I love the simplicity of Shimano SPD Double Sided Pedals. (Left.)
I never have to look down to see which side is up, and they are easy to click in and out of.
They are ideal for the tourist or commuter, or the non-racing leisure rider like myself.
The main drawback I have found is finding a decent pair of road cycling shoes that are compatible with the two bolt cleats.
Strictly speaking these SPD pedals are mountain bike pedals and there is an abundance of mountain bike shoes available, but these all have the thick knobbley, rubber soles that look more like hiking boots than cycling shoes.
I also found the rubber knobbles tended to get caught up in the pedals, preventing a smooth clip in. Most road shoes have the three bolt cleat pattern and it is possible to fit adapters to covert to the two bolt cleats.
I tried this for a while, but road shoes have either a carbon fiber, or hard plastic sole, that is slicker ‘n snot. With these somewhat tiny SPD pedals this is not a good combination. More than once I failed to clip in on the first try and my foot slipped off the pedals, carving chunks of flesh from my ankle.
So I was more than pleased when I recently discovered the Giro Republic cycling shoe, designed with people like me in mind. (See picture above.)
The shoe has a stiff hard plastic sole, with two replaceable rubber pads either side of the SPD cleat. These rubber pads, along with a replaceable heel, not only make the shoe comfortable and easy to walk on, but acts as a guide for the cleat to engage with the pedals.
These shoes have laces that give them the old school look that I like. There are all manner of high tech fasteners for cycling shoes these days, but shoe laces are old tech and have been around since shoes were invented. They wear out, you replace ‘em.
The price of these shoes was around $150, but I shopped around and found a pair in a color I could live with, (The grey ones above.) for $74.98. I bought them from Competitive Cyclist. I have bought other clothing and helmets from them before, and have been very happy with their service.
Buying shoes online is always a crap shoot, conversions from European, to US sizes vary wildly between different brands. It seems these Giro shoes tend to run small, and as a result the first pair I got were too tight.
No problem, shipping was free, and a quick phone call to Competitive Cyclist and they emailed me a return label. I just resealed the box, stuck the label on, and dropped it off at my nearest UPS store.
I reordered another pair one Euro size bigger, they arrived within the week and fitted perfectly even with thick winter socks. If the length of the shoe is right, the laces take care of the width, and ensure a custom fit.
For those who might think about going to their local bike store to try on shoes then buy online ‘cos it’s cheaper. Please don’t do that, it is tacky. I don’t have decent bike store within 25 miles of my home, so I don’t buy much there. But if you are lucky enough to have a good bike store nearby, it is all about building a good relationship with them.
If you try on shoes but don’t buy, then show up a week or so later with a new pair of shoes on, they will know what you did, and all trust has flown out the window. So by all means buy online and save some money, but if you get the wrong size, send ‘em back like I did, and wait patiently for the right size.
Anyway, back to the Giro Republic shoes. I am very pleased. Clicking in and out has never been easier. These would be perfect for someone commuting to work. They come in black or brown leather, stylish and comfortable, you could walk around in these all day.
The purist roadie will say that cycling shoes are designed for riding the bike, not walking. That may be true, but at my age I do not want to be slipping and landing on my arse, as I carry my bike down my front steps. This could happen if I am wearing carbon fiber sole road shoes.
Addendum 11/22/15: I am using these Giro shoes with Shimano M540 Double Sided pedal pictured at the top of this piece. People are emailing me to say they have a problem clipping into these pedals with these same Giro shoes. I have experienced no such problem which would suggest there are variations either in the pedals or the shoes. Please take the issue up with Giro, as I don't have an answer.
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