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How can I insulate my feet from the SPD cleats?

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How can I insulate my feet from the SPD cleats?

Old 11-07-14, 09:22 AM
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PatrickGSR94
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How can I insulate my feet from the SPD cleats?

I made a bad call on footwear for this morning's commute. My cycle computer got as low as 33F this morning, and the trip took 75 minutes. I had on my normal wicking socks, neoprene socks over that, Bontrager SPD shoes (look much like normal shoes with rubber sole), and toe covers.

I don't know if it was the neoprene socks making my toes too snug, or holding in too much moisture or what. My toes were numb some miles before getting to work, and when I did get there, the ends of my big toes were white, indicating mild superficial frostbite. They recovered quickly, but still, that can't be good.

I read a post on here awhile back mentioning that part of the problem might be cold transmitted through the metal SPD cleat interface, and I'm starting to think that's true. If that's the case, no sort of toe cover, shoe cover, booties, etc will help the situation. I have to get insulation between my feet and the metal cleat. The shoes have a separate insole piece, but that plus even my thick Smartwool socks aren't enough.

I had the same issue last winter with my other SPD shoes, actual MTB SPD shoes (rugged plastic portions on the bottom instead of rubber sole). Those also have a similar insole piece. I've been wanting to get some of those devices that can go inside shoes to stretch them out wider, so maybe I could more comfortably fit 2 pairs of socks (probably my wool socks plus something else), but I'm not even sure if that would help much.

Any other ideas for getting something in between my foot and the cleat as insulation? Maybe some type of aftermarket insole like Dr Scholl's or something else? I can't keep doing this, and we're nowhere near the coldest it's going to get this season (got into the teens last winter, and I personally rode as low as 21F).
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Old 11-07-14, 09:24 AM
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Another note, I have a 31 mile RT, hilly commute. I have to be clipped in. Riding boots with platforms really is not an option for me.
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Old 11-07-14, 09:50 AM
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I have 45nrth wulvhammers that I would use on a ride like that, they have thermal insoles 45NRTH
I also have some of their Fasterkatts. Getting a new pair on warranty because the first edition had some issues. Last couple years since I got those shoes have been the first winters when I didn't have cold feet. So the price is somewhat shocking, but I think it's worth it

I wouldn't necessarily say you have to be clipped in. I used to think that way, but I have friends that ride platforms on extremely long rides, "infinite float"
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Old 11-07-14, 10:12 AM
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Neoprene is not really meant for cold weather from what i know of the material.

I would stick to 2 thin socks, one with a thick padded toe.

- Andy
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Old 11-07-14, 10:13 AM
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At 33F, I'd look at the tops of your shoes before the bottoms. Plastic grocery bags make an awesome wind block inside the shoe, or get some toe covers to keep the wind from slicing right into your sock.

On to the socks; I never found neoprene to insulate that well. I've got a few pairs of lovely, heavy, wool, Smartwool socks that are great for cold days. Just one pair, and loosen the laces or straps a little bit so you don't compress them.

Close to your latitude, I've found wool socks and the plastic bag wind liners work for me down to about 20F; below that, it's time for the shoe covers.
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Old 11-07-14, 10:30 AM
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I have toe covers, but even on mornings in the 40's with 1 pair of wool socks and the toe covers, my feet still start getting a little numb by the time I get to the office. I tried plastic bags between my socks and the shoes last winter, those didn't work either.
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Old 11-07-14, 10:54 AM
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My feet are my weak spot when it comes to keeping off the cold. Everything else is easy, feet not so much. here's a few suggestions:

- Try some Toasty Feet insoles, the orange ones, they have aerogel in them like the 45NRTH's but are cheaper. I use those in my fall sidi boots and street shoes they help a lot.

- Full booties help more than toe covers. Toe covers work well for me down' to about 30F. Pearl Izumi Am fib booties are thick and make a big difference, but they don't help with the cleat issue.

- Consider that you might need bigger cycling shoes for cold weather. You need room for thick socks and you need room for air and the ability to move your toes. If they are tight you will be colder, faster.

- If you are committed to riding all winter and have the budget then look into a pair of Lake or 45Nrth or similar winter boots. It's a big investment though. and in TN you might very well be able to get by with insoles shoe covers and wool sox. I have the Wulvhammers and they are really warm, well designed and SPD compatible. They are not perfect though, my feet will still get cold after a couple of hours depending on the temp, but I figure that's about as good as I'm going to get. If I get off and walk around that helps a lot and I usually have a chance to do that on long rides.

- People claim that keeping your legs warm helps the blood that gets to your toes eventually stay warmer on the trip down. I'm not convinced based on my own experience, but I think it is worth considering.
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Old 11-07-14, 12:54 PM
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Frostbite is damage to skin and tissue due to freezing. If the temp was 33F and above, then you were not suffering frostbite.
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Old 11-07-14, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
My feet are my weak spot when it comes to keeping off the cold. Everything else is easy, feet not so much. here's a few suggestions:

- Try some Toasty Feet insoles, the orange ones, they have aerogel in them like the 45NRTH's but are cheaper. I use those in my fall sidi boots and street shoes they help a lot.

- Full booties help more than toe covers. Toe covers work well for me down' to about 30F. Pearl Izumi Am fib booties are thick and make a big difference, but they don't help with the cleat issue.

- Consider that you might need bigger cycling shoes for cold weather. You need room for thick socks and you need room for air and the ability to move your toes. If they are tight you will be colder, faster.

- If you are committed to riding all winter and have the budget then look into a pair of Lake or 45Nrth or similar winter boots. It's a big investment though. and in TN you might very well be able to get by with insoles shoe covers and wool sox. I have the Wulvhammers and they are really warm, well designed and SPD compatible. They are not perfect though, my feet will still get cold after a couple of hours depending on the temp, but I figure that's about as good as I'm going to get. If I get off and walk around that helps a lot and I usually have a chance to do that on long rides.

- People claim that keeping your legs warm helps the blood that gets to your toes eventually stay warmer on the trip down. I'm not convinced based on my own experience, but I think it is worth considering.
I had cold toes this morning (not as cold as the OP's though) despite some medium weight Smartwool socks. I am going to try some of these techniques. What I find works for the rest of the body is to block the wind (and convective heat loss) first, then insulating layers underneath, which could mean putting a bag over my shoes but I don't really want to do that so I'll have to think of something else. Maybe put my shoe covers as the outside layer (they aren't fully windproof), then a plastic bag, then either just the shoe or my DIY toe covers (I cut the toe off some old thick wool socks with a slice to expose the cleat; if you do this, don't use your wife's socks, frozen toes are a joy compared with being discovered that you used her socks).
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Old 11-07-14, 01:27 PM
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My feet used to FREEZE below 40 degrees. I've had frostbite a couple times. But now I ride with a pair of winter clipless boots. BTW "booties" don't do it for me.

I've had mine for years. The models look a little different now. I'm not recommending this specific one right now. But look over their models and choose. They make awesome footwear.
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Old 11-07-14, 01:28 PM
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Problem with larger shoes is that I already wear US size 13. I just got these current shoes with the rubber soles back in the summer, and I tried a size 46 at the LBS first, but went with a 47 to try to give me some more room (it says US 14 on them). I think they might still be a tad narrow, though. My MTB shoes are 48 and are really too long, but are also narrow which is why I was going to try to find those contraptions that fit inside of shoes that can stretch them out wider.
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Old 11-07-14, 01:31 PM
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Those Toasty Feet insole look like they might just do the trick. Need to find me some of those.
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Old 11-07-14, 01:34 PM
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How can I insulate my feet from the SPD cleats?

Newspaper. Inside the shoes, cut as an insole. Wrapped around your toes. And a sheet or two on your chest under your outermost top layer. Cheap, readily available, disposable. I've even taken newspaper out of garbage cans when I'm out on a ride and the weather changes abruptly. Adds insulation and wind protection.
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Old 11-07-14, 01:52 PM
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+1 on your toes being wrapped too tightly. It is amazing how quickly poor circulation of blood and air can make your feet freeze.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:11 PM
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What kind of shoes do you have? For commuting I have spd mountain bike shoes, I also have numbness issues, but only really in the sub 20F weather, using just a slightly thicker than usual sock and my mountain bike shoes.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:17 PM
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You definitely need bigger shoes. You may have to give up on SPDs for the winter and use boots.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:19 PM
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Stop trying to use vented summer shoes for winter cold. 45 north, lake, shimano etc. make insulated winter boots if you must be clipped in. I use low, waterproof, insulated winter boots for my commute. Try pedaling when it is 7F, HTFU.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:25 PM
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hm perhaps I could pick up a pair of these and use them with my boots.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...heir-match#_=_
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Old 11-07-14, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Stop trying to use vented summer shoes for winter cold. 45 north, lake, shimano etc. make insulated winter boots if you must be clipped in. I use low, waterproof, insulated winter boots for my commute. Try pedaling when it is 7F, HTFU.
And how long and hilly is your commute?
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Old 11-07-14, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Stop trying to use vented summer shoes for winter cold. 45 north, lake, shimano etc. make insulated winter boots if you must be clipped in. I use low, waterproof, insulated winter boots for my commute.
My current MTB shoes don't have a lot of venting, my old ones did and I'd really be complaining this morning if I had worn those instead. However, point taken, even with shoe covers, wool socks, plastic bags or newspaper, there are limits to what I can do to keep the cold out. Furthermore, I discovered last Friday, with the 10cm/4in of snow we got, that my cleats (Shimano SPD) filled up with wet snow and more often than not, I was not clipped in unless I found a patch of clear pavement that I could stamp my feet to clear the cleats of snow.

Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Try pedaling when it is 7F, HTFU.
Is frozen hard enough?
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Old 11-07-14, 02:32 PM
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^^^ Have you tried some GOOD steel pinned flat pedals with some grippy footwear? You might be surprised. I don't use clipless for road , only mt biking. My commute is 18 miles one way, 2-6 trips per week. The downhillers don't need them as well a lots of commuters. It may seem strange if you come from a road only experience. Good pedals start at say about $ 50.00 and you probably have some kind of boot to use. I'm guessing TN has borderline winter, yes? Here in MA we have lots of winter, good luck.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
And how long and hilly is your commute?
18 miles, some small hills. Flat pedals for commuting and winter mt biking.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
^^^ Have you tried some GOOD steel pinned flat pedals with some grippy footwear? You might be surprised. I don't use clipless for road , only mt biking. My commute is 18 miles one way, 2-6 trips per week. The downhillers don't need them as well a lots of commuters. It may seem strange if you come from a road only experience. Good pedals start at say about $ 50.00 and you probably have some kind of boot to use. I'm guessing TN has borderline winter, yes? Here in MA we have lots of winter, good luck.
Yes, when the road conditions become too unfavourable for continued use of my touring bike with 700x32 tires (and my take on unfavourable is pretty mild, but not specifically related to temperature), then I'll switch to my mountain bike with studded tires and flat (with pins) pedals. However, as I write this, also thinking about how much I like to be clipped in while riding, I thought that perhaps a fixie-pedal setup might be something to consider; a track-style pedal with a velcro strap (like the Powerstrap) enabling me to wear normal winter boots while being "clipped" to the pedals.
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Old 11-07-14, 02:57 PM
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Didn't see this mentioned earlier, but fyi - you can buy shoes specifically made for winter. They may (I couldn't quickly find specific info on it) be designed a bit different on the bottom to shield your foot from the cleat transferring cold. They are definitely designed to be waterproof and keep your foot warm.

Specialized Defroster:
Specialized Bicycle Components

Lake Winter cyling shoes:
MXZ303 SILVER/BLACK | Lake Cycling

They're much more expensive, but also much more specifically designed for keeping your foot warm, rather than regular mtn bike shoes which are designed to increase airflow and keep your foot cool.
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Old 11-07-14, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
You definitely need bigger shoes. You may have to give up on SPDs for the winter and use boots.
This. Bigger shoes because you need room for wool socks and felt sole inserts.
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