3

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Minimalist Footwear for Cycling

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 04, 2012 at 12:46 PM

So, after a long series of troubleshooting Plantar Faciitis, I discovered the source was biking, while wearing my VFF's. Not walking, even walking more than 20 miles a day, but as little as a 2 mile bike ride in a pair of VFF's makes the symptoms return for at least 72 hours.

So, and this is a stretch, are there any minimalist shoe approaches to the cycling shoe? Perhaps a zero-drop heel with considerably less flex?

After a 3 mile quickie ride this morning in my very stiff Mossimo flip-flops, I'm considering making a pair of stiff-soled Huaraches or something to that effect, something was very pleasant about riding at 18-20mph with very cool feet.

But, if a quasi-open, zero-drop, and moderately stiff-soled bike shoe exists, I would love to hear about it.

P.S. I don't use clips currently. That either opens the door or closes it depending on the shoe.

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on August 30, 2013
at 01:18 PM

I ride frequently, and am similar to you. I peddle along at 13 mph on a mountain bike, maybe spending half my time to trails that are groomed, but too rough for road bikes. For me a simple pair of docksiders works great. Pretty stiff sole, and the leather keeps your feet warm, but they are designed to be well-ventilated so they don't suffocate. They do get a little clammy when I go through puddles or creeks, which is a bit of a downside. But I don't ride in the winter, so no biggie, really.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on August 05, 2012
at 07:48 PM

For me, the major drawback of cycling shoes is that they don't make women's shoes wide enough to fit my now-less-squished toes. I actually found my mtb shoes comfortable for walking the short distance from the bike rack to my office. But now I can barely squeeze my toes in them.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 05, 2012
at 02:28 PM

No way the block toes would fit in a clip smaller than a colander...but they matched the blocky pedals on the old Schwinn.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on August 05, 2012
at 02:25 PM

I went out beach riding yesterday and thought about barefoot. But it's like riding up a hill and I thought about the arch stress. Like ben's comment I went with ultrastiff: steel shank Oxford work shoes. Carrying the extra 5 lbs of shoe weight made for a little more work but calf pain is more acceptable to me than foot pain.

B1c65edef6f7f9379c7a9272e30586da

(314)

on August 05, 2012
at 12:51 PM

I have a couple of pairs of these- slip-ons and lace-ups- and they are fine for both cycling and walking. not optimal but a decent compromise for simplicity. their sizing can be weird, though; in Vans and Chucks I'm a ten, but in Chrome I'm a 9.5.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on August 05, 2012
at 01:18 AM

You need some old school Japanese getas. Like wood block flip flops kinda

1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on August 04, 2012
at 03:46 PM

I cannot deny the latter bit happens...

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on August 04, 2012
at 02:21 PM

Chucks don't fit my wide feets... I'm more a Vans OTW guy due to that. And, when worn w/out socks... they make a fierce stank.

C4a0c9f9a748f1d3354055bc6d020c7e

(298)

on August 04, 2012
at 01:42 PM

I have seen Keens with cleats on the bottom. http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/wall/shoes/men/pedal While they are not exactly minimalist, they are pretty close.

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10 Answers

3
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on August 04, 2012
at 03:30 PM

I'm not surprised that biking in VFF's can cause plantar fasciitis--much of the energy from your legs is spent deforming your foot instead of moving the pedals. In cycling shoes, stiffer means more comfortable as well as more efficient.

I would ask you to consider a high tech maximalist approach to cycling footwear. Modern road cycling shoes are stiff, lightweight, and well-ventilated. The retail prices are admittedly expensive, but you can watch for specials and closeouts at sites such as Bike Nashbar and Performance Bicycle. As others have mentioned, Keen and Shimano have open-toed options that accept mountain bike cleats.

The main drawback to cycling shoes is that they're not made for walking, especially road shoes. "Rideability" and "walkability" tend to be inversely related.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on August 05, 2012
at 07:48 PM

For me, the major drawback of cycling shoes is that they don't make women's shoes wide enough to fit my now-less-squished toes. I actually found my mtb shoes comfortable for walking the short distance from the bike rack to my office. But now I can barely squeeze my toes in them.

2
Cc8d2dd5fa56c97a0b02600d7be7a3f2

on August 05, 2012
at 09:14 AM

Assuming you don't have clip in pedals. I don't either. I've used Chrome bike messenger shoes for a couple years now. They have nylon reinforced soles to transfer power to the pedal and they look pretty cool, too.

http://www.chromebagsstore.com/shoes.html

B1c65edef6f7f9379c7a9272e30586da

(314)

on August 05, 2012
at 12:51 PM

I have a couple of pairs of these- slip-ons and lace-ups- and they are fine for both cycling and walking. not optimal but a decent compromise for simplicity. their sizing can be weird, though; in Vans and Chucks I'm a ten, but in Chrome I'm a 9.5.

2
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on August 04, 2012
at 05:50 PM

You wear VFFs because your feet were already designed to walk/run properly. However they weren't designed to efficiently push a little peddle over and over again with great amounts of force with a goal of rotating a wheel and delivering as much force as possible through your leg with every pedal stroke. Cycling in VFFs is like running in your old shoes. You are using the wrong tool for the job.

A minimal cycling shoe is great. They are very light and expensive. But incredibly stiff. Stiff = efficient. If you are going to keep using flat pedals, look at some shoes made just for that. Some lightweight downhill mountain bike shoes designed for flat pedals would work great. You can read reviews to gauge the degree of stiffness but if you are seated most of the time you won't notice much of a difference as long as they are decent shoes.

2
1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on August 04, 2012
at 01:56 PM

I may be taking a total stab in the dark, but what about a pair of chuck taylor converses? I cycle in those and haven't had any issues. The low-cut ones are pretty minimal as far as shoes go, have a stiff & flat bottom, and look pretty shnazzy to boot.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on August 04, 2012
at 02:21 PM

Chucks don't fit my wide feets... I'm more a Vans OTW guy due to that. And, when worn w/out socks... they make a fierce stank.

1407bd6152d9fdbc239250385159fea1

on August 04, 2012
at 03:46 PM

I cannot deny the latter bit happens...

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 05, 2012
at 01:26 AM

I use clips, and I wouldn't bike without them. I think going minimalist on a bike doesn't make sense... Our feet evolved to walk and run, not to bike. It is a very unnatural foot position, so why would you use minimalist shoes?

My suggestion is to get a good pair of mountain bike shoes (more comfortable than road, and typically have big cleats so you can walk in them) and a pair of egg beaters.

1
Dbbc316ff61d1204d89b080d1c4e09ee

on August 04, 2012
at 11:28 PM

I bike 4 times a week, about an hour each trip. I'm more of a enjoy-the-hawks-and-flowers kind of rider than a Tour de Whatever cyclist outfitted in an aerodynamic Micro-Max jersey. Recently I switched to a bike which allows me to sit with my back straight most of the time. So if you're that kind of bike rider, you might find the following helpful.

I wear SoftStar shoes, RunAmocs, with the 5mm trail shoes. They feel great. If you go with SoftStars, be sure to get the 5mm soles. I tried wearing my 2mm RunAmocs but with those I could feel the pedals too much.

I much prefer RunAmocs over the Merrell cross-training shoes which I had been using the previous years.

F5a8a14fc6a4d33c2563d0dd3066698a

(714)

on August 30, 2013
at 01:18 PM

I ride frequently, and am similar to you. I peddle along at 13 mph on a mountain bike, maybe spending half my time to trails that are groomed, but too rough for road bikes. For me a simple pair of docksiders works great. Pretty stiff sole, and the leather keeps your feet warm, but they are designed to be well-ventilated so they don't suffocate. They do get a little clammy when I go through puddles or creeks, which is a bit of a downside. But I don't ride in the winter, so no biggie, really.

1
19ff515e8ec02d95e8f2cf68c3ec1373

(1207)

on August 04, 2012
at 04:13 PM

While commuting I wear chacos. Otherwise for longer rides, clips are it. You need to efficiently transfer motion as a function for being a part of the machinery of movement. Therefore, clips become more necessary the longer you ride.

1
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on August 04, 2012
at 12:58 PM

I remember a sandal company had sandals that were cleat-able. I'll see if I can find what they were. It was about 10 years ago in Portland, OR.

Edit: It looks like Teva had a flip-flop that was cleat-able. Here's an example with egg-beater cleats. You could get something like this, and maybe poke a few more holes in the sole to strap it to your foot a little more securely than just the flip-flop straps.

I'm also seeing a lot of stiff-looking leather sandals, such as here and here. Those looks stiff enough to bike in, but still zero-drop or close to it.

The problem with going too minimal, of course, is that the sole won't be thick enough for the cleat (I'm assuming you've got a cleat system, be it spd or egg-beaters) making walking on the other end difficult. There are some other less minimal options that still give your toes some air.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, too. I have been walking for my commute, but I'm racking up too many miles and my plantar fasciitis has come back. I'd like to start biking again, but my toes no longer fit in my old bike shoes, and my huaraches don't have enough thickness to comfortably sit on top of the cleat. So thanks for this question, because it's reminding me I need to get new sandals to put my cleats on.

C4a0c9f9a748f1d3354055bc6d020c7e

(298)

on August 04, 2012
at 01:42 PM

I have seen Keens with cleats on the bottom. http://www.keenfootwear.com/us/en/wall/shoes/men/pedal While they are not exactly minimalist, they are pretty close.

0
0cea45ecf4b4706b61faef04883323ab

on August 30, 2013
at 09:58 AM

I had similar problems with VFF as a riding shoe. Wearing five toe shoes isn't comfortable on flat pedals that are too long (such as ergon) and are only comfortable if you curl your toes over the front of the pedal and let the rest of your frefoot do the work. Until there is a VFF pedal, try vibrams zero-drop regular (non-toe) shoe. (Avery good rehab shoe.) You can walk in them and ride in them. If you can ride in a stiff cycling shoe without crippling yourself, I agree that cycling isn't a "natural" repetitive motion. If you are very clever, print out a five toe pedal on a 3D printer, probably just around the foot balls (ball of foot and adjacent joints and ride barefoot. I would stay away from mountain bike shoes unless you ride on trails.

0
65052e5eab6f9c3429a7e319bdb92911

on July 29, 2013
at 02:38 AM

I mountain and road bike quite a bit, and if minimal footwear is your goal I would recommentd for VFF either there KSO trek or Spyridon, or even better Merrells True glove or Trail glove. Still zero drop, but a bit more ridged, better toe protection and still good if you have get off the bike to hoof it.

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