regular shoes you can wear for biking

Not ready to spend money on cycling shoes? Here are the best regular shoes that are good for cycling.

Regular Shoes I Can Use as Bike Shoes?

This article was inspired by a reader’s question about picking out a good pair of shoes for bike riding, without plunking down the cash for a clipless pedal and shoe setup…


I’ve been road biking for less than a year and love the fitness. But after spending a ton on accessories I don’t want to spring for bike shoes and pedals.

What should I look for in a shoe to use in the summer?

Shoeless Sam

Hi Sam,

Thanks for asking this question. I know what you mean! Between the shoes and pedals, you’re spending a lot of money no matter what. I do think it’s a good upgrade to keep in mind, and it doesn’t have to be super expensive, but for now, some ordinary shoes will do the trick.

I assume you have some sort of platform pedal that came on the bike originally. Perhaps with toe clips and straps, but not necessarily. You want to pick a shoe that matches well with this pedal. So, what will you look for in a shoe?

Finding “Regular” Shoes for Flat Pedals

You can find regular shoes that are similar to cycling shoes.

What to look for

Here are the most important characteristics to look for in non-cycling shoes that will be used as cycling shoes:

  • Flat soles
  • Stiff soles
  • Grip
  • Secure fit
  • Protection
  • Ventilation

The most basic requirement is to have a flat sole, at least at the ball of your foot, where you’ll be pedaling. The flatter, the better.

You also want the midsole to be stiff. The stiffer sole helps to transfer power to the pedals, giving you a performance benefit. It also prevents “hot spots” which you’d probably get from soft-soled shoes, so there’s a comfort benefit there, too.

The most important thing though is to have a grippy outsole. Grip is vital because you don’t want your feet slipping off the pedals. That’s a serious safety hazard. If your feet slip off the pedals, you’ll be in a world of hurt!

The shoe should provide a secure fit so your foot isn’t sliding around inside the shoe. That would be inefficient. This requires good laces, or even better, Velcro straps.

You also want an element of protection in case you crash. For casual riding or commuter cycling shoes, just having full-coverage shoes made from a durable material should be enough.

Finally, some ventilation is much appreciated! You’ll be much happier if your shoes are breathable and keep your feet cool when you’re pedaling hard on hot summer days.

Types of shoes

Types of regular shoes that can do double-duty as cycling shoes include:

  • Skateboard shoes
  • Mountain bike shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Indoor soccer shoes
  • Golf shoes

To no one’s surprise, skate shoes are ideal for biking. BMX bike riders started out wearing skate shoes until some companies made BMX-specific shoes.

osiris skate bmx shoe

Popular brands include Vans, Airwalk, DC, Etnies, and Osiris – they’d normally be around $60-90, but sometimes you can find them for $20 if you go to the right store. I’ve had good luck finding deals at Ross and sometimes Marshall’s.

You can also look into mountain biking shoes because many mountain bikers ride on flat pedals rather than clipless pedals. They can get really expensive, but keep an eye out and maybe you’ll find a good sale.

There’s a brand called Five Ten that makes some awesome shoes designed for riding on platform pedals, usually aimed at mountain bikers, but they’re going to be nearly as expensive as the shoes you’d get for a clipless pedal system. So watch for discounts and promo codes.

Moving toward the more common types of shoes, your best bet is hiking boots. Hiking boots and hiking shoes can be good, as they generally have a fairly stiff, sturdy sole. And at least some ventilation.

Good hiking boots are really expensive, but you might already have some at home.

Work boots are an option as well, but they tend to be heavy, and rather warm for summer cycling. But they’d do fine in the cold winter months.

If soccer is your sport, you’re in luck, because indoor soccer shoes are nearly perfect for biking. They tend to be tight-fitting, and they have stiffer soles than you might expect. They work well and look good!

Popular brands include Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Diadora.

Again, these are not necessarily cheap shoes, but maybe you already have some that you’re planning to retire from soccer duty.

Finally, most golf shoes work for cycling. As long as they are spikeless golf shoes, these are a decent option. The rubber sole is fairly flat and should have a pretty good grip on the pedal.

These are especially good if you’ll be doing equal parts riding and walking over the course of the day. They have the cushioning of a running or walking shoe, and the understated design of casual shoes, with the flat sole of a skate shoe.

And you might find them on sale at a major retailer like Dick’s Sporting Goods.

The Best Non-Cycling Shoes (For Cycling)

Ready to buy? Here are some normal shoes that I like quite a bit:

Vans Low-top Sneakers

vans low top sneakers in gray

Durable canvas upper with a flat sole made from grippy rubber. This good rubber pattern works well for skateboard decks and bike pedals.

These Vans have timeless style and are available in multiple colors, to match any bike. They typically sell for around $60 but even less when on sale.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

DC Pure Low-top Shoes

dc pure low top sneakers in black

Classic skate shoe styling but with more padding for added protection. This is the best value in modern skate shoes!

The list price on these shoes is $65, but as with the Vans, you can find them on sale.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Etnies Barge LS Skate Shoes

etnies barge skate shoes in black

Possibly the best combination of comfort, style, and functionality for either biking or skating. Not to mention, a tremendous value.

You can get them in all black, or choose from a variety of color combinations. List price is $55, which is already worth it, but sometimes you can find them on sale.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Diadora Capitano ID

diadora capitano in blue

Some of the most popular yet affordable indoor soccer shoes. With impeccable Italian styling.

List price $55.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Adidas Samba

adidas samba in black

Well-known indoor soccer shoes with classic styling. Leather uppers, rubber outsole.

Retail for $100 but you might find them on sale.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Five Ten Sleuth

five ten sleuth shoes in blue and gray

While these are cycling-specific shoes, they’re made for flat pedals and casual riding. The rigid sole will help you get up to speed quickly after stop signs, and the Stealth Marathon rubber sole makes it feel like you’re glued to the pedals.

This shoe retails for $90 but is often on sale. You probably won’t find them at discount stores, but check the Adidas website and you might find a good sale.

(Note that Adidas owns Five Ten now.)

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Five Ten Freerider Pro

five ten freerider pro shoes

These are dedicated mountain bike shoes, designed for serious mountain biking. The stiff sole helps transfer your power to the pedals to climb hills and negotiate obstacles, while the Stealth Phantom rubber outsole guarantees excellent grip on the pedals. Synthetic leather uppers offer durability, and there’s extra protection in the toe box.

These are overkill for casual riding but can save you from broken toes if you crash your mountain bike!

This is a $150 shoe and well worth it. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay full price. You can find some great sales at REI and on the Adidas website around certain holidays.

Shopping online? Check the current price at Amazon.

Types of Shoes to Avoid

Some other shoes are downright bad choices.


  • Running shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Work boots
  • Sandals

Most importantly, avoid flexible soles like you find on running and jogging shoes. Running and cycling footwear are completely different animals!

A common mistake is to wear running shoes for cycling since they’re athletic shoes. But running shoes – or “tennis shoes” as some call them – have soft soles. And modern sneakers tend to have tread patterns that don’t really work with pedals.

They’re about as far from a cycling shoe as you can get!

Sure, the abundance of breathable mesh is great on hot summer days. But otherwise, they make a poor choice for bike riding.

Dress shoes have soles that are flat but too slick.

Work boots are too thick and heavy. And definitely no sandals, which are the opposite, offering no protection whatsoever!


Also, keep an eye out for deals on road cycling shoes and clipless pedals! Sometimes you can find great deals, even at bike shops. I can almost guarantee you’ll want to make the jump, sooner or later! 😉


Final tip: Whatever you do, keep your laces short or tucked in! You don’t want them getting tangled in the drivetrain!

This article was originally published on September 17, 2013. It was updated and republished on August 13, 2023.

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  1. I am using a very old (and torn) pair of Reebok shoes, which have nearly flat and firm soles. Those are much better then my regular running Nike shoes. I found that the Reeboks have a great grip on the pedal, while the Nikes slip constantly. I am steering clear of clipless pedals and shoes with cleats.

  2. @Bozidar

    Thanks for sharing! Just get some Shoe Goo (or duct tape) and those will last even longer!

    Reebok has some interesting new stuff too. Something like the Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0 might even work as a riding shoe, although for $119.99, that’s way over budget!

  3. I’ve never used clip less pedals probably due to my years growing up with bmx on the street and dirt riding. I also play soccer so I always had a sturdy pair of Adidas sambas in my pack after school. Lightweight full grain leather pretty cheap 50 bucks or less. Streamlined toe for the cages on my mountain bike. Great grip for platform pedals on my 20 inch, catching air on the dirt jumps. And the look cool flying around at 100 rpm:) buy a pair with no regrets!


  4. @Josh

    Great suggestion!! I had a pair of Sambas in the past but completely forgot about them.

    Coincidentally, just yesterday I picked up a friend’s indoor soccer shoes and was surprised at how stiff they were. Heck, maybe I’m due for a new pair myself!

  5. Hi! Can i use Soccer Shoes in cycling? Can i put Mtb cleats on My soccer shoes? Pls reply asap

    • Hi Aldjon,

      Unfortunately you will not be able to put MTB cleats on your soccer shoes. Not in any practical way.

      It might be possible to do that, but most likely you would ruin the shoes and/or it would be totally unsafe!

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