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Moved my cleats back, now what? (long)(6 posts)

Moved my cleats back, now what? (long)Steve Davis
Oct 26, 2001 7:15 PM
I've had persistent pain in my feet after rides of 50 miles or more. Problem is, I've got long, narrow feet and have a real tough time getting shoes to fit. Most often, my big toe goes numb where it touches the tip of the shoe.

So far, I've dumped a lot of cash into Carnac Ellipse (size 48), Sidi Genius 3 (size 48) among others. Unfortunately, my feet float all over the place in the Sidi size 49 and most other companies don't make bigger shoes. I've also had custom orthotics made and they gave me ITB syndrome after another $150.

Anyway, I recently bought a special shoe stretcher that stretches the length (not the width) of the shoes. After using a hair dryer to heat up the mesh on the shoes, the stretcher really seems to have worked! I no longer feel my toes hitting the end of my Carnacs.

Today I did a long ride and was disapointed to find my toes going numb again. All this time I thought the problem was due to poor shoe fit and not cleat position. As a result, I'm going to move my cleats a bit farther back as many posters here have suggested for this problem (This will result in my cleats being a bit behind the ball of my feet). I wonder though if I now need to adjust my overall fit on the bike? Is it necessary to make any changes in saddle height and/or fore/aft positioning?

BTW, I use Campy Pro Fit pedals and have used Look and SPDs in the past with the same problems.

Thanks for any input.

re: Moved my cleats back, now what? (long)jacques
Oct 27, 2001 2:55 AM
Cleat position studies have pretty well established that pedaling forces change very little or none with changes in fore-aft cleat position. However, these studies have also shown that riders develop a "favorite position" very quickly and feel extremely uncomfortable at first with such fore-aft cleat position changes.

My experience bears this out. I rode for 15 years with my Look cleats slammed back towards the heel as far as they would go. A few years ago I decided to adopt a more moderate stance and centered the cleats in the neutral fore-aft position. For the first few miles I felt very uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, the cleat position issue was totally forgotten.

Apparently the body will make some minor biomechanical modifications to compensate for a new cleat position. I suggest moving your cleats to the rear and changing nothing else.
re: Moved my cleats back, now what? (long)Andy M-S
Oct 27, 2001 4:22 AM

I also have long, narrow feet (13B) and I've found the best shoes for me are a couple of pair of Nike Gabuche Dues I picked up last year. They're marked as "14" but Nike sizes run small, and they fit perfectly. They have plenty of toe room, and I don't find that I float around in them.

I have a somewhat used pair of these that I could let you have for cheap, if you wanted to try 'em...

If you're interested in any details on these, please contact me at
ThanksSteve Davis
Oct 29, 2001 6:45 AM
Thanks for your offer. I think that the shoe stretcher I bought has fixed the shoe size problem so I won't have to take you up on your offer. Thanks though. It's tough having narrow feet, isn't it? I read that Sidi is coming out with a narrow model similar to their MEGA shoe for wide feet. Good news although I don't want to spend any more money on shoes that's for sure.
A dumb question but could it callouses?McAndrus
Oct 27, 2001 9:51 AM
First a bit of history. I started cycling seriously in the early 90s as a touring rider. I think I was the last kid on my block to go clipless: I rode with touring shoes and toe clips.

Eventually I switched to SPD pedals with Sidi Dominator MTB shoes. When you're a touring rider, walking is a big deal and the small cleat of SPD helped a lot.

A couple of years ago I started getting serious about road riding. So, I switched shoes and got a pair of low-end Northwave shoes.

Almost immediately I developed foot pain. First I blamed the shoes. Since I liked the Sidi MTB shoes so much I bought a pair of Sidi Genius shoes which I absolutely love.

But my feet still hurt. So, I switched pedals - from SPD to Campy Pro-Fit. And my feet still hurt.

Now I was thinking of going to a doctor. After ten years of riding why would my feet start hurting, sometimes so much I had to stop riding? But you know the drill, a doctor's advice would be to stop cycling.

One evening while watching TV, I noticed large callouses on the balls of both of my feet. When I pressed them hard, my feet hurt - Bingo!

So I experimented with callous pads and such. I've settled on a callous dissolving medicine I buy over the counter. I apply it every other day or so and in the morning I peel off a little bit of callous that builds up.

And now I am pain free.

This probably isn't your problem because I suspect you've already checked this. But you mentioned the numbness and pain developing from shoes being too short.

I've had that same kind of pain and it was at the same time as the callous pain. Now that the callouses are gone, the toe pain is gone as well.

My feet are 11B but I usually wear 10C shoes because you show me where I can buy 11B shoes and I'll be there. I think after decades of wearing too-short shoes I've sort of gotten used to it.
A dumb question but could it callouses?Steve Davis
Oct 29, 2001 6:51 AM
Wow, wish it was that easy to fix. Actually, I did have a similar problem years ago and know how much a callous can hurt on the ball of the feet. I think the problem arises because the callouses grow so slowly that you hardly notice it until its a real problem. Glad you found a solution to your problem.