1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Clipless Pedals and Numb Feet

    Ola Everyone.

    So yeah, for the past month I've been searching this forum like crazy and trying everything everyone has said. So heres my boring story hopefully you can help me out or give me an idea.

    Me: 5' 9", 180lbs, I use the bike for DH on weekends, and commuting during the week, my commute is about 10 miles each way and its half dirt. I used to bmx bike growing up but I stopped for about 10 years total. I've never had a problem with my feet being odd shaped with any other shoe or ski boot for that matter. I have a 10.5 foot or 45 in bike shoes.

    So 2 months ago I bought one of these: costco 29er.

    and a month ago I bought these: Shimano M324 SPD Pedals - Free Shipping at REI.com
    and these: Shimano MT33L Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com


    So ever since I started this setup I've been battling with numb feet, after about 15 minutes in, my left foot starts going numb, then the right about 20 minutes in. I have learned to pedal with one foot so I can shake the other one out for a quick minute and then it is fine for about 5 minutes before it goes numb again. I noticed riding flat land (which their is not really any here) they only get lightly numb which does not bother me as much.

    Things I've tried:
    1. 4 different cleat positions in all variations on both shoes, taken tape to see where they rest on my feet without being clipped.
    2. Moved seat up and down in about 4 different spots, back and forth, and also angle.
    3. Stretched for days
    4. Different socks
    5. Swapped my running shoe insoles

    So I basically got so frustrated with these I decided to try some different shoes so last weekend I went and bought these: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek IV Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com

    I rode with those today and pretty much the same problem remains, they are not as bad as the Shimano's but still bad enough to irritate me to the point I have to stop.

    Anyone have any Ideas before I try a full road shoe? I really dont want to do this but the pain is enough to make me try anything.

  2. #2
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    it could be shoe fit... maybe the help at REI isn't that great.....

    The shoe may be too tight on the trouble foot... velcro straps is a lot more convenient than laces, imo.

    so, head down to a local bike shop and have them help you select an appropiate mtb shoe... tell them the issues you're having.

    maybe a bike fit session may be a good idea... but start with going to the bike shop first.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by tednugent View Post
    it could be shoe fit... maybe the help at REI isn't that great.....

    The shoe may be too tight on the trouble foot... velcro straps is a lot more convenient than laces, imo.

    so, head down to a local bike shop and have them help you select an appropiate mtb shoe... tell them the issues you're having.

    maybe a bike fit session may be a good idea... but start with going to the bike shop first.
    Thank you for your post,

    I've tried to keep them as loose as possible, i can actually pull out my feet from them without the laces. I got the shoes online, so I never actually got "sized" at rei.

    Our bike shops in town have not had the best rep (according to my friends at least, and when I rode bmx) I might try somewhere over in Seattle this weekend.

  4. #4
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    my feet tend to go numb if i have the top strap on my shoes to tight. the pivot of my ankle in the shoe cuts the blood flow off for some reason. so if i keep the 2 lower velcro straps somewhat snug, and the top ratchet strap just to where i don't have to use the ratchet i don't have a problem.

    you could also have bad circulation in your feet. it happens and it's a pain to find shoes that work. It took us quite awhile to find snowboard boots for my wife that didn't make her feet fall asleep within a couple of minutes of putting them on.

  5. #5
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    A couple of things:

    1) a bike shoe needs to fit snugly with a little room at the toes, similar to a boot fit. Make sure your ankle is as far back in the shoe as possible, and the shoe can't move on your foot when it is laced, but is not constricting you.

    2) That shoe (and "touring" style shoes in general) have flexy soles that do not play well with a small cleat interface. Note that your pedals do not have a recessed interface at all; 424s or the like would support your foot better and relieve the numb foot sensation you are feeling. Your only other option would be to get a stiffer soled shoe.

  6. #6
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    Is it your entire foot that goes numb or just the toes?

    If it's primarily your toes, you may want to position the cleats back behind the balls of your feet. When they're forward, you tend to mash the pedals with the front end of your feet and that creates pressure from the shoe on your toe box and numbness. With cleats set back, you'll pedal with a relatively flat foot and minimize binding from a scrunched toe box.
    Joe
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post
    Thank you for your post,

    I've tried to keep them as loose as possible, i can actually pull out my feet from them without the laces. I got the shoes online, so I never actually got "sized" at rei.
    Good thing REI has a generous return policy.....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
    A couple of things:

    1) a bike shoe needs to fit snugly with a little room at the toes, similar to a boot fit. Make sure your ankle is as far back in the shoe as possible, and the shoe can't move on your foot when it is laced, but is not constricting you.

    2) That shoe (and "touring" style shoes in general) have flexy soles that do not play well with a small cleat interface. Note that your pedals do not have a recessed interface at all; 424s or the like would support your foot better and relieve the numb foot sensation you are feeling. Your only other option would be to get a stiffer soled shoe.
    424's? I'm not sure what you mean by recessed interface either, but the cleat is below the tread if thats what you mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    Is it your entire foot that goes numb or just the toes?

    If it's primarily your toes, you may want to position the cleats back behind the balls of your feet. When they're forward, you tend to mash the pedals with the front end of your feet and that creates pressure from the shoe on your toe box and numbness. With cleats set back, you'll pedal with a relatively flat foot and minimize binding from a scrunched toe box.
    I'ts just the toes, but if I let it go long enough the entire forefoot goes numb. I've had them all the way back before, but I'll never hesitate to try something twice.
    Quote Originally Posted by tednugent View Post
    Good thing REI has a generous return policy.....
    No joke!


    Thank you all for your posts

  9. #9
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    I had this same issue as you and it was my cheap lace-up shoes. Ponied up and got a good pair of shoes with the Velcro and ratchet system and the problem went away. As the poster said above, it could be your shoes.

  10. #10
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    I think you should be looking for a more serious mountain bike shoe; any shoe that says "for walking comfort" should be avoided if you have numbness issues. A much stiffer sole may help your issue, since you're familiar with REI: Giro Carbide Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com would be one choice.

    Road/MTB shops are frequently poorly regarded by BMXers, I think it's because of the culture differences. The high end crowd tends to look down on BMX like it's something for juviniles, but since you're shopping for clipless shoes you'll fit right in to the bike shop culture. Remember, you're buying shoes not trying to start a lifelong friendship; you can put up with even a crap shop if they fit you with the proper shoe, right? It's worth a try to get in, try some stuff on, and walk out with a shoe that will help your issue. Stiff shoes are key and make sure you get an insole in the shoe. Saddle height and fit may also be causing you trouble, so watch out for that.

    I was having some toe numbness with my flat pedals so I switched to the very stiff 5.10 shoes with insoles (just Superfeet ones) and have no numbness with much better pedaling power.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    I think you should be looking for a more serious mountain bike shoe; any shoe that says "for walking comfort" should be avoided if you have numbness issues. A much stiffer sole may help your issue, since you're familiar with REI: Giro Carbide Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com would be one choice.

    Road/MTB shops are frequently poorly regarded by BMXers, I think it's because of the culture differences. The high end crowd tends to look down on BMX like it's something for juviniles, but since you're shopping for clipless shoes you'll fit right in to the bike shop culture. Remember, you're buying shoes not trying to start a lifelong friendship; you can put up with even a crap shop if they fit you with the proper shoe, right? It's worth a try to get in, try some stuff on, and walk out with a shoe that will help your issue. Stiff shoes are key and make sure you get an insole in the shoe. Saddle height and fit may also be causing you trouble, so watch out for that.

    I was having some toe numbness with my flat pedals so I switched to the very stiff 5.10 shoes with insoles (just Superfeet ones) and have no numbness with much better pedaling power.
    Thank you for the helpful post. I might just have to step up to the stiff shoe, that makes alot of sense to me.

    I got a local bike shop here that a friend suggested to me that was a split off of the other company in town so I'm going to go check them out today. Thanks again.

  12. #12
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    I'm having the same issue as the OP, but my toes don't get numb in my left foot until abut 40 minutes into a ride. my setup is some old (2001) specializes mountain comp shoes - for those in the know, YES! they are the bright yellow ones! - and some equally old welgo pedals. the shoes seem very stiff, and the pedals very small. could any of this be due to a small pedal surface area? would pedals with the platform around them help? thanks!

    OP, sorry for the semi-hijack!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by akaHector View Post
    I'm having the same issue as the OP, but my toes don't get numb in my left foot until abut 40 minutes into a ride. my setup is some old (2001) specializes mountain comp shoes - for those in the know, YES! they are the bright yellow ones! - and some equally old welgo pedals. the shoes seem very stiff, and the pedals very small. could any of this be due to a small pedal surface area? would pedals with the platform around them help? thanks!

    OP, sorry for the semi-hijack!
    If your shoe is stiff enough then it doesn't matter if you have a platform around it or not. Your shoe should not rest on the platform of a pedal while clipped in; the small platforms surrounding pedals are made for non-clipped in riding, and they're pretty abhorrent at that task as well.

    My first question would be whether or not you've ever been assessed for insoles. You can't do anything with your feet until they've been stabilized. You have have the stiffest shoe in the world but if your foot is allowed to, say, pronate then you'll always have an inherent imbalance in the pressure to the bottom of your foot. Once you stabilize your foot then you can start to work out where the pressure causing the numbness is coming from. This is also advice for the OP which I just thought of now.

    Also, everything wears out, maybe it's time to consider new shoes.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by akaHector View Post
    OP, sorry for the semi-hijack!
    I'll take anything I can get at this point!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post
    I'll take anything I can get at this point!
    Push the cleats all the way back in the slots....

    Spin don't hammer....

    Wear thicker socks to keep pressure off the viens and nerves...if the shoe has room.

  16. #16
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    You might want to consider something like the G-form bike shoe gel - in theory it helps eliminate hotspots from cleats that may cause numbing.

    Bike Shoe Gel - G-Form LLC

    They also do a full shoe insert.

  17. #17
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    I went to my LBS and picked up a set of these: Shimano M087G Mountain Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com So I'll see how those do tonight.

    Thanks again for all your helps.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post
    I went to my LBS and picked up a set of these: Shimano M087G Mountain Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com So I'll see how those do tonight.

    Thanks again for all your helps.
    Definitely an improvement, don't forget the footbeds if you need them.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Definitely an improvement, don't forget the footbeds if you need them.
    I'm going to go to those if this still gives me fits. Any word on how long I should allow for a "Break in" of these bad boys?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post
    I had a similar pair of Shimano shoes. Very comfortable off the bike, very painful on the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post

    So I basically got so frustrated with these I decided to try some different shoes so last weekend I went and bought these: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek IV Bike Shoes - Men's - Free Shipping at REI.com

    I rode with those today and pretty much the same problem remains, they are not as bad as the Shimano's but still bad enough to irritate me to the point I have to stop.
    I solved the problem by going with the X-Alps. I love these shoes, but I did end up with a size larger than I normally wear. Obviously it didn't work for you, so YMMV.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    If your shoe is stiff enough then it doesn't matter if you have a platform around it or not. Your shoe should not rest on the platform of a pedal while clipped in; the small platforms surrounding pedals are made for non-clipped in riding, and they're pretty abhorrent at that task as well.

    My first question would be whether or not you've ever been assessed for insoles. You can't do anything with your feet until they've been stabilized. You have have the stiffest shoe in the world but if your foot is allowed to, say, pronate then you'll always have an inherent imbalance in the pressure to the bottom of your foot. Once you stabilize your foot then you can start to work out where the pressure causing the numbness is coming from. This is also advice for the OP which I just thought of now.

    Also, everything wears out, maybe it's time to consider new shoes.
    I have never had any kind of insole assessment, but I have noticed that the arch of my left foot has dropped sometime over the past few years. I've had superfeet before in my hiking boots, so I'll give them a try first unless there s a more cycling-friendly insole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Airpoppoff View Post
    I'm going to go to those if this still gives me fits. Any word on how long I should allow for a "Break in" of these bad boys?
    The uppers will break in after a few rides. I'm very sweaty so I break things in very quickly. The sole shouldn't break in at all, that's what you get with a stiff sole.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

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    Quote Originally Posted by akaHector View Post
    I have never had any kind of insole assessment, but I have noticed that the arch of my left foot has dropped sometime over the past few years. I've had superfeet before in my hiking boots, so I'll give them a try first unless there s a more cycling-friendly insole.
    That's what I use currently. I don't find them supportive enough for my ski boots but they seem to work well in my cycling shoes.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    That's what I use currently. I don't find them supportive enough for my ski boots but they seem to work well in my cycling shoes.
    I use specialized insoles

    used to use superfeet

  25. #25
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    Hope you get this worked out. jeffscott gives good advice on technique. Spin, don't hammer. No one told (taught) me how to use clipless and it was a 'revelation' when I realized I could 'pull' back on the pedals at the 6:00 location and it really helped when I learned how to pull up on the pedals on the upstroke...gives my quads a chance to 'relax' a bit.

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