How to Use Cycling Shoes Properly

Types of cycling shoes

Cycling shoes might be uncomfortable to walk in, but if you’re on a bicycle – they have a lot of benefits. If you aren’t sure how to use cycling shoes or how to choose one – this is the right post for you.

But with so many different variations of cycling shoes, how do you know which type would you need, right?

It might seem very complicated, but it’s fairly easy to find your type and even choose cycling shoes from a market full of products.

And if you’re still struggling with one of the two mentioned things – this is the post for you. Keep on reading since you’ll know everything there is to know about cycling shoes by the end of the article.

Types of Cycling Shoes

Types of cycling shoes

There are a lot of different cycling shoe types, but the most common ones are the ones you should stick with. Especially if you’re looking for your first cycling shoes.

Going with the most common cycling shoe types, you will be able to easily learn how to use them properly.

The most common types of cycling shoes are:

  • Mountain bike shoes
  • Road bike shoes
  • Hybrid/city bike shoes

These shoe types come with a different closure type which can be one of the following:

  • Lace
  • Velcro
  • Ratchet system
  • Notched cam straps with buckles

Cycling velcro shoes

Lace closure type uses laces for tightening the shoes, while velcro uses velcro system. But what is a ratchet system you might wonder?

The ratchet system is one of the most common closure types for road cyclists and it uses a tooth which allows riders to adjust the tension very easily, even during the ride.

Notched cam straps with buckles are very similar to velcro, but they also have a quick-release and tension adjustment just like the ratchet system does. Therefore, it’s a combination of two closure types.

Which Cycling Shoes Do You Need?

Cycling shoes

It’s very simple to choose the type of cycling shoes depending on your riding style and preference.

Since there are cycling shoes made for each cycling discipline, you will want to go for the one that matches your discipline. If you’re a mountain bike rider – you will want mountain bike shoes.

However, what confuses most people is the closure type of shoes. But that’s not something that should confuse you.

It’s just a way to adjust and ensure your shoes fit you properly with a correct amount of tension throughout the ride. As a road cyclist, I prefer the ratchet system which allows me to adjust the tension of the shoes on the go.

What happens during long rides is that feet can swell a little bit, and having the ability to adjust the tension on the shoes without having to come off of my bike is priceless.

But if you’re starting out, velcro or laces closure type is also a great choice. There is no wrong choice, but try to find the closure type which will have the biggest benefits to you.

Just like the ratchet system closure has for me, which I’ve mentioned previously.

How to Get the Correct Size and Fit?

Cycling shoes fit

If you’re getting your first shoes, you might not know what to expect – but it’s crucial to understand that cycling shoes aren’t made like regular shoes.

Therefore, shoes should fit snug in the heel with even pressure on the instep, and yet shouldn’t be pressed against the end.

Remember, you should always have a little bit of toe room at the end, but make sure that the shoe holds your forefoot stable with no pinching or restrictions.

Might sound complicated, but once you try cycling shoes – you will know exactly what I am talking about.

How to Use Cycling Shoes?

How to use cycling shoes

Now when we have ensured that you know exactly how to choose cycling shoes and properly fit them to your size – we’ve come to the most important part.

Once you get the correct cycling shoes, you will have to get correct cycling pedals. These pedals will match the cycling shoes’ cleats which are located underneath the shoe.

Shoe cleet

Once you put your shoe’s cleet inside the pedal – you become locked to the pedals and the bike itself. That’s not very pleasant for beginners.

In order to properly use cycling shoes, you will have to learn how to clip them in the pedal, and most important – clip them out when you’re about to stop.

Most beginner riders clip themselves in and go on a ride only to go down from their bike the moment they stop. Why is that? Because they didn’t learn how to unclip the shoe from the pedal.

To clip the shoe in the pedal, all you have to line up the cleat with the pedal and force your foot down on the pedal until you hear a click sound. That’s the easy part.

The harder part is to learn how to unclip it – and I highly recommend you to practice it first before taking off.

I personally unclip the shoe from the pedal when the pedal is located at the top of the pedal stroke. This ensures you bend your knee and are in a better position to pull out the clip.

Then to unclip the shoe from the pedal, all you have to do is twist the foot out away of the bike. You will again hear a clicking sound which will let you know that you’ve successfully unclipped your shoe from the pedal.


Clipping and unclipping your shoes to the pedals will become second nature, even though it might look and feel scary at first.

I highly recommend you practice clipping and especially unclipping when you’re not moving. The last thing you want to do is to have a hard time unclipping the shoe from the pedal at the intersection.

Choosing the correct shoes & pedals, and fitting the shoes isn’t complicated at all – and I believe it’s the easier part of the job.

However, learning to how clip in and out isn’t as scary as we have all thought as beginners. But other than that, that’s pretty much how to use cycling shoes correctly.

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