Best Non-Cycling Shoes for Cycling [Top 7 “Normal” Shoes]
A special jersey, padded shorts – cycling socks even. Cycle clothing is big business, especially for those on the sportier side of riding a bike.
This phenomenon extends to what cyclists put on their feet to ride a bike. For cyclists whose ride currencies are average speed, maximum power, or metres climbed, cycling shoes are a wise investment.
But, we’ll let you into a little secret, riding a bike – especially at a leisurely pace in town or as a way of getting to work – doesn’t mean you have to don a tonne of cycling-specific garb! We’d even wager that cycling clothing, high-vis gear and the dreaded lycra perhaps puts more people off riding a bike than you’d imagine.
In this Discerning Cyclist guide, we’ll showcase why cycling shoes aren’t the necessity you might have thought they were – “normal” shoes can be equally comfortable when riding a bike.
Are Cycling Shoes Necessary?
Yes, if you are aiming for a personal best on a Sunday morning, clipless cycling shoes are great! But they can be more trouble than they’re worth for leisurely commuters.
Riding in a pair of cycling-specific shoes will probably involve the rigmarole of carrying a pair of “normal” shoes to slip into at the ride’s end.
Plus there’s the faff of clipping in (and out) of cycling-specific pedals and the gut-busting effort required to also fit a pair of waterproof overshoes or shoe covers should it be raining. For the run-of-the-mill cyclist, clipless cycling shoes may well be unnecessary.
Can You Cycle with Regular Shoes?
Yes, you can cycle in regular shoes. Avoid using a pair of dogeared shoes – perhaps those trainers you’ve owned (however proudly!) for over five years.
They might be comfortable for loafing around the house or cutting about the office floor but start pedalling, and the edges may flex over the sides of the pedals, causing discomfort when riding.
Riding a bike with regular shoes can be made much more comfortable by equipping a bike with wide, supportive and grippy flat pedals. A large platform will give even the most flexible of shoes a stable base to push on.
Can I Wear Trainers for Cycling?
Yes, of course! Most trainers, whether sport or fashion orientated, will be fine for a quick dally on two wheels. That said, wearing trainers to ride a bike over long distances or in inclement weather isn’t a sensible idea.
Which Shoes Are Best for Cycling?
Riding a bike can be tough on both your body and your bike. So it’s sensible to have the correct footwear to handle the task.
A rigid sole is a key feature to look for in a pair of “normal” shoes that are still good for riding a bike. This feature will deliver an efficient transfer of pedalling effort to the rear wheel. However, we’d recommend some flex in the shoe to aid comfort when walking.
Waterproofing is a bonus feature for a pair of shoes that are good for cycling. Sodden feet when riding a bike is a sure way to put a frown on even the most ardent cyclist’s face.
Features like waterproof leather, a waterproof coating (often referred to as a DWR) or synthetic materials like Gore-Tex appear in the product description of plenty of “normal” shoes with a waterproof element.
Cycling Shoes vs Regular Shoes
|Cycling Shoes||Regular Shoes|
|Most efficient when pedalling||Won’t deliver the same power to the pedals|
|Comfortable riding long distances||Might start to grate if riding 15 minutes or more|
|For commuters, another pair of shoes might have to be carried||Cycle, work and live in the same pair – easy!|
|Another ‘expense’ when riding a bike||You may even own a pair already!|
Best “Normal” Shoes for Cycling for Men [Top 4]
- Chrome Storm 415 Traction Boot [REVIEW]
- Tropicfeel Geyser Weatherproof Trainer [REVIEW]
- Ecco Citytray [REVIEW]
- On Cloud Waterproof [REVIEW]
- 🇬🇧 £158
- 🇺🇸 $160
- 🇪🇺 €158
✅ Great for riding and living
✅ Looks very much like a “normal” shoe
✅ Available in two colours
Chrome Industries is a top brand in urban cycling shoes so perhaps they shouldn’t have a pair on our list of the best “normal” shoes. But their latest release, the Storm 415 Traction boot, is a cracker.
The boot features a new “traction” sole created in partnership with rubber manufacturer Panaracer. This sole offers excellent grip on the pedals and wet city streets. The shoe upper is made of waterproof leather, making it a suitable option for year-round cycling.
|Waterproof||Chunky boots won’t be for everyone|
|Excellent pedalling performance||Sizing can be difficult to get right|
|Will complement most outfits nicely|
- 🇬🇧 £119
- 🇺🇸 $159
- 🇪🇺 €159
✅ Urban look, outdoor performance
✅ Slip-resistant rubber sole
✅ Uses recycled wool
“The protection of rain boots, the comfort of sports sneakers, the grip of hiking shoes, and the look of your favourite daily pieces.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Tropicfeel. The Geyser sneakers are a multifunctional pair of shoes that could easily stand up to the rigours of riding a bike. They’re available in a standard trainer and a more supportive mid-rise shoe.
|Two different styles||Black colour only available in mid-rise|
|The waterproof membrane is seamless, so won’t rub or irritate|
- 🇬🇧 £170
- 🇺🇸 $200
- 🇪🇺 €170
✅ Natural performance of leather
✅ Waterproof Gore-Tex
The ECCO Citytray’s are a stylish and practical choice for office or client meetings. These shoes have a traditional office shoe design with a touch of polish. However, they stand out with the added feature of Gore-Tex waterproofing, typically found in outdoor and walking boots, which keeps your feet dry in wet weather.
|Fit for the office||Expensive|
|Style won’t suit all|
|Pedalling performance won’t be great|
Best Cycling Trainers
- 🇬🇧 £150
- 🇺🇸 $170
- 🇪🇺 €180
✅ Comfortable trainers
✅ Sustainable materials
✅ Reflectivity is good for cycling
On’s distinctive looks are popular for active people, and the waterproof Cloud 5 is a sensible option for those who ride a bike. The shoe offers a decent level of waterproofing, and during hot summer days, it will be breathable too. The Cloud 5 is available in both men’s and women’s options.
|Lots of colour choice||The modern look won’t suit all|
|Uses sustainable materials|
Best Everyday Shoes for Cycling for Women [Top 3]
- 🇬🇧 £125
- 🇺🇸 $125
- 🇪🇺 €125
✅ Plenty of colours
✅ Knit gives shoe a casual air
Inspired by tennis shoes, Vessi’s Weekend Sneaker is a casual trainer that could easily fit the bill for someone looking to ride a bike a short distance. As looks go, you’d be hard pressed to argue that these aren’t “normal” and that’s probably thanks to the knit-type pattern on the shoe upper. That knit isn’t all for show either, it’s waterproof – a feature, as we’ve seen, that’s great for a pair of shoes to ride in.
Unlike other shoes in our list, the Weekend Sneaker is actively marketed as washable – machine washable even.
|Dry sock guarantee||Low-rise won’t offer much support|
|Chunky sole to aid pedalling|
- 🇬🇧 £100
- 🇺🇸 $100
- 🇪🇺 €120
✅ Fits in well at the office
✅ Choose from a variety of colours
✅ High on the comfort stakes
Sometimes, just a simple pair of flat shoes do the trick. Flat shoes are smart enough to give off the right impression but can easily be dressed down for more casual events. Allbirds only do one flat shoe but it’s a doozy, with loads of green credentials to get excited about.
The Tree Breezer’s are made from a trio of green materials – an upper made from eucalyptus tree fibre, a sugarcane outsole and a caster bean insole. For riders, close attention should be paid to the insole. It delivers extra cushioning and because its infused with merino wool, the shoes will offer a decent level of breathability.
|Big environmental credentials||Won’t deal well with rain|
|Made from responsibly sourced materials|
|Allbirds are carbon neutral|
- 🇬🇧 £170
- 🇺🇸 $170
- 🇪🇺 €150
✅ Designed for active lifestyles
✅ Innovative use of Gore-Tex
✅ Good choice of colours
Ecco are already on our list of best non-cycling shoes for riding and they get another entry with the 720 W – a casual trainer-type shoe. Like the other Ecco shoe listed above, The 720 W uses GoreTex to provide a barrier against rain and road spray when riding a bike and puddles off it.
The midsole of the shoe has plenty of vents to help with breathability. If you end up late for work or an after-hours rendezvous, riding hard for a few miles shouldn’t make your feet too hot.
|Thick sole is good for riding||Very casual in style|
|Half rise is supportive|
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