Cold weather shoe recommendations for road/commuting? Sidi or Shimano?



pgallett

New Member
Sep 17, 2013
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I commute to work through the winter here in the Washington, DC area with temps during the winter regularly in the 30's in the morning. Last season, I tried duct tape and toe covers along with ski socks with my summer shoes and it just didn't cut it. I feel I have a pretty high tolerance for the cold and my poor toes were numb after an hour ride to work. I figured this year I'm going to try more climate specific shoes. Does anyone have any recommendations for cold weather cycling shoes?

I've been looking online at the Shimano SH-MW81 and the Sidi Hydro GTX. The Sidi appears to be a bit more of a road shoe (my commuter is a road bike). I don't think any of my LBS will have them, so any feedback on those models or recommendations of another shoe that can work down to 30 degrees would be appreciated.

Thanks
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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First, I'd suggest a full bootie. Neoprene booties work well in the cold. Also be careful what socks you choose. Multiple socks or thick socks aren't doing any good if they make your shoe fit tight and thus restrict circulation. I'd also suggest you ask or PM (send a personal message) to Maydog. I think he has the coldest commute on this forum since he commutes to work by bike nearly every day through the winter in Minnesota.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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I wish that were true, I try to commute at least twice a week in the winter - but winter commuting has many logistical challenges. You create a lot of laundry per ride. This year I also have to make some commitments to the kiddos - so we will see how often I get out.

Keeping the toes warm is serious business - I should take a picture of my cold, white lifeless toes after a ride.

Tight fitting shoes and too many socks are a definite no-no. Booties help keep out the wetness and wind - but my feet still get cold. Down to the 20's, cycling sandals and wool socks covered by a neoprene sock works for me. In the coldest weather, I put on a pair of winter boots. I have not tried chemical handwarmers or heated socks - but I bet they would work pretty nicely.

I would prefer to wear a mountain style shoe over a road style in the winter. The extra traction can come in handy.
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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Heated socks are a so-so thing. For a foot that's still functional, they provide a bit of comfort warmth, but they (usually) don't push enough power to warm up a seriously cold foot. To do that, I'd recommend stuff with an output in the range of 2.5 - 3 watts. More if it's a big heated surface. Some may be happy with 2 - 2.5 watts, but that's as low as I'd go. There's a recurring opinion that any shoe with a SPD cleat will leak heat through the cleat, and that for serious winter use the only sensible option is either flatties, or caged pedals with the cages reshaped to fit the bigger toecap/thicker sole of a hiking boot. I dunno about that, I use a Shimano winter boot (probably an older version of the MW81) that's two sizes larger than what I usually wear. And a pair of electrically heated soles. It works OK although it's not the ideal shoe for me. It's a bit too pointy so the shoe has to be longer than necessary in order to get the required width. But toe overlap isn't an issue on the winter bike, so it's OK. The shoe is waterproof as such, but not against whatever sludge that runs down your shins. And your feet will be producing some moisture no matter what. Expect the shoe to get fairly ripe after awhile unless you're very meticulous about getting them dry inside. I'm a lot happier with my winter boots than with shoe covers. On a commute, there's often some element of walking involved, and I've never found a cover that'd stand up particularly well to that.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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Neoprene shoe covers do exactly zero to keep my feet warm. Any ride over an hour in 25°-30° and my toes are numb. Doesn't matter what shoes or sox combination I wear. The covers do help cut wind chill losses, but the insulation value just isn't there. And frankly, they promote sweating because they do not breathe.

I'm going to heated sox. I don't give a damn if I have to strap 12V gel cell car batteries to my calves, I'm tired of frozen toes.

Thanks for the wattage advice, dabac. I'll look for the Terminator models...phased plasma sox in the 40-Watt range!
 

pgallett

New Member
Sep 17, 2013
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Thanks for the advice.

I decided to give the Shimano SH-MW81 a try. I'm hoping that and my ski socks will keep me toasty.

Along the same lines as cold feet, any suggestions on gloves? It seems that most of the heavier bike gloves have no gel padding on the palm. I'm assuming that's because of the amount of insulation? At that point, whats makes it a "bike" glove vs a ski glove? I'm also trying to find one that's touch compatible (I have my iphone mounted and use as my bike computer with somewhat frequent stopping/starting).

I have an older pair of Specialized Element gloves now (softshell with a Windstopper lining), but they don't quite cut it sub 40 degrees.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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I do well with neoprene booties and wear them for rides in the 20's and 30's (I don't usually ride in the teens) but I'm not out for much longer than an hour and a half or two. Feet and shoes are soaked with sweat after the ride, so much so I usually rinse them in freshwater after. The logistics of stopping for a flat tire in sub zero temps far from home may not be ideal.

For anything in the 40's I use a windstopper type of bootie.

For gloves, my whole world changed when I added some glove liners. I use Assos, but I'm sure there are a more economical choices out there. That upgrade stretched my Pearl Izumi winter gloves working temp range into the low twenties and teens (degrees F).
 

Methodical

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Jun 25, 2012
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I live in the DC area and rode my bike last winter down to about 25* and I used the Gore (goretex) overshoes and wool socks (not summer thin and not hiking thick socks) and my feet stayed warm (actually, quite warm) - 30* is not really, really cold, especially once the blood starts boiling. Plane shoes and wool socks is not going to cut it in the cold.

Just One Man's Opinion.
 

pgallett

New Member
Sep 17, 2013
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So far I'm solid down to around 40 with no issues.

I did get the Specialized Radiant gloves and they have been a bit of a disappointment. They are plenty warm, but have no padding for the ulnar nerve, so it got fairly uncomfortable after 30 minutes. I had wrongly assumed that the heavier cold weather gloves would have some extra padding, but no go.

Any other recommendations out there for cold weather gloves with padding?