Addicted to spin class and ready to invest in your first pair of indoor cycling shoes? Smart gal. Cycling shoes can make a huge difference in both your comfort level on the bike and how efficient your pedal stroke is.
Unfortunately, if you are new to the world of cycling shoes, things can be a little confusing.
What type of cleats do I need? What’s the difference between 2-hole cleat patterns and 3-hole cleat patterns?
Don’t worry–we’re going to break it all down for you.
Below is a list of some of the things you should look for, where to buy spin shoes, and if you want to make things really easy, a cheat sheet list of five of the best pairs of women’s spinning shoes.
Why Buy Cycling Shoes
If you are new to indoor cycling, you do NOT need cycling shoes. You will be just fine using your sneakers for a while. That said, if you’ve got the spinning bug and think you’re going to be sticking with it for a while, then it’s time to invest in a pair of indoor cycling shoes.
Bike shoes with cleats (aka clips) provide a more stable and efficient platform for pedaling. This means more muscle groups are engaged providing a superior workout. It also keeps your ankles and legs in alignment which can reduce the chance of injury, as well as keeping you from accidentally slipping off the pedals.
- Read Also: Tips for Your First Spinning Class
Types of Cycling Shoes
Before you go shopping for spin shoes, understand that there are different types of cycling shoes and some are better suited for indoor cycling than others. Bike shoes fall into several different categories: road cycling shoes, mountain biking shoes, and casual/indoor cycling shoes. If you plan on doing other types of outdoor biking, you might want to consider buying either a road shoe or a mountain bike shoe.
Road cycling shoes tend to have a super stiff sole and the cleat (clip) protrudes from the sole. This makes them less ideal for the gym where you may want to lift weights or stretch before or after class. Even walking to the bathroom or water fountain can be awkward in road shoes.
- Read Also: The Best Women’s Road Cycling Shoes
Mountain bike shoes can be less awkward, but can also be a little bulkier and heavier than a shoe designed for indoor cycling. That said they also work for around-town riding, so if you are looking for a shoe you can use to do it all, you might want to consider a mountain bike shoe.
- Read Also: The Best Mountain Bike Shoes for Women
Most women will be best suited by a shoe specifically designed for indoor cycling and/or casual outdoor riding. Scroll down further to get the list of our favorites.
Types of Cleats
Cleats, also referred to as clips, are the pieces on the sole of the shoe that attaches to the pedals of your spin bike. Unfortunately for newbies, there are several different kinds of cleats (and corresponding pedals) which can make things confusing. That said, MOST spin bikes use a type of cleat called SPD. Some higher-end indoor cycling gyms may use other types of pedals, so it makes sense to ask before shopping.
Cycling shoes themselves will have either a 2-hole or 3-hole pattern on the bottom of the shoe that fits different types of cleats. SPD cleats, which are what most ladies will want for indoor cycling, fit on shoes with a 2-hole pattern on the bottom of the shoe. All of the shoes on our list have this 2-hole pattern; some have both a 3-hole and 2-hole pattern.
A 2-hole SPD cleat (left) vs a 3-hole road cleat (right)
Unfortunately, most shoes don’t come with the cleats. Generally, you have to buy them separately and the install them. This is NOT difficult to do, but if you are worried about it, your local bike shop can do it for you in 5 minutes or less.
If you buy SPD-compatible shoes, these are the cleats you’ll need.
Where to Buy
Ideally, you would you buy spin shoes from a local bike shop. This gives you the opportunity to try on several different shoes and see which fits you best. Unfortunately, many shops have pretty slim picking when it comes to women’s cycling shoes. If you find this to be the case, I’d recommend shopping online from a website that offers free returns. That way, you can try on a shoe and if it’s not comfortable, return it.
The 5 Best Spinning Shoes for Women
Pearl Izumi Select Road v5 Studio Bike Shoes
These shoes have been specifically designed for use in the hot environs of a cycling studio. With plenty of ventilation holes and a mesh upper above the toe, we appreciate that these shoes keep your feet from getting too sweaty.
They also have a slim profile and are lightweight so you won’t feel goofy walking around in bulky cycling shoes.
These shoes are also compatible with nearly every type of cleat — both 2 and 3 hole cleats — so if you’re not sure what kind you need, these are a safe buy.
Giro Techne Bike Shoes
Giro makes nice cycling gear and the Giro Techne shoe is no exception — even with the totally affordable pricetag on these.
The shoe has plenty of ventilation, a nice snug fit thanks to the three velcro straps, and stiff nylon soles. It isn’t anything too fancy, but it will get the job done.
The sole has both 2 and 3 hole cleat patterns.
Louis Garneau Opal Cycling Shoe
The Opal shoe is our favorite on this list for walking. The sole isn’t as stiff as many of the others which makes it ideal if you want to wear the shoes while lifting weights or need to run to the bathroom in the middle of class.
Because it uses laces rather than velcro or ratches it can also pass as a regular shoe when grabbing a coffee after class. This shoe has a 2-hole cleat pattern so works best with SPD pedals.
Louis Garneau Actifly Cycling Shoes
The Actifly shoes are intended for indoor riding and as such are SUPER breathable. Most of the shoe is made of mesh, so its not great for use outside, but works extremely well in a sweltering cycling studio.
The sole accepts both 2-hole and 3-hole cleat systems, but they aren’t recessed which can make walking around a bit awkward.
Tommaso Pista 100
This is THE best shoe on this list in terms of budget. It’s a decent shoe that will last quite a while and it won’t break the bank.
It also comes with cleats so you don’t have to order those separately. When ordering, you can choose either SPD-style cleats or Look Delta cleats. They do run a bit small, so order a size up.
Comparison Chart: Women’s Indoor Cycling Shoes
Still not sure which shoe to pick? Here’s how our picks stack up against each other.
|Shoe||MSRP||Cleat Type||Closure / Retention System|
|Pearl Izumi Select Road v5 Studio|
|2 and 3 hole||Velcro straps|
|Giro Techne Bike Shoes|
|2 and 3 hole||Velcro straps|
|Louis Garneau Opal Cycling Shoe||2 hole||Laces|
|Louis Garneau Actifly|
|2 and 3 hole||Velcro straps|
|Tommaso Pista 100|
|2 OR 3 hole (option to choose one or the other)||Velcro straps|