No, you don’t need special shoes for indoor cycling, but it helps! Indoor cycling shoes help to smooth and strengthen your pedal stroke. Shoes with cleats connect riders directly to the pedal, which results in 2 things; one, they force your feet into the proper position, and two, they keep your feet continuously connected throughout the pedal stroke.
If you don’t “clip in” to the bike pedals, you can still get a great workout riding with regular sneakers. When cycling without cleats, choose shoes with thick soles. Why? During a ride, you may stand out of the saddle, putting all of your body weight on something hard that is the size of a leaf. After spinning your wheels without support, you may experience pins and needles or numbness in your feet.