Question: I just bought a pair of expensive road shoes online and they're slightly too large. I know -- I should have gotten them from my local bike shop and tried them on first. But the deed is done, so is there any way to make them fit? They're fine with thicker socks but I want to wear conventional thin cycling socks. -- Bailey G.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: If the shoes fit with slightly thicker socks, the fix is easy. Simply insert a thin insole under the sock liner that's already in each shoe. The extra layer will help your feet fill up the shoes so you can pedal without disconcerting movement.
I've used the thin insole from a pair of old Shimano mountain bike shoes for this purpose. Or visit the foot care section of any drugstore for a selection of insoles made of various materials in different thicknesses. (You could also search for custom orthotics online.)
This trick also works for shoes that have stretched and loosened with use. Adding insoles can make them fit like new again.
If your new shoes are still too big, consider selling them and getting a smaller pair that fits.
Shoes are crucially important to cycling efficiency. Oversize shoes rob energy from your pedal stroke because your feet move inside. But if shoes are too tight, the discomfort will make it hard to apply full pedaling pressure. The longer the ride, the more uncomfortable (even painful) your feet will become.