The Ultimate Indoor Cycling Shoe Guide

The Ultimate Indoor Cycling Shoe Guide

With so many types of indoor cycling shoes to choose from, how do you pick the right pair for you? If you’ve ever wondered: How do I boil down the core features, riding considerations, and shoe models? Good news - you’ve come to the right place. To answer all your riding shoe questions, Shimano is excited to launch this Ultimate Indoor Cycling Shoe Guide to help you on your journey, whether you’re seeking function, fashion, or having it all!

Shimano Indoor Cycling IC2 shoes

Top 5 Feature Sets

First, let’s break down the Top 5 Feature Sets influencing shoe selection: Performance, Longevity, Comfort, Context, and of course, Fashion!

1) Performance

You want a shoe that amplifies your workout performance. Look for:

Sole Stiffness

Foot Fit & Shape Compatibility

Pedal System Compatibility 

 

SHimano SPD SH-IC200 indoor cycling shoe

A hard-bottomed, perfectly-fitted clip-in shoe ensures that every ounce of effort you’re putting into your ride is channeled directly into those pedals. Are you seeking to develop your performance around specific metrics, such as distance, wattage output, and speed? Or are you simply looking to get the most out of your workout, with minimal energy wasted? Whichever camp you fall under, you want to check all these performance feature boxes. (By the way, you’ll find every shoe this site’s shop does just that. Whew!)

Fun Fact: Did you know that “SPD” stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics? Learn more about the basics of clipping in here. We invented the SPD clip to optimize rider performance, safety, and walkability.

Installing Shimano SPD pedal cleats

2) Longevity

When you’re investing in riding shoes, you want them to be built to last. Check for:

Material Durability

Experience & Expertise

Warranty!

What are your shoes made of? Does the experience and focus of the brand run deep? Are you given a warranty? All these factors make a shoe that takes you the extra mile (or 1000 - and yes, pun intended).

With 25 years of footwear experience, we can share some material facts: synthetic leather makes for the most durable shoe. If you prefer the more flexible, ventilated mesh, materials described as “reinforced” and durable will take you a long way too. When it comes to shoe soles, fiberglass-reinforcement will stand the test of time - and intense riding!

Most important of all, longevity features actually play a key role in your riding safety: the last thing anyone wants is for a shoe to come apart during a fast sprint!

(With this in mind, we have some great news: every shoe in our shop is built for longevity.)

 

3) Comfort:

What makes you feel most comfortable during your workout? This feature set is up to you:

✅ Flexibility

Breathability

✅ Adjustability

What might sound like a no-brainer - picking workout shoes that are comfortable - actually varies rider to rider depending on your personal feeling of comfort. For example, one rider may enjoy the taught snugness that synthetic leather can provide, while another might prefer the ventilation and stretchiness of mesh. Some may like the give of velcro straps, while others want the BOAⓇ Dial system’s ability to get a precise fit adjustment to the foot. Some riders love the flexibility, swift in-and-out, and walkability of SPD cleats, and others want a larger, 3-hole / SPD-SL cleat with more surface-area contact with the pedal.

If you pick a shoe here, it’ll be with you for a while, so we suggest taking a moment to consider the above factors that resonate most with you!

Fun Fact: DYNALAST is another technology that helps provide riding comfort as well as efficiency, and we have Women-specific “last” technology designed to provide optimal support and comfort. Learn more about DYNALAST here.

Adjusting the BOA dial on shimano indoor cycling shoes

4) Context

Where are you riding? What are you doing before and after the ride? Maybe you ride outdoors as well as indoors. Or perhaps your workout has more than just cycling involved.

Based on your riding scenario, here are some elements you’ll want to consider:

Indoor vs. Outdoor

On-Bike vs. Off-Bike

Indoor vs. Outdoor - If you just ride indoors, an indoor-focused shoe will likely have a ventilated mesh material (like our ICs) to help you combat the heat that can build up without any of the wind you’d find outdoors. On the flipside, if you frequently ride outside, we suggest a shoe with synthetic leather (like our RCs), which makes it easier to dust off those outdoor elements! If you want just one pair of shoes that works for both, check your pedals: make sure the shoe’s cleat compatibility matches both your indoor and outdoor pedals.

By the way, did you know that you can use a cleat adapter to use any Shimano SPD-SL / 3-hole cleat compatible shoe with SPD / 2-hole clip-in cleats and pedals? Pick your favorite shoe without compromise!

On-Bike vs. Off-Bike - Do you go to a studio with fusion workouts (part cycling, part something else - like yoga or weight training)? Account for the transitional moments in between: walkability with a recessed SPD cleat, wide heel, and full-length rubber sole can make life much easier. SPD cleat compatibility will also give the fastest, easiest way to clip in and out of the pedal.

 

Indoor cycling with shimano

5) Fashion!

Like to ride in style? So do we! Our favorite elements:

Colors

Closures

✅ Straps

Riding in style can amp up the fun in your workout! Is a fiery red, light-reflective white, or classic black the best fit with your vibe? Does the BOAⓇ button or criss-cross closure fit best with your fashion sense?

Whatever you prefer, don’t be afraid to have a little fun and express yourself!

SHimano Indoor Cycling IC5 Red

Our Top Picks for Riding & Running the Class

Are you a fitness enthusiast? Instructor? Studio owner or operator? All of the above? Depending on your role in the ride, here are the top shoes we recommend:

Indoor Cycling Enthusiasts & Instructors: IC’s (IC1, IC2, & IC5)

Shimano Indoor Cycling Men's IC100

High-performance, comfortable, and designed to look sharp, any Shimano IC Series is ideal for the frequent indoor rider as well as the coach. The key differences depend on the cleats your pedal systems require (all are SPD-compatible while IC1 will also be 3-Hole, i.e. SPD-SL and Look Delta-compatible), and your stylistic preferences - IC5 comes in multiple colors and offers the BOA® Fit System for fit adjustment, whereas IC1 and IC2 offer Velcro crossover straps in classic black.

Studio Owners & Operators: RC1

The durability to withstand numerous rides along with and a simple strap-in closure system make RC1 the go-to shoe for the studio shoe rental fleet. The wide heel pads on the soles of the RC1 also support walking on slippery studio floors.

Indoor-Outdoor Riders: RC1 & RC3 (also Instructor & Enthusiast Friendly!)

Shimano RC1 & RC3 indoor cycling shoes

High-performance and durable enough to take on numerous rides, the RC shoes are built to last. The key differences will come down to color preferences, foot width, and for Men’s line, whether you want a BOA® Fit System or Velcro strap closure.

And - if you’re just getting started on your indoor cycling journey or still testing out indoor cycling shoe models, no sweat! Many of your local studios will have a pair of shoes for you to rent and try during class. Here, we’ve shared 5 ways to make indoor cycling feel more comfortable for anyone getting into the game.

 

The Shoe-by-Shoe Summary

Finally, here’s a quick list of each shoe offered on our site and each model’s most distinctive features.

As a quick shortcut for those looking for Wide sizes: check out the RC series - we’ve got your back!

IC1

Shimano SH-IC100 indoor cycling shoes

 

We love IC1’s breathability, comfort, and style. It’s compatible with all popular pedal systems and has criss-cross velcro straps to create a glove-like fit. This model comes in classic black, and any fun studio lights will give the closure strap a little glint. 

  • All Popular Pedal Systems (2-Hole & 3-Hole compatible!)
  • Cross Strap Closure System creates a perfect fit
  • Classic Black

IC2

Shimano Sh-IC200 indoor Cycling Shoes

You’ll notice this IC2 is nearly identical to IC1, with the exception that IC2 is exclusively compatible with SPD cleats with a 2-hole sole. As a result, the recessed cleat (the cleat sits flush with the outsole) means easy walkability.

  • SPD / 2-hole design
  • Rubber sole and recessed cleat make walking easy
  • Classic Black

IC5

Shimano SH-IC500 Red indoor cycling shoes

A women’s indoor cycling shoe, IC5 is designed to bridge technicality, style, perfect-fit, and in-studio walkability.

  • 3 Colors: Red, Purple, Black
  • BOA® Dial System
  • SPD / 2-hole design with recessed cleat make walking easy

RC1

Shimano SH-RC100 Indoor Cycling Shoes

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, the fitness enthusiast or studio owner, RC1 is the every-rider’s shoe. Built to last (and a bright yellow option for the men’s line):

  • SPD-SL / 3-hole cleat compatible
  • Perforated synthetic leather for durability and ventilation
  • Colors: Black, Navy, & Yellow (Men’s)

RC3

Shimano SH-RC300 indoor cycling shoes

Like the RC1 features, but want a BOA® Dial & more color options? This one’s for you:

  • SPD-SL / 3-hole cleat compatible
  • Perforated synthetic leather for durability and ventilation
  • BOA® Dial System
  • Colors: Black, White, Navy (Women’s), & Red (Men’s)
  • Also available in a wide fit option



We hope you found this guide useful! If so, feel welcome to share this Ultimate Indoor Cycling Shoe Guide with friends and fellow riders!

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