Barefoot style cycling shoes?

Hi Guys,

I’ve been suffering from a list of foot issues since about October and have recently taken up the barefoot style shoe lifestyle, by buying a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes with a very wide toe box, zero drop and no toe lift.

I’ve now noticed that my feet are starting to widen and from what I can see, most cycling shoes are designed for style, specifically being unnaturally pointy, as opposed to being functional by being wide to accommodate the natural shape of the human foot.

I’ve been trying to find a solution and I’m curious what others think. I’ve been considering the Pedalling Innovations Catalyst flat pedal, which is an ultra wide pedal that allows your foot to create a tripod (like in squatting). I’m thinking I could use a pair of Vivobarefoots as the shoes.

Any thoughts on my idea, or alternatively recommendations for a truly wide, barefoot style cycling shoe?

All the best,
Chris

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plenty of bikepackers ride in chacos if thats your thing.

Might help to know if you are focusing on road, MTB, gravel or some combo.

Outside of that, the new Torch shoes seem like a potential recognition of this issue and new direction for at least some models in the future Spesh line.

I haven’t checked out the Vivo line since I cut back on running, but the extremely thin sole on those I saw would make me a tad nervous for a flat pedal pin interaction. Might be fine, but worth considering. I have and like my Altra flatties shoes, and think there are a range of options like it with a flat design and still low height without being too far into the minimalist side.

Generally speaking, I know many people have good luck with wide options from brands like Lake and Northwave cycling shoe brands. Some of it likely depends on what you are really looking to get from the shoes on and off the bike too.

Hi Chad,

I’m on a road bike, currently using MTB shoes and pedals, however, I only cycle indoors and it’s been about two years since I went out on the road. Basically, all my cycling is indoors using a smart trainer and TrainerRoad. I do TrainerRoad for all the health benefits I get from it: heart, lungs, insulin sensitivity, weight loss etc. I’m not into racing or anything like that, just looking to get past my foot issues & maximise comfort in my feet so I can pedal away.

Thank you for those suggestions, I’ll take a look,
Chris

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Cool, with that in mind, I see the door as wide open. I know many BMX races and a handful of MTB riders on flats that love the Pedaling Innovations pedals. It’s the largest platform style pedal I know of and makes sense with respect to having a range of options for shoes. You may find that either the short or long pedal pins make more sense with some shoe options than others, so it’s nice to have a choice there at least.

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Look at Bont cycling shoes. They are wide in the toe box

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Another vote for Bont. Some models can be heated and modified to fit even better.

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While Bont’s are indeed wide, as someone with very wide feet, even Bont’s “wide” fits did not work for me. If you’re particularly wide through the mid-foot, or further toward the heel, I find that even “wide” fit shoes from some brands don’t quite have enough room and pinch my mid-foot. The only shoes that have never given me any problem re: width are Lake “Wide” shoes in their “endurance” shoe last. A good go-to is the Lake CX238 Wide

I’ve also had previous luck with some of Shimano’s wide-fit shoes, but nothing has been as good as Lake.

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I run in Altras (zero drop wide toe box) and find that Specialized shoes fit me well with room at the forefoot. I have wide toe box from years of running and very narrow heels. My SWorks 7 lace ups fit well, as did the Torch 3.0.

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In the past I used barefoot shoes. I have a mortons neuroma in my foot and have wide feet. I have been successful in Giro’s wide model shoes. I have a pair of road and a pair of mtb. Road worked great out of the box and I had to add some thin off the shelf sport insoles to the MTB for support in the neuroma area. Nice thing about the Giro’s is that both pairs were relatively inexpensive. Good luck.

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Since you are only really riding indoors - you should look at something like the Shimano cycling sandals

Look like Teva’s - reports are they are bit flexible but really comfortable. They also have some specific indoor shoes in wide sizes - the indoor shoes has more of a Velcro strap for closure and the fabric looks more breathable

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Bont has a sizing thing you can print out mark your foot on and then compare to their chart.

Despite 10+ years in minimalist shoes, and noticeable spreading of my toes in that time their chart still puts me in a normal size from them. Planning to order some MTB shoes from them for my gravel bike sooner than later as my current shoes are failing.

I know flats work but I spent the last year with my tri bike on the trainer and my shoes with the Velcro open since they no longer closed without being too tight. I started to use them Velcro closed (modified them) little over a month ago and my pedal stroke drastically changed. Just something to consider, since it sounds like you’re just riding indoors likely won’t make a difference.

Lake make wide versions in some of their models.

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Barefoot for many years here (either fully barefoot or barefoot sandals like Panta, Chala, Earth runners etc), with a wide, splaying foot of 27.5cm / 11.6cm width. I found both Bont’s wide fit and Lake’s CX238 wide to not work for me, as they had significant support in some places of the foot which did not suit me at all, and were still too narrow in the toes. Somewhat oddly, the Fizik R4 Overcurve Wide has been my favourite cycling shoe, despite it not being as wide, but it isn’t that supported and there is less volume in the heel/midfoot.

Another pain in the ass is that with so wide feet, I have to buy shoes in 1 size larger than optimal, so the cleats are too far forward for my liking. Have to go full custom some time in the future.

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Lake has wide and extra wide toe box shoes, I highly recommend. Currently using the 238 (MTB) shoe, but also loved the 241. Much better than my Bontrager XXX.

Another vote for Lake here, I use CX 238 in wide. Bont sizing is bonkers, I could not even get my feet in the pair that I ordered (using the sizing tool on their website). Lake sizing charts worked much better for me.

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Lake CX 201 is wide throughout, with a mesh forefoot that allows for lots of movement in the toebox and could likely accommodate lots of different foot shapes, yet still has a stiff carbon sole

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Another vote for Lake. I have the CX 201, apparently specifically designed for people with squarer feet like me. I struggled for many years with cycling shoes too narrow in the forefoot. I am a user of Vibrobarefoot and Altra shoes when running and walking, and the Lake’s are the nearest thing I have found to them for cycling.

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I can into this thread to post the CX201; easily the biggest volume shoe that I’ve ever worn. The last is so tall and wide, that it feels almost too loose. It’s comfortable but I would only use it for easy rides where you were not looking for high-power transfer.

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What do you mean by a wide shoe? Just because the ball of your foot is wide doesn’t mean your heel and midfoot is wide. Wide shoes generally are wide all over and if you just need it to be wide in the toes they aren’t so good.

Barefoot style on the bike doesn’t make sense. Your feet aren’t landing on the pedals so you aren’t using the feet/legs to absorb shock and return that energy when lifting off again. The biomechanics from running don’t convert to a bike Barefoot running - Wikipedia

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