Friday Group Ride #323

Friday Group Ride #323

It says something about me (I’ll leave it to you to decide what), that I found myself this morning, sitting on the basement floor, with my new road shoes and a box filled with pedals and cleats. I don’t know how this happens, but as I spread the bits and pieces across the floor I found 3 sets of Look cleats, one set of broken, but possibly reparable, Look pedals, 2 sets of Shimano road pedals, and no SPD-SL cleats.

I have no one to blame but myself.

I texted some friends to see if they had Shimano cleats for me. They both did (OF COURSE THEY DID!!!), and promised to bring them into work. That left me with the option of sticking the Looks back together with chewing gum and limping to the office.

It is so like me to spring for a nice, new pair of road shoes and totally space my pedal set up. I must have thrown out my old cleats with my old, busted road shoes. That’s not a pro move. Not at all.

It took me too long to resolve to buy the shoes, during which period I switched over to mountain shoes on my road bike. That’s fine, but it bothered me. So I got a pair of Giro Factors (see above), which I love. This is not a review, but those shoes make me faster, full stop, and they come with three different arch support inserts. If you can manage it, I highly recommend you get a pair. My mountain shoes are Giro too, Privateers. I believe I have settled on their shoes as the coolest/bestest, a scale seldom used in product evaluations, but the only one I know. Don’t tell Mr. Blacksocks.

Pedal-wise, I’m running Shimano road (SPD-SL) and Time ATAC trail. I have arrived here after much experimentation, some disappointment, and not a little failure. Knowing that these are my choices makes it all the more mystifying that I found myself clawing through the bin for cleats this morning.

This week’s Group Ride is about shoes and pedals. What do you ride? Why? How much have you experimented? In all honesty, I think shoes are personal, like saddles. Me recommending a shoe really doesn’t mean it’s right for you, just that I like it. My feet are pretty average, though my aging body appreciates arch support more and more. Your results may vary.

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32 comments

  1. Ransom

    I’m mystified by pedal selection. I went from clips and straps straight to SPD. I’m on my second pair of Sidi Dominators. Which I love, despite the fact that I get a couple of hot spots up forward. I think I was initially enamored of the fluro-yellow/blue of the originals, and just stuck with them. I think I’ll try something new next time on the basis that there’s probably something that would be more comfortable and just as effective.

    In building a new road bike, I was all set to “cave” and get dedicated road shoes. Somehow I wound up with the road-esque mountain-cleat-style pedals ordered, and I guess I’ll keep rocking the Dominators a while longer. There’s plenty to laugh at about my ensemble generally before working your way down to the lugged soles I’m dragging through the wind…

  2. Isaac

    Right now Shimano shoes are working well for me. I am going on the cheap and running XT SPDs or equal on all my bikes so I just need one shoe.

    i tried some weird Look MTB pedals a few years back but the float was disconcerting on rough stuff after riding SPDs so long.

    I wish that the old Nike shoes were still available. I loved those!

    1. 32x20

      My road shoes are Nike carbon soles (with look pedals)…I don’t even remember the model name. Some climb in the tour, I think. They are FANTASTIC. I heard DMT made nike’s shoes back then. I’d like to try DMT mountain shoes, but don’t know where to try any on.

      I have Bontrager mtb shoes paired with cheap spd-520 pedals. I like the fit of the shoes, but have had the sole separate from the upper twice.

  3. bangacan

    I have been trying to find a replacement for my 10 year old Northwaves. I have wide feet and settled on the wide version of Lake 237’s. Northwaves are not as wide as they use to be. The lake’s are HUGE! lots of volume. Too much so I crafted a set of cork inserts to take up some of the volume and now they are great. In winter I can take out my custom inserts so I can wear heavier socks. I use basic Speedplay pedals. I like Look pedals better in some ways but city riding is just plain easier in the speedplays.

  4. Sophrosune

    I have a pair of Sidi 5s attached via a pair of Look Keo pedals. But my revelation was getting a vintage bike to ride L’Eroica rides. On that bike I have a pair of Vittoria 1976s with SPD cleats and attach via Shimano SPD road pedals. Fantastic. Super comfy. I can walk around like a normal person and I don’t lose much in the lack of stiffness. A true revelation for me who has been riding road shoes and pedals for 26 years.

  5. Andrew

    SPD’s on both the road bike and the mixed terrain road bike. I do a lot of my riding in the early morning, ending up at work, and I found I wasn’t really using the bike with road pedals/road shoes, since the shoes were such a PITA once I got off the bike. I have pair of Shimano carbon soled MTB shoes and pair of Specialized nylon/carbon shoes, and I really notice no difference compared to dedicated road bike shoes. MTB shoes are also a whole lot nicer if you do something stupid and have to walk.

  6. Mike

    I’ve had two sets of road pedals, cheap Wellgo SPD style pedals and now Look SPD pedals.

    The Wellgo’s were great because they came in a kit (I got them on amazon) with shoes and cleats and they were the first real pedals I had ever bought. The Look pedals I have now feel a bit better and are a lot lighter.

    As far as shoes right now I have some Shimano shoes that are so-so. I actually found that the shoes in the kit that I originally bought with the pedals are far more comfortable.

  7. Steve Salas

    Speedplay Zero pedals on the road bike matched up with Giro Trans shoes. I’d love it if Giro came out with some shoes with 4 hole soles. The CX bike has XT pedals and some old Shimano mountain bike shoes.

  8. Greg

    I stick with what worked 10 and 20 years ago. Mavic shoes and Time pedals, mountain and road. Mavic shoes because a pair I bought at a shop that has since closed fit almost 10 years ago. Replaced that pair once last year when I just couldn’t get.the funk out. Mavic replaced mid-90s Ullrich Adidas shoes.

    Time pedals on the mountain bike because I’ve had them since the mid 90s. That pair wore out just 3 years ago (bearings loosened up). Put Time pedals on the road bike about 2 years ago. They replaced Campy pedals from the mid 90s. Campy hadn’t made any changes since them. Trusted Time and a friend has raved about them on the road for 20 years.

    So I change shoes and pedals only slightly more often than bicycles. The industry would go out of business if every customer was like me.

  9. Dave in ME

    My pedal journey started with Sampson Stratics which were jettisoned once Speedplay Xs came out. Every once in a while I’ll get the urge to try out another system in case I am missing something, but I always come back to the Speedplays.
    As for shoes I began on Duegis, then Adidas and Sidi. Spent many years on the various iterations of Genius shoes before trying on some Shimano R215Es. Wow! Way stiffer and much more comfortable. I would likely still be on Shimanos except I got in an accident while living in Spain. One of the soles cracked so I headed to one of the local pro shops for replacements. After talking with the owner who was a retired Once pro I ended up with Specialized BG Pros and I’ve never worn anything else since. One recommendation – if you have wide feet like me you need the BG pros from 2008-2010. The newer versions are much narrower.

  10. Kimball

    Speedplay X2 pedals. Same pair going strong since 1996 and over 60,000 miles. I use the Speedplay grease gun once or twice a year and they are still going strong with original bearings. Love the smooth float for my knees and double sided entry.
    As far as shoes I have long, narrow, low volume feet so been using the Sidi Genius which comes in a narrow for the last 10 years. I replace the Sidi insole with a Specialized foot-bed that helps with my flat feet and all is good.

  11. Lyford

    Just got a pair of the Giro Privateers. Feel good, but I tightened them during the first ride and then found that they wouldn’t release. If you rachet them as tight as they’ll go the release lever is blocked by the base of the strap. Had to unscrew the buckle to release the strap. Cutting off the last two peaks on the rachet strap fixed the problem. Seems like a design flaw.

    I’ve been wearing Shimano shoes for many years — SPD mountain, SPD-SL road. No particular reason — just went with the herd.

  12. Grego

    For road and mountain use, doesn’t bother me:

    Shoes: all MTB; my last 3 pair have been Sidi, Giro, Shimano. They all are good, though the Sidis (Dom 5) are best.
    Insoles: SuperFeet black.
    Cleats: SPD single-release.
    Pedals: SPD, preferably XTR so the bearings will last. Though my 747s are still kicking…

  13. Roger Christensen

    A local distributor of Giro finagled me into a pair of road shoes. Easton EC70 soles. How could I say no? I didn’t know I needed a new pair of road shoes until I took them for a ride. Wow. My old shoes were that S company’s S Works ones. They don’t compare. My new mountain shoes are also Giro. Very nice. Huge fan.

  14. Aar

    Speedplay Zeros. I grabbed the first pair of X’s that I saw as soon as they hit the market and just switched to Zeros a few years ago when that first pair of X’s finally wore out. Prior to Speedplay it was Look, Campy (yes, those boat anchor first ever Campy clip less pedals), Time and a Mavic that had resistance-free float built into the body of the pedal.

    I just ordered my second pair of Bonts. For some reason, other than a pair of Lamsons (predecessor of D2), Bont are the only shoes I can find that last longer than a season for me. I tried Bont specifically for their Speedplay-specific 4 hole drilling option and found that I really like them. They fit closer to the foot than any others I’ve found.

    Since my Lamsons I have always used custom orthotics and find them to be nearly indispensable.

  15. Fausto

    Sidi and Leo’s. Love the fit of the shoes, hate the interface with the cleats/pedals. Bolts suck, and the squeak sucks but love both anyway.

  16. Peter Leach

    🙂
    I’m with you, Robot. Well, partly … I love my Giro Factors. But, they connect to my bike through Campagnolo cleats and ProFit pedals (a couple of sets of Record Titanium, as well as older Chorus and Veloce)
    Off road, I use some old Shimano lace-ups with SPD cleats and Wellgo pedals.
    Ride forever …

  17. Tulibo

    Wow, reading the comments I’m realizing I definitely have a shoe problem! As a commuter and in an effort to avoid hotspots and foot issues (and have dry shoes for the ride home) I switch up my shoes fairly regularly but always have 3-4 pairs I’m actively riding. Right now I’m using the bontrager XXX (the older all velcro version), pearl izumi pro leader ii, pearl isumi octane sl iii, and giro prolight slx. Before those I’ve used northwaves, an older pair of their top line velcro shoes I wore out and a newer pair of the extreme that have never not fit right, like Bangacan said, they’ve definitely reduced the shoe volume/width, and also rode a pair of lakes with the rear boa closure that I’ve never been happy with either, just an odd place for closure. Definitely an adherent to velcro closures ever since my first pair of cycling shoes from the S corp. with a ratcheting closure that had a catastrophic failure (to be fair, due to a crash) and even before that had some issues with icing up in winter and fit under shoe covers. To me the velcro has never failed, it easily adjustable, is lighter, and is simpler, all things I value on the bike. With pedals/cleats, my first ever bike came with shimano SPD-SL pedals and cleats and I’ve never looked back. Now with two road bikes, a cyclocross/foul weather commuter and even my spin bike with shimanos the prospect of switching is just too daunting to try something new. Shoe wise I’ve been eyeing Bonts, something about their funkyness appeals but I don’t have a local shop to try them on and their sizing is confusing at best. Sidi always seems to be held out by users as the greatest shoe out there but I’ve never had a pair, mainly because I have a strong aversion to paying anything more than 80% of MSRP and they’re higher end shoes don’t seem to hit much discount. That and spending over $200 for a pair of shoes makes me hesitant to ride them in the rain and snow and that’s not going to not happen.

    1. bangacan

      I too tried the Lake’s with the rear Boa and they hurt my feet like you would not believe! Of course they were not wide versions so that may be why. Definitely an odd way of tightening the shoe and likely only good for a small part of the population.

  18. Scotty

    I initially went with Shimano SPD pedals to replace the old toe strap pedals on my first road bike. I liked the idea of being able to walk around easily without bringing ‘normal’ shoes with me. But they just weren’t comfortable for longer rides, so I got some actual road shoes (inexpensive Specialized Sport with velcro straps) and Look Keo Classic pedals. The pedals stayed with my second bike when I sold it.

    My current bike already had Shimano SPD-SL pedals when I got it, so I merely swapped the cleats on my road shoes (still the cheap Spesh ones). I am a huge fan. The cleats are easier to walk on than Look cleats, and there’s no squeak in the pedal/cleat interface like my Looks sometimes had. They feel like they have the same amount of float and are just as easy to clip in and out of. So I guess I’ll stick with the SPD-SL system; it’s the only Shimano component I’ll allow on my bike. 😉

    When I have the money to justify it I’ll look into some nicer shoes, but so far the Spesh have been working well for me through three seasons. I am jonesing for a fancier closure system though, like a ratchet or Boa dial that I can adjust without stopping.

    For those who find that Specialized shoes fit them well, can you recommend any other brands with a similar fit?

    1. J W

      Nope. Tried Giro and Fizik’s, the Specialized’s just have more volume in the toe box and fit the best. If they work stay in Specialized. I ride a Giant and wanted to love the Fizi’s but for pure comfort the Specialized shoes wins.

  19. Dave

    Speedplay Zeros on both my road bikes with Lake CX402 shoes. Love the easy entry and float of the Zeros. The Lake shoes are terrible to walk in but terrific to ride in. I molded them in the oven at home and it worked out well. Previously I had a pair of Shimano R170 shoes which were really good shoes also.

  20. toro toro

    I ride Look pedals because pedals are like camera lens systems; once you start down any given route it’s more hassle than it’s worth to scrap existing equipment and change systems. First road bike I bought had Looks, therefore current bike has Looks.

    I’m riding Giro shoes at the moment, and that one may stick. I went through Northwaves, Gaernes, a few others, with varying levels of satisfaction – my feet are a little unusual. I bought a pair of the Factors, and absolutely loved them. With the assurance that the lasts were the same, I felt that the risk involved in shelling out the cost of some Prolight SLX IIs was negated, so that’s what I’m in at the moment. The Factors now serve for the winter…

  21. J W

    I currently have three shoes in rotation. A pair of older mid level Specialized, Giro Factors, and a pair of Fizik R1’s with the kangaroo uppers. All were purchased because they were too good of a deal to pass up. Of the three the Fizik’s are the most stylish and have the best build. I wanted them to be the best of the three. Though of all three it is the cheaper Specialized’s that just fit the best. For any longer ride it is the Specialized I will grab.

    For pedals I have only ridden Look Keo’s. 1st generation carbon blades on my road bike and Keo classics on my try bike. My wife rides speedplays and I just purchased a set of time expresso’s for our Son. All three for their strengths. The Keo’s just work, the speedplays for their dual sided entry, and the times due to their float and easy entry for a rider new to clip ins.

  22. Paul Thober

    I own 2 bikes, Spec. Tarmac and Merckx Corsa. Both have Shim. SPDs. I have two pair of Spec. MTB Comp shoes. I like the pedals because they are so easy to get into and because I have never come out of them unintentionally. I chose mountain bike shoes so that I can walk like a normal human being.

  23. Tom in Albany

    I’ve got Lakes for my road shoes. Really enjoy the boa lacing. Single know on the rear of the shoe that’s easy to adjust and they’re always right! I’ve got Ritchey Logic Pedal (look Keo style cleat) after reading a review of Padraig’s that spoke to them being a great pedal in the middle price range. I’ve enjoyed them thus far.

  24. Ric

    Road bike has always had (at least since the dawn of clipless) Time pedals. Currently Expresso 12’s. Have been using Specialized S Works road shoes for a while now, stepping up each with each new model. I am ready to buy the newest version. For me they work well. Dirt and CX its Shimano SPD and Specialized MTB shoes. Tried a few different dirt pedals over the years and have always come back to the Shimano. They just plain work.

  25. Rob

    Rode original LOOK delta’s for 20 years, then went to Keo2’s which for some reason caused IT band issues that I couldn’t remedy with shims or cleat placement. Picked up a used pair of Dura Ace which I think are probably the best pedals out there, but couldn’t see myself using Shimano pedals on a Campagnolo bike (yes, I know, it’s a sickness.) At various times I also tried Campagnolo ProFit’s (ridiculously difficult to get in to), and Time iClic’s which I liked a lot except for rapid cleat wear. These days it’s Speedplay Zero’s for the road and Ritchey Paradigm’s on the ‘cross bike.
    Been riding Sidi shoes since 1983 (Cycle titaniums with slotted cleats). They fit my feet (and are remarkably durable) so I’ll keep on riding Sidi until that changes.

  26. AG

    Sidi mega for my weird wide feet. Those are pretty much the only shoes that fit me well. I wanted the Giros to fit because they had the features and the look I liked, but even the wide size was just wrong for me. So, both my mtb shoes and road shoes are Sidi mega. And, since they look exactly the same (c’mon Sidi!) I have thrown the wrong shoes into the car.

  27. JLD

    I have same Giro Factors you have, I really like them. I’ve also tried Pearl Izumi and Fizik, and Giro fits me great and looks good.

    I recently jumped on the lace bandwagon and purchased a pair of Giro Empires, and must say I like the Factors better. With laces it is much more difficult to tighten both shoes exactly the same and the correct amount, which I am reminded about with every pedal stroke. And you can’t adjust them on the bike.

    I use Look Keo Blade pedals, never had a problem!

  28. Len

    Currently, Specialized Expert Road (2nd pair) wtih Time RXS Ti pedals – never had the desire to move to iClics. Previously, Sidis, 1st and 2nd generation Time shoes and pedals (3rd gen Time shoes felt way too narrow!), Lake’s (briefly – never felt right). Back in the toe clip days, it was mostly laced Diadora’s and Vittorias riding with SunTour Superbe Pro pedals. Had to nail cleats to the soles back then (and we walked 6 miles to and from school even in blizzards!).

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