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Super tight heels on road shoes?

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Super tight heels on road shoes?

Old 01-14-21, 07:18 AM
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Super tight heels on road shoes?

Why does this trend exist? Newer Shimano shoes seem to be the worst offender, but Specialized seems to be working on it too. Your heels are gonna want to lift out of the shoe when you're walking on pavement, that's going to happen because the sole is stiff. All that clamping down on the heel is going to do is hurt your achilles and give you a bone spur on your calcaneus. I've never had an issue with my heel lifting during a ride, if you do, your cleats are massively mis-positioned forward.

Anyways, rant off.
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Old 01-14-21, 12:24 PM
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Your opinion is probably unpopular among roadies. I personally have been hunting for a shoe that provides solid heel lock for a while (I'm about 4 pairs deep). The closest I got was a pair of WAY undersized Fizik R1Bs but those obliterated my feet.

I'm actually going to be working on a proof of concept shoe that totally locks in your forefoot, just like a normal cycling shoe, but uses an inelastic fabric sock to keep your foot bound to the forefoot of the sole, allowing your heel to lift and drop independently of the stiff carbon sole. So if you pedal with your heel touching the sole, your pedaling is unaffected. If your heel wants to lift (like it does for many people, otherwise we wouldn't need heel cups), then it just lets your heels lift. Think of it like a Nike Slide but with boa dials and foot retention.

I would love to hear why this is a bad idea.

Here's a quick sketch:


It could also be that the cleats under the forefoot is just a bad idea and we should move to midfoot cleats. But afaik 0 shoes on the market support that right now.

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Old 01-14-21, 12:57 PM
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A big reason I have been a loyal S-Works wearer for years is that they're so solidly locked to my heel.
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Old 01-14-21, 01:06 PM
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Weird...I'm the opposite, I wanted my heel to stay in place.

I wear Giro Empire SLX shoes because I can use the laces to tie a heel lock pattern which works decently. No problems on centuries or rides when I'm up and out of the saddle for hard efforts. The laces, in this one case, are superior for getting the heel to stay in place over Boa systems in my experience.
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Old 01-14-21, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Your heels are gonna want to lift out of the shoe when you're walking on pavement, that's going to happen because the sole is stiff.
Walking is quite a ways down the list of priorities for my road shoes.

Originally Posted by Phatman
I've never had an issue with my heel lifting during a ride, if you do, your cleats are massively mis-positioned forward.
This is going to be a radical idea, but hear me out - maybe people other than yourself have different feet and biomechanics than yourself.
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Old 01-14-21, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi
Walking is quite a ways down the list of priorities for my road shoes.
Precisely. That's the only place I've ever had heel lift show up on a road shoe, so why design a shoe that cranks down so hard to avoid it?

Are you guys saying that you regularly feel your heel want to come out of the shoe while riding?
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Old 01-14-21, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman

Are you guys saying that you regularly feel your heel want to come out of the shoe while riding?
Yes. Quite frequently. This is why sprinters tighten their boas. It mainly happens to toe pointers rather than heel droppers, I believe. Or... I think it happens within a certain range of foot angles (around 0deg, flat foot). And it doesn't happen at the extremes. So toes all the way down or heel all the way down.

You are right that it depends on cleat placement too.
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Old 01-14-21, 04:50 PM
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Im on the side for heel lock, I found my way to a Boat Vaypor S for my shoe of choice. I have had Sidi, S-work 7s, and Shimano S-phyres and by far the Bonts have the most customizable body in which after heating them you can squeeze the heel as much as you want to make it lock into place. I come from a hockey background so the heating process came natural and I find they fit excellent
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Old 01-14-21, 05:39 PM
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Imagine cutting a shoe in half, maybe about 1" behind the cleat. Clip shoe into pedal. What problems (and don't tell me cold heels because it's January) come to pass? It's basically a toe cage that you're putting a bare (ok, there's a sock) foot into.
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Old 01-14-21, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene
Imagine cutting a shoe in half, maybe about 1" behind the cleat. Clip shoe into pedal. What problems (and don't tell me cold heels because it's January) come to pass? It's basically a toe cage that you're putting a bare (ok, there's a sock) foot into.
Yeah pretty much. That's the idea. The nice thing about my design, though, is that if you want to push with your whole foot (ie with your heel) you still can. The sole is still full length and rigid. I don't believe such a system has existed before. What problems do you think would arise?
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Old 01-14-21, 09:15 PM
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My heels are so well locked in on my Sidis that the heels are separating from the soles. And they're very comfortable.
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Old 01-15-21, 06:35 AM
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Hmm. This is all mind bending. I wonder if Iíve just ridden for so long in shoes that allow heel slip that my pedal stroke has evolved to compensate. I still canít really fathom what movement would make the heel move, it seems like youíd have to be pushing down with your toes on the upstroke?

Either way, the heel lock isnít going to work for me. Holy **** itís uncomfortable. I wish I could order another set of 2008 Specialized BG Pros before they started messing with their fit.
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Old 01-15-21, 09:06 AM
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I hate when my heal moves. I have snapped clasps on shoes by pulling the Velcro strap too tight to hold my feet in place. Granted, most of my racing is on the track, so pulling up is important. But even on the road, I do not want my feet moving. During most rides, I usually tighten my shoes as the ride progresses.
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Old 01-15-21, 01:29 PM
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I have the S-Works Recon shoe and love how it locks my heel in place along with the super stiff sole. They are the most comfortable and efficient riding shoes I've ever worn.

They are not great to walk in but not terrible either.
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Old 01-17-21, 12:51 PM
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One of my mental rants to myself is "feel your heel cups." I pedal with them a lot of the time. Sidi Dominators, no discernable movement between foot and heel cup even with the shoes relatively loose. Certainly no heel damage!
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Old 01-18-21, 03:24 AM
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I wouldn't want super tight heel cups to the extent that I feel they exert pressure, myself, but the shoes I've tried, the heel cups didn't seem to bother me (I don't have big heels, I guess). My "limiting factor" in shoe fit is that I need a good bit of space in the front for my toes (I've lost some nails after my last IM which I attribute to a too cramped cycling shoe in that area), and shoes which accomodate that tend to be comfortable enough with the heel, too.

I've got a pair of wide fit Lake CX301s lately and while with a single Boa dial and a very lightweight shoe construction the retention isn't as good as a firmer shoe with two Boas, they're the most comfortable thing around and I haven't noticed any disadvantage in power resulting from that, not even in a sprint (that said, my "sprint" is a sordid 1000W affair, so... yeah, hah hah). The big thing is to be comfortable, imo, especially for long distance.

I would imagine that heel being gripped firmly is very necessary if you're really dropping your toes in a very pronounced way (which could be compensating for cleats far forward plus saddle up, or natural tendency).
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Old 01-19-21, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Hmm. This is all mind bending. I wonder if Iíve just ridden for so long in shoes that allow heel slip that my pedal stroke has evolved to compensate. I still canít really fathom what movement would make the heel move, it seems like youíd have to be pushing down with your toes on the upstroke?

Either way, the heel lock isnít going to work for me. Holy **** itís uncomfortable. I wish I could order another set of 2008 Specialized BG Pros before they started messing with their fit.
If you're pulling up on the pedals your heel has a slight tendency to lift. Having a solid heel cup takes some of the strain off the various supporting muscles. Also, some orientations of pedal angle and seat height can make your heel want to lift slightly. Those shouldn't be common occurrences, but can happen infrequently during normal cycling. With a nominal flat pedal stroke, I agree you shouldn't get heel lift.
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Old 01-20-21, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
One of my mental rants to myself is "feel your heel cups." I pedal with them a lot of the time. Sidi Dominators, no discernable movement between foot and heel cup even with the shoes relatively loose. Certainly no heel damage!
Originally Posted by gsa103
If you're pulling up on the pedals your heel has a slight tendency to lift. Having a solid heel cup takes some of the strain off the various supporting muscles. Also, some orientations of pedal angle and seat height can make your heel want to lift slightly. Those shouldn't be common occurrences, but can happen infrequently during normal cycling. With a nominal flat pedal stroke, I agree you shouldn't get heel lift.
Hmm. Never felt that SIDIs were too tight in the heels, though I haven't tried a set on in years because the rest of the shoe doesn't fit my foot. Maybe they updated them with a tighter heel cup since the Genius's I tried on back in ~2010ish though.

Also, I think I should be clear, I'm not talking about the side to side tightness of the heel cup, I'm talking about the shoes that feel like they have a bar across the back of the heel cup that digs into the achillies and clamps down on the calcaneus. I've attached a pic to note where I feel like the pressure is inappropriate. When I'm doing a hard effort, I too envision pushing on the back of my shoe with my heel. The stupid rim of the shoe inhibits that though.

Anyways, I just ordered a set of Torch 3.0s. The reviews complain about the sloppy heel fit compared to the S-Works, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

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Old 01-20-21, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Phatman
Hmm. Never felt that SIDIs were too tight in the heels, though I haven't tried a set on in years because the rest of the shoe doesn't fit my foot. Maybe they updated them with a tighter heel cup since the Genius's I tried on back in ~2010ish though.

Also, I think I should be clear, I'm not talking about the side to side tightness of the heel cup, I'm talking about the shoes that feel like they have a bar across the back of the heel cup that digs into the achillies and clamps down on the calcaneus. I've attached a pic to note where I feel like the pressure is inappropriate. When I'm doing a hard effort, I too envision pushing on the back of my shoe with my heel. The stupid rim of the shoe inhibits that though.

Anyways, I just ordered a set of Torch 3.0s. The reviews complain about the sloppy heel fit compared to the S-Works, so I'm taking that as a good sign.
I think it's simply an issue of how you're made. Your Achilles must be shaped a little differently. I suggest a visit to a large bike shop, trying on several shoes. The Sidis I have today have exactly the same upper shape as the ones I bought in 1998. It must be not so much the tightness of the heel cup but rather how much they curve in at the top. You could try padding your lower heel just a bit and see what that does.
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Old 01-20-21, 02:45 PM
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Insoles have a lot of influence here. Try taking them out and see if the world is a better place, repeat by putting something under the insole to raise it a touch, then work from there.
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Old 01-21-21, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by jfranci3
Insoles have a lot of influence here. Try taking them out and see if the world is a better place, repeat by putting something under the insole to raise it a touch, then work from there.
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Specialized's custom insoles (and, I imagine, most insoles?) have such THICK heel pads that they absolutely ruin any chance at achieving heel lock. Absolutely worthless IMO
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Old 01-21-21, 12:11 PM
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My first thought when I saw this thread - do these shoes get tried on before buying?

I have rarely had heel issues over my many decades of road riding but but toe and forefoot issues have been real. I always do a simple test of any shoe. Put it on with thin socks (often dress but of cycling sock thickness), then stand at the counter on tiptoe and see if my feet slide forward to toenail contact. Are they comfortable as I stand there? A lot of the better brands flunk that test for me. (Every few years, I try the good ones again to see if things have changed.) Lakes pass that test nicely. So I ride them and pass on "better" brands. (Lakes also last forever.)

I have tried on shoes where I knew right away that the heel wasn't going to work for me. Didn't buy them. Easy. I have also modified shoes to work better. Straps have been an issue so on my three most worn pairs I removed the straps and installed laces. (I find it very amusing that shoes with laces cost hundreds, at least last time I looked, and I do my lace modifications at $10/pair and a $10 tool from Tandy's Leather. Use the brass grommets, not the cheap aluminum ones.)
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Old 01-21-21, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
My first thought when I saw this thread - do these shoes get tried on before buying?
Uh, yes? Following the disintegration of my beloved 2008 Specialized BG Pros, I went with a set of Giroís, which were alright, then I got another set of Giros after that and they changed the sole to have a crazy high built in arch that made my foot fall asleep, so I was focusing on getting a shoe that didnít have THAT feature when I got my current set of Shimano RP9s. The heel clamping wasnít really on my radar until I rode with them a few times.

I thought it wasnít particularly comfortable but I kept riding the shoes, thinking theyíd break in but itís really started to irritate my Achillesí tendon. Thatís what started my quest to find shoes that arenít crazy heel clampy and it isnít easy. LBSs carry very little inventory, so everything has to be ordered. I got the shoes I mentioned above from backcountry because theyíve got a pretty good return policy.
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Old 01-22-21, 11:29 AM
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All my road/track shoes are custom or semi-custom. I was thinking about this thread the other day when I jumped on the bike on the trainer, clipped in and started pedaling just fine before attaching the Velcro straps or buckles on my shoes - largely because they fit my heel so snuggly.
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