As I mentioned when talking about my Keen Cabos, I have 3 pairs of footwear. The second pair that I’ll write about it are my Shimano SH-SD66 sandals that have been on my feet every day I’ve cycled over the last 9 months.
Most bikes have flat pedals and can be ridden with any kind of footwear. For those who want to increase the efficiency of their pedal stroke, there is the option of things such as Power Grips. They are a kind of toe-clip or cage that can be used with regular pedals and to allow you to use normal shoes. The other option is to go ‘clipless’ which uses special pedals and a cleat on the bottom of your footwear which sounds slightly horrifying, but is my preferred way. Wiki has an article to explain the difference in pedals in more detail than I will.
Having decided I wanted to go clipless, I had to decide which pair. I had used a shoe when I was living in Japan and Korea and while it had been OK, there were a few things I didn’t like. For one, if they got wet, they took forever to dry out. There was also the issue that when you ride, your feet expand. A shoe that you try on in the shop might seem just fine and then when you’re out riding for a while seems too tight. They have straps that you can loosen, but my feet are quite broad and found it frustrating.
With my previous experience, I was leaning towards cycling sandals. I went to a shop in the UK before my trip and they had two pairs. The Shimano SH-SD66 and another model which had a toe cover. In over 10,000 miles of cycling I’ve only had one time when something has jumped off the road and hit my toes so I’ve not missed having a cover. That might change when I spend more time riding off-road, but so far I’m glad to not have it.
I’ve been very happy with my sandals. While cycle touring I’m mainly aiming to be in warmth and so the extra ventilation that a sandal offers is glorious. Riding along on a sunny day, feeling the wind blowing on my feet is perfect. The straps on the sandal have a decent amount of give and so I can easily loosen them enough and never feel discomfort from them being overly tight. The construction is sufficiently high quality that riding sockless hasn’t led to any rubbing or blisters. Any time it has cooled down, I’ve just added socks and when it’s been below freezing neoprene booties get put on, steps that would have to be taken with regular cycling shoes too.
Back in Arizona, after 5 months of riding, a strap on my right sandal came loose. My host at the time, Peter, took a look at them and used some super glue and screws to re-attach it. It seems to have held up perfectly since then and the straps on the left sandal don’t seem to be showing similar wear.