Spinning is an amazing workout, which is great at shredding calories.
Wearing the right spinning 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 the different types of cycling shoes and everything you need to know. By the end you’ll be able to choose the right pair of spin shoes for your next class.
Best spin shoes
In this guide
Other related guides
What's special about indoor cycling shoes
Cycling shoes come in many different types. Indoor cycling shoes are one type of cycling shoe.
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.
Indoor cycling shoes are cycling shoes, but not all cycling shoes are suitable for spin class
How cycling shoes work
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.
These clips are called cleats, but you will see them referred to as:
It all means the same – a cleat on the sole of the shoe, which clips into the pedal and then allows you to quick release when required.
The clipless naming comes from comparing them to an older design which wasn’t quick release. Cleats today release either by twisting your heels out away from the bike or from a sudden pull upwards.
There are two different types of clips (cleats)
- SPD Clips (2 bolt cleats)
- SPD-SL / Look Delta clips (3 bolt cleats)
It is important to understand the clip type of the bike you will be riding, before buying spinning shoes.
SPD compatible clips
Official spinning machines use SPD and the vast majority of indoor bikes. This is the format used in touring and MTB (mountain bike) shoes.
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.
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
What are indoor cycling shoes
- A type of cycling shoe, but you often won’t see them marked up as “indoor cycling shoes”
- They are firmer than normal sneakers
- They have cleats / clips on the bottom – either:
- Two bolt, SPD (used by most spin bikes)
- Three bolt SPD-SL / Look Delta (used for Peloton cycling shoes)
- If you choose a shoe with the wrong type of cleat, they won’t fit your spike bike
- If in doubt, ask your gym what cleat type they use on the pedals before buying
How to fit cleats
When you first buy your 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.
Benefits of cycling 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.
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.
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.
Benefits of cycling shoes
- Work all leg muscles by pulling the pedals as well as just pushing
- Stiff soles stop your feet wrapping around the pedals, transferring power more efficiently and preventing your feet from going numb
- Provide fluid cycle strokes reducing knee injuries and making it easier to climb
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 Delta 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
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.
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.
Using 3 bolt Look Delta clip shoes with an SPD spin bike
Some shoes like Tommaso Pista 100 are compatible with both the SPD and Look Delta cleats. If you get these you just need to buy the right cleats for your bike.
Another option are cleat adapters. These convert from 3 bolt SPD-SL / Look Delta shoes to SPD pedals
Using SPD shoes on a Peloton bike
Can you wear normal sneakers for spin?
You can wear a normal pair of gym sneakers for indoor cycling, but you won’t be able to clip in. This means you won’t get all the benefits of using cyling shoes.
You can use the toe cage on the spin pedals to keep your feet in on the pedal.
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.
How to use normal sneakers for spinning
- Position ball of foot over the center of pedal
- Tighten toe cage
- Buy either a touring/commuting cycling shoe or a mountain bike (MTB) shoe for spin class
- Do not buy road shoes unless you are using a Peloton bike (see Peloton cycling shoes)
Women's vs Mens cycling shoes
Women’s feet are a different shape to men, and as such need a different type of shoe.
A women’s cycling shoe will have a narrower heel and ankle to foot ratio.
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
- Women’s cycling shoes are not just smaller mens cycling shoes
How should cycling shoes fit?
Good fitting cycling 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.
Indoor cycling 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.
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.
How cycling shoes should fit
- Firm and snug fitting but not too tight on your heal
- Should not pinch anywhere – your feet will swell during workout
- Will not stretch or break-in
- Be able to wiggle your toes a little
- No big gaps around your feet
- Widest part of the shoe should be at the ball of your foot
Different indoor cycling classes and spin bikes
When you sign up for a Flywheel class, they’ll ask you for your shoe size.
If you don’t already have your own 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.
If you’re doing Flywheel at home, grab some of the Fly Fierce shoes, which are actually made by Flywheel.
Equinox spinning bikes allow for 3 possible shoe attachments.
- Toe box – using your normal gym shoes
- SPD cleat
- Look DELTA cleat
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 indoor cycling shoes you can rent them for $3 a class. For your first class shoe rental is free.
Best Women's Spinning Shoes
If you’re into Flywheel, there’s arguably nothing better than the indoor cycling shoes made by Flywheel themselves.
The upper has three velcro straps for a secure fit.
There are bags of mesh on the upper, helping to keep your feet cool and well ventilated.
The insole is designed to prevent numb feet. On the bottom the sole include heal and toe grips.
They only support 3 bolt Look Delta cleats, as used by Flywheel, but they come with them already attached. Meaning you can pull them out the box and jump straight on your bike.
The Pista 100 from Tommaso are the most popular spinning shoes. They come with cleats to fit any spin bike and are one of the cheapest available.
The upper is synthetic leather with padding to hug your foot.
The toe box and top has mesh, which maximises ventilation. The ventilatio is further aided by the breathability of the tongue and inner liner.
They fasten with three hook and loop velcro straps. These provide a comfortable, secure fit while remaining adjustable mid-spin.
The sole uses reinforced nylon, for efficient power transfer. On the sole are non-skid walking strips.
They fit both SPD 2 bolt clips or SPD-SL / Look Delta cleats. This means they will work with whichever spin bike you are going to be riding. They come with cleats included, so choose the right pair based on the spin bike you’ll be using.
The Tommaso Pista 100 are ideal particularly if this is your first time of buying cycling shoes.
The Air Flex by Lous Garneau provide a well ventilated design allowing your feet to remain cool during spin class or the daily commute.
The upper part of the shoe is synthetic leather and ventilation mesh. Within the shoe air can flow through the ventilated EVA insole.
The three hook and loop velcro fasteners hold the shoe tight, yet are freely adjusted while on your bike.
They are flexible for walking and provide good heel retention. The nylon fiberglass composite outsole, has recesses for SPD clips and flexes at the toe, yet supports your heel.
They come in four different color designs, so you’re sure to find a pair to suite your taste.
Air Flex are an ideal women’s indoor cycling shoe, which can double for leisure riding or commutes.
The SH-RP2 from Shimano are great women’s road shoe. They’re ideal for both road cycling and spin.
The upper is synthetic leather with large mesh ventilation strips across the top and toe box.
They fasten with three hook and loop velcro straps, providing a secure, snug, mid-spin adjustable fit. The sole is fiber-glass reinforced nylon, which transfer power to pedal efficiently.
Shimano uses an offset strap design, which relieves pressure on the more sensitive areas of your foot.
They are compatible with both two and three bolt clips meaning you can wear them with any spin bike you might find.
If you have wide feet, make sure to choose one of the sizes labeled up as such, e.g. “38 W US”
Shimano SH-RP2 from are ideal for indoor cycling or any road cycling.
The women’s X-ALP Seek VII from Pearl Izumi are lightweight and casual looking. The upper is a combination of synthetic and textile.
They use laces for fastening, which can make them difficult to adjust mid-spin. But on the flip-side the laces make them look like regular sneakers.
The out and midsole is Ethylene vinyl acetate (foam rubber to you and me). This sole provides comfortable cushioning while retaining good foot to pedal power transfer. The soles also have recesses for SPD cleats and large durable rubber lugs providing good grip for walking in.
They are available in two different colour designs of black/pink or gray/green.
The Pearl Izumi X-ALP Seek VII are a comfortable, women’s spinning shoe. They are ideal as a casual indoor cycling shoe that won’t make it obvious your’e wearing cycling shoes.
Whynd women’s spinning shoes from Giro, provide good balance between comfort and performance.
The upper is a breathable microfiber and mesh, which keeps the shoes lightweight.
They use a combination of lacing and hook and loop for fastening. The laces provide all-round pressure distribution. While the hook and loop keeps the laces tucked away from the bike. This prevents snagging but also allows for quick tightening or loosening mid-spin.
The insole has a medium arch support and has an antimicrobial treatment to prevent odour. The sole seats a recessed SPD cleat/clip and provides good grip for your walk to and from the spin class.
They are available in two color designs of black/green or gray/pink
The Giro Whynd provide for a comfortable spin, while retaining style.
The X-Alp Enduro IV from Pearl Izumi are a mountain bike shoe, but are also ideal for indoor cycling.
The upper is synthetic fabric, with only a few small mesh ventilation areas on the side and top of toe box. While you may loose ventilation, this small amount of mesh will keep you dry if you need to walk to spin class in the rain.
The tongue is well padded and made from a combination of foam and mesh.
They have a tri-strap closure system. The two lower straps are hook and loop, and the upper strap use a ratcheting buckle. The straps have a small amount of stretch, allowing you to flex your foot while walking or spinning.
The sole has plenty of grip for walking and has a recess for SPD clips.
The X-Alp Enduro IV function as a great women’s spinning shoe you can also go mountain biking in at the weekends.
The Civila women’s indoor cycling shoes from Giro are cute, stylish and don’t look like bike shoes. They come in two designs of black/blue or black/brown.
The upper is easy to wipe clean synthetic leather with ventilation holes on the side.
They fasten with laces, which can be a risk of getting caught in the spin bike and mean you can’t adjust mid spin.
Inside the shoes are comfortable and snug fitting. The insole fabric is treated with a anti-microbial shield to prevent odour causing microbes.
The outsole is nylon with a recess for SPD 2-bolt clips. The walking pads on the sole provide high traction grip and are replaceable.**
The All-road III from Pearl Izumi are a mountain bike shoe.
The upper has a comfortable low profile nylon design with padded collar.
There are ventilation holes in the toe box, on the sides and near the heal, to ensure your feet don’t overheat.
They are securely fastened with three hook and loop velcro fasteners, meaning they will hug your feet along their length, while being easy to adjust if necessary while on the bike.
The insole provides great, comfortable arch support. On the bottom the soles are made of gum rubber and offer plenty of grip, while also having a recess for SPD cleats.
Pearl Izumi designed the Tri Fly for triathlon. But they make for an ideal women’s spinning shoe, if you need Look Delta SPD-SL clips.
They can be used with normal gym spin bikes, via 3 bolt to SPD clip adapters.
The upper is three layers of composite full of ventilation mesh. This ensures your feet stay cool throughout your ride.
The triathlon design allows you to wear them without socks as the the upper is seamless and won’t rub your feet.
Slipping them on and off is easy, with the triathlon grab band at the back fo the shoe.
Fastening is via the two hook and loop velcro straps. They snuggly fit your feet with no pressure hotspots and if necessary are easy to adjust mid-spin.
The sole is carbon powder, giving them an great firmness for pedal power transfer, yet keeping them feature light.
They are available in white/gray or hot pink.
Pearl Izumi Tri Fly are an ideal Look Delta SPD-SL clip shoe, fitting like a sock, feather light and optimum power transfer.