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Shoe fit

Old 09-18-23, 08:50 PM
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Shoe fit

This is partially thinking out loud, but if anybody has any ideas that's very welcome.

Background: I have really wide feet: heel-to-big-toe is 280mm (size 46), ball of foot is 120mm wide and 295mm circumference. The only cycling shoe sizing chart that has anything like those measurements is Bont, in size 46 Double Wide, but that's $475 non-refundable dollars so I want to do my research as best I can first.

Current setup: New Balance 624 soft-soled walking shoes, size 11.5 6E, and Kona Wah Wah 2 flat pedals (advertised as 118mm, functional width slightly less). Obviously not optimal, but I've done roughly 4000 miles over the last 3 years with it. It works, not perfectly.

Problem: the outer row of bones (from the little toe back) hurt on long rides or hard efforts. Today I started getting some pain around mile 60, and just about couldn't see straight about mile 92. I finished 100 miles, but after a few hours walking around without shoes it still hurts.

Hypotheses for causes:

#1 the outside edge of the foot is rolling off the pedal. This makes most sense for hard efforts. Probably easily, if expensively, fixed with good shoes. I've found flat pedals advertised as wider, but only 2mm wider and $175 for a pair of flat pedals. I'm not sold on wider pedals unless somebody can come up with reasonably priced pedals that are at least 130mm wide.

#2 you've probably seen barefoot shoe nuts complaining about how shoes aren't foot-shaped. Well, my feet definitely aren't shoe-shaped. The toes are wide. If the shoe fits at the beginning of the ride, and the middle of the foot swells, there's room between the toes for them to push together and the outer row of bones might be bending out in the middle of the foot. This explains pain on long rides better than it explains pain on shorter hard efforts (which happens, that just wasn't the kind of ride I did today). Probably a much harder problem to fix.

Both of these hypotheses explain different aspects of the pain I'm experiencing. Particularly hypothesis #2 is something that I really don't know how to measure. I could get a pair of shoes and go out on a long ride, but that gets to be a really expensive trial and error fast.

I could obviously keep doing what I'm doing. It's not terrible except on very long rides, which I don't do often. I would like to figure out a good solution. Right now I'm riding a cobbled-together hand-me-down bike, but I have every intention of buying a nice bike in the next couple of years. I'd like to have a nice solution, as well as one that works well. What should I do here?
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Old 09-19-23, 07:59 AM
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You might be pushing on the pedal with the outside part of your foot. Make sure when you push on the pedal that the pressure starts with the metatarsals of your bigger toes and not the metatarsals of your smaller toes.

When I changed shoes, I had the outer edge of my foot from behind the little toe back almost to my heel getting painful after 20 or 30 miles. I finally realized that my feet were pushing differently in the new shoes. Wedges, shims or special insole might have helped. But just being aware of it and training my feet had it gone in a few weeks.
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Old 09-19-23, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
You might be pushing on the pedal with the outside part of your foot. Make sure when you push on the pedal that the pressure starts with the metatarsals of your bigger toes and not the metatarsals of your smaller toes.
That explanation makes a lot of sense. I'll pay attention to that on my next ride. Thank you!
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Old 09-19-23, 11:19 AM
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Perhaps another angle to consider is that top-notch cycling shoes have carbon soles. Read: pretty damned stiff. That sounds different than the setup you're describing. I'm wondering if the relatively soft New Balance solution allows too much "indirect" motion during the power stroke, effectively a twisting motion aggravating your various tarsals. Maybe your foot is "squishing around too much" and needs more support and control. With good shoes/cleats in clipless pedals, all the force is well directed to the relatively small surface of the pedal.
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Old 09-23-23, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
You might be pushing on the pedal with the outside part of your foot. Make sure when you push on the pedal that the pressure starts with the metatarsals of your bigger toes and not the metatarsals of your smaller toes..
I used to do that. The built-in 1.5-degree varus wedge in Specialized shoes make it worse. A properly supportive insole helps. As for accommodating your super-wide feet on a budget, I have no advice except to say that Bont makes a helluva great line of shoes. I've been fortunate that my D+ feet fit into a regular width size 46 Bont Riot perfectly.
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Old 09-25-23, 12:47 AM
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Perhaps pedals with a wider stance or even a 20mm pedal spacer?
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Old 10-18-23, 05:24 AM
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In the 1/1,000,000,000 chance anybody runs across this and has a similar or related issue or question: I picked up a pair of Bont Vaypor S in size 46.5 Double Wide on ebay. I have the right shoe fitting properly, I think, the left shoe will need one more heat molding pass. Nice shoes, although with my foot dimensions I think 46 or even 45.5 would be the correct length. The 46.5 DW is the correct width.
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Old 10-25-23, 03:28 AM
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Shoes are tough tough to find, you really need to try them on before you buy them, and most stores don’t have a comprehensive collection. I used to buy the most expensive shoes my dealer carried, thinking that more $ equals better comfort. This turned out not to be the case. A $60 pair of Lake shoes turned out to be more comfortable than a $300 par of Carnac. I get shoes which are a little big, and choose socks to fine-tune them to fit my feet. If you find the right combination which feels just right, buy an extra pair. Pretty much any piece of cycling gear I consider “perfect” is usually discontinued and replaced with an “improved” but much less perfect version. I would pay any amount of money for a few pair of old Assos Sportsline shorts with real chamois.
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Old 10-25-23, 10:45 PM
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The trick is to find a shoe that's made on a last that bears some resemblance to your own feet, then finding a good insole (usually aftermarket). By the way, there's a British bike fitter on YouTube now who urges caution with Specialized shoes because of the built-in varus wedge.Finally.
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Old 10-31-23, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling
I used to buy the most expensive shoes my dealer carried, thinking that more $ equals better comfort. This turned out not to be the case. A $60 pair of Lake shoes turned out to be more comfortable than a $300 par of Carnac.
What you tend to get with more expensive shoes is a stiffer, lighter sole and generally nicer materials. Comfort comes almost entirely from a good personal fit, which is not generally related to cost. Although the uppers on more expensive shoes are often a little softer and more supple.

I have a pair of medium range Fizik shoes and a pair of their top end race shoes in the same size and wide fit. Comfort is the same. I would struggle to tell which was which in a blind test.
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Old 10-31-23, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
What you tend to get with more expensive shoes is a stiffer, lighter sole and generally nicer materials.
And fancier closure systems. My sweet spot is shoes under $200.. Shimano's Dynalast shoes lured me away from Bont for a few years because they fit well and I could get pro deals on them. With the second and third model updates, the sizing shrunk and the materials declined, so I went back to Bont. With their bathtub design, the soles on their price-point Riot line are still stiffer and thinner than shoes costing two or three times as much. Unfortunately for some, these aren't available in double-wide. Of course, hardly anybody makes double-wide in a stock shoe at any price point.

It's interesting that stretchy knit uppers of a couple years ago are now DOA. Riders and manufacturers learned that what felt comfortable in the shop was too resilient to support the foot under pedaling forces.
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