Designing Cycling Shoes for Women
Recognising the Differences
In case you haven’t noticed it, women are built differently from men – it’s a fact. All too often, historically, brands have simply produced downsized products for women, and have failed either deliberately or otherwise, to recognise the physiological differences. Yes, the cycling world simply used a ‘Pink it & Shrink it’ mentally, failing to understand the specific needs of women as athletes. Take the human leg for example; the most hardworking elements of the body. There are significant differences between the structure and support of a male leg and female leg. Did you know for instance, that women’s knees are generally stabilised more by ligaments, whilst in men, this is a more muscular stabilisation process.
The angle between the thigh muscle and the patellar tendon is known as the ‘Q Angle’ and is naturally higher in women. What this means is that an increased Q Angle – caused by a wider pelvis in women – can lead to knee pain, which then leads to foot pain. Yes, these seemingly small differences between men and women ultimately mean that we need to design cycling shoes that work to support how women’s bodies operate – both on and off the bike.
Three Significant Issues for Female Feet
Chatting with Hutch, the chief designer at Lake Cycling Shoes, and my own ‘go-to-guy’ for all things technical, he tells me that there are 3 significant differences with the female foot, and which he’s used to design out Lake Cycling ‘Women’s Foot Last’, on which Lake havee built their range of women’s specific shoes.
- Women’s Heels are narrower than a men’s heel
- Instep is higher
- Ball of Foot is wider
These of course are in general, and of course there are variations, as you’re a unique person – which is why at Lake Cycling, they love designing shoes just for you.
One impact factor on women’s feet is that they tend to from as young girls and women grow, based on the footwear that contains them. This is why we often see wider feet and bunions in women looking at cycling shoes, who’ve worn certain shoe types in the life, with heels and restricted footwear developing significant foot issues. When we see a woman who has spent most of her time in sports and athletics, then they tend not to have these issues. Their feet tend to be narrower and have a lower in-step; however, take this with a note of caution due to our uniqueness which should always be considered. That’s why the people at Lake love to see your fee and to measure them before they wrap you in their legendary comfort.
Lake Cycling ‘Women’s Foot Last’
Brands like Lake have been designing and creating the world’s best cycling shoes for over 40 years now. That means that they’ve built up a wealth of knowledge and expertise in what a cycling shoe should do and how it should perform for different people. That’s why they produce so many different width options and such a variety of shoes. As I keep saying, and it’s always worth repeating; you’re a unique person, and if you’re a woman, Lake believe that you deserve to be acknowledged – which is why they design some of our best cycling shoes just for you. Let’s take a look a few of the Lake Cycling Shoes specifically for women.
CX 302 WOMEN’S
This superb road cycling shoe comes with a women’s CX /TX Last. The higher cadence & longer ride times which characterize road cycling require excellent foot control to avoid hot spots & numbness. With a much closer fit than any of our off-road lasts, our Sport Last cradles the foot securely to prevent any unwanted movement. This ‘Last’ features a precisely fitted toe-box, high arch & mid width ball girth, all of which are refined in this model for the elements we mentioned earlier regarding women’s feet.
It has a carbon fibre sole, which is available in a 3-hole cleat pattern. The CX 302 utilizes Lake’s patent double sole system. The inner sole is a semi flexible carbon fibre platform, that allows the foot to have some flexibility at the ball of the foot where the foot tends to swell, and typically hot spots or numbness would occur. The inner sole is then suspended over the outer rigid carbon sole. This system enables us to use an extremely stiff carbon outsole without sacrificing riding comfort, producing a cycling shoe that is both performance oriented and which provides women’s feet with ultimate cycling comfort. The upper has Clarino Microfiber and mesh, with a Carbitex Medial Support panel for a super secure fit. It’s all finished off with a dual BOA closure system, which allows you to bring in the upper at different pressures across the foot, creating a second skin feeling. Best of all, because we know that it’s important – it’s also a super stylish shoe, like you!
CX 403 WOMEN’S
The Lake CX 403 is a technical performance shoe for cycling, and this women’s specific model, once again takes on board those 3 critical biometric differences with women’s feet. Like the CX 302, this shoe uses the CX / TX Last for women, making sure that, when performance is important to you, we consider every aspect – and that we recognise the important needs of female cyclists.
The shoe features a slightly narrower toe box and tighter heel than the Competition Last, and less overall volume than the Sport Last. It’s a shoe designed for very high-cadence riding and higher-pressure riding, and it comes in a race ready slimer fit. It has a custom carbon fibre sole and Carbitex OmniFlex Carbon Fibre Stabilizer Support panels, which help to keep the foot stabilized, control stretch and allow for that all-important increased power transfer. It’s also a shoe that can be heated and moulded closely to your heel meaning that this shoe can be heated and moulded to your feet.
Badly fitting shoes lose power, and the ability to closely mould the CX 403 to your feet, maximises power transfer and performance. Along with the super stiff sole, it’s a shoe that will wrap your feet in ultimate on-the-bike comfort, whilst delivering results in racing. Thanks to the exceptional fit, your foot stays firmly planted with every pedal stroke.
The Biggest Growth in Global Cycling is Women
Whatever dataset you look at, women’s cycling is increasing faster than any other area of our sport. Support for this growth is finally coming from the cycling industry, and here at Lake they’ve always believed in supporting the individuality of all cyclists. Their wide range of the world’s best cycling shoes are designed to help guide you on your new spring and summer cycling adventures, this year and long into the future. Why not visit one of the Lake global retail partners, wherever you are, and let Lake give you that well-deserved foot love, and wrap your feet in the finest women’s cycling shoes in the world – because you’re so worth it!
* This blog first appeared on the Lake Cycling website in Spring 2023