-Generally speaking, your cycling shoes should be the tightest fitting shoes you own.
-You don’t want your foot crammed in there with your toes all curled up, or painful pressure points, but they should feel closer fitting than your normal shoes.
-If you need aftermarket insoles, you may want to go a half size up to account for the extra volume they’ll take up.
-Cycling shoes come in European sizes, which means you need to pay careful attention to the sizing charts. While a 44 might equate to a size 10 for most brands, some run larger and some smaller—just like with U.S. sized shoes.
-Most European brands (Northwave, Gaerne, etc…) will have a more narrow, low volume fit. Most American and Japanese brands (Shimano, Giro) with have a wider, more high volume fit.
Getting the fit right is very important for cycling shoes
2. TRYING THEM ON
-When trying on your shoes, you don’t need to stand up like with regular shoes—sitting down is fine.
-Wear the socks you plan on riding in. You might want to try them on with several different socks of varying thickness.
-A good rule of thumb for fit is to have about a thumbnail worth of length between the end of your big toe and the end of the shoe. This will give your feet some room to swell on a ride.
Since cycling socks are much thinner than casual socks, make sure you’re wearing them when you try your shoes on
-Cycling shoes should feel a little tighter than your everyday shoes, but still comfortable. Not overly constrictive, and not overly loose.
-If you really have to crank down on the closure to get a good fit, or if the shoes are wrinkling when you tighten them up, the shoes are either too big, or you may need to add an extra insole to take up more volume.
-Conversely, if you can barely get them to close, then the shoes are either too small, or you may need strap extenders (for shoes with a ratcheting buckle).
-Areas to pay attention to: your toes, the outsides of your feet, and the ball joints on the big and little toes. These are common areas where hotspots and discomfort can rear their ugly head.
-Remember: no matter how good the shoes look, if they hurt just sitting down, they will be agonizing while riding. The best shoes for you are the ones that fit.
Some shoes with velcro, like these Pogliaghi’s, can offer a more forgiving fit for people with very high or very low volume feet
4. ROUGH GUIDE TO FOOT TYPES AND BRANDS
-Standard Feet: Congrats! You have feet that are about average, which means they closely mirror the shape of most people, and so will fit shoes made from a standard last. You can take full advantage of pretty much any shoe brand out there, including:
-Northwave, Shimano, Gaerne, Pearl Izumi, Louis Garneau, Giro, Carnac, Nashbar, Lake, Diadora, and more
Our new selection of Gaerne cycling shoes offer a European style fit, but with plenty of room for adjustment
-Narrow Feet: You can tell if you have narrow feet if your feet have a lot of side to side wiggle room, or if the sides of the shoes pucker when you tighten them. Some brands, like Sidi actually make a narrow shape shoe for those with exceptionally narrow feet. Otherwise, you might find the following brands give you a good fit:
-Northwave, Gaerne, Pogliaghi
Northwave shoes are an excellent option for those with narrower or lower volume feet
-Low Volume Feet: Not be confused with narrow feet, low volume feet are vertically thin, and often require aftermarket insoles to help fill out a shoe. You can tell you have low volume feet if the width and length feel good, but you run out of strap before shoes fully tighten. Shoes from these companies have a little lower volume for a better fit
-Gaerne, Pearl Izumi (some models), Diadora
-Wide Feet/High Volume Feet: Wide and high volume feet are easily distinguished because shoes will feel very constricting. You may be unable to tighten the straps, feel your foot pressing uncomfortably against the sides of the shoes, or the shoes may have a bulging appearance. Most brands come with “wide” or “mega” models for those with very wide feet, or feet with a lot of vertical volume. If you find those a little too big, but still need some extra room to operate, check out shoes from these brands:
-Shimano, Giro, Lake, Louis Garneau
Lake shoes are an excellent fit for high volume and wide feet, thanks to a more forgiving last shape