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Yanto Barker: How to wear cycling shoes

Cyclist magazine
27 Mar 2017

Ex-pro and cycling style guru Yanto Barker discusses an item that can make or break your outfit

Traditionally, shoes were a nice way to add some extra style points to an ensemble. Now fashion and culture have changed a bit so kit is much brighter, but the right shoes still give you a chance to show some personality and attitude.

They’re your disco slippers, your dancing shoes. Think of the way Alberto Contador sashays his way up a climb – the wrong shoes would make him look much less elegant. 

Colour is crucially important. A white shoe is the most versatile all-round colour to match what you’re wearing or riding but they must be pristine. As with your Y-fronts, dirty white is never a good look.

Black shoes used to be a no-no but with kit more lairy these days they’re now acceptable and similarly versatile. In fact I can appreciate the understatement of a black pair because not every inch of your kit has to compete to shout the loudest.

Ultimately, though, black or white shoes are a bit of a cop-out. My view is that shoes should tie in to the rest of your outfit to bring it all together.

At a minimum they should match your helmet and glasses. I have a friend – let’s call him Curly Dan – who has three bikes, three helmets and three pairs of shoes that he bought to match different kit.

He’s one of the most well turned-out people I have ever seen on a bike, and everyone is impressed when he rocks up. He also smells amazing, but that’s another story.

Even if you don’t have the budget to do it like Dan you should still make an effort to match up shoes, bikes and kit. Your fashionable friends will thank you for it.

Fast not loose

Fastening systems are another important consideration. Laces are the most adjustable and look smart but I’ve seen guys get left behind on a club run because they had lace-ups and had to stop to re-tie them.

Who does that in the age of the Boa dial? Savages. Most pros favour Boas because they’re so much more convenient and easy to adjust on the move as your feet shrink or swell in the heat of a race.

That said, a pro would take sore feet any day if they felt like the shoe was lighter and stronger. You suffer like a dog anyway so if it helps you hold the wheel in front, a little more discomfort hardly makes a difference.

But for mere mortals I’d say comfort and fit have to be top priority, even to the extent of getting some custom-fitted. 

Lotto-Soudal pro Adam Hansen has taken this to the limit – he makes his own one-piece carbon shoes.

There’s a UCI rule that says all kit used in races must be available to purchase, so Hansen has made a business out of it. I’m guessing he only did this so he could race in them though – his shoes cost almost two grand a pair.

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