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Cycling to the Office PART 3: Footwear

If you’re a regular reader of Discerning Cyclist, you may have noticed that I’m a big advocate for stylish clothes that have performance aspects subtly built in suited for commuting on a bicycle. However, when it comes to cycling-friendly office shoes, I am, quite frankly, at a bit of a loss.
I’ve opted to wear my normal office shoes on my daily commute for the past year or so, and while it doesn’t really negatively affect my ride, it has led to the slow destruction through scuffing of – what were – some pretty nice shoes. And so as I hunt out some new shoes, I’m now also debating whether I should change my footwear tactics on the ride in.
Normally, this is where I’d bring β€˜stylish cycling clothes shoes you can cycle in’ to the equation. And while there are some cracking trainers with good cycling functionality (Chrome Industries spring to mind), there are few suitable for the office.
One of these β€˜few’ are Quoc Pham – who I recently reviewed – and are indeed one of the few bright lights in the market. Unfortunately, with their range starting at a spiky Β£119 – their cost may turn a few stomachs.
Smart Cycling Shoes

Footwear Approach

So, as I staggered barefoot through the office cycling footwear wilderness I stumbled upon an epiphany: why not ask my wonderful Twitter audience what they do for their commute?

Working on part 3 of Cycling to the Office series: Footwear. Do you wear the same shoes to work that you cycle in? (1/2)
β€” Discerning Cyclist (@discerningcyc) November 6, 2014

Or, do you change your shoes upon arrival? Also, do you have any smart shoes that you find well suited to cycling? (2/2)
β€” Discerning Cyclist (@discerningcyc) November 6, 2014

@discerningcyc nope, I commute in road cycle shoes and change into work shoes I leave under my desk. β€” Gary Thornton (@gthornton101) November 6, 2014

@discerningcyc Get a cheap pair of the HiTec waterproof walking boots, imo. Nice shoes in a bag, or left at work. β€” Jacques Le Singe (@John_the_Monkey) November 6, 2014

And, like that, my mind was made: cycle to the office in alternative footwear and either leave your smart shoes at work or bring them along with you. I don’t take much convincing sometimes.
Not only does that mean you can cycle in more functional, comfortable footwear, but you can also elongate the lifespan of your smarter shoes.
It goes against what I generally believe in regarding commuter cycling (i.e. wear what you want to wear at your destination during your ride), but sometimes mitigations are necessary.

What to wear?

Okay, so say you follow my new found belief of changing into your smarter shoes in the office, what do you actually wear on your commute?
Obviously there are out-and-out cycling shoes, which, in all honesty, I have minimal experience of. Obviously they’re great to cycle in, but not so great for walking – so bare this in mind if you have to walk any really distance from locking up your wheels to your office.
Then there are good old trainers. These are my preference overall as they are just exceptionally comfortable and do a sound job on the bike. However you may experience some waterproofing issues here.
So, if waterproof is what you want, there are obviously wellies. Not necessarily particularly comfortable though, but will undoubtedly keep your paws dry.
Then in the middle ground, as recommended by @John_the_Monkey, we have walking boots – comfortable, durable, usually waterproof resistant if not waterproof and with a good solid sole. He also recommended Hi-Tec due to their affordability.

Cycling Socks

But footwear doesn’t end at shoes – especially when it comes to cycling. There are few other occasions when socks will play such a prevalent part of your outfit as when you’re riding your bike due to the likelihood of your trousers β€˜riding’ higher themselves.
Do you need β€˜specialist’ cycling socks? I’d say it’s not overly important, although you can find some dashing cycling friendly pairs at Sako7Socks (review here) and Vulpine.
The minimum requirement when it comes to socks and bicycles, though – and this is a pet hate of the OCD side of my character – is that the two socks at least match. Please don’t wear odds socks. Please.  It upsets me and gives me nightmares.

Read Cycling to the Office – Part One: TROUSERS

Read Cycling to the Office – Part Two: SHIRTS

Pete Reynolds


1. πŸͺ–Fend ONE Folding Helmet
A folding helmet that actually looks good.

2. πŸ§₯Helly Hansen Hooded Rain Jacket
Stay dry in style.

3. 🧴Muc-Off Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit
Keep your bike feeling brand new.

4. πŸ‘–DUER-All Weather Jeans
Waterproof cycling jeans. Seriously.

5. πŸŽ’Rapha Reflective Backpack
A beautiful backpack that you can't miss.

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

2 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Two thoughts that might be helpful.

    First: waterproof socks, such as Sealskinz, can keep your feet dry and warm at least.

    Second: with trainers you can go all McGyver and waterproof your own trainers. You can get special sprays but I like the idea of the following using beeswax:

  2. The plus of the boots, for me, is warmth *and* waterproofing – only on the very coldest days am I forced to double up on socks πŸ™‚

    If I’m riding a flat pedalled bike in Summer, I go with trainers, generally (which ever I happen to be wearing when the errand &c needs running). The trainers I have would be way too cold in winter, I think πŸ™‚

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