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  1. #1
    Member ElPresidente408's Avatar
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    Clipless question

    I've been road biking for three years, and for all this time, I have been riding with the pedal centered over the arch of my foot. Me and a friend both switched over to clipless for the first time recently and we both feel like having the pedal over the ball of the foot is less efficient. What is the advantage to having the pedal so far up? I did a search here and saw some people like the cleat as far forward as possible.

    I just feel like when I'm putting downward pressure, I have to work my muscles to keep my foot parallel to the ground. For instance, if I have my arch centered on the pedal, there is minimal ankle flex so in my mind more force transferred to the pedal. With the pedal centered over the ball of my foot, I'm losing leverage as the power centered over my leg now has to be transferred 5 or 6 inches up the foot.

    I have noticed it's easier to sprint while standing with the toes pointed down, but the majority of riding isn't done that way. Why not have the clip centered more towards the middle?
    Last edited by ElPresidente408; 07-27-09 at 08:47 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    This is a quote:

    The last variable, according to Gonzales and Hull (1989), is the longitudinal position of the foot. This position is mainly determined by the adjustment of the shoe cleats. For this variable there is one rule, which stipulates that the shoe cleat should be adjusted in the longitudinal direction of the foot in such a manner that the ball of the foot (the metatarsal head) is exactly above the middle of the pedal axle (Mandroukas, 1990). This adjustment of the foot stimulates the process of "ankling", which results in a regular cycling pace and an effective position of the pedal in relation to the position of the crank (Haushalter 1994).

    When the ball of the foot is placed in front of the pedal axle, the effective leverage from the ankle to the pedal axle is reduced. This way it is easier to stabilize the foot on the pedal, and it leads to a decreased tension on the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles. Some triathletes and time trial cyclists choose this option because the increased stability of the foot enables them to shift into a higher gear. The possibility of achieving higher pedaling frequencies is limited by this adjustment and the ankle pattern is a lot less regular, especially in the upper and lower positions, because the possibility of deviation in the ankle joint is limited. When the ball of the foot is placed behind the pedal axle, the effective leverage is enhanced, making it more difficult to stabilize the foot on the pedal. The consequence of this position is that the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles are under increased strain in order to maintain sufficient rigidity of the foot. This method is sometimes adopted by track cyclists because it enables them to achieve a higher pedaling frequency. The position of the foot (shoe) on the pedal not only has consequences for the possible occurrence of injuries, particularly of the knee, but it also affects the efficiency of the pedaling movement.

    When adjusting shoe cleats, one often tries to realize the most natural position of the feet on the pedals; however, when doing so, one should bear in mind that cycling with feet in a fixed position is an imposed movement. This means that the circular movement of the pedals is imposed on the cyclist, and the cyclist has no choice but to adapt to the drive mechanism of the bicycle. When shoe cleats are adjusted correctly, the knee remains in the axle that runs from the hip joint to the ball of the foot during the cycling process. Every deviation, both inward as well as outward, results in loss of effectiveness.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElPresidente408 View Post
    I've been road biking for three years, and for all this time, I have been riding with the pedal centered over the arch of my foot. Me and a friend both switched over to clipless for the first time recently and we both feel like having the pedal over the ball of the foot is less efficient. What is the advantage to having the pedal so far up? I did a search here and saw some people like the cleat as far forward as possible.

    I just feel like when I'm putting downward pressure, I have to work my muscles to keep my foot parallel to the ground. For instance, if I have my arch centered on the pedal, there is minimal ankle flex so in my mind more force transferred to the pedal. With the pedal centered over the ball of my foot, I'm losing leverage as the power centered over my leg now has to be transferred 5 or 6 inches up the foot.

    I have noticed it's easier to sprint while standing with the toes pointed down, but the majority of riding isn't done that way. Why not have the clip centered more towards the middle?
    The standard foot position is the ball of the foot over the pedal axis. If this position was actually less efficient, then it wouldn't be used by the vast majority of cyclists (including racers).

    If it feels inefficient to you, it may be that you need to get used to it.

    One reason the standard position might be more efficient is it allows more force to be applied to the pedal over a longer part of the crank rotation.

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