How stiff should your shoes be?

alex1rob
alex1rob Posts: 95
edited June 2012 in Road beginners
Hi everyone.

I've been riding my boardman for a couple of years now and am slowly increasing the distance. 500 miles in a good month at the moment.

The whole time I've been using some MTB Pearl Izumi SPD shoes, recently I've noticed that I'm getting some pain in my fifth toe (metatarsalgia) on longer rides. Feels like a burning in the underside of my foot. I'm wondering if it's the shoes as I had a look at how stiff they are and I can pretty easily bend the sole at the toe level.

The only thing is I have nothing to compare it to. So is this abnormal?

Cheers

Comments

  • My MTb shoes are more flexible than my road shoes infact I cannot bend the sole on my road shoes as they are carbon fibre , hope that helps a little
    Trek Madone 5.9 2012
    Cboardman Team 2011
  • klep
    klep Posts: 158
    I'm also riding SPD's on my roadbike because I had to buy the shoes anyway for spinning classes. I used to ride with Look Keo pedals and some cheap roadshoes but they are way less comfortable than the SPD's I'm using at the moment. Despite all that I also encountered the same problem as yourself. On long rides (especially wet ones) my big toe and later on all my toes start to hurt, and it feels like it has to do with the flexibility of the shoes.

    I'd say if you got the cash, try out some roadshoes but make sure to fit them first and make a testride with different types if possible. As there are different systems (Look, SPD-sl, speedplay) and you've got to find the shoe that fits your feet best.
  • sungod
    sungod Posts: 16,860
    imho road shoe soles should be super stiff, if there's any give at the ball of the foot then you'll get higher pressure from the cleat, that might be the cause of the pain

    aside from soles, the footbeds matter too, some are very flimsy, others offer more support and some have features to reduce pressure on nerves (like the specialized bg footbeds), with stiff soles it's important that the footbeds are correct
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • Wacky Racer
    Wacky Racer Posts: 638
    My road shoe soles (carbon fibre) are very stiff, in my opinion very necessary for longer distance. When I first started road cycling I used my old MTB shoes, which were much more flexible, these gave me a fair bit of pain in the ball of my foot and large and little toes once I got past the twenty mile mark. No issues since I made the change, and now doing 60 miles plus.
    Ridley Orion
  • alex1rob
    alex1rob Posts: 95
    Thanks guys! This is just the advice I needed to hear to kick me into buying some new shoes. Being a student I try to be careful with money as much as possible... But I guess the one thing you can't really scrimp on is something that's causing you pain.
  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Bear in mind that you can get MTB shoes with very stiff soles too. I ride in the Spesh BG Sport shoes (using the M540 pedal) and that sole is pretty good. The next step up, the Expert, comes with a carbon fibre based sole and that really is stiff, with a price hike to match.

    The choice of Road/MTB comes up on here all the time and many of us find the benefits of MTB (being able to walk, etc.) outweigh any benefits of Road ("better power transfer" gets quoted/disputed a lot). Ultimately, the choice appears to very subjective but definitely get shoes with stiff soles.
  • klep
    klep Posts: 158
    alex1rob wrote:
    Thanks guys! This is just the advice I needed to hear to kick me into buying some new shoes. Being a student I try to be careful with money as much as possible... But I guess the one thing you can't really scrimp on is something that's causing you pain.
    As I said before, make sure you get to test the shoes properly before buying them. As a student short on money you dont want to be spending money on shoes you'd have to replace because they dont seem to fit that well after all.
  • richh
    richh Posts: 187
    Bobbinogs wrote:
    Bear in mind that you can get MTB shoes with very stiff soles too. I ride in the Spesh BG Sport shoes (using the M540 pedal) and that sole is pretty good.
    +1 same as me. Very stiff. Not quite as much has carbon road shoes obviously but certain enough to provide a very solid platform.
  • racingcondor
    racingcondor Posts: 1,434
    The burning feeling sounds like you have hot spots to me. Most likely caused by your current shoe not being stiff enough. I'm sure there are plenty of stiff enough MTB shoes out there though so I don't think you need to go to a road shoe.
  • il_principe
    il_principe Posts: 9,155
    Decent inner soles are also worth looking at. SOLE make some which you heat in the oven and then mould to your feet. IME makes for happy feet.
  • essjaydee
    essjaydee Posts: 917
    I was having similar problems as the OP, so bought some £80 road shoes and LOOK Keo pedals & cleats. These where a nightmare for me and caused a lot more numbness and pain on longer rides. Played around with cleat positioning but made no difference.
    I ended up flogging them and gone back to a MTB shoe, one size larger, and SPD's and sorted now.
    I never road tested the road shoes though before buying. Do this if you can is my advice.
  • alex1rob
    alex1rob Posts: 95
    Hmm lots of good advice here... Well I ordered some Northwave from PBK based on the fact that they are a bit wider and come with good reviews. If they don't fit I"ll send them back. Just felt that they were a bargain.A pair of Northwave fighter shoes, high5 bottle with 4 free gel/powders, puncture repair kit and a power bar. £55 for the lot.

    Will let you know how I get on. Still not decided on pedals, I fancy picking up the Look Keo plus from ribble for £35. Any tips here?

    I'm drawn to the look pedals as I feel the red cleat with lots of float could be good if I have issues.