Triathlon Shoes Vs Road Cycling Shoes – Which Are Best For Triathlon?

– See, when I started out in triathlon, I got myself a pair of triathlon shoes. And then it wasn’t until a few years later that I got myself a pair of
road cycling specific shoes and I couldn’t believe what
I’d been missing out on. Nowadays, I do all my cycling
training in my road shoes, and then I do my long-distance
triathlons in my road shoes, but then I do short-distance triathlons and draft-legal triathlons
in my tri shoes. Those are just my options, my preferences. There are so many pros and
cons to each of the shoes. So I think it’s time we
put them head to head in a triathlon shoe verses road shoe. [Pulsing whoosh] Now some of you may be watching this now scratching your heads and thinking, “Triathlon shoes for triathlons. “That’s what they’re designed for, surely. “You wouldn’t see the Brownlee Brothers “wearing road shoes for
draft-legal triathlons.” True, but in the same score, we quite often see the
likes of Jan Frodeno, Ben Hoffman, and Sebastian Kienle wearing road shoes. But before we get stuck into all of that, I think we should quickly run through the two different styles of shoes. First of all, the pure road-cycling shoe. They’re built for comfort and they’re designed to keep
the food secure in the shoe and for me, when I first
switched to road shoes it was the support within the shoes that I really noticed. It just felt like it held my foot better, particularly through the arch. And I’ve actually heard
athletes reporting that it’s helped to minimise injuries and also get rid of injuries
all together for them. Whereas, with a pair of triathlon shoes, they’re designed to get your feet in and out of them quickly, so they tend to have a
couple of Velcro straps across the top to help that, but that does also mean they
don’t always hold the feet quite as securely as a pair of road shoes. And then you will often find a little loop on the
back of triathlon shoes and that’s to help with
getting the shoe on quickly and you can actually use that loop for attaching elastic bands to if you’re doing a flying mount out of T1. And then another really
noticeable difference is with the materials used. So, obviously, you’re coming
out of the swim with wet feet, so they use materials that
are slightly more breathable to reduce the moisture within the shoe and then you will actually
find on some of the shoes, a small hole in the sole of the shoe and that is to drain out any water. And then finally, the
materials used within the shoes are there for comfort, particularly for those that are opting to race without socks. The obvious difference with these shoes comes down to the transitions. And this is where the triathlon
shoes are in their element. So whether you’re doing a flying mount or you’re putting your bike shoes on and then running out of your bike, they’re quick and easy to get into. And in draft-legal racing, where every second counts
through transition, to make those bike packs, you pretty much only see
triathlon-specific shoes. They’re relatively short races compared to an Ironman, for example. So whether you’re doing a
draft-legal race or not, if you’re only on the bike for a relatively short amount of time, you might welcome a few saved
seconds through transition. And for long-distance races, transitions are still important and time is still precious
for many athletes, but the odd second lost getting your feet into some road shoes
isn’t quite so obvious. In fact, for fans of road shoes, they would argue that
those few seconds lost getting your feet into, and
fastened into some road shoes is far outweighed by
the performance benefit and the time made up
over a long bike course. But you know what? I think we should just go and see how much time someone might be losing through transitions getting their feet into some road shoes verses
some triathlon shoes. Right, we’re gonna start the clock when I grab my bike from here. I’m going to run up to
the mount line up here which I’ve drawn out. [Beep] [Rock Scratching Pavement] [Beep] Obviously, mount after the mount line and then, we’re gonna stop the clock once I’ve got my feet into the bike shoes and fastened into the bike shoes. First up, the tri-shoes. Alright, ready, go. [Light Music] Okay, next up, the road shoes. Ready, let’s go. [Light Music] Alright, that was really fun. We saw a seven second difference in time, obviously, the triathlon
shoes were quicker than the road shoes. No surprises there. But I do understand not
everyone is doing a flying mount out of transition. [Beep] [Beep] So, let’s do something
slightly different here. We’re going to do the same again, but I’m going to put the bike shoes on before I grab the bike, run to the mount line and then I’m just going to
step over my bike and clip in. Compare the two, first up, tri-shoes. Alright, clock starts as
soon as I grab the shoes. Ready, let’s go! [Upbeat Music] And finally, the road shoes. Ready, let’s go! [Upbeat Music] Ah, interesting. Interesting. Okay, so there wasn’t actually
quite as much difference between the final two
transitions as I expected. And they also weren’t that much slower than the flying mounts, either, so I think that it comes down to quite a short run through transition and I’ll make the excuse of
a new bike, too. Why not? Either way, the triathlon
shoes worked clearly quicker for the transitions, however, it would be hard to argue against the road cycling shoes
being better for cycling. I mean, otherwise, we’d see pro cyclists wearing triathlon shoes. They don’t do that. Either way, I think they’ve
got their place for triathlon. But the main importance,
I think, comes down to being comfortable. The more comfortable we are,
the better you’re going to maximise your performance
when you’re cycling. It’s worth remembering
that we all have different size and shape feet and also our bio-mechanics
are very different. So, my biggest recommendation
would be to try a number of different bike shoes in a similar way to when you’re picking a new saddle for your bike. If you pop into a local bike shop, I’m sure they’d be very happy to help, and you can weigh out that comfort over the distance that
you’re planning on racing. If you’d like to see more videos from GTN, just click on the globe to subscribe. If you’d like to see our
clip-less versus flat-pedal video, just click down here. If you’d like to see how to
choose a saddle for triathlon, just click down here.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. What about SPD pedals and mountain bike shoes with Velcro, that's what I use and do a flying mount ( no skidding). CX training helps with this. 😉

  2. Comfort is king doing long distance. Keep the 7 seconds 🙂 . To many people don't think these things through. I did an IM where there was about a 100m run with the bike from the rack over grass and gravel (less for the pros as they were up front). Some guy next to me had his pedals on a band and was trying to tell me how much time he will save this way. Yeah OK pal, enjoy the Grass and stones you will pick up and launch into your shoe. Run with the shoes on, not elegant but clean feet, and not playing about on the pedals tightening up when I can be pushing the power out.

  3. I'm too cheap for tri shoes and road shoes so I stick with roads. Also the few extra seconds wont matter compared to fixing my running technique.

  4. You gotta try the S-Works 6 I will be surprised if you can finish under 1:30 min… not all the road shoes are equal mate!!

  5. Interesting but a little misleading. When doing the flying mount the 16 secs spent getting in the shoes took Mark all the way down to the big tree (4:14). When putting the shoes on and running in them to the mount line, the 15 secs it taken took him only a few metres beyond the mount line. So the flying mount gained him approx. 50 metres, that is the benefit of flying mounts with your shoes tied on.

  6. Since the beginning of this year I had made the switch back to Tri specific bike shoes. I did have a cheaper pair as my first pair of shoes when I started Triathlon, but had switched to road shoes for training miles for the comfort they offered. Over the last 6 months I had got quite use to the Tri shoes for both training miles and competitions. Yesterday after using my road shoes for the first time in ages (my Tri shoes were still soaked after a very sweaty competition ride on Sunday) they just felt so much hotter and restrictive! Great for winter miles but not to good in the heat we had yesterday!

  7. I had never really considered using road shoes as I saw no real difference other than how they were done up and I thought this was roe about cyclists not wanting to be compared to triathletes, would there be any difference to power figures etc or is it purely in the comfort?

  8. Hi Mark,
    Would’ve been nice to compare puting on road shoes and run with the bike vs. running barefoot and fly mount on tri shoes. In fact I was waiting for this comparison since our last discussion about how much you save when fly mounting on tri shoes.

  9. I sewed some loops in the back of my road cycling shoes, to be able to do flying mount in my long distance triathlons

  10. If you have good bike control, I would suggest you sprint a bit before you start slipping into the shoes. That way you're covering more ground while "wasting time".

  11. Ok so I'm afraid there's a flaw in your testing methodology. You needed a second line farther down the road, and the clock should stop as you cross it. This is to account for the fact that you are farther down the road by the time you finish slipping into the shoes when you do so while riding.

  12. I feel like cycling shoes are better for longer distances, where the extra support will play a bigger role in how your feet are feeling after. Whereabouts with the triahlton shoes, should be used for the shorter distances, as it does give you the faster transitions times.

  13. Is it me or the colors of the tri shoes do not match those of the cycling kit ? You could spend so many watts….

  14. I wondered if those flying mounts were in fact more efficient. Now I'm pretty convinced that they aren't – and just a lot more dangerous

  15. T1 run to mount line is much further. Accordingly, running in road shoes will be much slower than running in bare feet. Also, you have to include time to put on socks for road shoes. And finally, flying mount means the foot coming over the top is slid right into the shoe not placed on top of shoe. Same with other foot. Then you get up to speed before fastening the straps. That is the fastest way to get out on the bike. Flying mounts take tons of practice to get perfected.

  16. I'm new to triathlons, doing my second one in a few weeks. Do you run in those shoes? I would think that running a long distance with that metal clip would be painful. Sorry if it sounds like a dumb question. I guess you could put those clip shoes on while mounting your bike at T1, then put on running shoes at T2? I have been cycling in my running shoes. Any tips are appreciated.

  17. The comparison presumes wearing socks when using triathlon shoes. If you use road shoes, you have to get your socks over wet feet during T1. If you use triathlon shoes, you don't need to put on socks until T2, at which time your feet are likely much drier.

  18. So…2 seconds with some relatively difficult to put on road shoes–many have velcro straps and a ratchet. There's 7 minutes I'll never get back, tri shoes or otherwise.

  19. 5:19 Lmao I don't even prop my cheaper $250 road bike like that against that wall! I would be fuming if someone did that to my bike lol.

  20. I use for my first triathlon MTB mounted shoes, easy to run and clip in. And comfortable. And I have the money to buy only one pair of shoes 😀

  21. I've been racing mountain bike shoes for years in Triathlons. Easier to run in, elastic laces means I just slip them on in transitions before and after the ride. I find road shoes dangerous to run in AND the thought of trying to get into shoes which are already clipped onto the bike seems silly and slower.

  22. Good video…but I've watched it too late: just started triathlon and bought a pair of Shimano tri shoes… I mean, how should someone new to TRIATHLON know, that he better shouldn't buy TRIATHLON shoes 😀

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