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  1. #1
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    Pedals for Hot Foot Problems?

    I'm new to long distance riding but am really enjoying myself so far. Up until now, my longest ride has been 57 miles and the only problem I had was incredible pain in the balls of my feet. For that ride, I had to stop several times just to take my shoes off and let my toes stretch before I could go on. (It was as if I had danced all night then walked home in 5 inch heels! ) After moving the cleats back to no avail, I realized my shoes were probably too small and maybe not stiff enough. They were an entry level pair of mountain shoes from Price Point that seemed good enough on shorter rides.

    I went to my LBS and got a pair of touring shoes, Shimano RT-80's. I even went up a size larger than the guy initially recommended because I wanted to make sure I had room. I figured I could always add an insert or wear 2 pairs of socks if needed. So far so good but I'm still nervous about having it recur as I go longer distances (I signed up for a 107k populaire on June 6).

    I recently bought an old steel Specialized Allez and will need to get a set of pedals for it. Does anyone with a previous history of foot problems have any experience with Shimano PD A530 pedals? I'm thinking the larger platform may be of help. Is this possible?

    I have a pair of road shoes and Look Keo pedals already but really didn't like the slippery feel walking around in those and would like to stay with spd's if possible.t

    Am I on the right track here?

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  2. #2
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    I had hot spots with small SPD cleats and entry-level mountain bike shoes. Moving the cleats back helped somewhat. I changed to Look KEOs for the bigger platform and Sidi carbon soled shoes and the hot spots and pain have gone away.

    My cleats are still adjusted back a bit, and the shoes have a very flexible upper so I can wiggle my toes freely.
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    As Cbad says, move your cleats back, usually as far as they will go. You might have to trim the sole away to get a good entry and exit form the pedals.

    Hot foot issues are little more complex than first glance, and usually pedals have nothing to do with it.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    For me, hot foot is usually helped by loosening my shoelaces. My shoes start out not being too small. I use toeclips/straps, and sometimes teh pressure of a tight strap has an effect, too, so I keep straps a bit loose, too.

    But I also don't get any sharp pain. That needs to be addressed. You didn't say if your new shoes help you with that.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Sea Green Sky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    As Cbad says, move your cleats back, usually as far as they will go. You might have to trim the sole away to get a good entry and exit form the pedals.

    Hot foot issues are little more complex than first glance, and usually pedals have nothing to do with it.
    +1. It's shoe/cleat adjustments and pressure points, probably not your pedals. Footbeds like the Specialized can help quite a bit (there are many others as well).

  6. #6
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    I had hot spots with small SPD cleats and entry-level mountain bike shoes. Moving the cleats back helped somewhat. I changed to Look KEOs for the bigger platform and Sidi carbon soled shoes and the hot spots and pain have gone away.

    My cleats are still adjusted back a bit, and the shoes have a very flexible upper so I can wiggle my toes freely.
    I also switched from SPD to Look Keo and upgraded to carbon-fiber soled shoes. Problem solved.



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  7. #7
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    and upgraded to carbon-fiber soled shoes. Problem solved.
    I have never experienced the problem, and I have always used ordinary SPD mtn pedals.
    I suspect cheap, flexible shoes are the single largest cause of the problem.

  8. #8
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    I have never experienced the problem, and I have always used ordinary SPD mtn pedals.
    I suspect cheap, flexible shoes are the single largest cause of the problem.
    I used SPD clips and pedals for a while with Carbon soled shoes. It was a big improvement over my low-cost MTB shoes, but less than ideal.

    The SPD cleat and pedal feels like I'm pressing on a small point, the Look Keo feels much more stable and distributes the load across a broad area.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member bobbycorno's Avatar
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    In my case it was the shoes. With Carnac Legends, I couldn't go more than 35 miles w/o hotfoot. Switched to PI Vapers, and voila! no more problems. Speedplay X pedals the whole time, BTW.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    ...I suspect cheap, flexible shoes are the single largest cause of the problem.
    The single largest cause of the problem is having your cleats too far forward on your shoes. It's also the cheapest and simplest fix! As with anything, there is usually not one simple answer for everone though!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. I had put the cleats as far back as they would go...seemed to help but didn't solve it. Yes, the better and larger shoes have helped a great deal. The old shoes were a 41 and worked well for shorter rides up to about 25 miles. It was when I started going longer that my feet really became a real issue. The new shoes are 43's. The guy at the shop was steering me to 42's but I didn't want to take the chance. (I figured if they're a little large I can adjust for that.) The longest ride I've taken with them is 40 miles last weekend. No excruciating pain, but I did begin to feel a little soreness. I am a little nervous about going longer.

    I think I'll put my Keo's on this weekend for a long ride to see how they feel. I don't have carbon soled shoes but I do have a pair of Sidi road shoes. The carbon shoes are so expensive, that may be my last option but if that's what it takes I'll find a way. My biggest issue with the road shoes are the dang slick soles...walking seems iffy in them but also with my spd's I can unclip in traffic if I come up on a dicy situtaion and still pedal. That seems much more difficult with the road shoes. Maybe I just have to get used to them.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Much of any foot issue is the result of your cycling "stroke" as much as anything else. In addition, every foot is different and often customizing insoles - usually by a professional is the best course of action.

    Pedals and cleats usually aren't the origin of "hot feet." But of course some affect people more or less.

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    I seem to get myself in trouble with the folks who promote moving cleats all the way back, but... I think it's a mistake to address "hotfoot" by moving your cleats, unless your cleats are way too far forward to begin with. Top riders set their cleats up so that the ball of the foot is directly over the pedal spindle or a little in front of it. This worked perfectly until the advent of clipless pedals and their relatively small "footprint". Concentration of force over a relatively small area is the obvious culprit, and it is exacerbated by flexible shoe soles. Addressing that problem by moving cleats around strikes me as analogous to addressing discomfort from a poor saddle and lousy chamois by recommending one slide the seat around on the rails. Not only is this not particularly helpful in most cases, but it can easily lead to an incorrect position on the bike.

    The real solution, IMO, is a bigger platform and a stiffer shoe.

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    FWIW, I used the Shimano pedals in question and still got hotfoot, with relatively flexible shoes. Like the OP, I wanted "walkable" shoes, so the extremely stiff road shoes were out. I solved the problem with MKS Touring pedals.

    The wide, supportive platforms allow me to use shoes with flexible rubber soles -- I use Carnac Carlits, which are no longer available, but are very similar to the Exustar SRT707 Tour shoes -- which allow me to walk normally while off the bike. The combination is probably not quite as efficient as a set-up which connects me firmly to the bike, but as an LD rider I really haven't found that I'm missing anything.

    Edit: I note that the Exustars are compatible with SPD cleats. This might make for the best of both worlds, although I have no experience with them.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    I think I'll experiment with the Keo's and the spd's with the touring shoes. These touring shoes are stiff like a road shoe but with a rubber sole.44391-2..jpg44391..jpg

    I'll also do a little reading on improving my stroke and my cadence...my average cadence is probably only in the high 70's so RC is probably right about that.
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  16. #16
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    Nola Gal, if the problem seems to persist, another cheap effective solution, I have found, is to slip expired credit cards under the insole and over the plate or depression that the cleats screw into. It builds up the footbed and helps to prevent the metatarsal bones from "collapsing" in on each other and trapping the nerves that cause the problem. Specialized has a small raised "bump" on the insoles to help spread the bones. Narrow shoes are a significant issue. This obviously was the case with your old shoes, and going to the bigger size meant a bigger footbed for you.
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  17. #17
    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    If, after trying all the above suggestions, there's still a problem, try raising the saddle very slightly. Moving the cleat back, ensuring there's something thin and stiff between my foot and the cleat, and using inserts have all helped me, but I noticed there was still some discomfort after riding some distance. Raising the seat a small amount (for me it was about a quarter cm) put my body in a position where the downward pressure on the pedal during the pedal stroke was almost completely eliminated. I no longer have the sensation that my foot is bottoming out on the pedal. This made a difference for me.
    Last edited by USAZorro; 05-14-10 at 04:34 AM.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. We'll see what this weekend brings. I'm planning on doing a long ride tomorrow...will post a follow-up.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    Well we got some bad weather so I was only able to get out for one ride and did 40 miles on platform pedals and cross country running shoes. It was good enough until about mile 25. I stopped a couple of times, loosened the laces and rubbed my feet a bit. That helped a lot so I was able to get home without much discomfort.

    This evening after work I put the Looks back on the bike and went a bit on the trainer. Seemed like a completely different feeling...no pressure at all on the balls of my feet or so it seemed. I guess I will be taking them for a ride Wed afternoon.

    I keep referring to what's happening as 'hot foot' but I really think it's more of a nerve pain...like I'm on my way to Morton's neuroma (is that the same thing as hot foot?)

    If Look pedals and road shoes solve it then that's what I'll adjust to using but I have to say I'm nervous! All of my clipless falling has been with the Look's, not to mention the slipping and sliding in those shoes
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  20. #20
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    Yes, Morton's neuroma is the same as hot foot. And if you are having trouble with unclipping (as you sxuggest in your last sentence, then practise and practise clipping and unclipping on your trainer until it become second nature.
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  21. #21
    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    The A530 pedals that you pictured in the original post do not have a "larger platform" as you said, they merely have a standard SPD interface on one side and the larger platform is on the other side, meant to be used when you're not wearing cycling shoes. The pedals you should look at to have a SPD interface and a larger platform around it are the Shimano A520 and A600 - they don't have the platform side for use with regular shoes, but the cleat interface side has a larger frame around it that may provide some support:

    shimano%20pda520..jpg

    I use those on all of my road bikes with mountain bike shoes. I occasionally suffered from hot foot on longer rides, but since I upgraded from entry-level / touring shoes to carbon-fibre soled shoes (Shimano M225) I've never experienced the problem in 2+ years. I'd therefore say that sole stiffness trumps pedal surface area any day. I don't want to walk around in stupid road cleats, so I see MTB cleats as the only sensible option. I would only go with roadie stuff if I was going to race professionally - for everyone else I recommend MTB shoes and pedals.

    Exactly how effective the extra frame around the A520 and A600 pedals is, I'm not so sure. I've also done lengthy rides with M770 MTB pedals, which have just the double-sided cleat interface and no support around them, and have been equally comfortable as with the A520 and A600 pedals that I have. This supports my theory that it is the shoe stiffness that counts, not the pedal.

    If you want a really serious support cage around the cleat, then look at the M424 pedals, but again I'm not sure whether this would make any difference. Plus, these are bulky and heavy:

    shimano%20m424%20pedals%2004..jpg
    Last edited by Chris_W; 05-18-10 at 01:47 AM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member cod.peace's Avatar
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    I'm using Bebop pedals, which have a very small pedal body, with the cleats all the way back. I completely eliminated hotfoot and numb toes with Superfeet blue inserts:

    That left me with too much pressure on the outside edge of each foot. I added cleat wedges to give each cleat a 2 degree tilt. Totally comfortable now.
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  23. #23
    Reeks of aged cotton duck Hydrated's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_W View Post

    If you want a really serious support cage around the cleat, then look at the M424 pedals, but again I'm not sure whether this would make any difference. Plus, these are bulky and heavy:
    I have these pedals on my commuter bike. I originally bought them for my LD rides, and these are worse than useless. The SPD mechanism is raised above the level of the cage to allow you to clip in... and it is raised enough so that the support cage may as well not exist at all. And to make it worse, that raised SPD bump in the center of the pedal makes it nearly impossible to ride these pedals in regular shoes without cleats... your feet feel like they're going to roll sideways off of the pedals and the SPD bump grinds into your insole.

    These are good for shorter rides (with cleated shoes only), but I'd never recommend them for any long distance. They are heavy and poorly designed.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Nola_Gal's Avatar
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    Okay, tomorrow I try riding with the touring shoes but with Rowan's credit card trick and insoles added. We'll see. (Carbon shoes aren't off the list but because of the expense, they'll have to be further down the list of things to try.)
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    One other tinsy bit of advice from experience -- don't cinch down the velcro straps or tie up the laces too tight. Ensure your feet have some wriggle room. Some advice runs that you should be able to curl your toes under in the footbox. If the straps/laces are tight, you are actually squashing down the metatarsals into the sole depression, exacerbating the problem if it already exists.
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