Despite being one of the three contact points on the bike, shoe and insole selection is one of the most underrated parts of the bike fit process. Neglecting to explore this fully can lead to pain, discomfort, injuries and a reduction in performance!
When selecting a shoe, you should look at the length of the shoe in millimetres as opposed to the size of the shoe (e.g., 42). Despite being the same size, the length of shoes can vary from one brand to the next. For example, a Lake size 42 is 266mm in length compared to a Bont size 42 which is 260mm in length - quite a notable difference! Once you've established the length of shoe you need, you then need to think about the width of the shoe.
Why is the width of the shoe so important?
Many people wear shoes that are too narrow for them, whether it be their work footwear, trainers or cycling shoes. We need enough space in the shoe firstly to allow good blood circulation and secondly to allow our toes to splay within the shoe.
Enabling better blood circulation is one of the main reasons that people think about investing a wider shoe. This is because it can reduce issues like numb toes or hot feet. Both of which tend to be comon issues within the cycling community. Better blood circulation will also mean that the nerves of the foot are not being compressed. This therefore improves neuromuscular connection to the feet which over time aids in force development of the foot.
Another benefit of wider shoes is that they allow the toes to splay. What many people do not realise is that the splaying of your toes not only stabilises the foot but also stabilises the knee. Therefore, we can say that sometimes a shoe that is too narrow can cause or at least contribute to unwanted knee issues.
In addition, some people will have quite a pronounced hallux valgus (more commonly known as bunions) which may require a shoe with a wider toebox and / or seperate panels which can be adjusted to accomodate this.
Another crucial factor to consider when looking at new shoes is the shape of the shoe. We all have different forefeet shapes whether that be rounded and pointed, flat and squared, or tapered and angled this can play a role in how the shoe fits your foot.
Once you have selected the right shoe it is time to decide whether you would benefit from a different insole. As bike fitters one of the first questions we ask ourselves is why might an athlete need insoles and how would this impact upon their movements / cycling biomechanics?
During the pre-assessment of the body we will make a note of any issues (e.g., instability in the ankle when preforming a single leg squat) which could potentially be resolved or improved through the use of insoles. We will also consider whether the use of a specific type of insole could be used for the purpose of bettering power transfer through the pedals.
Within the cycling industry there are generally two main designs of insoles. The first is an insole that is going to aid with strengthening the foot over a period of time (e.g., G8 2620). The second is an insole that is going to act as an opposite force under the longitudinal arch of the foot, when force is being applied through the foot (e.g., Solestar). Due to there being a initial force created by the insole pushing up against the longitudinal arch of the foot, the foot is therefore encouraged to move in a more perpendicular motion consequently improving power output.
So, in short when looking at investing in a new pair of cycling shoes it is worth prioritising the size and shape of the shoe, over the aesthetics. After all, it is the size and shape of the shoe that will impact upon comfort and performance!
If you would like advice on buying you next pair of cycling shoes or insoles you can book a time on Saturday 6th August to get your feet measured and assessed by one of our experienced bike fitters. This will be free of charge but places will be limited, so book now to avoid disappointment!
If you would like to book a time slot for our foot measurement day on Saturday 6th August, send us a message using the link below.