There are shoes made for every activity, and bicycling is no exception. As there are a variety of bicycling activities, there are also a variety of shoes made specifically for each activity. Before getting into the types of shoes made for cycling, you first need to decide what your budget is. This will help you narrow down your choices.
You don't want to spend more than you can afford, but you also don't want to go home with a shoddy pair of shoes. A decent pair of cycling shoes can be purchased for under $100, and, of course, you can go way higher than that. Once you've decided how much you want to spend, you need to focus on the kind of riding you intend to do. Will you be riding a road bike, mountain bike, or a BMX/freestyle bike? Are you looking to race or to just do your own thing and get some exercise in the process? Whether it's a road bike, mountain bike, or BMX bike, if you're just going to be a leisurely rider than almost any pair of athletic shoe will suffice.
Your only concern should be the grip of the sole. For safety's sake you need to be sure that your shoes are at least good enough to hold onto the pedals. Now, if you're going to be a little more serious about your riding then you need to start looking at more specialized shoes. First we'll start with cycling shoes made for road bikes. Shoes made for the serious road cyclist feature a cleat on the bottom which hooks onto specially made pedals. This design allows for maximum power transfer as it allows you to generate power while pushing down and raising your feet.
The disadvantage to this kind of shoe is that you're likely to wreck a few times as you acclimate yourself to them. Also, such shoes are no good to walk in as the cleat constantly gets in the way. Such shoes are made just for riding and racing. There are also road shoes which don't latch onto the pedals.
Typically these have smooth firm soles. Shoes made for mountain bike also may feature a cleat and binding system similar to road bikes. Typically, though, such shoes unhook easier because mountain bikers often have to remove their feet from the pedals. The more common type of mountain bike shoes don't latch on at all. They feature rugged soles similar to hiking boots and are, in fact, very similar to hiking boots.
For a recreational mountain biker, hiking boots will work just fine. BMX riders and freestylers use shoes which are very similar to shoes made for skateboarding. These shoes have stiff soles with excellent traction so they grip the pedals and provide as much power as possible.
The uppers on these shoes are strong and durable to withstand the beating they'll endure while doing tricks and flying around dirt tracks. If you're just an occasional bike rider, any pair of sneakers with a good sole will do, but if you're a more serious rider than you need to get a pair of specially made cycling shoes. They're produced by a variety of manufacturers based all over the world.
Figure out what your budget is, envision the sort of riding you intend to do, and do some research. Ask the pros at the local bike shop and look online for reviews and information.
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Beach, Florida. Find more about this as well as cycling apparel at http://www.cyclinggearplus.com