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Cleat position fore/aft can't be set right? Drill new holes?

SusecSusec Posts: 15
edited August 2017 in Road general
Hi, I am now on my 3rd pair of clipless shoes. From only just long enough to a comfortable fit. I have the same problem with all of them. At the maximum extent of my cleat (SPD-SL's) adjustment the pedal spindle is considerably behind the ball of my foot. About 1.2 cm on the left and 8-9 mm on the right. I've had the cleats professionally fitted so it's not about the angle or extent of fore/aft adjustment. The outside is more or less 3-4 mm behind, so it's the whole cleat that needs to move forwards so that the ball of my foot moves backwards to be more over the spindle. I can't get any power or even pedal normally where the cleats currently are, and I changed to this current pair of shoes with a more solid sole to try and stop my feet (especially the left) going numb.
I think (well I know) I have odd feet. They are flat even by podiatrist standards and I have to wear custom orthotics to stop my ankles rolling in. As I was born this way, I suspect my feet are relatively elongated. If you squash down on something it gets longer, right? A little bit of trig and it's possible that for my shoe size the balls of my feet are around 1cm further forward. I didn't have a problem in toe clip days, but the choice of positioning in the clips means I could move the ball of my foot backwards as much as I liked.
Given the problem, it seems that I can do either of two things. Buy a pair of shoes 2 sizes smaller and cut a hole at the front for my toes to stick out of, or drill some new holes so that my cleats locate further forward and my foot relatively backwards and vaguely over the spindle. (My orthotics make the problem worse, btw, as they0 push my feet ever so slightly forward.) Open toe shoes isn't a serious option, here ;-)
Any advice? Other solutions (not too expensive!), how should I line up drilling holes if this a the solution?

Posts

  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,089
    Try a different pedal/cleat..
  • singletonsingleton Posts: 1,689
    Susec wrote:
    I've had the cleats professionally fitted so it's not about the angle or extent of fore/aft adjustment.

    I can't get any power or even pedal normally where the cleats currently are, and I changed to this current pair of shoes with a more solid sole to try and stop my feet (especially the left) going numb.

    Given the problem, it seems that I can do either of two things. Buy a pair of shoes 2 sizes smaller and cut a hole at the front for my toes to stick out of, or drill some new holes so that my cleats locate further forward and my foot relatively backwards and vaguely over the spindle.

    Can I suggest that you go back to the place that fitted your cleats and explain the problem to them. If they can't fix it then perhaps look for somewhere else to fit your cleats.

    It's going to be hard for anyone to provide detailed and accurate advice through a forum, but attempting to do so - why not go back to quill pedals and toe clips?
  • dannbodgedannbodge Posts: 947
    Could you not try speedplay pedals?
    Do they not 2x the adjustment (mounting the adaptor to the shoe, then cleat to the adaptor)?
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    The current trend seems to be to place the cleat as far behind the ball of the foot as possible. Some people even opt to have the cleat under the MIDDLE of their foot....for INCREASED power.

    I'm not sure why you say you can't pedal with the cleats in the current position? Perhaps the cleats are fine and it's the rest of your fit that needs looking at?

    MIDFOOT-CLEAT-POSITION2-500x666.jpg
  • styxd wrote:
    The current trend seems to be to place the cleat as far behind the ball of the foot as possible. Some people even opt to have the cleat under the MIDDLE of their foot....for INCREASED power.

    I'm not sure why you say you can't pedal with the cleats in the current position? Perhaps the cleats are fine and it's the rest of your fit that needs looking at?

    MIDFOOT-CLEAT-POSITION2-500x666.jpg

    Current trend? Never seen anyone have cleats that far back before. All I can say is climbing out the saddle on them must be horrendous.
  • matudaveymatudavey Posts: 107
    As far as I know, that's not for increased power, it's for increased endurance.
    Further forward means more power from the calf (probably the weakest of leg muscles, so it fatigues quicker)
    Further back means reduced load on the calf, meaning you can go longer without calves cramping
    ...but I could be wrong.

    As for modifying shoes, I've recently been able to replace stud fixing locations using rivnuts/threadserts, where you drill a hole and rivet a threaded part into the sole, though you need to have enough padding depth in the insole to take up the depth of the insert. However, this would fix the cleat in one place, so drilling new holes may be the better option.

    A longer term thing may be to work on strengthening your feet. I've drunk the kool-aid on barefoot running and believe that flat feet are due to weakness in the foot muscles. There are cases of people dropping 3-4 shoe sizes as their feet strengthen, the arch gets higher and foot gets shorter, so maybe this approach would help. Orthotics will replace the need for strength in the arch, and make the foot more dependent on the orthotics and even weaker.


    so in summary I'd say:
    - short term
    - if you want good endurance, leave shoes as-is
    - if you want maximum sprint power - drill new holes further forward
    - long term
    - remove the orthotics, strengthen your feet and eventually fit into smaller shoes
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    styxd wrote:
    The current trend seems to be to place the cleat as far behind the ball of the foot as possible. Some people even opt to have the cleat under the MIDDLE of their foot....for INCREASED power.

    I'm not sure why you say you can't pedal with the cleats in the current position? Perhaps the cleats are fine and it's the rest of your fit that needs looking at?

    MIDFOOT-CLEAT-POSITION2-500x666.jpg

    Current trend? Never seen anyone have cleats that far back before. All I can say is climbing out the saddle on them must be horrendous.

    Yes, I think my post was confusing. Mid foot cleat position is definitely an outlier. But alot people seem to be sliding them as far back as the cleat holes allow, hence why some manufacturers are speccing the cleat holes further rearward than they used to (Giro and Shimano to name two).
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    matudavey wrote:
    As far as I know, that's not for increased power, it's for increased endurance.

    So increased power then?

    Although rearward cleat position doesn't feel "as good" for a short anaerobic effort (probably because the calves aren't as involved as you mentioned).
  • matudaveymatudavey Posts: 107
    styxd wrote:
    matudavey wrote:
    As far as I know, that's not for increased power, it's for increased endurance.

    So increased power then?

    Although rearward cleat position doesn't feel "as good" for a short anaerobic effort (probably because the calves aren't as involved as you mentioned).

    just depends what power you mean...
    Sustainable long term power increase yes
    Maximum short term power (sprint) no
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    matudavey wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    matudavey wrote:
    As far as I know, that's not for increased power, it's for increased endurance.

    So increased power then?

    Although rearward cleat position doesn't feel "as good" for a short anaerobic effort (probably because the calves aren't as involved as you mentioned).

    just depends what power you mean...
    Sustainable long term power increase yes
    Maximum short term power (sprint) no

    Yes, I agree.

    But I imagine some people (perhaps the OP) try a rearward cleat position, think it feels less powerful for short efforts and then knock it on the head. Whereas over the course of a ride, it'd possibly be beneficial. You definitely need a bit of adaptation time though.
  • matudaveymatudavey Posts: 107
    styxd wrote:
    matudavey wrote:
    styxd wrote:
    matudavey wrote:
    As far as I know, that's not for increased power, it's for increased endurance.

    So increased power then?

    Although rearward cleat position doesn't feel "as good" for a short anaerobic effort (probably because the calves aren't as involved as you mentioned).

    just depends what power you mean...
    Sustainable long term power increase yes
    Maximum short term power (sprint) no

    Yes, I agree.

    But I imagine some people (perhaps the OP) try a rearward cleat position, think it feels less powerful for short efforts and then knock it on the head. Whereas over the course of a ride, it'd possibly be beneficial. You definitely need a bit of adaptation time though.


    Yeah, I tried rearward thinking that would mean better all round rides, then thought; actually I want to race and rammed them forwards. didn't notice a thing TBH but this was only using very limited range.



    Another thing to note, though, is the range of effective leg length, shortest (top of stroke) and longest (bottom of stroke)
    Forward gives a longer effective leg length as you can plantar flex at the bottom, dorsiflex at the top (use your ankle to move your foot up and down). This means you can use a longer crank length.
    Rearward limits this due to reduced lever length, and means you might be comfortable only on shorter cranks.

    I have very short legs/femurs so need all the effective leg length i can get, even on the shortest cranks I could find. Moving cleats forward made my saddle height more appropriate. If you're tall, probably not an issue
  • SusecSusec Posts: 15
    Thanks, loads to think about. Especially that the shoe holes are changing in some brands as I might be able shop around. The guy who fitted my cleats cannot move them any more; they are absolutely as far forward as the alignment I need can go! I agree totally about strengthening my feet, but the problem is congenital/physical rather than biomechanical so I've only made enough process to stop my feet aching on long walks and limit the progression of arthritis.i can now fit a credit card under my left arch and almost 2 under the right! I have no choice in wearing orthotics to roll my feet out as I can't have the knee surgery which essentially straightened my leg again.There are no more surgical options, and just 1 mile walking causes knee pain. But there are physio options which I do use to good effect.The orthotics was impressed and have me more flexible orthotics which will help further. Strengthening your feet really is worth it. As to clear positioning, it's all about numbness, really. Although where I'm positioned now feels odd, possibly because of the odd rotation of my legs. I also have long legs 32.5" and I'm 5'7". I think this probably explains why it feels more like I'm kick starting s motorbike than pedalling. It just isn't a smooth rotation. More stepwise. I'll look at the shoes (Lakes) a bit more closely to see if I can create some new holes.
    Thanks!
  • If you move the cleats back it is possible that your feet may touch the front wheel or mudguard if you have one, when turning at slow speed. Something to check and be aware of.
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Susec wrote:
    Thanks, loads to think about. Especially that the shoe holes are changing in some brands as I might be able shop around. The guy who fitted my cleats cannot move them any more; they are absolutely as far forward as the alignment I need can go! I agree totally about strengthening my feet, but the problem is congenital/physical rather than biomechanical so I've only made enough process to stop my feet aching on long walks and limit the progression of arthritis.i can now fit a credit card under my left arch and almost 2 under the right! I have no choice in wearing orthotics to roll my feet out as I can't have the knee surgery which essentially straightened my leg again.There are no more surgical options, and just 1 mile walking causes knee pain. But there are physio options which I do use to good effect.The orthotics was impressed and have me more flexible orthotics which will help further. Strengthening your feet really is worth it. As to clear positioning, it's all about numbness, really. Although where I'm positioned now feels odd, possibly because of the odd rotation of my legs. I also have long legs 32.5" and I'm 5'7". I think this probably explains why it feels more like I'm kick starting s motorbike than pedalling. It just isn't a smooth rotation. More stepwise. I'll look at the shoes (Lakes) a bit more closely to see if I can create some new holes.
    Thanks!

    Something I missed before; if you've got both cleats pushed as far forward as they can go, then you'll struggle to spin smoothly due to the fact the ball of one foot is in a different location to the other.

    Reading your first post, it sounds like your left cleat needs to be pushed as far forward as it'll go, and your right cleat needs to be 3-4mm rearward. I'd choose a new bike fitter if they didn't spot this.
  • sungodsungod Posts: 13,227
    Susec wrote:
    ...More stepwise. I'll look at the shoes (Lakes) a bit more closely to see if I can create some new holes.
    Thanks!

    fwiw i need a lot of arch support too, i use speedplay zero, never had any issue getting the cleats where i prefer (which is spindle in line with ball of foot), but obviously they may not work the same for you

    you can drill shoes, but they need to be suitable, some bont models are ok as they use a simple tined nut on the inside, i've only had speedplay soled lakes which are a bit different in how they work, but i much prefer bont for lower weight and better mouldability

    you need to be wary of the sole profile as it is is too curved further forward then cleats wont be flush to the sole - the various speedplay clip-in shims can make it easier to match for this, other cleats you may need to improvise shims
    my bike - faster than god's and twice as shiny
  • SusecSusec Posts: 15
    Thanks, sungod, that's *really* useful.I can see exactly what you mean by the curvature and shims. And I'll look at speed play pedals - I don't currently know anything about them. I think new holes is worth a go as the shoes aren't worth much as I was using them with SPD'so before so they're used.
    I won't have problems spinning as I need to drill new holes bilaterally - both feet are as bad as each other within a few millimeters.
    To all those of you who seem to think this is the pro who fitted them's ommision/failure to spot or failure to adjust properly, you must have had some bad experiences! Do you really think a pro wouldn't have moved the cleat to its extent and lined my knee up with a laser with spacers in the shoe etc? Then stick his finger in the joint on the ball of my foot and remark that "this just isn't going to work". Everything is absolutely perfectly adjusted side to side, foot correction toe in and out for my dodgy knees. And I can tell really quickly if it isn't. But the spindle is too far back unless I start pedaling like a drunk giant. Oh, and the numb feet. There must be a lot of cowboys out there, I guess.
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