Barefoot Cycling: Why Is It Good For You?

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You’ve likely heard of barefoot running, but what about barefoot cycling?

While the act (and hobby) of running without shoes on seems like a natural thing to do if you’re able to learn how to do it properly, riding a bike without shoes on can seem a little problematic.

Here’s the thing though; most of us have done it at some point, most likely as a kid. Those days of running around without shoes on often included hopping on the bike at some point.

But what about as an adult? Are there any benefits? This is debatable, but it’s easy to see why some may choose to do so, even if in limited situations and scenarios.


So, we’ll go over why one might consider cycling barefoot, and some tips for doing so if you’re going to give it a shot.


The reasons that some choose to ride without anything on their feet all tend to revolve around retaining a more natural pedal motion.

Most riders, whether it’s road or mountain biking, tend to use clipless pedals. With these pedals, your feet are not only inside of a shoe, but actually attached to the pedals. While this does help in many areas, it also creates what barefoot cycling exhausts describe as an inefficient pedaling motion that can also have an affect on your lower body.

They argue that pedaling without anything on your feet causes you to both proactively and passively alter your pedaling motion to a more natural type.

Riding on tandem bike

Also, some just like to do it for the heck of it. And that’s fine. Regardless of your reasons, 99% of these riders will advise you to not barefoot cycle on mountain bike trails, or during serious road biking excursions. Leisurely rides are most suitable for obvious reasons.


You certainly have some options when it comes to finding a comfortable way to ride barefoot.


Probably the easiest way of them all, fitting your bike of choice with flat pedals will make things way more comfortable. Flat pedals are any pedals that don’t have small spikes or any surfaces that are designed to improve grip on a shoe. Rubber and wood pedals are solid options.

Here is the flat pedal replacement set I'd recommend:

Flat pedals for barefoot cycling
  • DURABLE:Rugged nylon fiber surface+high strength Cr-Mo spindle bike pedals, which has shock-proof, abrasion and corrosion resistance
  • SIZE:4.30(L)*3.94(W)*0.98(H)inches,0.79bls each pair,moer fitted to the soles,big tread bicycle pedals provide a more comfortable ride...
  • Easy To Install:CR-L for left; CR-R for right. Sealed bearing bicycle pedals protect spindles from water and dust which will cause noise and...


Pedal blocks are often used for those who can't’ reach pedals on either an exercise bike, or on a child’s bike, but they can be used to cover up spiked petals, making them more comfortable.


If you really want a challenge, and don’t have any replacement pedals, you can simply use the pedal rods connected to the cranks instead. Remove the pedals to reveal the rods.


For the more resourceful riders, you can affix some sort of soft padding to the pedal to make things more comfortable. A popular way to do this is to take a kitchen sponge and use rubber bands to attach it to the tops of each pedal.

Sponge on a bike pedal.

BareFoot Cycling SHoes

If you want to get all the benefits from barefoot cycling, but still have a layer of protection in case you have to stop quickly and don't want to scrape your feet, Irecommend getting a  pair of barefoot cycling shoes. 

Bit of a contradiction I know, right?

But it is becoming quite the trend, plus these shoes can be used in cross-training applications as well. Here is my favorite pick:

Vibram Men's Five Fingers, KSO EVO Crosstraining Black
  • Manmade and mesh upper for a glove-like fit
  • Bungee lace closure for a secure fit
  • Individual toe slots help deliver a natural running motion

And for women:

Mens Barefoot Gym Walking Trail Running Shoes Beach Hiking Wide Toe Box Water Shoes Aqua Sports Pool Surf Waterfall Climbing Quick Dry Grey
  • Stretch breathable ultra-light material, flexible and comfortable.
  • Super lightweight and low top with speed elastic draw-string ties system, easy to put on and take off.
  • Strengthen toes protection structure design, rubber sole, preventing sand, sharp rocks, broken glass or other objects from entering the shoe,...


Barefoot cycling is certainly not for everyone, although it’s worth giving it a shot if you’re available. You may even enjoy it more in some ways along with getting some benefits from it.

Have any of you ever tried barefoot cycling? If so, feel free to tell us about it below.

Last update on 2023-06-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6 thoughts on “Barefoot Cycling: Why Is It Good For You?”

  1. I have many times ridden barefoot my bicycle metal pedals with teeth with no problem had very good grip on the pedals being able to pedal a bike with metal teeth depends alot on the skin of ones soles that is my opinion though.

  2. I’m a barefoot runner since 2010 and also bicycle barefoot. I cut the lugs of the pedals for a comfortable ride and have never had any issues due to a lack of shoes. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

  3. CrankBoothers 5050 platform pedals have removable spikes that, when removed, are perfectly comfortable for bare feet. I do all of my indoor training barefoot 👣. This past summer I ventured out on my mountain bike barefoot, 4 rides, 45 miles, no problems. It works fine if I stick to nontechnical trails, I even set a PR on one of my go-to trails.

  4. The solution is to attach a platform to a clipless pedal cleat. This can be removed in a flash when you want to use clipless shoes. Possibly a piece of plywood, 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick with a bit of rubber glued on the top for your foot to have a non-slip grip. To ensure your foot doesn’t slip forward it might be wise to add a border or raised area on the front where your toes are. Or maybe you won’t even heed that. But beware if you fall going fast with bare feet. It wouldn’t be pretty.
    One huge advantage to this would be that your feet wouldn’t be sweating so you wouldn’t dehydrate on long rides so fast and would consume much less water. Nobody likes to bring a lot of water.

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