One of the most important and overlooked aspects in bike fittings is the tilt and angle of the forefoot. Studies show that 96% of all cyclists are misaligned in their connection to the bicycle, decreasing comfort and efficiency. Of these cyclists, most have what is known as a Forefoot Varus (the inside of the foot tilts upward). This causes a misalignment as soon as you clip into a pedal because the pedal is flat.
A simple tilt adjustment where the cleat/shoe meet can resolve the most common “hot spots” (your foot feels like there’s a flame underneath it). Cyclists frequently contact BikeFit complaining of discomfort or pain on the bottom, outermost part of their foot. The left illustration shows the location of the MOST common “hot foot” or foot discomfort. The right illustration shows the ideal even pressure across the entire ball of their foot. Cyclists often describe this as feeling better connected, more stable, even-feeling and so on. The illustration below portrays the pressure created from the inherent tilt in most feet.
Measuring Foot Tilt
You can look at your own feet (with help) and see why there is often more pressure toward the outside of the foot. Kneel with on a chair and have someone hold a book or ruler across the balls of your feet. Are they angled up toward the inside or up at the outer part of the foot? Forefoot tilt is common so it’s likely that you’ll notice it. There’s a simple solution to reduce the pressure and increase comfort on your bike rides.
Cleat Wedges are the Answer
Cleat Wedges are stackable to fine-tune your unique forefoot tilt. They are specially designed to “fill the gap” between the natural tilt of the foot and the flat pedal. Consequently, they allow your foot to remain closer to its innate position, not change it.
How to Measure Foot Tilt and Find the Correct Number of Cleat Wedges
Option #1 BikeFit Pro
BikeFit Pros use a ForeFoot Measuring Device to discover foot tilt and recommend the number of Cleat Wedges needed to provide optimal comfort. These trained bike fitters not only use manual tools but also employ a video capture BikeFit app to aid in bike fitting.
BikeFit Pros also provide extensive knowledge in fitting to optimize not only your foot/pedal interface but also your complete bike position. Visit our BikeFit Locator to find a pro near you!
Option #2 Foot Fit Calculator
The Foot Fit Calculator App for Android allows you to easily determine foot tilt and the wedges required to compensate with our free app. All you need is a friend to help take a quick picture of your feet and a comfortable to chair to kneel on. The app even helps link you back to the BikeFit website to either find a local dealer or to purchase them via our website.
Do you have more questions about foot tilt? Feel free to contact us!
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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 Fit Calculator
Download the FREEFoot 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.
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”).
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.