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Is the heel ever lower than the ball of foot while pedaling?(12 posts)

Is the heel ever lower than the ball of foot while pedaling?Fez
Dec 4, 2003 5:34 PM
The previous thread and link on Time Impact pedals got me thinking about whether the heel was ever lower than the ball of the foot during the pedaling motion.

Here is the link.

It appears in this animated picture that the heel is always a little higher throughout the entire circle.

Alternatively, I have seen some folks have the heel lower at the lowest point (6:00) position. Any advantage to either pedal style?
Back............Mike Tea
Dec 4, 2003 5:58 PM the 1980s two racers in N.America used to knock the living s#it out of each other every week and they traded wins back & forth. One, Davis Phinney, looked like he was on tippy-toes when he pedaled and the other, Canadian bulldog Steve Bauer had heels always below the horizon. He used gobs of hamstring power to get the job done.

Those two riders had completely contrasting styles but both were good enough to win stages of the TDF.

Pedal naturally Fez. Never give it another thought. Just make sure your saddle's at the right height.
Dec 4, 2003 6:11 PM
I am somewhere in the middle of those 2 extremes. It works well for me.

In theory, does that mean the "toe-down" rider may have the saddle set a little higher than the "heels-down" rider?
Back............Woof the dog
Dec 5, 2003 1:33 AM
mine is significantly higher because I always pedal toes down, and we are talking probably over a centimeter difference here. I don't know if its good or not, but if i drop the seat down, i still want to pedal toes down so that becomes stressfull on the knees. I don't know if its right or wrong, but I can tell you this stuff is not holding me back in races.

woof the cat
I have benefited from the 'heel down' ....coonass
Dec 4, 2003 6:03 PM
and another article under "1.Climbing":
re: Is the heel ever lower than the ball of foot while pedaling?russw19
Dec 5, 2003 12:58 AM
Some riders may claim they get more power from a heel down position, but usually it is associated with fatigue. For 90% of cyclists, when you get tired you start to drop your heels and sway your hips to try to generate more power from the pedal stroke. If you watch some footage from long stage races you will often see that happen to riders on long breaks. You may often notice the anouncers pick up on this as well as they will comment that the rider looks tired when they see this.

However, a time when many riders also tend to drop their heel is while climbing.. again, trying to generate more power.

Im toe down...funknuggets
Dec 5, 2003 8:56 AM
Despite efforts to change, I think for whatever reason, either my genetics or calf shape has pretty much forced me into a toe down. I consisitenly try and focus on this, but has proven to be a detriment to my power and pedaling efficiency to this point. So, I only go heel down when I "think" about it, but when I really ride to ride fast, I ride toe down. It has given me relatively big calves!!!

maybe cleat position causes that?Fez
Dec 5, 2003 9:29 AM
If your cleat is mounted more forward, that might promote more toe down pedaling and also result in a pedaling motion that develops huge calf muscles.
good thought...funknuggets
Dec 5, 2003 2:24 PM
I thought of that, but Im real stalwart on the pedal axle crossing just below the ball of my feet, cause when I move it further back it starts to hurt in my knees and arches (residual from 10 years competitive distance running). I've messed around quite a bit with it and still cant find a reliable heel down position. I do have really high calves, though and Im not sure if that has anything to do with it. My entire calves reside, even when relaxed, on the top half of my tibia/fibula, as opposed to many I have seen that go toe down have longer calves. Not sure if we are talking the chicken or the egg, maybe they got longer calves from riding heel down, heck... I dont know... all I know is that riding heel down, regardless of higher or lower saddle positioning is insanely hard for me.

Ill vote on genetics.

Way back whenbimini
Dec 5, 2003 11:08 AM
I used straps & rat trap pedals the style was to use your ankles and be toe down on the bottom of the stroke and toe up at the top. You used your ankles to add motion and compensate for foot motion on the pedals.

Today with your feet bolted solidly onto the pedals, most folks go toe slightly down all around. I have found when I am focusing on even power throughout the circle to increase top end TT speeds I can get more speed out of the bike with this technique coupled with a cadence of 100-110+.

When I am just riding, I mix it up and use the toe down with little ankle motion and then at times go back to pedaling with the ankles.

Up hills when sitting I use toe slightly down with high cadence. Up hills standing, I use the ankles and a lower cadence to minimize the amount of up and down body movement and to work other less used muscles.

It's a matter of what works for you.
Dec 5, 2003 3:19 PM
I was wondering about this very question not long ago. I tried messing around with saddle height and position to get a heel-down position because someone told me this was the correct, efficient way to pedal. But I found that it gave me a big dead spot in my pedal stroke, and as I worked to correct it and still go heels-down, I couldn't pedal with a good RPM. Frustrated, I went back to toes-down. I'm glad to see that people vary their styles or just go with what works. But I am amazed at people who can pedal heels-down, at a good cadence, in good circles!
re: Is the heel ever lower than the ball of foot while pedaling?aaroncvc
Dec 6, 2003 10:41 AM
you should never be "dropping your heal". as someone has already pointed out, it's a sign of only having a downstroke. whether it's because of an inefficient pedalling style, or because of fatique, it's wrong.