No type of fitness class leaves me sweatier than spinning. (I glisten during barre and drip during boot camp and Bikram, but I leave spin drenched.) And when I take off those clanky indoor cycling shoes after a 45-minute class, my feet smell worse than expired milk—and no, not the slightly sweet plant-based kind. (Consider this my public apology to the unlucky rider who has to wear them after me.)
So when I heard Flywheel recently started selling their very own shoes (meaning, yes, you can keep them in your gym bag), I thanked my non-stinky stars.
"We're really focused on our core rider who we know is very athletic, so we designed a more comfortable fit specifically meant for performance," Flywheel CEO Sarah Robb O'Hagan says of her reasoning behind redesigning the cleat—and offering them up for sale.
"We designed a more comfortable fit specifically meant for performance."
The Fly Fierce shoes ($128) hit studios nationwide mid-June, so you can now take them for a spin before deciding whether you want to shell out for your very own pair (you're already ponying up for a 10-class package, after all).
But if you want to skip the legwork, here's what happened the first time I clipped in with the brand new shoes.
Keep reading to see if the new Flywheel spinning shoes are worth the investment.
Look and fit
Upon first seeing the cleats, I'm a little underwhelmed by the design, TBH; I'm more impressed by a spin shoe that's a bit more fashion-forward. The style hasn't changed much from the old look—they're still black with three Velcro straps—but the turquoise pop of color does liven them up.
Once I slip them on, however, I immediately notice two major differences: Extra cushioning makes the shoes much more comfortable, and a gray mesh fabric allows my feet to breathe. This is no accident: "The fabric was designed to give more ventilation and dry faster," Robb O'Hagan says. "And there's antimicrobial technology, too, which sounds gross but is definitely something we want." Could this solve my stinky shoe woes? It's time to put them to the test.
How they felt during the ride
Robb O'Hagan explains to me that after rolling out new bikes this summer and fall, the shoes were the next piece of the puzzle. So I feel it's only right to try my new kicks on one of the redesigned bikes. But initially, the shoes and bike aren't a perfect match. It takes me longer than usual to get my feet securely clipped in, and when I look around the room, I notice I'm not the only one struggling. "The new bikes and shoes just need some loosening up, so it will become easier," a Flywheel team member assures me.
But once I'm in, I'm in. Even with many, many transitions from first position to third, my ankles don't slip out of the shoes the way they do at some other studios (or sometimes did with the old Flywheel shoes). "That was direct feedback we got from riders, so we designed the new ones to be a more secure fit," Robb O'Hagan says. Mission accomplished. Firmly attached to the pedals, I also have way more leeway to move from left to right in third position, helping me to stay on beat.
And after class, that breathable fabric has a noticeable impact on my sweaty—and stinky—feet. I may be soaking wet, but my shoes aren't the swampy vessels I've come to expect.
A step toward something bigger
After riding a mile (or 18) in the new shoes, I feel a little bad for judging them by their appearance right out of the box. They may not be the prettiest, but a few positive tweaks greatly improved my ride—which is what really matters. If you're a true Flywheel devotee (clipping in multiple times every week), purchasing your own pair is a worthwhile investment, and more casual cyclists will be grateful for the upgrade the next time they borrow shoes from the studio.
On the heels of the new bikes and shoes, not to mention the announcement that the Flywheel Anywhere bikes will be coming out in the fall (so you can spin at home), Robb O'Hagan offers up another nugget of intel: "We're focusing on how to make the experience better for those super-athletic riders that we know our core customers," she says. Seems like that "never coast" tagline doubles as a business philosophy.
If SoulCycle is more your speed, here's what you need to know about their new bikes. And these are the most luxe studios around the world.
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