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Cycling enthusiasts will admit that shoes are the most important piece of cycling equipment next to their two-wheeled ride. Cycling shoes must have a stable shank to efficiently transfer power from your feet to the pedals.
Good shank support will prevent the foot from collapsing through the arch while pedaling. This could cause arch pain, tendon problems, or burning under the bottom of the foot. A rigid shank protects your feet from the stress of pedaling.
If you have a pre-existing problems with your feet or wear shoe inserts, invest in a cycling-specific shoe. Most special shoes prescribed a doctor control the arch and heel, and for cycling, usually require critical forefoot balancing. Riders with mild bunions or hammertoes should select a wider, deeper shoe that will accommodate the deformity.
Cycling shoes are usually categorized by racing and mountain biking. If you are not an avid cyclist and have no known foot problems, cross-training shoes will usually provide the necessary support across the arch and instep. They also provide the heel lift that cycling shoes give. Combination cycling-hiking shoes meet the needs of the casual rider well, and have recently become popular.
More serious cyclists invest in toe clips, which range from traditional to the newer shoe-cleats called "clipless systems," which resemble ski bindings.
Proper shoes and clips or cleats working as a unit are important to achieve maximum efficiency in transferring power generated by the hips to the foot. For most efficient pedaling, shoes should extend fully under the ball of the foot.