Special cycling shoes with carbon sole for bicycle commuting

We have developed a bike shoes with a DUALFLEX carbon midsole especially for the need of bike commuting. This innovative carbon sole offers commuters the best comfort on their way through the city, on foot AND on the bike! Find out why and how we do it in this post.

Special features for Cycling shoes for commuting

DUALFLEX - the name already reveals what makes the cycling shoe so special. An innovative carbon sole combines two different flex properties through its special design. When walking upwards flexible and thus offers the best comfort when rolling the forefoot. When cycling, it stiffens when pressure is applied to the pedal, thus preventing the foot from buckling when pedaling.

"We've been sitting on the basic research together with Prof. Senner from TU Munich since 2015, and we're also collaborating here with TU Chemnitz and with the Technikum in Vienna. Unlike in the running shoe sector, there are hardly any studies in the cycling world that scientifically analyze how, around which joints and at what angle cycling shoes flex under load. Yet the topic of flexibility is a dominant parameter for mountain and cycling shoes."

Dr. Frank Michel, Innovation Manager at VAUDE

The results from this research have been directly incorporated into the development of not only the DUALFLEX technology, but also the so-called "V-Flow Stability Index", which we use to give our customers an overview of the various degrees of stiffness of the soles.

"It always starts with an idea, such as how we can increase the benefit for the user."

Oliver Korden, department manager shoes at VAUDE

Bike commuting is an excellent example of this philosophy, Korden said. The share of cycling is continuously increasing. Cycling is no longer just a sport and leisure activity, but a natural part of life. Ecologically and socially, this is great news. But it also automatically means new challenges for accessories. Modern cycling shoes for everyday use have to work well while walking and while riding. Korden: "We want to get people on their bikes - and changing shoes keeps them away, our user surveys show. So our goal was clear: A shoe with the performance of a click shoe and the comfort of a casual shoe."

Mit dem Rad durch Berlin zur Arbeit pendeln.Mit dem Rad durch Berlin zur Arbeit pendeln.
A carbon sole made for bike commuters*. Image: Martin
Grafische Darstellung des dual flexenden Fahrradschuhs.Grafische Darstellung des dual flexenden Fahrradschuhs.
DUALFLEX carbon midsole for combined comfort - while cycling AND walking. Image: VAUDE

More performance and less ecological footprint

But how do you achieve this goal? A shoe is first and foremost a shoe, and its components have stood the test of time for centuries. However, this is where things quickly become complex, as experts agree that there are hundreds of materials and manufacturing techniques available for a shoe today. For the midsole, for the tread sole, for the upper, the upper material, the padding, and, and, and. When it comes to selection, our departments at VAUDE work hand in hand. The main criteria are the performance and price of a material, as well as sustainability. The guiding principles are the so-called "Brand Material Goals", which we have formulated in our sustainability report and made transparently available to the public.

"We set ourselves challenging goals with the Brand Material Goals, namely to significantly increase the share of bio-based and recycled materials while offering a balance between performance and ecology."

Stephanie Herrling, responsible for CSR communications

The i-Team acts as an interdisciplinary advisor in the company and works together with all departments - four people here alone take care of the search for and analysis of new, better and greener materials and manufacturing technologies. "Sometimes a specific question comes from a department, sometimes we come up with a suggestion," says Dr. Michel, explaining the collaboration.

Pendler*innen in städtischer Allee.Pendler*innen in städtischer Allee.
More green! Not only sustainable products help, but also more cycling. Image: Martin Erd

The benefits of Basic research on the bicycle shoe

The goal has been formulated, the guidelines defined; now the results of the research will help. "In the end, our biomechanical tests just like the dynamic material tests confirmed our assumptions. When cycling, the human foot experiences significant plantar flexion. The foot and shoe bend downwards, which in combination with soles that are too soft can lead to considerable fatigue and in extreme cases even to health problems such as so-called plantar fasciitis," explains Frank Michel. "The biomechanical contrasts between walking and riding are huge. The shoe has to be flexible at the top to allow natural rolling at the base of the toe joint, but still stiff at the bottom to prevent bending over the pedal."

Fahrradschuh in TestmaschineFahrradschuh in Testmaschine
Testing the innovative sole in the machine
Fahrradschuh-Tests im alpinen Gelände.Fahrradschuh-Tests im alpinen Gelände.
and in alpine terrain.

The DUALFLEX Carbon midsole consists of three different material zones:

The core of the construction is the dual flexing carbon plate in the ball and toe area for better power transmission when pedaling and round rolling when walking. The specific arrangement of the carbon fibers allows for a shoe that is stiff at the bottom and flexible at the top - it has two different flex properties, hence the name, Korden explains, "No other material allows us to combine these properties, no version we tested delivered higher performance." The stiff nylon shank from the rear foot to under the front of the arch provides better power transmission and the additional border of elastic TPU in the front area, increases walking comfort.

Aufbau der Carbonsohle aus drei verschiedenen MaterialzonenAufbau der Carbonsohle aus drei verschiedenen Materialzonen
The heart of the special cycling shoes: the DUALFLEX midsole. Image: VAUDE

Carbon and its reputation

Technically, the material carbon enjoys an excellent reputation. It allows for lightweight yet highly resilient products and a lot of freedom in shaping. The material has a high degree of inherent damping and, through the targeted arrangement of the fibers, makes it possible to realize direction-specific properties - such as the DUALFLEX sole. From an ecological point of view, however, the material is controversial, mainly because of the comparatively high energy consumption in its production and the fact that there is still no recycled carbon at a satisfactory quality level. How does such a material fit in with an ecological manufacturer like VAUDE? On the one hand, used carbon can certainly be reused today, as materials scientist Clement Affholder explains, he is researching the basics for new, sustainable materials at our company. This is still a downcycling process, he says, a form of recycling in which the material can later be used for applications with lower technical requirements. "High-value recycling of carbon fibers, i.e. reuse at the same technical level, is not yet possible but is being developed by carbon specialists around the world.

Pendler*innen ausgelassen auf dem Weg durch die Stadt.Pendler*innen ausgelassen auf dem Weg durch die Stadt.
Uncomplicated and in a good mood on the way to work. Image: Christoph Laue

in addition, the carbon midsole accounts for only a small single-digit share of the shoe's total material input. All models with the DUALFLEX sole, for example, are of course certified to the strict in-house Green Shape standard for sustainable production, PVC-free with water-repellent upper material. Some recycled material is used for the rubber outsole and lining. The fair production of the entire product range has also earned us the coveted "Leader Status" from the Fairwear Foundation, which independently monitors working conditions in the textile industry worldwide.

Nahaufnahme Fahrradschuhe beim GehenNahaufnahme Fahrradschuhe beim Gehen
Comfort on foot
and on the bike is ideal for commuting.

Sustainable development is a process

"Courage suits us," is the title of the book by VAUDE CEO Antje von Dewitz, who has led the family business since 2009. Oliver Korden reminds us of this and reveals an anecdote from material development at the end. Since 2018, the company has been working increasingly on replacing materials made from crude oil with bio-based ones. In this context, the company has also been researching new outer soles for shoes with a partner company. The resulting material was not suitable for a shoe sole, but is now used in other areas of the company. A waste product in the best sense. The courage, time and energy invested in development and research today is never wasted, even if it doesn't lead directly to the goal: "Sustainable development is a process, sometimes detours lead to the goal."

Mid Cut Fahrradschuh zum Pendeln Mid Cut Fahrradschuh zum Pendeln
Get the ideal bike shoe for commuting. Image: VAUDE

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