Triathlon Cycling Shoes for a Fast Transition

My never ending quest to get faster feet continues. It worked quite well with my recent purchase of some new race shoes for running. A few days after buying them I wore them for the first time in a race and put in a massive personal best for a 5km run. So, with that success in mind, it was time for some new cycling shoes as well.

There was nothing wrong with the Sidi Genius shoes I have, in fact they are very nice once I’m on the bike. The trouble is, with two velcro straps, a ratchet strap, a narrow opening, a fiddly tongue and no heel loops they were pretty difficult to get on and off in transition. My performance in the Pwllheli Triathlon recently highlights this. Not only did I fall over a couple of times whilst trying to get them on in T1 (the swim to bike transition), but my various split positions make for interesting reading.

I did pretty well in the race, placing third overall, just 26 seconds behind 2nd place.

  • My swim time was 3rd fastest
  • My bike time was 7th fastest
  • My run time was 6th fastest

However,

  • T1 was 34th fastest
  • T2 was 27th fastest

As you can see, my transition performances were pretty poor in comparison to my swim, bike and run and probably cost me a fair bit of time. Admittedly, the difference between 1st and 34th place in T1 was only 34 seconds, but that would have been enough to put me in 2nd place overall, not 3rd. Every second counts and transitions are an important part of a triathlon, so it was time for some triathlon cycling specific shoes.

I went for a pair of Northwave Tribute shoes. There’s nowhere local to buy such things so it was a case of buying online and hoping for the best as far as sizing goes. I therefore made sure I was buying from a reputable dealer with a good after sales support and a free returns service – my favourites for such things are Amazon, Wiggle, or Chain Reaction.

Northwave Tribute Shoes

Northwave Tribute Shoes

The shoes arrived yesterday and they look really nice. They are certainly very white and have some really well thought out features.

With just two straps, it’s possible to leave the toe strap fastened and then open the wide main strap completely ready for T1. The strap opens away from the bike so that it won’t get caught in anything when running through transition with the shoes already attached to the bike. What’s more, is that the main strap has an additional bit of velcro on its outer edge, allow you to stick the strap open so that it stays in position, out of the way and unable to slip through the buckle. This leaves a really wide entry into the shoe and with no tongue to worry about they are easy to slip on once on the bike and riding. They even seem to squash flat quite well when riding barefoot with your feet on top of them whilst leaving T1 and coming into T2.

Transition Tabs

Transition Tabs

Other nice touches are drainage and ventilation holes in the carbon soles and a sturdy, rubberised heel bumper on the back of the shoe so as to protect them as they drag along the ground whilst running along with them attached to your bike. They also have large heel loops to help you slide them on. They even have little bits of webbing on the inside of the shoe specifically designed for attaching the shoe to the frame of the bike with an elastic band so that the shoes remain in a horizontal position whilst running with the bike through T1 – Nice!!

I fitted cleats to them and tried them out yesterday and they were comfortable and felt efficient on the bike. I guess now I need to do some transition training to really make the most of them.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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