How to Stretch Cycling Shoes

Your sparkling cycling shoes have just arrived. You’ve tried your new biking shoes on, but they feel a wee bit too tight. Now, you’re wondering whether cycling shoes are supposed to feel that tight. Another question you might be asking yourself could be how do I make my cycling shoes more comfortable? And can you stretch bike shoes? That’s why I decided to put together a short post on how to stretch cycling shoes.

I want you to love biking more. And wearing properly fitting shoes is one way to increase comfort around cycling and encourage you to exercise more.

How Do Well-Fit Cycling Shoes Feel?

Before I go a word further, how should well-fitted cycling shoes feel? Well-fitted biking shoes feel nice and snug around the heel. And you’ll experience evenly distributed pressure around the instep. Also, your toes shouldn’t press against the front of the shoes.

That said, properly fitted bike shoes should provide foot stability and support without pinching or cutting off circulation. Finally, the balls of your feet should lie comfortably at the widest portion of your shoes for maximum power transfer.

What Happens If Your Cycling Shoes Are Too Small or Big?

If your shoes are too big, you won’t get enough foot support as well as power transfer.

But if the shoes are too small, you’ll have blisters, calluses, cones, bunions, and other undesirable fit-related conditions.

In this post, though, I’ll address the issue of bike shoes being too tight that they hurt your feet during use. I’ll give you practical tips and ideas to address the problem.

Can Your Stretch Leather Cycling Shoes?

Yes, leather biking kicks can be stretched without damaging them in most cases. Just use a pair of shoe trees and that should create a little more room inside.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to talk to a competent cobbler.

Shoe repair professionals have over the years invented little nifty tricks that help make leather cycling shoes slightly roomier and comfier.

So, have someone like that look at your shoes to see if they could do something to help alleviate the pain.


Can You Stretch Synthetic Cycling Shoes?

No, you can’t stretch synthetic cycling shoes. At least, that was the case when I tried stretching my synthetic bike shoes to make them a tad comfier.

Mine were vinyl bike pedaling shoes that pinched my pinkies because they were kind of narrow. So, I used shoe stretchers in an attempt to create a little more room particularly around the small toe area.

And what happened? Wasted time and frustration. That’s what.

The stretchers seemed to work — at first. When I inspected the shoes, they seemed to be properly stretched out. But when I strapped the kicks onto my feet, I noticed pain around my smallest toes after riding for 30 minutes.

Conclusion: it’s almost impossible to stretch synthetic bike shoes. At least, it’s nearly impossible to stretch synthetic bike shoes without tearing them.

Now, here are a couple of things you could try:

6 Tips for Stretching Cycling Shoes

Let’s go!

1.Apply Some Heat on Your Synthetic Shoes

Even though I’ve not tried this myself, I’ve read that using a bit of heat around the pinching area might work. I came across a cyclist online that said they used steam around their pinky and that helped a bit.

Another forum contributor reported they used a heat gun around the area they needed more room. But they also said to be careful or you’ll end up melting the shoes.

2.If Your Shoes Are Only Tight at the Fifth Toe, Loosen the Straps

Does it seem like your synthetic bike shoes pinch only around the fifth toe? In that case, consider loosening one of the straps.

In most cases, cycling shoes come with three straps. One strap is at the top of the upper, then another at the middle, and the last one near the toe box.

So, loosen the strap nearest to the toes. There’s no guarantee here, but it might just work for you. You’ll never know until you try.

3.Talk to a Boot Fitter at Your Local Ski Shop

I learned one could request a boot-fitting expert at a ski shop to stretch their bike shoes the way they stretch ski boots.

So, if you live near a ski shop, give it a try and come tell us here at how it went.

4.Have a Cobbler Work on Your Tight Cycling Shoes

A girl I mountain bike with had these nice-looking and tough leather cycling kicks that needed a little stretch.

So, she took them to a shoe repair technician, and…problem solved. The dude at the shoe repair shop used some sort of device to stretch the shoes.

Good news! It worked. Downside? My riding partner had to part with $20 for the fix.

But the upside is that her my-cycling-shoes-are-too-tight problem vanished for good.

5.Break in Your Cycling Shoes

Well, this one is obvious, but I’ll still mention it. There’s a narrow chance that your bike shoes feel tight because they’re new.

Whether the fit is correct or not, new bike shoes naturally hug feet a little too closely. And riding in new shoes for a couple of weeks does help give them a nice, broken-in feel.

The more you ride, the faster breaking in your cycling shoes happens. So, just toughen up a bit and do what you need to do to soften your biking kicks.

It may take weeks or even months to break in the shoes in some cases. But it works if the problem you have is your shoes being brand new and therefore too tight.

6.Buy Cycling Shoes With a Wide Fit Next Time

If you’re like me and have feet that are a wee bit too wide, you’ll always have problems with fitting shoes.

While heating or using shoe trees can help, buying wider shoes is the best solution if you have wide feet.

You’ll want to read around a little before whipping out that credit card. Your LBS probably carries a variety of wide-fitting cycling shoes. So, walk in there and see if they can recommend an option designed to fit wide flat feet.

You may also find a few wide cycling shoe recommendations in this post: Best Cycling Shoes for Wide Feet

In a nutshell…

What Do You Do If Your Cycling Shoes Are Too Tight?

First off, make sure to choose fitting bike shoes right from the get-go. If the fit is right, you won’t get blisters, bunions, cones, calluses, and whatnot.

Usually, cycling shoes feel too tight or even hurt your feet because they’re new. If that’s the case for you, start riding more frequently until you break them in.

If your shoes are made out of synthetic materials, stretching them will not always produce positive results. That said, heating the affected area with steam or a heat gun might help. *Take care so you won’t melt your shoes.

But if the upper is made of leather, you can ask a cobbler to stretch the material a bit. You can also have a ski boot fitting expert apply their skills on your shoes.

All that said, the best way to solve the problem is to choose shoes designed for wide feet. Such shoes come with enough room at the ball of your foot, toes, and heel. And they typically fit without issues.