Cycling Shoes

Triathlon Event  Hi TriathaNewbie!
Thanks for so many great resources.

I have a question about cycling shoes. I am a new triathlete (competing in two sprints and maybe an Olympic distance this summer), but consider myself pretty competitive and am hoping to really push myself.

I have never biked with clipless pedal & shoes but would definitely like to try them out, as I’ve heard so many positive things. I have done some research on the different types of pedals out there, and here is my situation:

  • Weather permitting, I frequently commute to work on the same bike that I will be doing my races with (a relatively entry-level road bike)

  • I live in Boston, where stop & go traffic and unpredictable conditions are not uncommon

  • I like to go to spin class, where the bikes are only SPD-compatible

To be compatible with my spin class as well as my commuting habits, I was thinking of getting a pair of mountain bike SPD-compatible shoes since they have more traction, and pedals with a platform and a clip-in side. However, a lot of my more seasoned triathlon friends recommend getting road shoes off the bat, which are stiffer and more comfortable on long rides, and pedals with bigger platforms such as the LOOK pedals. For spin class, they suggested getting a cheap pair of SPD-compatible shoes just for that, or just some SPD-cleats if my road shoes are compatible with multiple pedal types.

I’m torn on what to do! So much information out there that all seems pretty viable. Part of me feels that since I am new to racing AND I commute, the mountain bike shoes would be the best of both worlds. However, since most of my triathlon friends seem to think that LOOK pedals & road bike shoes offer a significant advantage, maybe I should be investing in those off the bat instead of needing to replace all my gear in a year or two! Especially since, like I said, I do want to be competitive…

Sorry for making this so long, but your advice would be super appreciated! Thanks a million.

Newbie but Ambitious! from Massachusetts

Triathlon Event  Hi NBA,
Thank you for contacting!

We will always tell a newbie to start off investing minimally in the sport until they they catch the triathlon bug, so we suggest that you go with the mountain bike SPD-compatible shoes for now. Where you know you will definitely use them, it’s a safe purchase.

After this summer, you’ll have two, maybe three triathlons under your belt and you can decide whether or not you want to start investing. Then you can start buying the gear that gives you an “atvantage”.

If you are as competitive as we think you might be, you won’t be happy with the advice above and will go out and get the LOOK pedals & road bike shoes anyways. It’s really all about what you can afford to do!

Be well.
~Niki staff Recommended Resources:


Triathlon Swim : – Get the low-down on gear and read tips for training and events.

Triathlon Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Triathlon Run : – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.

“Triathlete Profile
Read interviews of people like YOU who give advice on training, balance and much more.

There are Newbies Starting Triathlons Every Day. Today Just Happens to be YOUR Day!