Road Cycling Accessories

A Simple Guide to the Anatomy of a Road Cycling Shoe

We take a look at the ins and outs of a road cycling shoe

There are dozens of different styles of road bike these days, aimed at different people with varying transport needs and it sometimes seems each one has its own style of shoe!

Back in the day, the design of the shoe, based on race shoes, had to suit all. And they weren’t necessarily the good old days, bike shoes were all about putting the power into the pedal and almost nothing to do with comfort.

Today, whether it’s road racing, street riding, triathlon, leisure or touring there’s a shoe built for the job to suit both men and women and a lot of them are a joy to wear.

Why clip in?

You can get more performance for your effort because you add power as you pull up on the pedal as well as when you’re mashing down.

A beginner’s guide to clipping in

Clip in shoes fixes you to the bike, which might sound dangerous and scary, but they are simply disengaged by a quick twist of the foot moving the ankle outwards. They do take a little while to get used to but once you have you’ll wonder how you ever rode without them.

The anatomy of the road cycling shoe

Ankle Padding

Provides extra protection and comfort where it’s needed and keeps out flying debris


Systems vary from simple and effective Velcro straps to more the more precise ratchet systems used on higher end shoes

Cleat Attachment

This is where the cleats, which clip into your pedals attach to the shoe

Heel Cup

Designed to hold the foot into the shoe for a comfy ride and to stop the shoe rocking on the foot


Small vent holes in the sole are used for increased airflow to keep the feet cool.These may be bigger in triathlon shoes to allow water to drain from wet feet

Mesh Panels

These allow the feet to breathe and provide airflow on hot days

Sole Bumpers

Protect the sole of the shoe when you’re walking and stop you slipping


In cycle shoes generally, the middle layer of the sole is made stiff for optimum power transfer. You don’t want to waste pedal effort compressing a piece of squishy rubber. Super stiff carbon soles are good for racing; more flexible resin soles make it easier for leisure and town cyclists to walk in cycling shoes

You may also enjoy:

Buying Guide: Cycling Shoes

Reviewed: Scott RC women’s road shoe

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