Cleat Wedges in the Tour de France

Mark Cavendish is well known in the cycling world for being one of the greatest sprinters and arguably one of the best cyclists of all time.  With 48 grand tour victories, 30 in the Tour de France alone, and winning the 2011 Road World Championship, his accolades are undeniable.

BikeFit products are used throughout the cycling world and these pictures of Mark’s new kicks complete with Cleat Wedges clearly show the need to adjust for foot tilt among the pro ranks.

Will Cleat Wedges help you win the Tour de France or at least a few stages?

The BikeFit legal department was crystal clear to us that we can’t imply a direct correlation between using Cleat Wedges and attaining grand tour victories.  At the same time, it’s extremely difficult to achieve your best performance when you experience bike discomfort.  Many cyclists find relief from foot pain, knee pain, and even saddle discomfort by using wedges.

Find your Cleat Wedge #

Measure foot tilt with the Foot Fit Calculator and your Android phone!  All you need is a friend to help, and you can quickly find out if Cleat Wedges will improve your ride and how many you require.

If you don’t have an Android phone, see our blog article for more help on discovering foot tilt and the importance of cleat wedges.

Look / Shimano 2-Degree Cleat Wedges

At BikeFit, we’re always searching for avenues to increase efficiency.  In this case, we listened to the myriad of Bike Fitters who inquired on whether we could create a 2-Degree Cleat Wedge.  Lining up wedges and installing screws increases in difficulty as you increase wedges.  You asked and we listened. After a year of development and testing, voila!  Look 2-Degree Wedges!

These new wedges decrease installation time and reduce the chance of slippage apparent with multiple wedges.  They are also undeniably cooler than our previous wedges.  Look 2-Degree Cleat Wedges are compatible with Look, Shimano SPD/SL, Time and most 3-hole cleat configurations.

How to tell the Difference Between 1° and 2-Degree Cleat Wedges

Our 1° and 2° Cleat Wedges are incredibly similar, but we’ve added clear labeling to help you discern them from one another.  The new shape is much more durable for cleat installation and the rigors of hard rides.  1 or 2 Degree, Cleat Wedges are necessary for most cyclists.

Look 2-Degree Wedges are available now in 20-packs.  At this time they are only available at your local BikeFit Pro or if you are a bike fitter or a bike shop, you must be logged in and have a wholesale account at www.bikefit.com to view these products.

The Foot Fit Calculator App for Cyclists: Customize Your Foot/Pedal Connection

KIRKLAND, WASHINGON – June 7th, 2017 – BikeFit, the worldwide leader in bike fitting products, announced the launch of their free mobile app for Android devices.  For the past 20 years, BikeFit’s knowledge and products increased comfort, power, and efficiency for countless cyclists.  Now, with the release of the Foot Fit Calculator, cyclists can customize the fit of their bicycle shoes to their pedals.  The application walks users through the process of figuring out the ideal pedal-to-foot connection angle and then recommends a solution to optimize foot fit.  Users will need a friend to help take the pictures and the application will do the rest!

The Pathway to Solution

Through an easy and simple procedure, the app guides users through measuring foot tilt.  The interface aids the user into position, kneeling comfortably a couch or chair away from the person measuring their feet (with their knees slightly apart and legs hanging over the chair or bench).  Next, the user only needs to have a friend take a quick picture, position the red line as explained in the directions, and then they are provided with the recommended number of Cleat Wedges needed to customize the fit of their foot.

Cleat Wedges® enable the cycling shoe to connect with the pedal naturally, by acknowledging the foot’s inherent angle. This creates a neutral foot position throughout the pedaling cycle, resulting in greater comfort, efficiency, and power.

Morton’s Neuroma in Cycling: Nerve Pain Between the Toes

Have you ever felt pain or numbness near the ball of your foot or under your toes? Sometimes people describe it as feeling a pebble or a rock underneath their toes.  Others may feel a burning sensation, sharp pain, or numbness.

Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around the nerves leading to your toes.  The pain most commonly travels between the 3rd and 4th toe but others experience pain near the ball of their foot or between the 2nd and 3rd toe.  Although the word “neuroma” conjures negative thoughts connecting to cancer, Morton’s neuroma is benign.

 

Causes

  • Tight shoes: high-heeled shoes specifically are a risk factor.  In cycling, shoes are commonly lower volume, which could pinch the toes together for prolonged periods depending on your ride duration.  Considering the number of pedal strokes in a long ride, and the potential amount of massive watts you expend on your local group ride of death, cyclists could be at a higher risk.
  • Foot abnormalities: people with bunions, hammer toes, high foot arches, or flat feet have a higher level of risk to develop Morton’s neuroma than others.
  • Impact: The repeated trauma of your feet pounding the pavement via running also places you at risk.
  • Foot Tilt: An often overlooked aspect in connection to Morton’s neuroma is the tilt of the foot as it relates to the connection with the pedal.  When the foot tilts up to the inside (forefoot varus) in a natural position, more pressure exists on the outer rays of the foot during the pedaling cycle.  This situation occurs in approximately 90 percent of the population.

 

Verification 

If you experience persistent pain, we recommend visiting your healthcare provider to potentially diagnose the issue with a foot examination. They may recommend a foot x-ray to rule out whether you’re experiencing bone problems vs. another instigator.

Solutions

  • Physical therapy: BikeFit (and our education partner CyclePoint) trains numerous bike fitters who are also physical therapists.  These extremely knowledgeable fitters specialize in both cycling and neuromuscular injuries.
  • Find better fitting cycling shoes:  Examine the toe-box and fit of your current shoes.  Many people have wide feet and some shoes are extremely narrow.  Although aesthetics in cycling may have led you to your most recent shoe purchase, comfort translates to increased power.  Many companies like Lake, Sidi, Bont and Northwave, produce wider shoes.  Lake produces “normal width” shoes that are already wider than many other companies, and they offer a separate wide sizing selection as well.  Some local bike shops offer specific shoe and cleat fittings.  If you visit your LBS (local bike shop) and request a foot fitting, they must examine the width and tilt of your foot to remedy pain sources.
  • Wedging: Wedging is the solution to the foot tilt issue that causes excessive pressure on the outside of the foot.

A Wedge helps brings pressure under the first two toes, or as you can see from the illustration on the right, wedges spread out the pressure.  This often relieves pain and discomfort.  We strongly suggest that anyone who displays symptoms of Morton’s neuroma should examine the tilt of their feet.

You don’t have to feel pain when you ride.

Why do I have bike saddle wear on one side?

Hi BikeFit,

I’ve noticed that my bike saddle is worn only on one side.  I found some information on web talking about a leg length issue or how I sit on the saddle being the source of the problem.  What do you think?

-Gene

Hi Gene,

We’ve received this question from numerous riders and would be happy to shed some light on the situation.  In regards to what you found on the web, finding a saddle is extremely important and a difficult part of achieving cycling comfort, but we’ve seen uneven wear on a variety of saddle types.  It’s possible for a rider to favor one side over the other and unfortunately they’ve potentially acclimated to an off-center position.  This is where we strongly recommend that you visit with a professional bike fitter or BikeFit Pro in order to analyze your riding style and get a full bike fitting.

Are your legs different lengths?

Regarding the potential leg length discrepancy, this could also be the culprit.  If you visited a professional fitter, they would hopefully ask the following questions to pinpoint if a leg length issue is an origin of the saddle wear.

1.) Do you have an x-ray or medical information diagnosing a leg length difference (considered by many as the Gold Standard, the STANDING AP Scanogram Full-Length X-ray used by clinicians is the most accurate way to diagnose a Leg Length issue)?

uneven saddle wear leg length pelvis x-ray

2.) Have you been told you have a leg length issue?

3.) Do you get saddle sores, but only on one side?

4.) Does the saddle show uneven wear (your original question) or even tilt lower to one side?

5.) Does one knee have more bend than the other when pedaling?

6.) Do you rock lower to one side than the other when pedaling (viewed from the rear)?

7.) Do you sit off-center or side-saddle?

8.) Is it obvious or observable (perhaps others have mentioned something to you)?

9.) Do you have lower back pain or discomfort on one side?

 

Even with all these questions from a fitter, we would recommend that a medical professional would be the best person to diagnose you with a leg length discrepancy.  If that is the diagnosis, leg length shims could be a possible remedy.  We do not recommend cleat stagger if you are looking for a quick fix.

Often, the problem starts with the foot/pedal interface

We’ve noticed that many riders are misaligned due to the inherent tilt in their feet.  Using a Cleat Wedge can help align the foot in its connection to the pedal and improve the alignment of the kinetic chain up the leg, through the knee, and up to the pelvis.

cycling knee collapse without wedges

The image on the left displays the knee collapsing inward as the foot is forced flat to meet the pedal.  This knee collapse causes the leg to push inward, which then rubs excessively against the saddle.  You likely also noticed that your cycling shorts may show significant wear on one side vs. the other.

The image on the right shows how cleat wedges improve alignment and in turn, reduce saddle wear on one side.  The reason it likely only occurs on one side is due to the asymmetric human body.  Most cyclists discover that one foot may need wedges, leg length shims or pedal spacers and the other may not.  There are also other great benefits to using cleat wedges when riding.  

Thank you for the excellent question.  Feel free to reach out to us with more.

-The BikeFit Team

Which Type of Cleat Wedges Work with Your Bicycle Cleats?

Most cycling shoes are designed to work with clipless pedals and feature holes drilled in the soles for attaching cleats. The bicycle cleat engages with the pedals to create a secure connection. Cleats are supplied with your pedals, and they should match the type of cycling shoes, whether road-specific or off-road/multi-use-specific.

bicycle cleats

Some cycling shoes are drilled to accept both 3- and 2-hole bicycle cleat designs, but most will accept only one or the other. Shoes made for use with 2-hole systems cannot be modified to use a 3-hole cleat. The 4-hole Speedplay® pedal system can be adapted to fit 3-hole shoe styles.  There are a few shoe brands/specific models drilled with 4-hole Speedplay-specific bolt pattern.

What’s the difference in functionality?

The 2-hole system is commonly known as the SPD system (SPD = Shimano ® Pedaling Dynamics). The 2-hole system can be used for all types of riding, including road cycling, mountain biking, touring and commuting. When paired with some shoes, the recessed cleat design allows easier walking. Most off-road racing, where a mud shedding cleat design offers an advantage, is where a small two-hole cleat is popular.  There is a road-specific version known as “SPD-SL” (3-hole bolt pattern).  Get SPD Cleat Wedges.

SPD Wedges Bicycle Cleats

 

The 3-hole system is also known as the Look-style system (for the pioneering manufacturer/brand, Look Cycles). The 3-hole system is most often used for road cycling because it offers a stable platform for energy transfer while riding. The soles of many performance oriented shoes are often made more for riding than walking with stiff soles and little tread.  The larger cleat design incorporates a three-fastener connection, which is much more secure connection than with two fasteners like the ones found with the 2-hole type. Popular brand names of 3-hole bicycle cleats are; Look ®, Shimano SL, Time ® Road and others.  Get Look Cleat Wedges.

 

Look Wedges Bicycle Cleats

The 4-hole system is associated with the Speedplay® pedal/brand.  Speedplay design has the clasping mechanism on the cleat, rather than on the pedal, like with SPD and Look systems.  In this system, the shoes are made more for riding than walking.  The system with a four-fastener connection, generally offers more adjustability options in the foot/pedal connection, often making it a favorite of bike fitters.  We offer these in both the Walkable™ style (shown below) and regular road cleat style.

Speedplay Wedges Bicycle cleats

cleat wedges

Please feel to e-mail us with any questions regarding how your pedal/cleats fit with your wedges.  Contact us!

In The Shoe Wedges or Cleat Wedges?

In The Shoe Wedges

As long as you are talking about BikeFit branded wedges, this is not one wedge against another. Both of the wedge styles offered from BikeFit work extremely well. Each wedge, however, has its place.  In most cases, it’s preferential to use the Cleat Wedge.

When to Use In-the-Shoe Wedges

1.) Cleats not compatible with Cleat Wedges

In the Shoe

 

The In The Shoe (ITS) Wedge often is a “fill in” product for types of cleats that are not compatible with Cleat Wedges like Crank Brothers. However,  Crank Brothers provide a shoe shield (seen on the left) where you can use Cleat Wedges with their cleats.

 

 2.) Hyper-Mobile Feet

A hypermobile foot would be a good place to use an ITS in combination with a Cleat Wedge. This type of foot needs more support. A more rigid foot tends to be more responsive with less wedging and the Cleat Wedge is a better solution for most rigid feet.  This also may be a great option for those who have room in their shoe and would not be affected by the change in volume inherent with the addition of In The Shoe Wedges.

3.) Diagnostics

In-The-Shoe Wedges are also great for diagnostics. If you are looking to determine the effects of wedging on cycling mechanics, ITS Wedges provide the ability to make quick changes.  This also holds true if you are testing out comfort but do not want to take the time to remove your cleats, add cleat wedges, and realign (time saver).  We should mention that this is usually a temporary change.  Once the comfort or mechanics are confirmed, the first choice to correct your foot’s natural angle/tilt is almost always cleat wedges.

In The Shoe Wedges

4.) Fine Tuning

In-The-Shoe Wedges also offer a fine-tuning option for cyclists “in-between” wedge levels or it is tough to tell if 2 cleat wedges or 3 cleat wedges is the better solution. In other words, if 2 or 3 cleat wedges help correct your mechanics and reduce foot pain, try using 2 cleat wedges and add an ITS as the 3rd wedge. Go out on a ride and spend some with the ITS in the shoe and some time with it in your back pocket. Over a period of time, you will usually discover the preferred amount of cleat wedging.  For many cyclists, you may require more than 3 Cleat Wedges.  Since we do not recommend using more than 3, the ITS wedge provides the extra bit of tilt needed!

Look Keo Pedal Wear

The equipment of the cyclist often tells a story.  You can acquire valuable information from looking at the components. However, expensive hardware and software will not find it–you must use your eyes! The popular Look Keo pedal is one of the easier pedals to discover uneven wear as the result of a common misalignment. Sometimes this wear can show up in just a few minutes of pedaling.

Where do You “Look” and Why?

For most, our feet do not meet flat or level with the pedal due to forefoot varus. Notice the inside of the foot tilted up higher than the outside of the foot.

Pedal wear foot tiltlook keo foot tilt

In order to clip into the pedal, the foot is forced to be flat (the cleat will not engage the pedal if it is tilted). Therefore, your foot is forced to be level (parallel) with the pedal. How do we know? Look at your pedals and you will see the uneven wear. If the foot wanted to meet the pedal flat and level, the wear would be even, not uneven.

Take a gander at the Look Keo pedal below. Notice inside the red circle which pinpoints the pedal wear more in this area than anywhere else. The reason: the foot wants to be tilted in its natural position.

look keo pedal

 

Many stores and fitters own the expensive Keo Fit pedal but that only addresses cleat rotation to some extent.

What about the newer Look Keo pedals with the wider platform or the Look Delta pedals? You will still find the same wear underneath the front area of the pedal up toward the inside.

look keo pedal delta

The Solution

These example Look pedals and many others like it show the need to add a wedge. Cleat Wedges® enable the cycling shoe to connect with the pedal naturally, by acknowledging the foot’s inherent angle.  This creates a neutral foot position throughout the pedaling cycle, resulting in greater comfort, power, and even pedal wear!  One of the most desirable and comfortable indicators is even pedal wear.

This pedal wear is evident in other pedal systems. See our blog post on Speedplay Pedal Wear for more information.

Why do I Have Foot Pain in my SIDI Bike Shoes?

Concern

“I have been indoor cycling (spinning1) for a year. I love it and do it 2 times a week sometimes 3 or more. Unfortunately, I’m experiencing problems with my SIDI bike shoes.  I love them but I noticed well into the class that I started to develop a pain/soreness etc. As a result, I placed insoles in my SIDI bike shoes and they didn’t provide relief. The soreness resides on the outer side of both my right and left foot–more on the fattier side of your foot aligned. I’m desperately looking for a solution.  If you could help me with some information I would really appreciate it. Thanks.”

Response

Many customers contact us complaining of discomfort or pain on the bottom, outermost part of their foot. The illustration on the left below shows the location of the MOST common “hot foot” or foot discomfort. This seems to hold true with the description mentioned in the question.

sidi bike shoes Foot Pressure Cleat Wedges

The illustration on the right displays even pressure across the entire ball of their foot. Cyclists often describe this as feeling better connected, more stable, even-feeling…etc.

There are 2 ways to look at your own feet and see why there is often more pressure toward the outside of the foot.

Manual Method 

With your knees on a chair, ask someone to hold a book or ruler across the balls of your feet. Are they angled up toward the inside?

Foot Tilt Pedal Wear sidi bike shoesPedal wear foot tilt sidi bike shoes

Foot Fit Calculator

Download the FREE Foot Fit Calculator at the Google Play Store.  The App will walk you through the process (you still need a friend to help) to measure your foot tilt.  Not only will it help you determine foot tilt, but it will also provide you with the solution to your foot pain!  This method is preferred to the manual measurement do to the ability to provide you with the number of cleat wedges you may need to alleviate foot pain.

sidi bike shoes foot fit calculator

sidi bike shoes google play

The Solution

BikeFit provides the solution for you called Cleat Wedges.  They accommodate for your foot’s natural position by creating an angle on your cycling cleat(s) where it connects to the pedal. The number of Cleat Wedges on one shoe in no way dictates the proper number of Cleat Wedges you’ll need on the other shoe.

Each Cleat Wedge contains one degree of slope (or angle) and can be stacked based on your needs (see below for an example of “stacking”).

sidi bike shoes cleat wedges sidi bike shoes wedges

You also mentioned the insoles you tried did not provide relief. That does not mean your insoles are bad but, insoles rarely (if ever) address the tilt of the foot as described above. Consequently, SIDI bike shoes are not the culprit.  Rather (from what you just learned), cyclists experience foot pain in most cycling shoes.

You can order Cleat Wedges by clicking the picture of wedges above or visit a BikeFit Pro or Dealer who carries them.

1Spinning is a registered trademark of Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.

Speedplay Cleat Wear and How to Remedy the Problem

Speedplay Cleat Wear

Taking into account pedal and cleat wear is often an overlooked aspect by many cyclists and bike fitters.  In this article, we focus specifically on Speedplay cleat wear.

This information is static (will not be seen with motion capture or data capture during a bike fit). In other words, if your fitter only looks at dynamic (on the bike) data, they miss important information. Why? Although extremely important, dynamic fitting is just one aspect a fitter must consider.

The ultimate bike fit includes both dynamic AND static analysis (the cyclist and the bike or equipment) as well as consideration for how the cyclist feels. Keep in mind, how you feel is as actually more important than how you look on stick-figure printouts or a picture of you in a video.

Your Equipment Tells a Story

Take a look at your shoes. Turn them over and look inside the circle area of your Speedplay road cleat. MOST people notice uneven wear.

speedplay-wearSpeedplay Cleat Wear

 

Do not be surprised when you see this.  There is something you can do to alleviate the problem.

Next, look at the springs. Uneven wear inside the red circles is the norm–not the exception.

uneven-wear-speedplay2

Why? The foot is naturally tilted and it wants to stay that way even if the equipment initially forced it flat. As a result, equipment wears out uneven.

Let’s also look inside of your shoe. One of our most popular illustrations is the one on the below where people say they feel more pressure on the outside of the foot. Why?  The pedal and shoe are flat but the foot is tilted.

unever-wear-insole

The Uneven Wear Culprit

Is this Speedplay’s fault? Absolutely not. All pedals are flat and wear out unevenly. For example, unlike running, in cycling, you can only buy shoes that function one way. All cycling shoes function the same regardless of price or brand (there is one brand that purports to include added tilt to the shoe but all of the shoes within that brand function the same). In running, even within one brand, you purchase shoes for different body architecture (stability, support, neutral…etc). In cycling, you only buy shoes that are flat at the forefoot.  Consequently, you can now diagnose these problems, take a look at possible solutions, and connect with a BikeFit Pro to make your shoe/cleat fit the pedal properly.

Remember it is normal to see uneven wear, but normal does not necessarily mean right. It is also common to see the foot in a relaxed position hang with a tilt or angle to it.

First, you must flatten the foot or it won’t even clip into the pedal. We as cyclists learned to master this skill of leveling the foot to get into the pedal but we are hardly aware of it. Once clipped in, the foot tries to go back to its natural tilted position.  Hence, uneven pedal wear.

The Solution: Cleat Wedges

Knee on a chair and ask someone to hold a straight edge across the bottom of your feet. They will most likes look like the figure on the right.

Foot Tilt Pedal Wear forefoot-tilt-straight-edge

or Download the Free Foot Fit Calculator for Android and with the help of a friend, you’ll discover foot tilt and how many Cleat Wedges you need in minutes!

Speedplay Cleat Wear

If you are looking for more detail, a BikeFit Pro fitter measures foot tilt with the FFMD tools (physical or the BikeFit App for iPad) pictured below.

Foot Tilt speedplay pedal wear     FFMD speedplay pedal wear

Foot tilt is the number one reason for uneven pedal/cleat wear and for most foot discomfort in cycling. This is why we need wedges.

Here is a rear view of Speedplay cleat with 2 cleat wedges.

Speedplay Cleat Wedge Pedal Wear Speedplay Cleat wedge pedal wear

If you would like more information regarding wedges, see our page on wedging benefits.  We also reveal more information on the foot/pedal interface in another fitting article: How to Fit a Road Bicycle.

We have never seen a broken Speedplay spring from a cyclist that has a flat forefoot. However, a flat or neutral forefoot is rare, to say the least. This comment is not coming from Speedplay but it is absolutely our belief that the correct use of cleat wedges will prolong the life of your Speedplay cleat springs. Remember it is important to follow the manufacturer’s suggestion for upkeep and maintaining your equipment.

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