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  1. #1
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    Do I need stiffer shoes or new feet?

    We all want to be comfortable when cycling, which is why there are approximately 20,000 posts about saddles on this forum. My question relates to pedal/shoe combinations and their impact on foot comfort, as this is the biggest area of discomfort for me after around 30 minutes of riding... my right foot starts to feel tingly, maybe warm, not really numb, where it meets the pedal. I try to ease up the pressure on that foot, wiggle my toes and/or unclip to make sure the blood is still circulating, and it's never real bad, but noticeable. I'm using Shimano MTB shoes with the stock pedals on my Giant OCR1 (Shimano M505 - seem to be el cheapo OEM model). The area of contact between the shoe and pedal is fairly small.

    I have recently moved the cleats back a few mm, which may help a bit. The shoes do not seem tight, either. I'm wondering if any of these measures will help, and what order to try them in:

    1) Insoles which will provide more cushioning

    2) New shoes with stiffer soles

    3) pedals with a wider platform - either A520s or road pedals (in combination with 2)

    4) tweaking seat height and position

    Any insight or recommendations are very welcome!

  2. #2
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    What you are feeling is called a hot spot. It is because of the small contact area of the pedals as you surmise. It does not affect all people equally but is the reason that outer cages around road pedals are common.

    My own preference is to use the A520. I use them both on my road bike and on my MTB even though they are single sided. The cage distributes the load on the feet nicely. If you have gotten used to the 505/515 engagement then you are going to be in for a plesant surprise at the smooth feel of the new generation of SPD. (M520, M540 or A520). Remember the new gen pedals require the new generation of cleats 50 to 51 and 55 to 56.

  3. #3
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    That's very encouraging... I have been looking at those pedals for quite a while. Certainly cheaper than road shoes and pedals, and if it doesn't work I can send 'em back.

  4. #4
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    I use eggbeaters exclusively on all the machines. They are reputed to have one of the smaller 'contact areas' of the pedals out there, but I don't ever sense 'hotposts'. My shoes aren't Top O da line either - Pearl Isumi Vagabonds (2 yrs old) and the Perf.Bike CM310 (their label MTB shoe). Both seem to have adequately stiff soles to transfer pressure across the whole forefoot. So I'd say the shoe might be the most important element there... although both shoe & pedal combined will be the outcome. If the shoe is soft, then I guess you'd need more pedal platform support.
    I also put a fresh foam insole in my shoes every month or so, and they make a great addition to comfort. That's about every 800 miles or so for changing them - at $2 a pr, its one of the better bike upgrades.

  5. #5
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    Hot spots tend to occur more often with shoes that do not have especially stiff or sufficiently thick soles. Keep in mind, however, extremely stiff soles can cause other foot discomfort in some people. I've three pair of road shoes that I've accumulated over the years. One is some form of plastic with a pretty stiff and thick sole. I find it very comfortable. Another is a pair with moderately thin carbon soles. This too is comfortable. The thrid pair are also carbon soles with but much thicker soles. If I wear this for more than an hour, I get cramps on the bottom of my feet. From what you describe you probably need a shoe with a slightly stiffer sole.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  6. #6
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    When SPD road pedals first came out (maybe 15 years ago) the knock on them that I heard most often was that they caused hot spots because the contact surface was so small. You can compensate with stiffer soles or use pedals with larger contact surfaces. My pedals and shoes (also from that era) have both and I never had any difficulties. I've recently started riding again using all that same equipment and they pedals and shoes are just as comfortable as before. The issue comes up again because of the desirability of shoes that allow one to walk normally. This compromises the stiffness of the sole so that you have to go to a larger contact surface to improve the comfort. It is an individual thing and some people with the same shoe/pedal combination don't mind a bit. Fit and comfort are worth paying for if you can afford it. Speaking for myself, I'm too old to put up with less.

    -soma5

    Added in edit: hey, I just noticed that I'm a "junior member" here. That's pretty cool - it's been a long time since I was a junior anything!

  7. #7
    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    I have the same problem (Shimano mtb shoes and Eggbeaters) and the lbs diagnosis was also hot spots. I went to a road shoe and it went away. Planning on adding 520s when new bike comes in also.
    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
    --Ben Franklin

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlc20010 View Post
    I have the same problem (Shimano mtb shoes and Eggbeaters) and the lbs diagnosis was also hot spots. I went to a road shoe and it went away. Planning on adding 520s when new bike comes in also.
    Just what I was going to suggest- So what colour is the new bike going to be Richjac.


    For years I have used M520 pedals and for the last 3 years have used the same shoe.I have had tingling in the feet and it is not pleasant- However- for the last 3 weeks I have only ridden the new bike and the only Difference has been the A520 pedals. Same shoes but no tingling. The A520 has a longer footprint and Whether coincidence or just luck- That Road pedal seems to have cured a problem without me realising it.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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