The simple answer is that technically you can use regular shoes to ride a Peloton but it’s definitely not something that I’d recommend, and it comes with significant health risks. We’ll take a look at the problems with using standard sneakers or gym shoes in a moment and why it’s best to use the correct type of footwear, like these.
Not only is it a bad idea to use regular shoes on your Peloton, but there are some much better alternatives, such as these or these, that will really enhance your workout. I’ll take you through the options shortly and look at how to choose the best one for you. Before that we’ll have a quick rundown on what style of pedals your Peloton comes fitted with – there are different types of clipless bike pedal and sadly they’re not compatible with each other.
What kind of pedals does Peloton use?
Peloton bikes use a type of pedal known as a ‘Clipless pedal’. These are part of a ‘Clipless system’ which comprises cycling shoes, a pair of bike cleats, and the clipless pedals. There are a number of different clipless systems available, with the two most common being Shimano SPD (2-bolt fixing, often used on mountain bikes) and Look Delta (3-bolt fixing, often used on road bikes).
Clipless pedals are actually a bit of a strange name for these bits of bike kit in that they use clips to connect your shoes to the pedal. The odd term for these comes from the time when they replaced the previous system – the toe cages that were referred to as ‘clips’, hence our Peloton pedals are now called ‘clipless’. It’s weird, I know.
That aside, the pedals that Peloton domestic bikes use are compatible with Look Delta systems. These use a ‘cleat’, which is just the bit that connects shoe to pedal. Look Delta compatible cleats are triangular with a 3-bolt fixing – see the picture below.
Clipping in and out of clipless pedals is a simple process, once you get a little practice. Outdoors this can be a little unnerving, but indoors on a Peloton it’s easy to get right. Here’s a video explaining how it’s done.
It’s not recommended to pedal on clipless pedals with regular shoes as the top surface of the pedals doesn’t have a flat surface. This means that your foot is highly likely to slip off and, like toast always falling buttered side down, this will more than likely happen when you’re pushing with maximum force. The result? Scraped, bruised and bleeding shins and lots of rude words being screamed at the top of your voice. Clipless pedals need correct cleats and proper cycling shoes.
How to choose shoes for your Peloton bike
Cycling shoes are different from standard sneakers in a number of different areas. First, the shoe sole is rigid and won’t flex much if at all. This allows you to apply much more power through your leg, into your foot, and through the shoe to the pedal. It can make pedaling much easier (hurray!) even if it means that they’re a little awkward to walk in. That can be a consideration for outdoor cycle trips but, for Peloton workouts, it just means swapping the shoes out for something with a flexible sole once you hop off the bike.
Take a look at the soles of the shoes and you’ll also see a cut-out section on the sole under the ball of your foot. This allows the cleats to be bolted directly onto the shoe, providing a firm hold. For Peloton pedals make sure that you get shoes that are compatible with Look Delta systems.
Apart from these two, there are a number of other features that you’ll commonly see on cycling shoes. They’ll generally have a low style construction which allows plenty of unimpeded movement at the ankle. They’ll also have lots of mesh panels to help your feet to keep well ventilated. Plus, many shoes come with Velcro fastenings for those that, like me, have never quite mastered the art of tying laces.
How to choose Peloton cleats
As I’ve said, there are a range of different cleating systems available, with the two that you’ll most often see being Look Delta and Shimano SPD. Peloton domestic bikes use Look Delta (although, strangely, their commercial bikes use Shimano SPD systems – go figure!)
Make sure that the cleats you buy are Look Delta-compatible. My favorites are the ones that have “9 degrees of float”. What does this mean? Well, with some cleats once your foot is clipped in it is held rigidly in place and has to move up and down in a straight line as you pedal. In comparison, cleats with this “9 degrees of float” feature allow for a little foot wiggle room. Allowing your foot to turn sideways (inwards by 4.5 degrees and outwards by 4.5 degrees) as you pedal. It might not sound much but it can give a much more comfortable riding experience when you have this movement.
How to choose the best alternative pedal system for Peloton cycling
Whilst Peloton bikes come with Look Delta compatible pedals it doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with them if you decide they’re not right for you. Let’s look at the other options available.
If you feel more comfortable riding your Peloton in regular shoes (or more than one person uses the bike and you don’t want to buy multiple pairs of bike shoes) then the simplest option is to replace the pedals.
Flat or Platform pedals like these can be used with normal shoes and your feet are free to lift on and off without the bother of clipping and unclipping. They have a wide base so are comfortable and have good grips so your feet won’t slip off.
It’s a simple job to remove the Peloton pedals and fit these. The screw thread goes into the crank arm and the pedals are loosened off and re-tightened with an adjustable wrench.
If you want to keep your Peloton pedals but prefer to use your regular shoes (or if you have multiple riders, some with regular shoes and some with bikes shoes) then platform adapters are a great option.
These are essentially a flat pedal that clips onto the existing Peloton clipless pedal, giving a platform surface for you to use with your standard sneakers.
You’ll need to grab a pair of Look Delta compatible cleats to join the two together and they are simple to fit and quick to attach and remove. One downside to these is that the weight of the platform adapter causes the pedal to spin when your foot is not on it, leaving the platform on the underside. On a outdoor bike this could be a pain but on a Peloton you don’t tend to remove your foot from the pedal until the end of the workout, so it’s unlikely to be an issue.
Maybe you want the best of both worlds? Have your cake and eat it? In that case you need a system where you can use regular shoes and still get the benefit of having your feet directly attached to the pedal.
I mentioned these earlier – toe clips. Toe clips are a system that uses a plastic cage wrapping over the front of your shoes and straps that join the cage to the pedal by the balls of your feet. That probably sounds quite complex and it might be easier to just refer to the picture!
They’re very simple to use and I cycled with them for many years. Swap the toe clips pedals for the Peloton pedals using an adjustable wrench. Then, don your regular shoes and slide your feet into the cages. Your feet will now be held in place on the pedal, with no slipping around, and you can apply pressure to the pedal on the upstroke and downstroke, just like you can with clipless pedals.
Clipless pedal systems may seem quite strange and alien to begin with and it’s tempting to go with your standard sneakers. There’s plenty of advantages to using them though and they don’t take long to get used to. When you’re buying shoes and cleats to use with your Peloton pedals just make sure to go with ones that state they are Look Delta compatible.
If you’ve decided that clipless pedals are just not for you, then there are plenty of other options available. These can either use the existing Peloton pedals, and add on a ‘platform’, or swapping out the standard Peloton pedals for a different style altogether.
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