Spinning, like all sports, has its own sartorial standards. In fact, they go beyond padded bike shorts, with footwear topping the essential gear list. “Spinning without clip-ins is almost like downhill skiing in cross country skis,” says Matthew Pasqua, who’s finishing his master’s in exercise physiology at Columbia University. “You don’t have as much control or power.” Pasqua is also a Level 2 USA Cycling coach, a veritable Ph.D of cycling, and his creds are one of the reasons Spinning is having a renaissance. (Compare his accomplishments to the cheerleader DJ instructors of Spinning’s first wave.) We grilled the Bensonhurst-based biker and Equinox instructor on why exactly we need to buy another pair of shoes.
WHY BOTHER WITH SPINNING SHOES?
When you spin in sneakers a lot of your power is lost in the bending of the shoe and sole. Cycling shoes improve performance by getting the knee right over the ball of the foot. They also help prevent injuries like plantar fasciitis, strained heels and knee injuries.
DO CYCLING SHOES NEED TO BE PROFESSIONALLY FITTED AND TAKEN FOR A TEST RIDE?
Yes, because they should fit like dance shoes or ice skates—you don’t want much motion in the shoe, but you don’t want to cut off circulation. Also, you need to make sure the ball of your foot is over the spindle. A shop can adjust the cleat for this perfect alignment. I recommend getting shoes with floating cleats, meaning your foot can move a few degrees and you’re not totally locked in. And I prefer the wider triple cleat to the SPD cleat because its wider base gives you more power.
WHY IS THERE A HUGE RANGE IN PRICE?
Shoes with plastic soles break quickly. Plan on spending at least $150 and spring for a single carbon bed in the sole. Also you want the shoe to have plenty of aeration holes, and a ratchet adjustment system instead of just Velcro.
LET’S TALK MAKE AND MODEL FOR THE CASUAL SUNDAY SPINNER AND FOR THE SPIN FANATIC?
I love Sidi, an Italian brand. Their shoes are high-performance, well made, and very comfortable. The casual Spinner might like the Sidi Genius 5 (retail $270), and but the Sidi Ergo 2 (retail $394) is fantastic. It has something called a Boa system: you tighten the top of the shoe using a cord. There’s no pinching and it conforms to the natural curve of your foot.
Have you ever bought or borrowed Spinning shoes from a gym (like Soul Cycle)? Tell us, here!