If you do a web search, cycling enthusiasts will praise the virtues of cycling shoes. They keep your feet in place on the pedals, the stiff soles give you more support and put less strain on your muscles.
But what if you’re riding a Santander Cycle and it’s not practical to have cycling shoes (not to mention frequent stops at lights and crossings)? What if you just don’t have the money for cycling shoes? But you still want to have relatively warm and dry feet when you arrive at your destination.
This is the case for Emily, one of our readers.
I’ve been commuter cycling in London for several years. I don’t want to use clip on shoes (my route has lots of traffic lights) so I’ve been searching for supportive cycling shoes for women. Trainers tend to be too wide/bulky and don’t fit waterproof covers, pumps are really unsupportive and so no good for long commutes – do you know of any affordable cycling shoes that don’t clip on, and are waterproof /would fit waterproof covers?
This would make my cycle ride much better in the winter!
You do have a few options – the first is getting yourself a pair of mountain biking shoes. Five Tens are popular as they have very good grip which is perfect for flat pedals.
However, Five Tens aren’t known for being waterproof, and apparently take ages to dry out (the old newspaper stuffing trick is rather essential). Keep an eye on your budget as a pair of these beauties will set you back around £100.
They can also be rather wide which could be more problematic when it comes to buying overshoes, but we’ll talk a bit more about that later.
If your focus is on good grips, trail running shoes and hiking boots are a decent shout.
Clarks have a range of Gore-Tex shoes and these have a lot of grip and are often narrower than Five Tens (price range of around £70).
Karrimor walking shoes have a firmer sole and better grips too. They’re the cheapest of the lot – you can get a pair for as little as £20.
What about overshoes?
Endura has recently launched the first ever overshoe for flat pedals. The MT500 Plus slips over normal shoes and zips up at the back with Velcro tabs to keep it in place. It fits with your normal shoe so that it doesn’t lose any grip.
It has a neoprene upper with a rubber sole which leaves most of the sole exposed and gives the shoes that bit of extra grip. The setback with the Endura shoes is the cost – they sell on Endura for £44.99 but you can get them on Wiggle for £42.74.
Eager does overshoes with a velcro fastening for £9.12 a pair too. They’re hand-made by a company in Wales.
Just be aware that using regular overshoes on flat pedals may cause them to tear as they won’t have such a close fit.
If you need more warmth, layer over the shoes, not under the shoes.
For extra protection against the wet weather, Sealskinz offer up waterproof cycling socks. They’re not cheap though. This pair of ankle-length socks will set you back £34.
Getting the right fit
It might be worth going up a few sizes for your overshoes so that they fit over your normal shoes.
This is a time when heading to the bike shop beats shopping online. Try on a few different pairs wearing the socks you’d normally wear to cycle so that you can get the best fit. Try the trainers with the overshoes if you can.
It’ll be better to try them on in the evening or afternoon – your feet will have expanded during the day so you’ll get the best fit.
Everybody has their own tactic when it comes to keeping their feet dry in the wetter months, so don’t rush when it comes to finding the right pair of shoes and/or overshoes for you.
Good luck on your search, Emily!
How do your feet survive winter cycling? Let us know in the comments below.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.