You may have noticed that spin bike classes at your gym generate a near cult following. This intense group exercise is different from going on a ride on a traditional stationary bike. Spin bikes feature a weighted flywheel on the front that you can adjust to mimic climbing a mountain or sprinting toward a finish line. You don’t need special shoes for any spin bike class, because your traditional pair of athletic shoes should work fine. But if you attend class regularly, you might consider buying cycling shoes, because many spin bikes feature a pedal system that allows your shoes to connect to the pedals. This can provide a more efficient and powerful pedal stroke.
The flat pedal is what you probably had on your first outdoor bike. This pedal features a large, stable platform made of plastic or metal. You can wear any style of shoe with this style of pedal, but if you are participating in a spin class, supportive athletic shoes are helpful. This is the most basic spin bike pedal.
After a few spin classes, you may notice that other people are bringing a special pair of shoes for class. These shoes are difficult to walk in, but they make pedaling a breeze because they are fitted with a cleat on the sole of the shoe. The cleat is used to securely clip your shoe to the pedal. This makes your pedal stroke faster, more powerful and more efficient. Although you are clipping into the pedal, this style of pedal is called a clipless pedal. Some spin bikes feature a dual-sided pedal that accommodates both clipless shoes and regular shoes.
Toe cages were the first upgrade on stationary bikes from the flat pedal. These pedals have a metal or cloth strap on the top of one side of the pedal that forms a cage. You slide your foot into the cage. This allows you to pull up during your pedal’s upstroke; however, you do not need to wear special shoes. Some spin bikes are fitted with a hybrid pedal that has a clipless pedal on one side and a toe-cage on the other side.
Spin Bike Shoes
Knowing the type of pedal system that's on your spin bike is essential before buying bike shoes. There are various pedal brand names, and you must buy the cleat that fits the pedal on your spin bike. The most common pedal system is the SPD pedal. When looking at bike shoes, you want a shoe that has a stiff sole, which boosts your leverage during your pedal stroke and decreases foot fatigue. Because you are riding indoors, look for shoes that can "breathe" to help circulate air to your feet.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.