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  1. #1
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    Cycling shoes & insoles

    I'm going to ask this here instead of the roadie forum because I want the perspective of 50+'ers vs that of 20 yr old racers, or racer wannabes.

    I'm 50, and I want to ride a century. I've not been able to do it yet due to mostly my body's inability to stay on a bike for enough time. I have a bad back that protests when I'm in the saddle for too long. But recently, I had to replace my shoes, and my feet are now the 1st thing that starts hurting (at about the 1hr point). Well, actually, one hot spot on one foot, so my feet are apparently not symmetrical. I'm not a racer, but since I want to be able to ride a century, I AM interested in long term comfort and efficiency. My new shoes are Shimano R087's, which I think are about as good as I'm going to get in terms of fit, because of my wide feet. I bought them at a shop, and tried on several different brands, and these Shimano's were the widest and best fitting. So that likely means finding an insole that works. After a little research, I find that this could be a $200 proposition, if I have to try several different brands. As an alternative, I've considered just using platform pedals and sneakers, which I use with no problem on my commuter. So the questions become:

    1) How much efficiency do you gain with stiff soled road shoes vs softer sneakers & platform pedals?

    2) How much effort will it likely take to find a suitable solution to get my shoes comfortable enough? Keep in mind that I'll likely need something that I can custom form to my foot, or something adjustable.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Cycling shoes- just like other footwear- needs a bit of wearing in.

    Recently bought the 077 shoes and fine for two hours so I only use them on rides that will not take longer than that. That is better than when I first got them as blisters came on the toes.
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  3. #3
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I've seen riders using sneakers and large platform shoes on century rides. It can be done.

    However the advantages of a stiff road or mountain-bike shoe that fits are tremendous. Modern clip-less pedals and matching shoes distribute pressure across the sole. The modern pedals also allow faster cadence (speed that the crank is spinning), and power can be produced over a larger arc of the pedal stroke.

    I had to overcome two issues before getting fully comfortable with cycling shoes. First, the shoe should not be super snug. Feet will swell and some available room in the shoe will be needed. Second, I replaced the worthless insole with something more supportive: http://www.aline.com/
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  4. #4
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    All you need is shoes that fit.

    I have pedaled 48,000 miles and many centuries in walking shoes.

    http://www.shoebuy.com/rockport-prow...00/42704/42706#

    Pedals are your choice.

    I go with these on 4 bikes.

    http://www.outsideoutfitters.com/ps-...ad-pedals.aspx
    http://www.outsideoutfitters.com/ps-...toe-clips.aspx

    Toe Clips TDC12.jpg


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    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    It has been said many, many times...and it will cost you a bit. Consider getting a pro fit done with your bike. They will not only adjust your cleats, but also other things that just might mitigate your back pain when you ride long distances.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Cycling shoes- just like other footwear- needs a bit of wearing in.
    Given that the soles of road shoes are about as soft any pliable as bedrock, I suspect that the only "wearing in" occurring would be in my feet. I was looking for a slightly different solution.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by volosong View Post
    It has been said many, many times...and it will cost you a bit. Consider getting a pro fit done with your bike. They will not only adjust your cleats, but also other things that just might mitigate your back pain when you ride long distances.
    I've seriously considered that, too. But I have scoliosis, and have had multiple surgeries to correct, so my back doesn't always predictably respond to typical corrective measures. If I had confidence that my body & back would respond predictably, I wouldn't hesitate to spend the bucks on a fitting.
    Last edited by bemoore; 07-19-12 at 02:16 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    A good fitter will take your scoliosis into account. They're used to that sort of thing as few people are physically perfect.

    Cycling shoes do break in but it's subtle. The upper will stretch some at the pressure points, and the insole will compact a little.

    One thing to check is that your cleats are not too far forward. That can cause hot spots on the bottom of the foot. I don't understand why but I've had the experience of moving the cleats back a few mm and the hostspots being significantly reduced.

    If you cinch your shoes too tight your feet will hurt. Feet swell, especially in the heat, so what starts out loose will be tight in an hour or two. I do them up loose at the start, and sometimes loosen them during the ride.

    If you ride with your shoes too tight for too long you cause long term damage, and your feet will hurt more for years afterwards. I did that 10 years ago and my left foot hurts more ever since.

    I've used insoles that compact and thus mold to the foot. My favorites are no longer made, but you can find similar ones now. They should be around $50.

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    The best solution is to get some younger feet. Our feet have a thicker fat pad when we are young that really helps prevent foot soreness from things like cycling for hours on end, even when using wood soles with cork insoles like we all used to do.

    If you can't do that, then I guess you'll have to come up with some sort of plan B. In my case (size 15 with long, wide toes and non-existent heels), plan B consisted of using a Spenco insole with some additional foam underneath the balls of the feet. This added foam is placed under the insole and is fatter in the middle than on the outside edges. I think Specialized does a higher-tech version of this shape with their insoles. It seems to encourage cycles of flex/relax that keep the feet from swelling.

    Also, check the camber of your cleats to make sure you aren't tipping out to the side and be sure to not over-tighten the front straps. Check the strap tension after you have warmed up. You may be surprised by how much your feet have swollen up.

  10. #10
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    A good fitter will take your scoliosis into account. They're used to that sort of thing as few people are physically perfect.

    Cycling shoes do break in but it's subtle. The upper will stretch some at the pressure points, and the insole will compact a little.

    One thing to check is that your cleats are not too far forward. That can cause hot spots on the bottom of the foot. I don't understand why but I've had the experience of moving the cleats back a few mm and the hostspots being significantly reduced.

    If you cinch your shoes too tight your feet will hurt. Feet swell, especially in the heat, so what starts out loose will be tight in an hour or two. I do them up loose at the start, and sometimes loosen them during the ride.

    If you ride with your shoes too tight for too long you cause long term damage, and your feet will hurt more for years afterwards. I did that 10 years ago and my left foot hurts more ever since.

    .
    +1 I have MO87s as well. It'll feel weird but the velcro straps don't need to be tight. I did replace the stock insoles with Dr Shools from Walley World but loosening the straps was the big deal.

  11. #11
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    The Superfeet yellow footbed is good.

  12. #12
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    You've already bought shoes but Sidi makes extra wide (they call it mega) as does Specialized. I have feet on the wider side of D but I still buy a D shoe. I'm now on Specialized Pro Road and Pro MTB. I love them. In answer to your shoe stiffness question--there is a huge performance difference between stiff cycling shoes and sneakers. I've even noticed more pedaling power moving from my Spec. Comps to the Pros. Something I'm very happy with are the Specialized footbeds I put in. They are $50 per pair and include thin wedges that help tip your knees in or out so you get a neutral pedaling style. And they come in 3 diff amounts of arch. I used them in my old Carnacs (road) and Spec Comps (mtb) before getting my new shoes. I had a bike fit done and pedaling style/knee position is something that was included. My feet don't get fatigued and my knees don't ache. Get a pro bike fitting done--that got rid of my back pain too.
    Last edited by bikeme; 07-20-12 at 12:08 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    One thing to check is that your cleats are not too far forward. That can cause hot spots on the bottom of the foot. I don't understand why but I've had the experience of moving the cleats back a few mm and the hostspots being significantly reduced.
    If you cinch your shoes too tight your feet will hurt. Feet swell, especially in the heat, so what starts out loose will be tight in an hour or two. I do them up loose at the start, and sometimes loosen them during the ride.

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  14. #14
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Is it a hot spot or numbness? Hot spots are caused by friction. So, I'd consider different socks as my first step toward a solution. If you have no success with that, try any inexpensive sports insole. Here' an article mostly about foot numbness, but it has some information related to hot spots that you might find useful.

    http://www.active.com/cycling/Articl...t-Numbness.htm
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bemoore View Post
    I'm going to ask this here instead of the roadie forum because I want the perspective of 50+'ers vs that of 20 yr old racers, or racer wannabes.

    I'm 50, and I want to ride a century.

    1) How much efficiency do you gain with stiff soled road shoes vs softer sneakers & platform pedals?

    2) How much effort will it likely take to find a suitable solution to get my shoes comfortable enough? Keep in mind that I'll likely need something that I can custom form to my foot, or something adjustable.

    Thanks.
    The whole thing about road bike riding is efficiency and the stiffer the bike, the more energy goes into going forward. I think that the foot becomes an extension of the bike's mechanical works. When I do a hard acceleration, I don't want my foot to be flopping around. In fact, its super rigid. Therefore, anything that deters from this would not help but hinder. Even in a lower intensity portion of a ride, efficiency trumps everything else. Its like the pedal stroke, you develop good habits and it becomes your friend.

  16. #16
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    Socks that bunch up at the ball of my foot tend to make hot spots on my feet. I have to use good, well made socks, I like the Cannondale shorties I get from my LBS, that have good stretch in the ankle top. I also use the road Runner sports house brand crew socks when it is cooler out. The inner soles in my Adidas shoes are pretty comfortable so I haven't tried the Specialized or Dr. Schols inner soles. At least the shoes are wide enough, my running shoes are 4E width. Kind of hard to find shoes that fit. I'll be looking at the wifth sized Specialized shoes next time, I am sure.

  17. #17
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Socks that bunch up would cause blisters pretty quick.

    I like thin cycling socks made by DeFeet. They're tight so there's no friction. I use Dr Schols inserts in my motorcycle boots but they are too thick and wide for cycling shoes. Sports inner soles are better for cycling shoes.

  18. #18
    Lance Legweak HIPCHIP's Avatar
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    I tried several different shoes. Found ones that fit me really well. Feet still hurt after a couple of hours. Asked about it and was told that my feet will hurt no matter what. I like the stiff sole better than not. Was advised to get custom orthotics, so fortunately I have med insurance that covers them, and they do make a big difference. If you plan on doing lots of long distance, and you spend over $100 just on bibs, spend the $200 and get custom insoles. Your feet will thank you for it.

  19. #19
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    The Superfeet yellow footbed is good.
    IF that suits your foot arch . Big IF.

    I had my Birkenstock phase , feet felt so much better I'm still, in it at 65.

    My long distance self supported tours were with Birkenstock's cork composite
    3/4 insoles. in my shoes.. rode all day long for months without foot discomfort.
    now Birk US importer dropped bringing those in ,

    so It is another direct customer-importer, postage thing, from Germany,
    but web shoppers are used to that.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    I got D2 custom carbon fibre shoes made a few years back. I hated the custom orthotics that I got with them- the arch was so high that they made me ride bow-legged. I put my last pair of self-molding inserts in and that made the shoes better than anything I'd had before. But not perfect. I recently bought some Giro shoes. I even used their insole. They're the best shoes I have had.

    I did the Death Ride the other week and the Giro shoes were much better than the D2s. Just a little discomfort at the end.

  21. #21
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    Fietsbob,
    I ordered my last pairs of Birks from a German on-line seller. No duties were charged for some reason, I fully expected to be charged an import duty. The insoles you mentioned interest me, could you post the products name and possibly a pic of them? My daily Birks feel very comfortable with my very wide feet and the sandles are my favorites around the house or on casual outings.

    Ericm979 I wear the Alpinestars Tech 8 for motocross racing and the booties negate the need of an insole for me. Been wearing A'Stars since 1972, love 'em.

    Can anyone recommend any road cycling shoes, other than the Specialized models, that are width sized? I am sure there many, I just have not found them, yet.

  22. #22
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    Fietsbob,
    I ordered my last pairs of Birks from a German on-line seller. No duties were charged for some reason, I fully expected to be charged an import duty. The insoles you mentioned interest me, could you post the products name and possibly a pic of them? My daily Birks feel very comfortable with my very wide feet and the sandles are my favorites around the house or on casual outings.

    Ericm979 I wear the Alpinestars Tech 8 for motocross racing and the booties negate the need of an insole for me. Been wearing A'Stars since 1972, love 'em.

    Can anyone recommend any road cycling shoes, other than the Specialized models, that are width sized? I am sure there many, I just have not found them, yet.
    Sidi makes many of their road and MTB shoes in a wide model... it's called the "Mega", I believe. Expensive shoes but worth it IMO.

    OP: I'll offer a second recommendation for the Specialized BG footbeds.
    Last edited by billydonn; 07-20-12 at 11:33 PM.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member skye's Avatar
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    I'm going to get shot at for suggesting this, but what about a recumbent. Much as I love my uprights, my recumbent is my long-distance bike. Last 200k I did, the only thing that was sore at the end were my quads.

    I know that's not the question you asked, but the underlying question seemed to be "what equipment changes can I make to get me to a century?" Pardon me if I misinterpreted.

  24. #24
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    I'll second the Specialized suggestion. I wear EEE on the left foot. I got Comp MTB shoes in wide. I have no problems to date with them. Worth every penny I spent.

    Mark Shuman

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skye View Post
    I'm going to get shot at for suggesting this, but what about a recumbent. Much as I love my uprights, my recumbent is my long-distance bike. Last 200k I did, the only thing that was sore at the end were my quads.

    I know that's not the question you asked, but the underlying question seemed to be "what equipment changes can I make to get me to a century?" Pardon me if I misinterpreted.
    That's what I'm talking about.

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