No shoes it is. Haha. I mean normal shoes
No shoes is the way to go I use Shimano SPD cleated touring sandals.
Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts
Sorry, I can't agree with this. Cycling shoes have stiffer soles to support your foot, regardless of clips or clipless (I started wearing cycling shoes back in the eighties). While you can wear soft soled shoes for short distances, you will get sore feet and be giving away a lot of efficiency for longer (ie, one hour) rides. Proper cycling shoes make a huge difference.
But is it worth going to clipless?
Yes, and not for the oft repeated nonsense about being about to pull up on the pedals (for normal humans, you are really only getting your foot out of the way of the rising pedal, not pulling up on the pedal to add power).
For most riders, all you need are SPD pedals and clips - these are the typical mtb clip. They position your foot accurately on the pedal (for most efficiency and for least fatigue), they keep your foot in contact with the pedal if you hit bumps/water/whatever, and if you don't do the cleats up really tight, you can pull out of them very quickly and easily. In the old days, mtb pedals and road pedals had teeth on them to attempt to do all the above. The modern SPD pedal and cleat does all this, plus comes with shoes you can walk and drive in (unlike SPD SL, the typical road racing shoe).
I personally use SPD pedals, shoes that look like normal sports shoes, multi release SPD cleats (can pull out in any direction in an emergency) and keep the clips reasonably loose - I have yet to experience an unintended unclipping and have yet to fall off due to not being able to get out of the cleats ... though it's been close once or twice.
A good set of mtb shoes and clipless pedals are not excessively expensive, will add greatly to your riding pleasure and efficiency and will not restrict you off the bike.
I had a good bike ... so I fixed it
My view on priorities:
Ride a lot > flat repair kit > Cycling shoes & proper bike clothes > Clipless pedals
$0 for bike - you've already spent it
~$60 Multi tool, 3 good tyre levers, spare tube, patches
$120 for shoes and $140 for jersey and shorts
$75 for basic SPD pedals
The good thing about all that stuff, is although it costs a lot, you only have to buy it once, and it's good for any bike you ride after that.
The guys mean something like this rather than the road shoes. You can walk in them easily and their stiff sole means you get better transfer of power to the pedal straight away. Later on, get some pedals like these or these. They come with cleats that mount on the bottom of the shoes (if you look really close and hold your mouth just right, you can see the cut-out on the sole of the shoes that comes away so that you can get to some mounting holes).
Alternatively, just get some toe cages / straps for the pedals on your bike and use those.
Both systems makes the shoes work even better, but even just the shoes are more efficient that trainers / walking shoes.
Litespeed Classic - 3Al/2.5V titanium tube set, Record 9-speed groupset, Open Corsa Evo CX
Alchemy Diablo - Columbus Zonal tubing, Ultegra 9-speed groupset, UltraGatorskins
Gitane Rocks T1 - U6 tubing, Deore/XT groupset, CrossMarks
I gotta disagree about the straps - they are too dangerous for use off the road. Clipless unclip straight away, straps don't. That's not so bad on the road, where you can mostly anticipate when you're about to stop. Off the road, when you don't know what's over the next log-over, you need to be able to pop out of your pedals at a moment's notice without leaning down to loosen the strap.
You're probably wondering why "clipless pedals" have clips? The term clipless was brought in a LONG time ago to describe pedals without the straps of the older style of cleated pedal/shoe combination. They are now largely obsolete, and only clipless pedals remain (by and large....).
Ok, a point about toe clips:
You don't have to have them super-uber tight go get a benefit. Just having them there at all puts your foot in the right place, stops it from slipping and sliding all over the shop when you get a bit of mud on them. They aren't ideal for offroad, I agree but they're only as dangerous as you make them. I'm not so sure about a corner? I pull one foot out and ride the pedal upside down, so I can put foot to floor if I need to.
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