louis garneau tri-300 triathlon shoes

You may be wondering if it’s worth it to get a triathlon shoe or if your regular road bike shoes will work for the occasional triathlon…

I have been biking and doing triathlons for about 6 years now and i am just getting competitive. I have always just used some sidi shoe that a friend gave me but they are way past their time of replacement and i finally have the money to get a new pair of shoes!

Is there a difference in a “Road” shoe and a “triathlon” shoe? if so is it so much of a difference that i would need to get both?

I am racing competitively and im not slow by any means! I have won my last 5 or 6 road races on the bike and plan to do the upcoming half ironman in new orleans. I just need to know if i need to buy two different pairs of shoes for biking or is there one that can be used for both and does not sacrifice anything.

Keep in mind i need to be able to slip out of the shoe itself in a triathlon while still riding the bike (relatively fast and easy) so i think Velcro is the way to go.

Thanks,
Triathlon Tim

Hi Tim,

The main purpose of a triathlon shoe is to let you slip in and out quickly, even with wet feet.

Typically a triathlon shoe, like the Louis Garneau Tri-300 pictured above, will use a single Velcro strap, have a wide foot opening (sometimes referred to as “tongueless” design,) and have a pull-tab on the back. These features make it easy to get the shoe on and off quickly. Also, there is usually a soft, seamless liner that makes the shoes comfortable to wear without socks (similar to how triathlon-oriented running shoes are made.) Finally, there is usually lots of mesh fabric and ventilation to allow your feet to dry.

Some tri shoes will even have replaceable toe and heel pads to make it easier to walk through sections of the transition area. (Though Sidi offers this feature on many of their road shoes, too.)

With a road bike shoe, you’ll probably have two or three Velcro straps and/or a buckle closure. This is great for adjusting the shoes for the perfect fit, but it’s not a time saver. Cheaper shoes (or fashion-oriented shoes) might even have laces, which take a long time to tie and untie.

What it really comes down to is that road shoes are designed for comfort and performance, while tri shoes are designed for quick transitions and sockless comfort. At the higher end, both will offer stiff soles for excellent power transfer.

I think an excellent tri shoe would be the SIDI T3 Carbon Air, pictured here:

sidi t3 carbon air triathlon shoes

It looks to be soft and comfortable, and with two Velcro straps, it should be relatively secure on your foot.

In the end, with just a few sacrifices, you could get by with one or the other.

With the tri shoe, the fit might not be perfectly dialed in, but it should be fine.

With the road shoe, it would probably be more comfortable and stable when you put the power down. It would be a bit slower for the transitions, but putting socks on and working with two or three Velcro straps instead of one doesn’t add that much extra transition time, especially when you’re talking about a 5-6 hour race.

Where the road shoe’s secure fit would really shine is in the sprinting and attacking that takes place in most road races (criteriums and circuit races.) Where as a triathlon will be more like a time trial – you’re keeping a steady pace, and usually seated.

Sure, I’d prefer to have both shoes, especially if you’re racing at a high level. If you’re racing Cat 1/2 or Pro on the road, you definitely want dedicated road shoes.

High up in triathlons where super fast transitions matter? Get a tri-specific shoe.

Otherwise, you don’t need to start out with both. If I was going with just one shoe, I’d get a good road shoe with Velcro straps and/or buckles that weren’t too complicated. Something like the SIDI Genius Fit.

Whatever you do, don’t get the Giro Empire!

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2 Comments
  1. good day sir im in with the louis garneau tri-300 shoes
    how much is this? do we have size 44 available.. thank you

    • @Allen

      The Louis Garneau Tri-400 shoe is out now. You’ll probably have to buy this new model. (If anyone has the tri-300 left over, they probably don’t have a size 44, which is a popular size.)

      You can purchase it directly on Garneau.com for $325, although I’d suggest your local bike shop if possible.

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