Spin Class Shoes Explained

Spin class. A class for people who are not cyclists but want to reap the benefits of being a cyclist. 2018 was really the breakout year for these classes and with places such as FlyCycle, Ministry of Burn, Aloha, and Firestation Fit opening centres across the Klang valley, it really did take the fitness scene by storm.

Let’s be honest. The similarities to cycling are there, but most of these classes do not measure your watts, distance, heart rate and all the training information that cyclists pay attention to. Instead, it’s more like an hour-long sitting down Zumba session, where you are working your upper body as well as legs by mimicking the dancing instructor on a bike at the front of the class.

Since you’re moving your upper body around a lot whilst pedalling, stabilising yourself on the bike is key to getting a good workout, and this is why most spin classes use clipless shoes. When clipped into the pedal you will have more control of your body due to the sheer fact that you and the bike machine have temporarily bonded together.

By using the clipless pedals, even when the upper body is moving around vigorously, you will always be attached to the machine and not risk slipping off the pedal and causing yourself some serious injury. This is why footwear choice is important in spin class.

It’s also important that you own your very own pair of shoes too, because size and shape wise, the borrowed shoe from the spin class centre might not be the right fit for you. Shoes are ultimately altered by the feet that wear them, and no two pairs of feet are the same. 

Most outdoor cyclists are quite particular with their shoes and spin class cyclists should also be similarly finicky. There are concerns about hygiene as well - think about nasty foot infections that you have no clue where they come from. Feet are a thriving ground for various microbes, most notably the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Many spots on your foot are vulnerable to fungus, most notably on the nails and to a lesser degree the area between two toes.

Don’t forget that we live in a country of relatively high humidity, which means communal shoes that are regularly exposed to moisture (in this case - sweat) will be more vulnerable to an excessive growth of fungus. There’s also such a thing as a virus that causes plantar warts - the human papillomarivus. It’s not easily transmitted through direct contact, requiring small cracks in the skin. Just like fungus, the virus loves moist environments.

Admittedly, these spin class shoes are cleaned regularly, but think about the many people who wear them who could also have any foot infections. Consider if you really want to take that risk.

If you’re anything like the Cycling Plus Malaysia team, you’d want your own set of kicks even for indoor cycling class. Or if this article has made you wary of sharing the communal sweat soaked shoes, it’s time to get your own. It all starts with recognising which system is used at your spin class.

Cleats

Cleats are plastic or metal protruding bolt on pieces underneath your shoe which help to attach the shoes to the pedals. There are many different types of cleats and pedal systems out there. To know what system your spin class is using it’s best to try and ask them.

You could try to recognise it yourself but generally it’s a safer bet to ask the owners of the place as they would know what they have set up. They could also point you in the right direction, give you the most compatible options. Try to really identify how many bolts the cleats need to attach to your shoe because this is what you will be basing your shoe choices on.

Shoes

Generally, cycling shoes come in either a two or three bolt system. We could explain what they are truly called - but every manufacturer has their own name for it, so let’s stick with simplicity. Usually, a three bolt system would mean the shoes probably come from the road bike segment, whilst the two bolt system would be from the mountain bike or touring section. If it’s a two bolt system then you are lucky because you can wear the shoe straight from home, as the cleats will be tucked into the soles. The three bolt system cleats does portrude from the sole, and they are usually not recommended to be walked on for long periods of time.

Shoes that we recommend

Shimano SH-MT3 (two bolt system)

Depending on the seller, these shoes can go anywhere between RM300-380. They are not the most fashionable looking shoes but they do get the job done. Some cyclist even go long distance touring on these shoes, which tells you a lot about the support and comfort they give. They are also good for people who have wide feet.

Shimano  SH-RT5 (two bolt system)

The better looking and more fashion forward brother of the SH-MT3, the RT5 is one good looking shoe. Its sleek and simple looking design really does make a statement and the Velcro straps do help with easy adjustments, unlike the laces on the MT3. The RT5 can be had in between RM450-480. We suggest sizing up if you have wide fit as they are sized a bit more narrow.

Shimano RP1 (Compatible with either two or three bolt systems)

If you are unsure what cleats are used at you spin class, you can just go ahead and buy these extremely affordable Shimano shoes as they can accept both. They have Velcro straps for ease of adjustments and are quite comfortable. At an entry level price of RM250-RM270, these are the cheapest shoes on this list, but it doesn’t mean they are no good. Unfortunately due to their design where it can accept either systems, whichever cleats you choose will protrude from the sole, meaning these are not the best shoes to be walking around in.

Remarks

We chose to highlight Shimano shoes because they are widely available in Malaysia, but any cyclist will tell you that the options for shoes are limitless.

There are even cycling shoes out there that look like normal sports shoes but unfortunately you’d have to purchase them online internationally.

But perhaps the most important thing to remember is this: some shoes fit wide feet better whilst others might be too narrow.

This is quite important to remember when investing in your own shoes either for indoor or outdoor cycling, as the constant pushing and pulling motion whilst pedalling really does take a toll on your feet and may cause discomfort in the wrong pair of shoes.