Who Wants New Shoes? Some Advice…

Header Shoes

As bike fitters, as you would imagine, we see a lot of cycling shoes and feet, of all descriptions. A very common question is “I’m thinking of buying some new cycling shoes, do you have any advice, my friend rides with x y and z?” or “there’s an offer on these cycling shoes, what do you think?”

There are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts, cycling news sites and You Tube videos reviewing shoes. Most of them talk about sole stiffness, closure type, width of shoe, material of the upper, ventilation, all of which are great topics, however one of the most important subjects is almost always never talked about, and that is cleat position. This is vital to a bike fit and overall comfort and performance for the rider.

We typically see 5-6 brands of cycling shoes, Shimano, Specialized, Fizik, Sidi, Giro, Mavic. Of course there are many others, but these tend to be the most common. These are all great shoes, very good quality, range of sizes and colours. However…..there are a number, which, are better overall…..when it comes to cleat position and comfort as a result of this.

This is when it gets interesting, and I will expect a good few comments from this… 🙂 On average, if we see a rider with foot problems and sometimes calf discomfort, they will generally be using a shoe from Sidi and Fizik. Why? ….Fore Aft cleat position is to blame. As I mentioned above, the reviewers often do not talk about this, and many riders base their purchases around these reviews. Sidi and Fizik position the cleat holes, quite far forward on the shoe, in other words, towards the toes. In the last couple of years, the Fizik cleat position has improved and they have provided a slot for the threaded part to slide back and forth, but are still placed too far forward on the shoe. Sidi, I believe, have not changed for a while.

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Shimano, Specialized and Lake Cycling shoes, on the other hand, offer very good fore aft adjustment. Other decent shoes, in this regard are Giro, and sometimes Mavic. In a simple size comparison, Euro 44.5, there is as much as 15mm difference between a Shimano shoe and a shoe from Sidi or Fizik. You might be thinking…15mm….that is nothing….but it is a huge difference at the shoe, as this is the only place on the bike that you are truly locked into and all the power goes through. Take a look at the photos below of Specialized, Lake and Shimano shoes, note how far back the cleat holes are:

This can make a massive difference to foot comfort and power delivery to the pedal. Our clients sometimes describe the sensation of their toes having to grip the inside of the shoes in a claw like fashion, when climbing or under load, we like to call this “angry toes” This can often lead to the inner soles being completely worn through from the toes digging in, trying to hold onto the inside of the shoe! Whereas this is hardy ever a problem with shoes offering a more rearward cleat position.

One other thing to note, is that the offerings form Sidi and Fizik are not “foot shaped”, they are typically narrow towards the front of the shoe, which can squeeze the toes together.

Again the shoes from Lake, Specialized and Shimano are more “foot shaped” allowing the toes to spread out and relax.

Of course this is not an exhaustive post about all the foot injuries, shoe types and brands, and nor is it meant to take anything away from Sidi and Fizik, but just giving the rider some more information which is not often spoken about, and the ability to be able to make a more informed decision before purchasing a pair of sparkling new shoes.

If you have any questions about your shoes or feet problems whilst cycling or are looking to purchase a new pair, drop us a comment and we will try our best to advise you.

 

 

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Winter Training Rides

Hey Everyone! Hope you’re all well and fit!
Vankru Tuesday ride will be on tomorrow, however there will be a slight change to the normal ride. It looks like it’s going to be very cold and probably some ice. So we are suggesting to meet at 11am at the top end of Poles Lane (the Hursley village side). It will also be slower than normal, average speed to be between 25-27km/hr, and only for a couple of hours. We are suggesting a flatish route to Leckford, for a coffee, then back to Hursley.
See you there!

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Physical assessment in a digital age

In my eyes a thorough off-bike assessment has always been a key part of the bike fit process, an opinion also voiced passionately by Garth. Nowadays, as our routine of postural checks and exercises has grown and evolved, we seldom find ourselves writing anything less than a short essay on our findings, keen not to leave a single detail unrecorded.

As with any observation based assessment, the biggest challenge has always been providing the athlete with a clear impression of exactly what they’re doing – right or wrong. “Did you know you drop your knee in and rotate at the hips during a squat?” It’s one thing having it explained to you, quite another to watch yourself back. Today’s mobile phones make this a simple process with super HD, slow motion video available at our fingertips.

However, with Bodywatch, the team at EuMotus (a group of boffs from Harvard university) have created a system that not only records an athlete’s exercise patterns, but through the use of markerless infrared technology, assesses them for symmetry, stability and range of movement. Scored against a set of industry standard criteria, the athlete is provided with a detailed report which highlights area of concern and where improvements are recommended.

This in itself is a fantastic step forward in the accuracy and repeatability of our assessment. However, the real secret weapon of the Bodywatch system is its ability to give muscle balance recommendations. With astonishing accuracy, Bodywatch uses the results of the performed routine to compile suggestions of under and over active muscle groups. Having tested the system for several months now as well as in talks with physios and other sports therapists, we’ve found the results to provide fantastic and reliable insight. And our clients are loving the detail of the report they get to take away.

We’ll have plenty more to write about in the coming months as we continue our use of the Bodywatch with our bikefit clients so watch this space…

Mark

Back to School: The endless search for knowledge

In our search for further learner, Garth and I decided to ditch the chain oil for massage oil

this winter and enrolled in a Sports
/ Soft Tissue Massage Level 3 diploma. For 30 weeks, our Tuesday evenings will no longer be spent working from the studio or sweating it out on the turbo, but will instead consist of lotion-soaked hands, scribble-filled notepads and information-stuffed grey matter…

The course, held at Eastleigh College, includes everything from detailed learning and practice of massage techniques (who thought kneading was just for bread making) to the function of the lymphatic system, through to the role of sports massage in injury treatment and prevention.

We’ll continue to post updates of our progress through the course, and will certainly be needing some willing volunteers for “treatments” in the coming weeks so keep an eye out on our social media posts for opportunities to put yourself forward!

Mark

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