What’s The Deal With Those “Clip-In” Bike Shoes?

clippagePhotographed by Ashley Batz.
There’s a reason why boutique indoor cycling studios including SoulCycle and Flywheel have riders wear specialized shoes that attach to the pedal. Actually, there are two.
"By attaching clips to any cycling shoe, you will be able to have a more challenging and safer ride," explains indoor cycling instructor Julia Baggish. "Clipping in eliminates the disastrous shoe-slipping-out-of-cage-oh-shit moments by creating a secure seal between the shoe and pedal, somewhat like the locking of skis and ski-boots."
It’s safety first, but efficiency second, explains Baggish. "We generally assume the pedaling motion to be a downward-centric motion (pushing down on the pedal), while in fact we have a complete 360 degrees to work with. Particularly when using moderate-to-high resistance, the ability to pull the pedal up will engage a larger set of muscles." This also applies when you’re riding a bike outdoors.
Some studios, like the ones mentioned above, have loaner cycling shoes on-hand, with the cleats already attached. If you want your own pair, you can find them at most major sporting good retailers or online. Once you have the shoe, you attach the cleats, which anchor your foot onto the pedal. There are multiple pedal designs, so if you're an indoor rider, call your gym or studio to see which style is compatible with the available equipment. Just remember in your post-class sweaty state of delirium, you need to detach from your bike before heading to the locker room.