I am in the market for new clip in cycling shoes and wanted some recommendations on what to consider when buying cycling shoes for triathlons. I'm relatively new to triathlons, but would like to do a half IM this summer and thought I would get some advice on shoes prior to purchasing a pair. Also, any advice on a particular bike shop would be helpful as well. And finally, any thoughts on bike fittings? Is the purpose to make you more comfortable on your bike or faster, or both. Thanks!
While your running shoes should be a 1/2 to a full size larger than your feet, the same cannot be said of cycling shoes. The cycling shoes fit should be very snugly, with very little wiggle room. Your feet should have very little movement in the shoes.
Cycling socks are a lot thinner than running socks. If you choose to wear one, purchase one and bring it with you when you are looking at cycling shoes. There are savages within DCTri who cycles without socks. Don't be a savage. Wear socks :)
Be aware that a lot of cycling shoes use the European sizing system. You will not know what your size is until you go to the shop and try on different sizes. When I first started, I looked up charts for translations of what my cycling shoes should be vs my running shoes. It was off by a sizes. Cycling shoes will be more expensive than running shoes, but will last for a very very very long time. Don't let the price intimidate you. I've worn the same one for 5 years and at least 30,000 miles under sun, rain, snow, and every weather conditions you can think of.
There are various types of cleats that goes with the shoes, depending on the type of pedal that you choose. Some cleats give greater degree of movements than others. What type of pedal should you choose? Go to a bike shop and try on various ones. For the most part, it's a personal choice. Some people feel "clicking" in and out of certain types of pedal easier than others. Also be cognizant that not all cycling shoes will fit all cycling cleats. Many of them are universal as far as cleat types are concerned, but not all of them. Cleats are designed for specific pedal types. That too, is not universal.
The purpose of a proper bike fitting is to make you as comfortable as possible, while at the same time put you in a position that would maximize your power output. It's a balance between the comfort vs proper power output. This in turn will maximize your speed.
If it's a tri bike, it's a combo of comfort, power output, and aero-ness. Comfort should trump everything else since you are not going to be able to apply a lot of power if you are hurting. Being as aero as possible isn't going to buy you anything if you ache everywhere during the ride or can't breath in your max aero position.
There are road bike shoes and triathlon bike shoes, but it doesn't mean that you can't wear one for the purpose of the other. The difference between a triathlon cycling shoe and a road bike shoe is the tri shoes' straps are all velcro. The velcro allows you to get in and out as quickly as possible. The road bike shoes, let's just say ... can be more intricate with the straps and knobs. Roadies don't care about changing shoes in transition areas. They can afford to take more time to be pretty :)
When you get a bike fit, they will take your shoes/cleats/pedal combo into considerations as part of the fit. They may also adjust the cleats in a manner that would make you most efficient with your pedal stroke while minimizing injuries. Improper cleat placements can cause a lot of knee issues. Your best bet is to go to multiple local bike shops, try on different pedals, and ask a lot of questions. Take their recommendations as a whole when you finally decide what to do.
Also keep in mind that your bike fit will change with time. The position that you are in when you are first starting out may not be the best position to be in once you are at your peak fitness.
That said - my feet swell in the summer so a bit of room is recommended bc I ended up pedally outside the shoe and eventually got new ones. I ordered mine on Zappos - love it and you can send them back -FREE. Although, I already knew the ones that I wanted - basically got the old ones 2 sizes bigger - darn European sizing.
Do you keep a library of all your responses so you can cut and paste the appropriate one or do you do this stuff from scratch each time? Dude. You are a machine!
I'll say it again ... I do my best work while on billable hours
Wow! Thank you all so much for the info. Much appreciated.