Triathlon specific cycling shoes can make a big difference on you transition times. In this post, I’ll go over some of the features you should look for when choosing a pair. In order to take advantage of triathlon specific cycling shoes, you’ll need to be using clipless bike pedals.
Many of the features that make a great triathlon specific running shoe are also present in tri cycling shoes, let’s take a look at some of them. The shoe I’m going to use as an example of a good tri cycling shoe is the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly V Carbon which can be seen above.
Quick And Easy To Get On And Off
There are two approaches to getting your cycling shoes on and off in a triathlon. You can either put them on / take them off like you would any shoe while in the transition area or you can go with the “pro” method of putting them on / taking them off and do so while riding your bike. If you opt for the “pro” method, definitely practice it before race day. If you don’t have the technique down you could struggle with it and cost yourself a lot of valuable time.
Which ever approach you go with, getting your shoes on and off quickly is a must when the clock is ticking. The two features of a great tri cycling shoe that you want to look for to assist with this are a large, single velcro strap which is used to secure the shoe to your foot and a loop on the back of the shoe which helps you pull the shoe on or off. The Tri Fly V shown above has both. The velcro strap is large and easily accessible. Also notice the large loop on the back of the shoe which is offset, making it super easy to grab hold of. The loop is also sewn in such a way to create a second loop, useful for sticking your thumb in when putting the shoe on or taking it off.
Socks equal seconds lost. Tri specific running shoes are built to be worn without socks and tri cycling shoes are no different. Some things to be aware of when going sockless are comfort, ventilation, and drainage. To make up for the loss of protection provided by socks, tri cycling shoes typically feature liners to prevent seams and rough edges from rubbing against your skin. Ventilation and drainage are important because you want to keep your feet cool and dry during your ride. The Tri Fly V features drainage vents on the sole of the shoe which allow excess water from the swim to drain out and they also act as extra ventilation during the ride.
There aren't any substitutes for triathlon specific cycling shoes. They will save you all sorts of time in transition over traditional cycling shoes. One personal tip I'll throw out there is to choose something other than black if you have a color option. On a hot, sunny day black shoes can get warm.
I try not to promote brands on this site, but I will say that I’ve been wearing the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly series of shoes for as long as I can remember. I’ve never had any issues with them and they hold up really well. There are a couple of other brands out there, so go to your local tri shop and see what works best for you.