It’s no secret that Peloton, the indoor cycling bike company, has become a winner in the quarantine economy. When stay-at-home orders began to go into place across the U.S., the New York-based brand (founded in 2012) saw its stock climb by 95 percent by early May. Its last quarterly earnings report revealed that revenue in the first three months of 2020 rose by 66 percent (though it still had a net loss), and it now has 2.6 million paid subscribers.
Purchasing a Peloton bike is a considerable investment: $2,245, to be exact, and that’s just for the indoor stationery bike. More comprehensive packages include everything from water bottles and hand weights to foam rollers and, yes, the brand’s own bike shoes.
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But Peloton’s success has opened up the indoor cycling shoe market, creating new customers and new opportunities (Nike just launched its own first-ever indoor cycling shoe in May). It has also opened the door to a larger women’s market, as traditional outdoor road cycling has often been a male-dominated sport.
For many Peloton newbies, using the indoor bike is their first experience with cycling shoes — this writer included. It can be daunting to sort through the nuanced jargon of the cycling world, identifying the correct clips to use with specific bikes. Fortunately, Peloton has created its bikes to be used with outdoor cycling shoes, which means that a pair you buy for inside can also do double duty on an outdoor bike that also uses clips.
To be clear, finding those multi-use shoes can still be an arduous task, and what it comes down to is making sure that you have the right pedal clips to go with the cleats that are compatible with your footwear. Peloton bike shoes automatically come with cleats compatible with their pedals. But if you decide to buy a different pair of cycling shoes, you can also purchase cleats from Peloton (or elsewhere) for about $25.
Here, 6 cycling shoes that can work on both Pelotons and outdoor cycling bikes, provided the right attachments:
1. Garneau Tri X-Speed IV women’s shoe
Louis Garneau is considered one of the top brands for sophisticated, durable and comfortable cycling footwear. The Tri X-Speed IV for women is actually designed for triathlons and has a patented Ergo Air injected nylon and fiberglass outsole. It’s also compatible with both standard road bike pedals and the SPD system — but you’ll have to buy your own clips for either separately.
2. Shimano RX8W Gravel Race women’s shoe
A shoe that combines the best features of both mountain biking and road racing, Shimano’s Gravel Race shoe has a carbon outsole, micro toe armor and a Boa dial. Note that this shoe uses SPD cleats and would therefore require compatible pedals for a Peloton.
3. Rapha RCC Classic women’s shoe
A relative newcomer to the market, Rapha is known for having some of the most stylish footwear and gear that is also well made just as up-to-speed on technology. Its RCC Classic women’s shoe has a carbon fiber sole footplate and grippy thermoplastic rubber heel tread. It’s three-bolt sole is compatible with cleats that go with standard Peloton pedals.
To buy: Rapha RCC Classic women’s shoe, $250.
4. Giro Sector men’s shoe
The hybrid shoe trend in outdoor biking has enabled riders to buy one bike — and one pair of shoes — to do different types of cycling, namely mountain biking and road racing. Giro’s Sector is a men’s hybrid style with both mountain biking and road shoe functions and has a carbon-composite plate and a dual-injected rubber outsole. The shoe requires a two-bolt (SPD) cleat and therefore a change of Peloton pedals.
To buy: Giro Sector men’s hybrid shoe, $225.
5. Decathlon Rockrider MTB XC 500 unisex shoes
Decathlon’s Rockrider leans more to mountain biking, but it’s sleek shape and fiberglass-reinforced sole and thermoformed sock liner makes it a great starter hybrid. It uses SPD or Crankbrothers types of cleats (two bolt styles).
6. Specialized S-Works Road 7 women’s shoe
Specialized is known for marrying sleek design with plenty of technology, all of which is exemplified in its S-Works Road 7 shoe. Among its tech features are a Padlock heel construction and Body Geometry ergonomic footbed. This one has a three-bolt cleat pattern that makes it easily compatible with Peloton and many road bikes.
7. Sidi MTB Defender 20 men’s shoe
Sidi’s MTB Defender 20 is an all-mountain style with a super grippy rubber sole, plus a Tecno-3 System dial and a sustainably made Politex upper. It’s two-bolt cleat compatible (SPD style), so pedals should be adjusted accordingly.