Ask a Mechanic | Getting Set Up For Spin Class

Walter says, “A few of my friends are really into their spin class. What do I need to get started?”

Motivation can be hard to come by during the cold and wet months of the year, but you don’t want to lose your hard-earned fitness. Riding an indoor trainer is a great way to keep up your training, but riding by yourself, with a video or an MP3 player as your only inspiration, can get old for some.

Many cyclists rack up their offseason miles in spin classes, a much more social way to stay fit than riding the lonely miles in your basement. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or someone who hasn’t ridden a bike in years, getting set up for a spin class is easy. Here’s what you’ll need to get going.

Spin pedals usually have an SPD interface on one side and toe cages on the other. While you can use regular shoes in the toe cages, you’ll get a better workout being clicked into the SPD side, just like on a real bike.

You can either use your existing shoes or get a pair of spin-specific shoes. Most spin bike pedals use Shimano SPD cleats, so you’ll either need a mountain shoe, a spin-specific shoe, or an adapter for three-bolt road shoes.

Spin-specific shoes look like fitness shoes, but have a stiffer sole and a place to attach SPD cleats. Standard Shimano SH51 SPD cleats or spin-specific SH56 cleats both work. SH51 cleats only release by twisting your foot out. SH56 cleats release by twisting your heel in any direction: out, up, or back, so for those new to spinning, we’d recommend using the SH-56 cleats.

Some spin pedals are also compatible with older Delta-style Look three-bolt road cleats, which have been discontinued by Look. If you don’t have this style of road pedal, adapters are available that bolt to the bottom of your road shoe, and have an interface for attaching two-bolt SPD cleats to your 3-bolt road shoes.

Bring a water bottle. Spin workouts are vigorous, and you’ll be working up a sweat. Keep yourself hydrated just as you would on a regular ride. Don’t forget post-ride recovery nutrition either.

Wear shorts or bibs with a chamois pad. Men’s or women’s mountain bike shorts with a padded liner have a casual look with the comfort of a cycling-specific pad, perfect for spin class or the gym. Of course, a nice pair of men’s bibs or women’s bibs and a good men’s or women’s jersey is going to feel just as good in the spin class as it does on a real ride, so the choice of apparel ultimately comes down to style.

Gloves are not a must, but we recommend them. Since there’s no breeze indoors, your sweat is not going to dry quickly like it does on the road. Gloves will help maintain a solid grip on the bars when your hands are dripping with sweat. Plus, the hard foam covering spin bike handlebars is not as soft as your handlebar tape or grips.

Speaking of profuse sweating, don’t forget to bring a towel or two. Drape it over your handlebars so it’s close at hand. You’ll need it often. When you’re ready to make spin classes part of your indoor training, check out our selection of shoes, cleats, and apparel at