How to Guides

How to Stretch Cycling Shoes to Get a Better Fit?

The excitement of buying a new pair of cycling shoes dies suddenly when you find out the shoes are too tight. Perhaps, you have made a mistake and bought a smaller size. Cycling shoes, however, like rock climbing shoes or soccer shoes, are constricting by design and are supposed to fit tight. The level of tightness will vary depending on personal choice and the type of riding done. The idea is that a tighter fit is necessary for better energy transfer. But some of us would like more room in our shoes to avoid blisters and bunions.

This article discusses ways you can stretch your cycling shoes to get a better fit.

Try a Shoe Stretcher

To stretch with a shoe stretcher, first, insert the shoe stretcher into the shoe and adjust it to the desired width by turning the knob or lever. Make sure not to overstretch the shoes to avoid damaging them. Leave the stretcher in the shoes for a while, typically overnight, to allow the material to gradually expand. For stubborn areas, you can apply heat using a hairdryer or steam to soften the material before stretching. Once stretched to the desired size, remove the stretcher and test the fit. Repeat the process if further stretching is needed, but proceed with caution to avoid overstretching.

eachway Shoe Stretcher

eachway Shoe Stretcher

This shoe stretcher boasts a versatile 4-way adjustment capability. It allows you to widen the width or increase the length of your shoes to achieve a perfect fit. Made from premium ABS plastic and reinforced with a sturdy steel shaft, this stretcher ensures durability and longevity, promising a service life of up to 10 years. Compatible with a wide range of footwear including leather, suede, flats, sandals, loafers, sneakers, and more, it comes with a comprehensive set of accessories including bunion plugs, heighten pads, a shoe horn, and a convenient shoe bag for storage. Whether addressing discomfort from bunions, and calluses or simply optimizing shoe fit, this product offers a professional solution for enhancing footwear comfort and longevity, making it an ideal gift choice for any occasion.

See the eachway Shoe Stretcher

Problems Caused by Tight Shoes

Discomfort is not the only problem caused by tight shoes. If you use tight shoes for longer periods, you can develop a few medical issues like cones, calluses, bunions, and blisters. Of course, if you are uncomfortable, your performance will be compromised as well. You won’t be able to go on for too long or too fast. If you have cycling shoes that are too tight, you should either do something about it or stop using the shoes altogether and get a new pair.

Can you Really Stretch Cycling Shoes?

Cycling shoes are not meant to stretch. They are made stiff for better energy transfer. However, there are certain cases where a cycling shoe can show some flexibility.

1. Material of the Shoe

Whether cycling shoes will stretch or not depends on the material they are made of. Cycling shoes made of leather show some margin of stretch, although, still not much. But there is some hope. Cycling shoes made of synthetic material just don’t stretch. In most cases, it’s a waste of time to try and stretch synthetic shoes. But you can try and find out if your shoes can stretch or not. It’s important to keep in mind that not all shoes can be stretched, and attempting to stretch shoes that are not designed to do so could damage them. In such cases, it may be necessary to purchase a different pair of shoes that fit better.

2. Heat Moldable Shoes

Few brands in the cycling industry provide heat-moldable shoes. If you have heat-moldable cycling shoes, then you can stretch them to some extent depending on the brand and material. You can simply warm them up and put your feet in them. But you should be careful and make sure you have read the shoe manufacturer’s instructions about the process.

Tips to Stretch Cycling Shoes (No Guarantee)

There is no guarantee that using the tips listed below will stretch your shoes. You can try them out and see if they work for you.

  • The most obvious tip everyone will tell you is to use a shoe stretcher or a shoe tree. The idea of shoe stretchers has been present in human civilizations for centuries. You can use and benefit from them as well. A good quality wooden shoe stretcher may get the job done.
  • Leather shoes are also naturally stretchable, especially, kangaroo leather. You can give your leather shoes some time to become comfortable.
  • Take your shoes to a competent cobbler and see what they can do. This tip is really helpful if you have leather shoes.
  • Take your shoes to a local ski shop. Ski shoes require stretching. Ski shops frequently help people stretch their shoes. If you happen to live somewhere close to a ski shop, maybe they can help you with your tight shoes as well.
  • Leather cycling shoes can be soaked and worn to stretch them. Keep them on and allow them to dry naturally.
  • If you have synthetic shoes, you can try to heat them. But be careful not to heat them too much. It may melt the shoes or separate the upper and the outsole. You would have to use an adhesive or get them repaired. You can use these methods to heat your shoes:
    • You can put the shoes in an oven.You can use a hair dryer. A hairdryer can also be used on a specific part of the shoe that you want to be stretched.
    • You can steam your shoes and put them on when they become safe enough to wear while warm. It works sometimes.
  • Most bikers believe that tightening the shoe as much as possible is necessary for better energy transfer. While this is true, but not at the expense of your comfort. Cycling shoes usually have multiple straps or layers of laces. You can tighten the top ones and leave loose the ones near the toe box. Tightening the top strap or laces shouldn’t allow your foot to move inside the shoe.

Shoe Surgery

If none of the above methods work, then you can perform surgery on your shoe. The idea of surgically altering cycling shoes is not for everyone. Some people are too afraid to damage their expensive shoes by themselves. But if you are comfortable with the idea, you can grab some sharp tools and begin the modification.

  • Most people feel uncomfortable in their toes with cycling shoes. You can use a knife or a scalpel to slice the toe box. A few vertical slits can expand the toe box making it more comfortable for your toes. You also get more ventilation this way.
  • You can cut out a rectangular part on the lateral sides of your toe box to make room for your first and fifth toe.

Final Thoughts

Cycling shoes are usually tight and stiff for better energy transfer. But shoes too tight can cause extreme discomfort. But these shoes are not made to stretch as they make them loose resulting in loss during energy transfer from the feet to the pedals. Cycling shoes can be made to stretch to some extent but don’t expect too much. The degree of stretch depends on the materials of the shoe. Leather cycling shoes can be stretched and do stretch a little with time. Synthetic shoes don’t usually stretch unless they are heat moldable. You can use a shoe stretcher or heat the shoes to see if they stretch. If nothing works, perform a modification surgery to make more room for your toes.