important of all will be picking out the right pair of shoes. Though you can cycle in your regular sneakers, there are benefits to lacing up shoes specifically designed with pedaling physics in mind. We reached out to the experts to learn how to choose the best spin shoes—for every budget.
Meet the Expert
How to Choose the Best Spin Shoes
The first step is choosing the type of clips you’ll use. “I have trained and taught in both SPD and Delta clip compatible indoor cycling shoes,” says Ashley Calloway, an instructor at SoulCycle. Typically, you purchase your cleats separately from the indoor cycling shoe. SPD cleats are flat and have two holes, while Delta clips are a little bulkier and shaped like a triangle.
“If you tend to need more arch support and experience issues with plantar fasciitis, I recommend riding with Delta cleats. If you like your shoe to be easy to walk in after class, I'd recommend SPD cleats,” says Calloway. Calloway has this advice for beginners: “If you're a beginner, SPD cleats can be a bit tough to clip into your bike at first in comparison to Delta due to their size.”
Founder of Complete Tri, cycling writer, and coach Von Collins provides these tips for choosing the best spin shoes.
- You may need SPD cleats: Bike shoes come with three or four primary types of cleat designs, so getting the correct spin class is vital. “The vast majority of spin bikes call for SPD cleats. These are classic two-hole cleats that you find on many bikes and almost all spin bikes. Buying the wrong cleat type means you might not be able to use that shoe with a spin bike,” says Collins.
- Road bike cleats will keep you cooler: If you have issues with your feet perspiring or generally prefer not to have hot feet during class, consider a road bike shoe. These shoes are thinner and have more built-in ventilation. On the other hand, mountain bike shoes are usually a little thicker because they need to protect you from the scrapes and nicks you are likely to get on a mountain bike trail.
- Do you plan on walking in them?: If walking around the gym or studio without taking your shoes off is essential, consider getting a pair of shoes with recessed cleats. Recessed means that the cleats are sunken” into the shoe a bit, so if you walk on a hard surface, it is the sole of the shoe hitting, not the cleat. When cycling, the cleat finds the pedal, and you are in business. This is great for people who want the maintenance-free option of walking from a locker room or their car to the spin bike. Not having recessed cleats means the cleat could damage the floor while you walk, and you likely will need to carry the shoes until you get to your spin bike.
- Consider splurging: It can be tempting to saving that extra $20 or $30 when buying indoor cycling shoes. However, keep in mind that a good pair of bike shoes might last you for five years, or even ten, if you only use them indoors and store them safely when not in use. When you look at it that way, it makes sense to spend a little more on a shoe that will be comfortable and last longer.
The Best Spin Shoes
Jonathan Frey, CMO of Urban Bikes Direct, and Marvil Fit owner Marisella Villano, cycling and group trainer with over 20 years of experience, weigh in with their top picks for spin shoes.
“These shoes are my favorites that I currently teach in. I use delta cleats with these. I love them because they are very breathable, and I love the fun colors they come in. They also support my high arches and narrow feet and are sweat-wicking. They do run a bit small, so I recommend sizing up a half size,” says Calloway. These shoes are both delta and SPD compatible.
“I like an MTB or mountain shoe. MTB shoes are the best since they help avoid slippage with their slip-resistant bottoms. MTBs also have a sturdy base,” says Villano. They are breathable, made of synthetic leather, and can boost power transfer from you to the pedals with their reinforced soles.
“They make a great shoe too but are a bit pricey. The 2.0 is a great shoe that comes in three colors,” says Villano. There’s an upgraded version as well; she says: “The 3.0 is a sleeker version with more adjustments to make the shoe fit snugger on your foot. They run about $225.”
“Tommasso's Montagna 100 cycling shoes are excellent alternatives to TIEM's Slipstreams. The recessed cleat system makes for easy, worry-free walking. The soles are reinforced with fiberglass, ensuring the close-fitting yet breathable design is tough where it counts. Just keep in mind that these SPD-compatible shoes won't work with a Peleton,” says Frey.
“If you don't mind lacing up and maneuvering on a non-recessed cleat system, Tommasso's Strada Aria shoes are comfortable, breathable, and offer full compatibility with all cleat types. They even come bundled with SPD cleats, potentially making this an all-in-one purchase for some cyclists,” says Frey.
You can purchase these shoes with or without the SPD clip. Reviews say these shoes are well fitted for those with wide feet.
“While traditional cycling shoes can certainly help you boost your spin game, many indoor cyclists prefer a pair designed specifically for their environment. TIEM's Slipstream shoes are super breathable and slip right on, with nothing more than a single Velcro strap to get in slow you down. Best of all, the rubber outsoles and recessed SPD-compatible cleat mounts make it easier to walk without scuffing up the floors in your living space or workout area,” says Frey.
Calloway also recommends these shoes: “Tiem's are amazing if you love your cycling shoe to resemble sneakers. The SPD's cleats allow you to walk easily after class, or if you're teaching, it is a smooth transition from the bike to the floor. These fit true to size and also come in a ton of fun designs. These aren't as breathable given their sneaker-like design, but wearing thin socks will solve this problem. The adjustable straps are perfect for all foot widths.”
These shoes are best for less intense cycling work. “While this shoe will work, the others are sturdier for more intensity. If you are a rhythm rider, then you will just love these shoes. Some shoes have a camo print, snakeskin print, and a gold inlay,” says Villano.
“The Giro Rev road cycling shoe is a great basic road shoe at $100. You will be able to use only the spd with this one since it has a slip resistance bottom,” says Villano. The Rev is a gorgeous shoe with a three-strap system that makes it highly adjustable. You can get excellent traction with this supportive shoe.
“Legend's are pure luxury and a favorite at my studio. They come with Delta clips already installed, so you don't have to worry about purchasing them separately. They are lined with leather and have foam padding to help keep sweat and water out. They also have an antimicrobial upper mesh. They are very breathable and supportive as well,” says Calloway.