Spin Shoes – Guide to Indoor Cycling Shoes

spin shoes - best shoes for spinning class

Have you recently started spin class? Spinning is an amazing workout, which is great at shredding calories.

Maybe you’ve noticed some of the others in class, wearing spin shoes…wondering if you should get some?

Wearing the right spin shoes can make a massive difference. They make your pedal strokes much more balanced, giving you a more efficient workout.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know, before buying your first pair of spin shoes. By the end you’ll be able to choose the right pair for your next class.

Here’s what’s covered:

What are Spin Shoes?

Spin shoes are a type of cycling shoe, but  you won’t see them marked up as “spin shoes”.

Cycling shoes are firmer than normal sneakers. They are also much closer fitting than normal sneakers, and they use cleats on the sole, which attach your feet to the bike pedals.

 Spin shoes are cycling shoes,

but not all cycling shoes are suitable for spin class…..

How Spin Shoes Work?

spin shoes on pedals

Most spin bikes will have pedals with a toe box on one side and clip in mechanism for the cleat to fix into on the reverse.

There are two main types of cycling shoe cleat designs:

3 bolt cleats like this:

3 bar cleat

These are typically SPD-SL or Look cleats.


2 bolt cleats like this:

2 bar cleat

These are SPD cleats.

The most common cleats in use for indoor cycling are the SPD standard. Official spinning machines use SPD and the vast majority of indoor bikes. This is the format used in touring and MTB (mountain bike) shoes.

spin shoe with spd cleat

Most cycling shoes don’t come with the cleats, so you’ll need to buy a pair separately and then fix the cleats to the shoes yourself.

spin shoes fixing spd cleats


Most gyms use the SPD cleat format.

The SPD cleat is recessed, so wearing cycling shoes with SPD cleats doesn’t damage the gym floor.

You can walk and even exercise in them, this is invaluable for types of spin classes, which do work on and off the bike

The spinning pedals will have a toe box on one side then an SPD mechanism on the other similar to this.

spinning pedal with spd mechanismKeiser-Spin-Bike-Pedal-Right-sm

If in doubt, ask your gym what cleat type they use on the pedals before buying.


The Benefits of Having Spin Shoes

Buying some proper indoor cycling shoes will change the quality of your spin workout.

When you pedal with normal sneakers you push down with each foot in turn, so your quads, glutes and calf muscles do all the work.

muscles worked spinning with normal shoes

When using cycling shoes, as well as pushing you also pull up with the pedals. This means you’ll be able to work all the other leg muscles much more. Toning not only your quads, but also now your hamstrings at the back of your thighs, and flexors in both the hips and lower front of legs.

extra muscles worked wearing spin shoes

Being able to pull with the pedals also makes your pedal stroke more fluid and much better for your knees.

The fact you clip your  feet to the pedals will stop the play often found if using a toe cage, making it easier on climbs.

Cycling shoes have stiffer soles than regular sneakers. This means they transfer much more power to the pedals. These stiffer soles will also stop your feet from arching around the pedal and going numb.

Which type of cycling shoe should you wear for spin class?

Cycling shoe categories differ in the firmness of the shoe and the design of the cleat on the bottom of the shoe. They can also differ quite a bit in the look and style of the shoe.

Generally the more expensive a cycling shoe the more rigid the sole. Starting from synthetic rubber. Then up to partial synthetic, partial carbon. Then all the way up to full carbon soles.

Both touring shoes and mountain bike shoes have the SPD recessed cleats. This means the cleat sits in the sole of the shoe and doesn’t touch the floor as your walk.

Road shoes have protruding SPD-SL or Look cleats. So they stick out below the sole and are very difficult to walk in. Many gyms will not allow road shoes as the cleats will damage wooden floors. They also have no grips and are very easy to fall over in.

Touring Shoes / Cross Road Shoes

touring spin shoesgiro womens tour spin shoe

Touring shoes are often called by different names:

  • Tour shoes
  • Cross (road) shoes
  • City shoes
  • Commute shoes

Their design is not only for cycling but also, some day to day walking. As such they have rubber soles, and look more like hiking shoes or normal gym sneakers.

Mountain Bike Shoes (MTB)

Mountain bike shoes ( often referred to simply as MTB) have a stiffer sole than touring shoes. Yet they will still have some degree of flex.

mount bike spin shoessidi dominator 7 mega wide mountain bike shoes sole

The sole is has a bumpy grip so you can walk or run with your bike through mud if needed. Not that most gyms are muddy, but this does make them a very practical shoe for both use in and out of spin class.

Road Shoes

Road shoes are the firmest and most efficient at transferring power to pedal. However, road shoes have extruding cleats, and no grip for walking in. They’re generally not suitable for spin class.

sidi ergo 4 mega wide road cycling shoes sole

You should buy either a touring shoe,

or a mountain bike shoe for spin class.

Women’s Spin Shoes vs Men’s Spin Shoes

Women’s feet are a different shape to men, and as such need a different type of spin shoe.

A women’s cycling shoe will have a narrower heel and ankle to foot ratio.

mans foot vs womans foot

This is why it’s so important women actually chose a woman’s cycling shoe, rather than a small men’s shoe.

Women’s cycling shoes are not smaller men’s cycling shoes.

Can I wear normal gym shoes for spin class?

You can wear a normal pair of gym sneakers for spinning, but you won’t be able to clip in. This means you won’t get all the benefits described above of using spin shoes.

You can use the toe cage on the spin pedals to keep your feet in on the pedal.

spinning pedal with spd mechanism

Do not push your foot all the way into the toe cage. This will lead to your foot going numb. Position the ball of your foot over the center of the pedal and tighten the toe cage.

spinning in normal shoes


How should spin shoes fit?

Good fitting spin shoes should be snug, but not tight on the heel.

They should be close throughout the foot and instep, but not pinch anywhere. Your feet will swell a bit when you’re hot. If they pinch a bit when you try them on, they will start to hurt when you’re working out.

Spin shoes are made to be firm and close fitting. They do not stretch over time, that’s part of their design. So make sure they fit well when you buy them, as they won’t break in.

fitting spin shoes

You should have room to wiggle your toes a small amount.

There should not be any large gaps around your feet anywhere.

The widest part of the shoe should be exactly where the ball of your foot is. If you’ve got particularly wide feet, check out our guide to wide cycling shoes.

A number of manufactures of cycling shoes use European sizing.

Here’s a handy reference chart to convert from Shimano sizes.

shimano shoe sizing chart for men and women


For more information see Shimano shoe sizing.

Spin Shoes At Flywheel

spin shoes for flywheel

When you sign up for a Flywheel class, they’ll ask you for your shoe size.

If you don’t already have your own spin shoes, Flywheel will provide you with free ones for class.

The shoes correlate with the bike number you reserve. So you’ll find them ready for you when you arrive.


Spin Shoes at Equinox

spin shoes for equinox

Equinox spinning bikes allow for 3 possible shoe attachments.

  • Toe box – using your normal gym shoes
  •  SPD cleat
  •  Look DELTA cleat


Spin Shoes at SoulCycle

spin shoes for soulcycle

SoulCycle, who are now owned by Equinox, clip into all their bikes with either of these cleat types:

  • SPD cleat
  • Look DELTA cleat

If you don’t have any spin shoes you can rent them for $3 a class. For your first class shoe rental is free.

Spin Shoes for Keiser Bikes

spin shoes for keiser bikeThe pedals on Keiser bikes provide 2 options:

  • Toe box – using your normal gym shoes
  • SPD cleat

Keiser-Spin-Bike-Pedal-Left-sm Keiser-Spin-Bike-Pedal-Right-sm

Spin Shoes for Schwinn Bikes

spin shoes for schwinn bikesThe pedals on Schwinn bikes only provide 1 option:

  • Foot strap for usage with normal gym shoes


How to fit cleats on to your spin shoes

When you first buy your spin shoes the cleats won’t be fitted. Most shoes won’t even come with cleats so you’ll need to buy them separately.

They’re very easy to install, this video shows you how.


Best Women’s Spinning Shoes for Indoor Cycling

Here’s some of the best spin shoes for women.

Best Mens Spinning Shoes for Indoor Cycling

Here’s some of the best spin shoes for men.