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Just interested to hear if anybody else is using a mid foot cleat position & their reasons for doing so? I've had terrible knee problems for years, due to over pronation & basically faffing with cleat positioning & different pedal systems.. I have seen a guy twice over the past year & he recommended cleat wedges & orthotics, along with a bike fit, which I went ahead with. I've had my bikes on the turbo & been trying to fine tune my cleat position for about two weeks now & I'm getting fed up with being unable to get a comfortable set up. So I've been doing a bit of googling & come across quite a lot of information about mid foot cleat positioning & this link in particular is very interesting & seems quite in depth. https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/04/power-to-the-pedal-... . I use shimano mtb, spd's for all my bikes & I'm thinking of putting the cleat as far back as it will go. My thinking is, if I have the cleat set further back, will this mean I should eliminate the over pronation in my feet? & I will have to drop my saddle to compensate for lack of heel drop in a mid foot cleat position? Any advice would be appreciated thanks..  1

smuggers..

23 comments

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Welsh boy [340 posts] 3 years ago
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It does not seem very convincing to me for 2 main reasons. The first is that you only have to look at the professional riders who will try anything to give them a slight advantage over the competition, do you see ANY of them using that position? No. That tells me that it cant be beneficial in any way or in any given condition. The second reason is that if you jump on your bike with non cycling shows on, where do you naturally position your foot? I doubt very much if it is in the mid foot position (unless you ride like the local drunk coming home from the pub after a skinful). But, if it works for you, go with it.

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Jezzag [41 posts] 3 years ago
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I haven't gone quite that far but did follow Steve Hogg's advice and shift the cleats further back than I had before. It certainly feels beneficial but you need to measure carefully and ensure you get it right.

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kcr [154 posts] 3 years ago
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One of my club mates did a lot of work on this (modifying shoe soles to fit cleats mid sole, etc) and he was convinced he got an advantage from it. Joe Friel has investigated it as well, and uses it himself:
http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2011/03/midsole-bike-cleat-running-performa...
The conventional cleat position is used by most people because that's just how shoes are made, and mid sole might cause front wheel toe overlap for some people.
No harm in having a go, but you will probably have to do a bit of DIY on your shoes.

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smuggers [31 posts] 3 years ago
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Thanks for the replies guys.. I know lot's of Triathletes use the mid foot cleat position, because it's been proven to beneficial for the run after the effort on the bike. My situation is different & relates to my over pronation at the forefoot, my right foot being quite bad and I have three wedges under this cleat.. I'm just thinking if I set the position further back, I would eliminate some of the over pronation I get from a more traditional cleat position? I no longer ride competitively, so I'm not to fussed about the pros & cons of the mid foot cleat position..I just want to be able to ride more regularly without knee pain..I've not ridden for 5 days, due to pain in both knee's..I've not been pushing that hard really, concentrating more on cadence due to the stop start nature of my cycling at the moment.. Thanks for the link kcr.. It certainly gets you thinking..

Smuggers...

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mtbtomo [221 posts] 3 years ago
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I have the cleats pushed as far back as they will go on every set of shoes I have - road or mtb. It seems the only way to get the cleat just behind the centre of the ball of my foot. I just can't imagine having cleats further forward and feeling like I'm pedalling with my toes

I've recently been having knee problems (well, right knee only) with the road pedals, which I've only been using for about 6 months. Gone back to mtb spd's seems to have alleviated the problem, so I can only presume the increased float is what I need. I've got some Speedplays to try.

I would have thought a comfortable cleat position would help you ride further and faster, regardless of what the pro's do.

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Nick T [1037 posts] 3 years ago
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Under the big toe joint is best, but most people are spectacularly wrong at judging where that point is when they've got shoes on. So, too far back being the lesser evil than too far forwards, try sliding them back. I don't buy this "mid foot" position theory though, any more than I buy into padded trainers that encourage runners to heel strike.

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BBB [447 posts] 3 years ago
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Pros don't use it so it can't be beneficial (just like 25mm tyres a few years back)  3

Let's not confuse assumptions with evidence.

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Hammer [10 posts] 2 years ago
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Hey Smuggers,

How is the midsole cleat thing working out for you?

I have been using midsole cleats for three years now due to an old leg injury and it is the only thing that allows me to ride.
Works great on the road bike, but can be a bit of a back jolter on the rigid mountainbikes on rough terrain. (just have to remember to keep the old knees bent).

As for the comment about no pros using midsole cleats... Susanne Ljungskog from Sweden won the World Championships using midsole cleats...

I just got a pair of custom shoes delivered from luck.es for 113 euro with midsole cleat attachments. I run an extreme midsole, 62-63mm behind the normal position....

http://youtu.be/aJ-ssX4QjSc

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Hammer [10 posts] 2 years ago
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I made a plate up that allowed me to play around with the position during a bike fit... and once happy with everything I used the plate as a template to drill my existing shoes...
To date I have modified three pairs of shoes myself, one for MTB and two pairs for road, I use 2 bolt SPD/MTB cleats on them all but recently switched to crank brothers SL road pedals and cleats for the addes lateral stability.

But as luck.es were so easy to deal with and actually drill and fit the cleat plates before assembling the shoes, plus offer a warranty, I will never modify my own shoes again.

Here's a piccie of my "old" spare (hardly used) shoes and the adapter plate and one that luck sent me during the discussion phase of my custom order.

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DrJDog [399 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd guess two reasons the pros don't use it are

i) the front wheel overlap with a short wheelbase
ii) out of saddle efforts are better with a ball of foot position
iii) they're used to it.

Remember Wiggo and Froome started using oval chainrings when they used incorrect power meter data to prove that that was more efficient. I don't doubt some pros have tried shifting the cleats..

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massspike [139 posts] 2 years ago
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Welsh boy wrote:

...do you see ANY of them using that position? No. ...

Adam Hansen...and he's only finished the last 10 grand tours.

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Jimmy Ray Will [614 posts] 2 years ago
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The 'problem' with mid sole cleat set up is the same as one of the benefits courted by the triathletes that use it... namely that it reduces the utilisation of the calf muscles for pedaling.

That's great when it comes to constant efforts, but less cool when trying to accelerate hard or generate a large amount of pedal force for a short period. Then you want to be able to use as many muscles as you can.

So that's why you won't see many pros use the system.

I'm interested to learn more about the knee problems generated through over-pronation of fore foot. I can't help but feel there are alternative solutions to the challenges faced than currently explored.

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massspike [139 posts] 2 years ago
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If you actually read Steve Hogg's material, he explains the logic behind mid-sole and it is not that radical. Note: mid sole is not under the arch like Hammer's setup (and Hogg recommends against that). His argument is you will lose on short burst power but gain in endurance since your calf muscles aren't working as hard to stabilize the foot.

I will also question the claim that the pros aren't following his approach. After all pros are his customers. If you look at the peleton a bit closer, you will notice a number of them with a Hansen type foot position.

IMHO: Hogg has some strange ideas (e.g. magnets) but overall I do like his rationalized approach. I particularly liked recognizing the difference between your knee and ankle/hip joints when setting up your cleats (knee is a hinge, ankle/hip are ball-and-socket).

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Simmo72 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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I have my cleats all the way back. How far back really varies a lot my manufacturer. e.g Specialized ok. Time and lake were poor. Maybe its down to each model. I'm using Bont riot shoes they have a generous set back. Its not mid foot but its taking the theory as far as you can without drilling holes. Much more comfortable for me.

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Hammer [10 posts] 2 years ago
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I live in Sweden only 30 mnutes away from Susanne Ljungskogs trainer, who also runs a bikefit business, so I went to him for my bikefit, he said that quite a few pros (that try it out) settle for around 15mm further back than normal, and that 25-35 is a more common figure (for triathletes) he settled on setting me at 45mm.... but I had problems with that as I have no calf muscle (only 25%) on my right leg, so after struggling with the 45mm setup for 2000km I went back to 62mm which works for me..

Toe overlap isn't an issue as you learn pretty quickly to deal with it when moving slowly, but the first ride is a bit scary when you hit your foot...

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notfastenough [3718 posts] 2 years ago
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I didn't click on this before as the title didn't sound like something I could contribute to. However, now I've actually read the rest...

I quit my cycling as a kid due to knee pain. My BCF coach and his physio couldn't work out the problem, and I got disillusioned. Fast forward nearly 20 years and a few people told me that biomechanics and cycling kit had progressed markedly, so I did my research, bought products I thought were right, and got back on the bike. After a bikefit from a guy in Lancashire (NJD Sports clinic, if you can get to his location) who specialises in the foot/pedal interface, it's all good and I can ride hard and regularly.

In a nutshell, I over-pronate to the tune of about 5mm, have externally-rotated hips, and *did* have a mild muscular imbalance.

Firstly, I'd ask whether SPDs are right for you. I can't get on with them, it seems as if the pedal wants to dictate where my foot should be. I use Speedplays because the free-float allows my foot to go where it wants. Once you get over the initial "ooh I'm on ice skates" feeling, you forget about it.

Secondly, I'd recommend Specialized Body Geometry shoes. One of the upshots of their unfortunate keenness with the legal eagles is that the technique of building a small amount of over-pronation into the shoe is a patented innovation, so only they do it. (You could go with the semi-custom approach from Luck though - very swish without the eye-watering cost of full custom). This means that you get 1.5mm of over-pronation 'free' in that it doesn't impact the amount of space in your shoe or the stack height between sole and pedal.

I then add a set of varus wedges under the insole for another 1.5mm, and a set of cleat wedges for another 1.5mm (theoretically, as this would be measured at the innermost point on the shoe, just inwards of the ball of the foot). I use the maximum-support Body Geometry insole (the +++) to support the arch.

I don't use my normal custom orthotic insoles in my cycling shoes, because they go from heel to mid-foot, and that's fine because walking and running are heel-posted exercises, whereas cycling is forefoot-posted so all the above are more relevant.

Hope this helps you in some way, I didn't have to go as far as drilling new cleat holes or fitting axle extenders for the pedals. Let me know if you want any more info.

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smuggers [31 posts] 2 years ago
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Hammer wrote:

Hey Smuggers,

How is the midsole cleat thing working out for you?

I have been using midsole cleats for three years now due to an old leg injury and it is the only thing that allows me to ride.
Works great on the road bike, but can be a bit of a back jolter on the rigid mountainbikes on rough terrain. (just have to remember to keep the old knees bent).

As for the comment about no pros using midsole cleats... Susanne Ljungskog from Sweden won the World Championships using midsole cleats...

I just got a pair of custom shoes delivered from luck.es for 113 euro with midsole cleat attachments. I run an extreme midsole, 62-63mm behind the normal position....

http://youtu.be/aJ-ssX4QjSc

Hello Hammer.. I'm pleased you've found a way to ride without pain..I shall definitely take a look at the custom shoes you've linked to, with the midsole cleat attachments.. Most of my problems come from my deformed feet..I have had bike fits, cleat wedging & custom orthotics made, all at great expense..I'm now using 20mm pedal extenders and they seem to have helped..I'm thinking of moving my cleats further back & doing away with my cleat wedges, but keeping my orthotics in my shoes.

Would I be right in saying I'd have to drop my saddle height if I did move my cleats further back, to compensate for reduced ankling at the ankle joint?

I think some of my problems are age related & from all the riding & running I did in my 20's & 30's.. I had very strong legs and this helped keep stability in my knee joints.. I'm now working my legs in the gym, along with stretching, yoga & using the foam roller..All helping btw.

My original post wasn't to ask which cleat position was more efficient.. Yes the cleat just behind the ball of the foot is the norm for most people..But I'm not like most people & my problems are more to do with poor bio mechanics & my foot type..

Can I just ask you Hammer about your knees over the pedal spindle at 3 & 9.. Do you use the same method as a forefoot cleat position...i.e. plumb line dropped from the front of the knee & plumb line passing through the pedal axle?

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smuggers [31 posts] 2 years ago
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Hammer wrote:

I made a plate up that allowed me to play around with the position during a bike fit... and once happy with everything I used the plate as a template to drill my existing shoes...
To date I have modified three pairs of shoes myself, one for MTB and two pairs for road, I use 2 bolt SPD/MTB cleats on them all but recently switched to crank brothers SL road pedals and cleats for the addes lateral stability.

But as luck.es were so easy to deal with and actually drill and fit the cleat plates before assembling the shoes, plus offer a warranty, I will never modify my own shoes again.

Here's a piccie of my "old" spare (hardly used) shoes and the adapter plate and one that luck sent me during the discussion phase of my custom order.

Just curious to how you're going on with the modified Luck shoes.. Just watched your youtube video & would be interested to know your thoughts on the new shoes?

Kind Regards..

Smuggers.

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bigmel [116 posts] 2 years ago
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I have used my SPD cleats pushed as far back as possible for the very reasons mentioned about mid-sole positioning. Been doing it for years for all the reasons you found.
Don't be fooled by convention or fashion.
Pro's use 27mm tyres for the Cobbled Classics . . . but I get stick for having 28mm tyres on my winter bike !

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Hammer [10 posts] 2 years ago
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Hi Smuggers,

The luck shoes are stiff, light and comfortable, also cheap. OK, not cheap as cheap shoes, but cheap for what you get.
So far I am very happy, will they still be going strong after 10 000km's like my self modified SIDI's... don't know.
But at 113euro including the postage it's a no brainer to order a replacement pair.

As for your question about saddle height, yes... you lower the saddle to offset the lack of ankling you no longer do... and the handlebars... this makes you more aero too (not that it's important for me, but free speed is free speed.

When Klas did my bikefit he set my cleats ate 45mm back, and set the saddle position so my knee was 15mm behind the pedal spindle... (if I remember correctly, it might have been IN FRONT but it was 15mm...) I would have to get on the bike to double check the numbers. After I went back to my preferred 62mm I slid my saddle forward as far as it would go to compensate... it's always going to be a trade-off when you have got gimpy legs or feet and midsole is the saviour...

From what I can gather there are only a few significant names in the midsole cleat position world..

Gotz Heine, Steve Hogg, Joe Friel and Klas Johansson... they are part of an inner circle that understand it fully.... Götz Heine makes custom shoes that are both expensive and butt ugly... but obviously excellent... Biomac something or other..
But all of the above guys are easily accessable and happy to answer questions.

Take care,

Hammer.

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jmoleary [1 post] 2 years ago
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For anyone who rides Speedplay cleats and wants to get a more midfoot position, Speedplay offers a cleat-extender baseplate kit that lets you get an additional 14mm rearward positioning. But you have to order it specially. Just google "Speedplay Cleat Extender Baseplate Kit" and you'll find it.

I use it on all my Speedplay shoes. Love it.

One caveat though -- it's only for shoes that need the baseplate in the first place. That is, 3 hole shoes. If you have a pair of shoes that are specifically drilled for speedplay cleats with 4 holes, you cannot use this. I actually got rid of a pair of Speedplay specific shoes just so I could buy a 3-hole variety and use this plate.

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manmachine [102 posts] 2 years ago
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I started back in the late spring after having continuous knee issues for about 3 months prior. Since moving the cleats further back on my shoe, I have had no issues at all.

It's whatever works for A specific rider. There is no absolute fit setting. Anyone who subscribes to an absolute is naive. You entire bike setup depends upon each persons physical attributes. Certain deviations will typically be the optimal setup.

The mid foot position makes sense to me anyway, when you think about platform pedals and how your naturally covers more of the pedal body.
It may not be the "ideal" text-book setting, but if it alleviates pain and-or is a more productive setup, then that is what one should do.

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CeltaWarrior [2 posts] 1 month ago
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