The best options for protecting your feet and shoes from the worst of winter.
With or without mudguards on your bike, your feet will get hammered by just about everything that your front wheel rides over. It’s not too bad when it’s a bit of dust in the summer but rain and road crud aren’t so much fun. You could get extra sets of shoes – ones suitable for each of the various seasons – but must serious riders prefer to use regular shoes and protect them with some form of shoe cover.
Overshoes, as the name suggests, fit over your shoes. They are usually constructed with some form of cutout to allow the cleats to poke through and attach to your pedals, and often the same at the heel so that you don’t tread on them, while others have reinforced Kevlar heels and toes to reduce wear.
Various thicknesses and styles are available, from simple toe covers to full booties, made of different materials that promise varying degrees of protection from the elements.
Why use shoe covers?
Shoe covers, over-socks or overshoes, whatever you choose to call them, they all have the same principle in mind, and that’s covering your kicks to keep the elements off to varying degrees.
You might think that you’d be better off with different shoes more appropriate to the season, yet covering your regular riding shoes is generally regarded as the better option. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, your cycling shoes need to be a snug fit with no play, and so the uppers need to be soft and supple enough to mould to your feet – something that is hard to achieve with thicker fabrics. Plus cycling shoes don’t tend to wear out as quickly as other types of shoes, since they hardly touch the ground so why not use them as much as possible?
At the end of your ride, it’s easy to stick a pair of mucky overshoes in the wash along with the rest of your kit, reducing the faff of cleaning. All of which adds up to meaning that covering your regular shoes offers a better proposition for most riders.