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Can cycling shoes be made from street shoes?

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Can cycling shoes be made from street shoes?

Old 09-23-19, 08:38 AM
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Velo Mule
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Can cycling shoes be made from street shoes?

I have toe clips and was trying to find shoes that were both good and comfortable for pedaling. Nowadays, cycling shoes have cleats. This makes total sense, however, I didn't want to change pedals and get dedicated cycling shoes, so I thought about stiffening up a pair of street shoes for the job. Here is what I did.

My work brings me in contact with PCB shops, so I was able to get a washed off board (no copper) of .020" thickness. I cut pieces to the shape of the insole.

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Old 09-23-19, 08:44 AM
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At 20 thousandths of an inch, the material is flexible. I tried it and decided that I need more thickness to stiffen the shoe/insole.
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Old 09-23-19, 08:50 AM
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I ended up making four pieces for each insole. I wanted to stiffen the front more than back. When I was doing this I was using my memory of the old Beta cycling shoe as a reference. I glued the pieces together with contact cement. Epoxy would have been better, however, I wanted to try them out right way so contact cement is faster to the end result. There may be some movement between the layers with contact cement and from the looks of it, there seemed to be little actual contact, so I may have to re-do this with epoxy at some future time.


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Old 09-23-19, 08:59 AM
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The finished result is better than the original shoe. I can no longer feel the steel return for where the old fashioned clip would fit on the Lyotard #23 pedals. It is not as stiff as the old Beta shoe, but way better than an ordinary sneaker.

Since there is .120" of material in the insole now, my foot is up a little higher in the shoe. This is not a problem, but it is thick enough that this might not work on all shoes. For walking, it feels pretty normal. Not like a cycling shoe. So, I may still try to modify this insole in the future. Probably using epoxy between the layers and perhaps adding some carbon fiber. Yes, I have some and West System epoxy.

I thought that this might be interesting to some of you.

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Old 09-23-19, 11:48 AM
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Cool experiment. It'll be interesting to know how it works out over time. Mainly I'd be concerned about the fiberglass cracking eventually. Should have pretty good fatigue resistance though.

I don't think my feet are flat enough for this to work for me. That's why I suggested delrin in a recent thread. It can be heated and reformed.

Or you could take this next level and lay out your own with fiberglass and carbon reinforcement in the forefoot area. Sounds like that might be happening in the future...
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Old 09-23-19, 12:22 PM
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For years I rode the Leotard Platforms with either traditional cycling shoes and cleats or the LL Bean Ranger Oxfords with their deep, softish rubber soles and steel shanked insoles. The rubber wold wear to a good grove around the protrusion on the pedal rattrap for cleats. With the toestrap pulled tight onto the soft leather shoe uppers. I was "in" and could pull really hard to climb steep hills on that bike which was a fix gear. (I could ride that combo up Seattle's 65 St to Aurora Ave N from either direction - a pretty good test.)

I stopped using that combo because every pair of pedals loosened up at the press fits from pulling that hard. I have a large box of dead pedals. And LL Bean swapped the soles to a lugged mountain style that simple doesn't work with toeclips. Sad. That was a 20 year run. I loved being able to ride that hard in shoes that were excellent off the bike. Also being able to send them back for new soles.

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Old 09-23-19, 01:09 PM
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Buy a set of lace up road shoes and leave off the cleats?
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Old 09-23-19, 01:29 PM
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Could be interesting for folks with unusual feet -- narrow, high arches, etc. It's not easy to find off the rack shoes that fit everyone. I have to use various orthotics, sometimes one to relieve metatarsal hotspots, and trimming a second for the arch support.

Even with Detto Pietros in the 1970s -- which fit me pretty well since Italian sizes ran a bit narrower -- I still had problems with hotspots, arch cramps, then shin splints from referred pain. Not fun. And back then I didn't know any better than to question the conventional wisdom to center the cleats/ball of the foot directly over the pedal axle. Nowadays I wouldn't do that.

But I've switched to clipless. Better availability of shoes with rigid soles. I buy good shoes that have been discontinued and blown out on sale, so if I mess up anything in modifying the footbed it won't cost much.
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