Which cycle shoes?

My Christmas present - an IOU note!

My Christmas present – an IOU note!

Let me take you back a couple of weeks and tell what I got for Christmas from Rachel.  Off came all the wrapping paper as I was watched by my family, only to discover a shoe box and a pretty light one at that.   After all the excitement of unwrapping the substantial sized box, strangely light, I found inside a simple little note saying “IOU a pair of cycle shoes.  Love from Rachel”.  So which cycle shoes should I go for?

Specialized Sonoma cycling shoes

Specialized Sonoma cycling shoes

This now has started a chain of thought about which kind of cycle shoes to buy.  Apparently the reasoning behind Rachel’s choice of present for me was:

  • I only have one pair, never mind the winter and summer shoes that many a decent cyclist will have
  • For the last SIX years I have complained about them being too big.  In fact I used to have some newspaper stuffed in the toe area to pad it out.  Trouble is, this was not a good solution on wet rides
  • For the last EIGHT years I have never been overly enthusiastic about my existing Specialized Sonoma shoes, although I guess they’ve been okay
  • The Sonomas are heavy, especially in the wet as the foam used in their construction is super-absorbant
  • The Sonomas are slightly worn out.  As my friend Barry recently pointed out, I do tend to wear things out beyond the reasonable limit.  This was partly based on Barry observing my paper thin tyres when I had TWO punctures on ONE ride with him
  • The Endura overshoes I have are really hard to pull on as the shoes are simply too big

So far I have visited THREE shops in search of the ideal shoe and none have quite leapt out as being the right shoe in terms of what I need.  Oh, I forgot to mention my “shopping list” or specification.  I want shoes that are compatible with Shimano SPD cleats, reasonable for walking short distances without falling over, breaking an arm, shoulder or anything else.  Additionally, I don’t want white shoes, which seem increasingly popular.  I want them to be practical and perform well on and off the bike, so they have to be comfortable.  The final consideration is that I want to look “normal” and not some extreme, hard core racer when everyone knows that is something I am not.

Specialized MTB Comp shoes1

Specialized MTB Comp shoes1

So far I have checked out a few shoes from Specialized and a possible contender has been the Comp MTB at £130.  I like the Boa S2 snap dial, meaning they’re easy to do up and loosen to take off.  They seem quite light, walking is possible but not brilliant.  The fit is too “snug” i.e. too narrow.  Not that I have narrow fat feet, instead I believe pretty normal ones.

We also popped into Trek Cycles at Milton Keynes (pretty nice outdoorsy and sporty collection of retailers) and took a good look at some Bontragers.  No denying they’re nice shoes but not quite what I’m after.  We also checked out Evans and their shoes.  Again some were nice but not quite right.

So the search goes on.  Next to check out will be Shimano – not expensive, locally available and said to be wider fitting.  Other possible brands worth a look are Giro and Mavic. Both of these offer some interesting and hopeful looking shoes

Thankfully there was no “use by” or “best before” date on the IOU note.  I think it might take me some time before I settle on the ideal shoes which I hope will last a good 10 years (and I’ll be retired then, hopefully!).

Related: Specialized Sonoma shoes review

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5 Responses to Which cycle shoes?

  1. Adam Bell says:

    I can sympathise Doug. I’ve got a pair of Sonoma shoes as well, although they’re not my main ones any more, but I still wear them occasionally when I want to blend in more as a civilian. To be honest, if you like the look of the Sonoma, why not simply buy a new pair, and just buy a new XXXL pair of rubberised overshoes?

    • doug says:

      Hi Adam, I do like the look of Sonamas, they’ve grown on me. Almost certainly I will end up with something different as I think I can do better. Besides, it’s nice to try different things!

  2. Barry Ensten says:

    Doug

    If you find specialised too narrow (as I do) try Northwave.

    Barry

  3. doug says:

    Adam, Velovoice, Barry

    I didn’t think it would be this easy. I got a pair of Bontragers at Pedalworks this afternoon. They fitted nicely and the right price and so I got them. Review and commentary to follow. I’m still tempted to look out for the others you guys suggested as it does make sense to have different shoes for different conditions.

    Mind you, I don’t think the story is completely over. Their construction is similar to the Sonomas with plenty of foam used in making them comfortable and the weight is about the same i.e. on the heavy side, so these points are not in their favour.

    If I do treat myself to some super-dooper lightweight carbon bicycle sometime it will make sense to have a corresponding pair of “summer” shoes as part of the deal. Don’t get the idea I’m eyeing up bikes now but maybe next year.

    And Rachel, thank you for my Christmas present!

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