Preface: I've used a standing desk before and loved it, I'm going to switch back very soon. I also bike every day, my commute is at least 9.8 miles. The bike I use has cages on the pedals and I'm currently using new balance running training shoes (that I've barely used for running). I also want to bike longer distances.

I would like to use Vibrams as my only pair of shoes for biking 13+ miles a day and standing most of the day.

Will Vibram shoes be good for biking? Or will they negatively affect my biking? And corollary to my use: Are they good for standing while working?

  • 2
    (vibram covered) toes meet spokes. Enough said. Safety first. Jul 13, 2011 at 14:38
  • Is it safe for your toes to have individual toe pods or open toe shoes? I heard about a woman who lost a toe going mountain biking in sandals. Apr 8, 2020 at 23:53

3 Answers 3


I'm all for the minimalist shoe movement. I wear Merrell Trail Gloves almost exclusively, including at my standing desk at work. However, there is something to be said for using the right tool for the job, and for biking VFFs are not the right tool for the job.

That's not to say you can't wear them, especially if you have cage or platform pedals on your bike. But as far as "good for biking" vs. "negatively affect my biking" from a cyclists standpoint, the less rigid the sole of your shoe, the less efficient it is for transferring power from your legs to the cranks. So the running shoes you've been wearing are also relatively un-optimal for biking.

As far as standing at your desk all day in VFFs: it took a while to get used to standing on what is essentially a concrete floor all day in my Trail Gloves, but I'm fine now. I have a bar stool that I sit on for a combined total of maybe an hour or so of my day just to take the weight off every now and then, but your VFFs should be fine for standing.

  • Yeah standing for a long time does take some getting used to, I wore them during a concert and did start to get painful feet near the end of it.
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jul 8, 2011 at 21:15
  • Vibram support said they definitely do not recommend them as the upper part of cages (probably not all) can injure the top of the foot.
    – fearmint
    Jul 9, 2011 at 11:39

Personally, I have no opinion on the subject of whether you should wear cycling-specific shoes or not; however, I will say that you are not going to get less efficient power-transfer from not wearing clipless pedals.

It's simple physics. The energy is conserved -- it necessarily HAS to go into turning the crank. A very VERY small amount may turn into heat, but instruments probably don't exist that can measure to that sort of precision.

Here is a good article called the "Shoes Ruse" that details why it is perfectly acceptable to wear any shoes that you want when cycling. I'm not sure if I entirely agree with it, but you can read it and make your own decision: http://www.rivbike.com/article/clothing/the_shoes_ruse

  • That's a good perspective. +1.
    – fearmint
    Jul 13, 2011 at 14:23
  • @Nick I think the link is broken. Did you mean this article?
    – Eyal
    Nov 9, 2012 at 21:07

I have a proposed mechanism from personal experience. Although there is insufficient evidence, I hope that the information will be an anectdote to the above statments that more or less imply that there may be no negative side effects of riding with these shoes. Please comment if you have had any similar experiences.

Riding and racing bicycles was my primary extracurricular activity for many years - all done with cycling shoes. Now I ride my bike for commuting - with the same look style cleats and often with heavy loads of children and a single gear. I have taken up running for my primary activity. After developing plantar fascitis last summer, and then feeling the way my foot naturally attempts to grab the pedal by curling up, I am beginning to suspect that this could cause some of the issues with my plantar tendon. I am generally very cautious about and attentive to errors that may be leading to pain. So, I am planning to get either flatter pedals or using cycling shoes.

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