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vinuneuro

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Reply with quote  #1 
So far I've been using touring shoes (pretty much street shoes with spd) and am looking to switch to something stiffer. Some shoes I'm looking at have carbon soles, some have carbon reinforced soles which aren't quite as stiff. 

Stiff shoes will be great for power transfer, but will they make for a harsher ride on gravel? Do they transmit more shock and vibration through the pedals compared to ones that have a slight amount of flex?

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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #2 
My $.02: Sole stiffness, is only one of many factors that effect foot comfort. If you have to do a lot of off bike walking in your bike shoes however, I think that you'll find stiffer soled cycling shoes are less comfortable for walking. Otherwise, shoe fit is the most important factor to consider. If you switch to stiffer cycling shoes, which are much less forgiving than your touring shoes, proper fit will become more of an issue- especially if you have wider feet. Personally, I've found that mountain bike shoes give me the best balance of stiffness for efficient pedaling, and comfort for hike-a-bike and limited walking. I particularly like the Shimano line of mountain bike shoes because they come in a variety of sizes and widths. I wouldn't worry too much about the particular sole material. The main concern is always fit.
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vinuneuro

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Reply with quote  #3 
Fully agree that fit comes above all else. But if it is good and there won't be too much walking, will stiffer soled shoes beat me up on longer rides?

Fwiw I have wide feet and the shoes I seem to have narrowed down after having tried a bunch are Shimano XC7 and XC9 mtb shoes. On their scale to 12, the XC7 is rated at 9 and XC9 is 11.

I liked the Lake MX237's well but had too much heel lift with those.
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zincongravel

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Reply with quote  #4 
The xc9 s-phyre is a superb shoe. Fit and comfort are top notch. Very stiff, but that doesn't affect the feel while riding. Not easiest shoe to walk in, though. Mine feel like wearing a slipper, and I rarely have to walk a lot.
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vinuneuro

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for the feedback on the XC9. I normally wouldn't be looking at such expensive shoes but was offered them at a large discount.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #6 
Another thought about cycling shoes. It is very hard to judge the fit and comfort of cycling shoes without riding them for at least a 100 miles or more. This problem is compounded by the fact that the sizing and quality control of the manufacturing process is poor. You will find large variation in fit even within the same make and model of shoe. Sizing between manufactures are not standardized. Each manufacturer has their own sizing standards. Even if you try on a pair of shoes in a LBS, and they feel OK, you very well may be very disappointed after riding them for awhile. But an LBS may still be your best bet. Most online retailers will not accept returns on shoes  unless they are in pristine condition -- not used or have had cleats attached. In the past, some retailers would accept returns on worn shoes. But in this day and age, where even the venerable LL Bean has dropped it's 100% customer return guarantee, I'm not aware of any retailers who will accept returns on used cycling shoes. All the risk is yours. As I said earlier, fit is the most important factor. Unfortunately, the lack of industry standards, and poor quality control make proper fit difficult to predict. 
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birru

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Reply with quote  #7 
Here's my limited experience across my three SPD shoes:
  • Giro Rumble VR - My first SPD shoe. Got it for commuting because I could walk in it and its styling is very low key, especially in blue. It's not a very stiff shoe at all, but it's more efficient than flat pedals.
  • Shimano MW700/MW7 - My winter riding boots. Not a performance shoe, but stiffer than the Giro Rumble VR, and feels more connected to the bike. 
  • Giro Republic LX reflective - My all-purpose shoe for gravel and road. Noticeably stiffer than my other shoes, and that translates into a wonderful feeling of immediacy when pedaling hard. I definitely prefer them to Rumble VR as they perform well and are still very walkable. 
I'm very curious about the Shimano XC7 as well. Everything I've read indicates it's a very stiff shoe from a pedaling perspective but retains enough flex that you can still hike-a-bike or run up hills. 
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Jim_H

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Reply with quote  #8 
I have a closet full of shoes that have failed me for various reasons over the years. My biggest problem with shoes, as I get older, is the uppers pressing on my feet in the wrong places.   Especially shoes with a rigid plastic upper.  They are just not forgiving enough and for me, cause hot spots at certain pressure points (I've tried and rejected Shimano XC-9).   

Right now I'm on Lake MX237, which do have a carbon sole, but there is enough flex in them that walking in them isn't terrible. The tread is nice and grippy, and works well wet or dry, and in mud, gravel, or even wet, slipper rocks.  But the leather upper was the real determining factor. Combined with the dual boa, the leather upper hugs my feet snugly without creating pressure points and hot spots.  The are stiff and durable enough for cross racing, but comfortable enough for a 3 day bikepacking adventure as well.  I love them.

They are available in two colors, standard and wide widths, and lots of size options, including half sizes for the most popular range (39-47). 

https://lakecycling.com/products/mx-237?variant=9997316869

There is a downside?:  They are NOT cheap (I paid $260 US Dollars)

The Giro Privateer also works well, and is more budget friendly.  These were my goto shoes for long rides before the Lakes. Not as stuff and racy, but very durable, and comfortable for my feet for the most part.  My biggest knock is just that I really don't like velcro closures.  Boa's have ruined me for this...
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clarksonxc

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Reply with quote  #9 
I've had something similar to the Shimano RT500 since 2012; they were my first clipless shoes.  They were great for beginners, but eventually I upgraded to the SPD-SL pedals for the road.  Those shoes are somewhat stiff, don't have any lugs on them, and have never cause any discomfort.  I found the biggest improvement when I switched from more of a race style pedal to a trail style pedal (has more surface area with a platform around the cleat).  Think going from the M8000 to M8020 to use a modern reference.  This was a big improvement using a somewhat flexible shoe.

That said, I just purchased a pair of XC7's that I plan to use at LandRun coming up.  I plan on using them with the trail pedals, and maybe given some more time this spring/summer I can try them with the race pedals as well.
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GHC

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Reply with quote  #10 
agree with most all of the above...personal pref, amount of walking, and proper fit are key.

imo, you won't see huge benefits of an ultra stiff shoe all else being equal, but on paper it is probably the most efficient way to go.  

imo, if you are currently using basically walkers with clip on's, you will see good benefits stepping up to a good cycling shoe.

for me, other considerations in addition to those listed are ...., can you hose or clean them regularly without ruining them, how quickly do they dry, how hot are they, ventilation, economy.  If I am unclipping during a ride, I will generally be stepping into muck or getting ready to carry the bike.

On my gravel bike, I ride shimano M089's (or whatever the current year number is)...they come in so many sizes you can fit a great fit, and they fill my other considerations nicely.   IMO, something like these would be a nice step up from what the OP is currently riding without breaking the bank.   You can basically get 2 pairs for what 1 pair of stiff road shoes would run.   If I was a road racer, or an always dry gravel rider, I would likely run stiff road shoes. 

Again, shoes are so much of a personal pref...fit is everything imo.

edit to answer the OP's question about "will they beat me up"... no, if that is your only worry about going with stiff shoes, proceed.   They will be stiffer by design, so they will feel "stiffer", but your tires/bike and how they are set up have uber more to do with how you feel the surface than your shoes.  Stiff shoes are great while you are clipped in and riding.


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Pattersnap

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Reply with quote  #11 
One thing I'll add is that you should consider the retention mechanism. 

Many people experience swelling of their feet during endurance events. If you have lace-up shoes you're out of luck for easy on-the-bike adjustments. 

I learned this the hard way two years ago at DK200. The Giro VR90 had been my go-to shoe for cyclocross and cross-country racing. They became very uncomfortable around mile 100. 

Last year, I switched to Specialized's S-Works XC 6. Boa dials are much easier to adjust than laces. My feet thanked me. 


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frontrangegravel

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Reply with quote  #12 
Pattersnap,

I don't know why there is this big push for laces. It's like stepping back into 1950, but only charging more $. 
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by frontrangegravel
Pattersnap,

I don't know why there is this big push for laces. It's like stepping back into 1950, but only charging more $. 

Your point is well taken. Their are several reasons for old fashioned laces, however:
- Laces allow you to "customize" the fit of the shoe by loosening and and tightening specific areas. This may require some experimentation; but it's easier to do than on fixed ratchet style or velcro systems.
- Laced shoes can be much lighter in weight, and the uppers softer and more flexible -- again for a better fit.

To wit, some of the high end technical laced shoes are extremely light weight and worn by some of the top pro cyclists for the reasons mentioned. Like you, I'm not convinced that these shoes will work for me. Frankly, one of the most comfortable out of the box shoes I've ever owned were the Nike Poggios. These were marketed by Trek. The reason these shoes were so comfortable was that they were made with thin Kangaroo leather in Italy. The Kagaroo leather stretches to fit your foot, and is very tolerant to water. Sadly Nike stopped making these shoes, and their may be rules about importing Kangaroo leather products.
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clarksonxc

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Reply with quote  #14 
To the OP - did the LandRun on brand new Shimano XC7's, with the old version of the 8020 pedals.  Didn't think about my feet all day long, they were excellent.
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