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How to deal with toe-overlap on switchbacks?

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How to deal with toe-overlap on switchbacks?

Old 10-25-20, 02:31 PM
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speedyspaghetti
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How to deal with toe-overlap on switchbacks?

Hey everyone -

So I just got my first gravel bike (Scott Speedster Gravel 30 in 54cm (same size as my road bike) with 700x35 G-Schwalbe AllRounders) this week and I've done a few rides with it. There are a few trails near me that have some really tight switchbacks. I noticed that, especially going uphill, my toe hits my tire when turning at low speeds. It didn't happen as much downhill, but maybe once or twice.

How do I go about dealing with this? Is it due to cleat set-up? Shoes? (I'm using some old road shoes for now - don't have MTB/CX shoes) Technique?

Thanks!
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Old 10-25-20, 03:02 PM
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Go faster! Just kidding. I also have some TO on my 700c gravel bike (my 650B one is way better in that regard). Mine's a size 50 so it's pretty inevitable. Probably 70% of my riding is singletrack like you describe. It's just gotten kind of subconscious for me now--I unconsciously adjust tire to pedal relationship as much as one can at least(sometimes it's simply unavoidable). I expect you'll just adjust mentally the more you ride those tight sections. I ride flat pedals with pins and mtb shoes so I can move my feet around but honestly I don't really do that much in this case.
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Old 10-25-20, 03:24 PM
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You can try and push your cleats up more towards your toes. And get used to an occasional contact. My touring bike has toe overlap and I have just become used to it.
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Old 10-25-20, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by pbass View Post
Go faster! Just kidding. I also have some TO on my 700c gravel bike (my 650B one is way better in that regard). Mine's a size 50 so it's pretty inevitable. Probably 70% of my riding is singletrack like you describe. It's just gotten kind of subconscious for me now--I unconsciously adjust tire to pedal relationship as much as one can at least(sometimes it's simply unavoidable). I expect you'll just adjust mentally the more you ride those tight sections. I ride flat pedals with pins and mtb shoes so I can move my feet around but honestly I don't really do that much in this case.
Haha yeah it seems like going faster would solve a lot of issues with cycling! I was thinking that maybe trying to carry more speed into the corner would allow me to coast through the turn but the one specific turn I'm thinking about is pretty steep on both entry and exit so idk if that would work. I might go out there later today to give it a shot though. On downhill I don't think this would be as much of an issue as I can just leave my feet at 12 & 6 a la road descending and avoid the tire all together. Or maybe I just need to focus on taking the turn a little wider to avoid having to turn at such a steep angle?
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Old 10-25-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You can try and push your cleats up more towards your toes. And get used to an occasional contact. My touring bike has toe overlap and I have just become used to it.
The cleats are almost maxed out currently. I shifted them this morning to check but I still barely get a touch with the current setup. Thankfully, the cleat position is still comfortable - I did a 3 mile gravel climb at 8.5% average and I didn't notice any hot spots. Do you know if MTB shoes would be better than the old road shoes I'm using now? Are road shoes maybe more "pointy?"
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Old 10-25-20, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
The cleats are almost maxed out currently. I shifted them this morning to check but I still barely get a touch with the current setup. Thankfully, the cleat position is still comfortable - I did a 3 mile gravel climb at 8.5% average and I didn't notice any hot spots. Do you know if MTB shoes would be better than the old road shoes I'm using now? Are road shoes maybe more "pointy?"
I can't speak to clipless, but as I mention I use flats w Five Ten MTB shoes, and I still don't consciously adjust my feet to avoid TO, even though I can. I'm still just going for optimal foot position in regards to comfort, control, power. If anything, sometimes climbing I might move my feet forward a teeny bit, depending on the circumstances.
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Old 10-25-20, 05:45 PM
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Switch to 650x48
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Old 10-25-20, 05:57 PM
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I think MTB shore are more popular on gravel bikes, but I'd say the 'hot spot' issue is more related to the specific shoe than the shoe type.
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Old 10-25-20, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You can try and push your cleats up more towards your toes. And get used to an occasional contact. My touring bike has toe overlap and I have just become used to it.
I learned cleat position is based on power and comfort. Its placed where the rider can push most effectively while also not cresting knee pain.
Admittedly, I've never tested different cleat positions since where I have mine works. Is it really a non-issue to move the cleat around?
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Old 10-25-20, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Ride more. Seriously.

You'll eventually learn where you are in your pedal stroke and learn to ratchet to prevent overlap.
Is there some sort of specific drill/training you would recommend? Or is there a better technique to uphill tight switchbacks I should be practicing? Admittedly, my lines aren't very/smooth, but I'm not sure what I should be practicing.
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Old 10-25-20, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
I think MTB shore are more popular on gravel bikes, but I'd say the 'hot spot' issue is more related to the specific shoe than the shoe type.
Is one more "pointed" than the other? I ask because it's literally just the tippy tippy top of my toe that touches the tire on my road shoes.
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Old 10-25-20, 08:17 PM
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I've a 54cm road bike that I use on gravel with a bit of toe strike; its the only bike I have with 170mm cranks (normally 172.5-175), which helps minimize the contact to a tolerable rub. YMMV. Also, smaller tire helps, but I run the fattest I can squeeze in and don't like going that route.
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Old 10-25-20, 08:20 PM
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How much to overlap do you have.. ? if it's not that much toe overlap you can drop your heal in the back , which will give you more clearance, also there's the one where you could just pedal with one foot, depending on which side you're turning.
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Old 10-26-20, 06:41 AM
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It's geometry. One of the things I like about my Revolt is that it has a longer front center, which makes it more stable, and as a bonus, has no toe overlap, even with big tires.
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Old 10-26-20, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You can try and push your cleats up more towards your toes. And get used to an occasional contact. My touring bike has toe overlap and I have just become used to it.
I noticed more contact with toe clips than clipless pedals. But I prefer toe clips on around town bikes than clipless.
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Old 10-26-20, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Is it really a non-issue to move the cleat around?
It has fit consequences. The most immediately obvious is that it has a dramatic impact on leg extension (so changes to the fore-aft cleat position tend to require simultaneously changing saddle height), but it also changes how your leg has to brace itself for pedaling force. For instance, a farther-forward cleat tends to put more stress on the calf and heel because in increases the length of the "foot" lever; I gave myself an achilles tendon overuse injury last summer because my cleats were too far forward, it kept me almost totally off the bike for a couple of months.
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Old 10-26-20, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
It has fit consequences. The most immediately obvious is that it has a dramatic impact on leg extension (so changes to the fore-aft cleat position tend to require simultaneously changing saddle height), but it also changes how your leg has to brace itself for pedaling force. For instance, a farther-forward cleat tends to put more stress on the calf and heel because in increases the length of the "foot" lever; I gave myself an achilles tendon overuse injury last summer because my cleats were too far forward, it kept me almost totally off the bike for a couple of months.
Cool, I figured cleat position mattered for comfort. It was a surprise to see moving the cleat as a solution for toe overlap.
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Old 10-27-20, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe View Post
Ride more. Seriously.

You'll eventually learn where you are in your pedal stroke and learn to ratchet to prevent overlap.
^ This

My bike has toe overlap but years of trail riding makes my sense of where I am in my pedal stroke something I don't have to think about. I always keep the outside pedal low and behind the bottom bracket in tight corners. Just pay attention, form some habits, and after a while it becomes second nature.

I personally would not adjust your cleat position to escape toe overlap and make sure your cleats are set up for your leg extension and pedal stroke.
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Old 10-27-20, 02:58 PM
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I don't see how cleat position, adjusted for minimal toe overlap, is going to hurt anything. Yeah, you may have to change your seat height, but that's not a showstopper. I have my cleats all the way forward so that the pedal spindle is under the ball of my foot. I maximize power and minimize toe overlap.

But for the most part, I'm going too fast to get toe overlap (you just can't get that large a steering angle at speed). I do get some toe overlap on the tight turns of a CX race if I have a 700x54mm tire, but I just keep pedaling because it doesn't really impact anything under strong power.

How tall are you? You could move your cleats, increase the rake of your fork (if you don't mind more agile steering), make sure you have small shoes, go to tires with a smaller diameter. 650b wheel is probably the most effective mechanical change (if you don't mind the lower BB). If its a slow speed problem for ya, ratcheting the pedals, or just coasting through tight turns are two techniques that will work. But, if you are carrying your momentum and carving a smooth turn, you aren't going to get those steering angles unless it is a really slow tight CX type turn.
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Old 10-28-20, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I don't see how cleat position, adjusted for minimal toe overlap, is going to hurt anything. Yeah, you may have to change your seat height, but that's not a showstopper. I have my cleats all the way forward so that the pedal spindle is under the ball of my foot. I maximize power and minimize toe overlap.

But for the most part, I'm going too fast to get toe overlap (you just can't get that large a steering angle at speed). I do get some toe overlap on the tight turns of a CX race if I have a 700x54mm tire, but I just keep pedaling because it doesn't really impact anything under strong power.

How tall are you? You could move your cleats, increase the rake of your fork (if you don't mind more agile steering), make sure you have small shoes, go to tires with a smaller diameter. 650b wheel is probably the most effective mechanical change (if you don't mind the lower BB). If its a slow speed problem for ya, ratcheting the pedals, or just coasting through tight turns are two techniques that will work. But, if you are carrying your momentum and carving a smooth turn, you aren't going to get those steering angles unless it is a really slow tight CX type turn.
I'm about 5'9. I was using some hybrid road/mtb shoes but I just bought some MTB specific shoes which should allow a bit better cleat adjustment. I'll take a video of the turn next time I go ride it - it's really a non-issue on 98% of the rides I do, it's just these two turns on one of my favorite trails. I agree that I definitely need to work on skill / technique more. I think my line is also messy, resulting in me having to turn the bars at a much steeper angle. It's a short, almost 180 degree switchback that enters gradual and exits steep.
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Old 10-28-20, 11:20 AM
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N+1 was my answer to toe overlap.

My Trek Madone had overlap that caused me to have enough low speed U-turning falls that the next bike I got had to have zero overlap, or it was a deal breaker. The Madone is now relegated to the trainer where it exhibits zero toe overlap.
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Old 10-28-20, 02:13 PM
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Usually, toe overlap only occurs at a very specific point in the pedal revolution and a very specific point in the wheel's steering arc. Learn where that point is and practice getting your toes out of the way with a small backpedal. Cleats should be positioned to place the foot on the pedal in relation to your knees, not your front wheel.
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Old 10-28-20, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Rolla View Post
Usually, toe overlap only occurs at a very specific point in the pedal revolution and a very specific point in the steering arc. Learn where that point is and practice getting your toes out of the way with a small backpedal. Cleats should be positioned to place the foot on the pedal in relation to your knees, not your front wheel.
This is the point I was trying to make. Once you develop the technique, toe overlap becomes a non-issue. I feel that your cleat position (or anything when it comes to your bike fit) should not be compromised because of lack of technique.
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Old 10-28-20, 02:32 PM
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Right tool for the job. Get a different bike. Since when do CX races allow 54mm tires?
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Old 10-29-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by speedyspaghetti View Post
I'm about 5'9. I was using some hybrid road/mtb shoes but I just bought some MTB specific shoes which should allow a bit better cleat adjustment. I'll take a video of the turn next time I go ride it - it's really a non-issue on 98% of the rides I do, it's just these two turns on one of my favorite trails. I agree that I definitely need to work on skill / technique more. I think my line is also messy, resulting in me having to turn the bars at a much steeper angle. It's a short, almost 180 degree switchback that enters gradual and exits steep.
You are my size.
Yep, a 180 degree uphill turn is the type where you will have that problem.

I have a dozen bikes - but the only time I get toe overlap is with my track bike (which is designed to only go in a straight line), and when I put 54mm tires on my CX bike that is designed around 33mm tires. But I put my pedal spindle under the ball of my foot, so the cleat is basically as far forward as it will go.
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