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  1. #1
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    Cleat Positioning

    For the last 15 years since I've been riding clipless, I've always had the cleat set up so the ball of my foot was over the center of the pedal, and never thought much of it. After a few miles, my feet would start to go numb, but I would keep riding, that was how it was. The other night, I stumbled across a thread somewhere that said you should move your cleats as far back as possible to get a more powerful stroke, it also said it would relieve numbness. It stated that the cleat position was forward because that's how the foot was positioned when riders wore toeclips. I decided to try it out with my road bike first. It felt a little odd at first being so far forward on the pedals. But after 7 miles, my feet didn't go numb once, there was something to this! Samething on the 7 miles home, no numbness. That night I took out the MTB shoes and slid those cleats all the way back too. Mind you, you need to raise the seat a little if you do this, and maybe slide it back a little too. I am eager to try it out in the trails and see how it feels. Not going numb is a wonderful thing for a change.
    Just wondering if anybody else has tried this out and what results they had.

  2. #2
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    I just made the switch to clipless pedals today(a first for me). I just got back from a ride, no falls yet but several close calls!
    I tried placing the cleats centered on the ball of my foot and it just doesn't feel natural to me. I think I may end up moving mine back regardless if there is performance penalty. I'd rather have comfort while riding... after all I'm in this to have fun.

  3. #3
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    I wouldn't immediately jump on moving them as far back as possible (just personal opinion) but it is a definite solution if you are riding long distances or getting hotfoot.

  4. #4
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    I've experienced what you are describing. For a while I had my cleats back a little behind the ball of my feet but definitely not as far back as the show would permit. Personally I would make smaller incremental adjustments. However, after a bike fit my cleats are back below the ball of my feet in order to put the pressure on my skeletal structure rather than muscles and tendons. If a rider's foot it going numb, its possible a stiffer shoe will help that. A pedal with a larger platform may also help.

  5. #5
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    If you move your cleats toward a mid-foot cleat position you need to lower your seat. Look up steve Hogg and mid-foot cleat postion. At one time Joe Friel was an advocate.

  6. #6
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    Cleat position

    I did a quick 14 mile ride this morning, and my feet never went numb, so for me at least moving the cleats back is a positive thing. What I was reading also stated that by moving the cleats to the rear you use thigh muscles more than calf muscles, and that creates a more powerful stroke. I found my speed was up and my legs were just fine at the end of the ride. The information stated that for mountain biking there should be a noticable difference since we tend to pull up on the pedals more so that road riders. Especially on hills. It will probably be a a week before I can hit the trail for my own test, but it sounds promising. I'd suggest trying moving the cleats back and see if it works for you. If your feet go numb or tingle, you should definetly try it, since it seems to cure that problem if nothing else!

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    14 miles home from work with no numbness in the feet, and had a good strong pace going. As far as I'm concerned, moving the cleats to the rear makes a positive difference. At least on a road bike. I'm eager to notice an improvement on the trail. I'll advise once I've tested it in the woods.

  8. #8
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    Same for me. In last 5 yrs my feet go numb in 20-30min no matter what kind of shoe. I was fitted by LBS and my cleats are all the way forwar mounted in the rear 2 holes (SPD's). I will give the adjustment a try. It could be the padding too.

  9. #9
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    When I did use clipless I found running the cleats all the way back was an improvement toward comfort. The other cause of numb feet is strapping/lacing your shoes too tight.
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  10. #10
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    I might just be me, but in my new clipless shoes my feet went numb on the drive to the trail. It was just a matter of loosening the laces and straps a bit. Easy fix.
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  11. #11
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    I guess I should have mentioned that I already had my cleats all the way back. That seemed to line up with where my feet naturally fell on the pedal.
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  12. #12
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    I had a professional fitting (lasers, DV cameras and crap like that) back in 2010, and made note of the cleat position from the fitting… I’ve since set up the same cleat position on my latest pair of shoes. The ball of my foot is ever so slightly in front of the centerline of the cleat position.
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  13. #13
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    I saw this, tried it now I stick to it

  14. #14
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    Pedaling style plays a part in cleat position also, heels down move the cleat back. a more forward position for heels up.

  15. #15
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    My feet goes numb sometimes. The thing about clipless shoes is you always have to keep them very tight on your feet otherwise you will lose pedal efficiency if you allow some play in the shoe.

  16. #16
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    I moved mine back, but for a different reason. I used to run them right under the ball of the foot like the OP, but a few years ago when I started getting more into the FR end of the sport (drops and jumps) I moved them back to alleviate the stress on my ankles from landing.

  17. #17
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    Hello,

    Reviving an old thread. I got to this thread as part of my research to find a clipless shoe that allows to mount the cleat further back than traditional shoes. I am looking at positioning it about a centimeter behind the ball of the foot as explained in the video above.

    I found a review on the Five Ten Maltese Falcon shoes that mentions the posibility of locating the cleat further back than traditional clipless shoes

    Review: Five Ten Maltese Falcon SPD Compatible Shoes

    Can anybody using these shoes confirm whether this is correct?

    Thanks

  18. #18
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    When I switched to flat clipless pedals I was doing a short race and thought I would switch back to cliipped I couldn't do it. It felt so unnatural that I had to switch back. I think the only way I could go back to clips is if I went with a true mid-foot cleat position. Flats have been fine. The only complaint I have is pedal strikes. Flats are alot bigger. I think I will fix by going with shorter crankarms

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiciMapas View Post
    Can anybody using these shoes confirm whether this is correct?

    Thanks
    I have the Maltese Race and the slots seem to be a fair bit longer than most shoes.

    also, since this is such a specific question in the end of an ancient thread, you might get better answers if you start a thread in the appareal and protection forum.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    I have the Maltese Race and the slots seem to be a fair bit longer than most shoes.

    also, since this is such a specific question in the end of an ancient thread, you might get better answers if you start a thread in the appareal and protection forum.
    Thanks for the reply. Can you measure the slot length please?

    Its a good idea to post in that sub forum (too many sub forums)

  21. #21
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    measured about 1 1/4" or 31.5mm on the Maltese Race.

    for comparison, my Giro Carbide slots are 27.5mm and I have some old Shimano shoes that are also about 27.5mm.

  22. #22
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    I measured my clipless shoes as well. I have Shimano, Bontrager and Specialized shoes and they measure about an inch each. Another pair of Merida are a bit longer maybe about 28 mm.

    So it seems the Maltese race have longer slots indeed.

    Thank you

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdunha View Post
    When I switched to flat clipless pedals I was doing a short race and thought I would switch back to cliipped I couldn't do it. It felt so unnatural that I had to switch back. I think the only way I could go back to clips is if I went with a true mid-foot cleat position. Flats have been fine. The only complaint I have is pedal strikes. Flats are alot bigger. I think I will fix by going with shorter crankarms
    gdunha,

    Thanks for your comments. I have been riding clipless pedals for over 20 years so am really used to and like them. I recently installed flat pedals (Shimano Saint) to a bike I use for training midweek. The idea is to develop some skills I am lacking and the use of flats will help with that. With these pedals I tend to locate my foot forward and feel more comfortable and the pedal stroke feels more powerful. So I am looking to replicate this foot position with the clipless pedals and get the effect that is described in the video on post 13 above.

    Cheers

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiciMapas View Post
    gdunha,

    Thanks for your comments. I have been riding clipless pedals for over 20 years so am really used to and like them. I recently installed flat pedals (Shimano Saint) to a bike I use for training midweek. The idea is to develop some skills I am lacking and the use of flats will help with that. With these pedals I tend to locate my foot forward and feel more comfortable and the pedal stroke feels more powerful. So I am looking to replicate this foot position with the clipless pedals and get the effect that is described in the video on post 13 above.

    Cheers
    After riding clips only on trails for about a year, I rode a lap of a local trail with flats because it was cold and my boots are warmer than my spd shoes. I got the same feeling from the flats, so yesterday I moved my cleats around and went for another lap, but have not been able to replicate that feeling. I wonder if it has anything to do with the bigger platform transferring power differently than the small spd interface with the crank, kinda along the ideas for the catalyst pedal? I have in the past tried more midfoot cleat but wasn't super happy with that either, I'm in the rear holes in shim shoes, with the edge of the front holes lined up with the 3rd line from the front.

  25. #25
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    I got professionally fit for my road bike by John Howard for those that dont know who he is John Howard Inducted in 1989 for Modern Road & Track Competitor (1945-1975) U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame

    He said that foot position should be as far back as possible for most riders when I was fit by him. He also shimmed my cleats to get my foot level on the pedal each foot was different. He was big on fixing supination and pronation for transfer of power

    I have not got fit on my Mtn Bike by him but would expect the same advice as far as foot position

  26. #26
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    It is impossible to move your cleats back far enough on MTB shoes to replicate the position. If you had an old pair of shoes you could try to drill out new holes and experiment. The idea being that the rigid sole is what you are pusing on not the pedal.

    I have other reasons to ride flats so it is not something that I have taken the time to play with but might for some long endurances races I want to do this year.

  27. #27
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    I got my shoes last week. The cleats can be positioned further back in these shoes than in any other I have had before. I could feel that the pedal axle was about a centimeter behind the ball of the foot. By swaping the new shoes and the old ones, the difference was noticeable.
    I rode them on the trails these weekend and I was able to climb with less effort, getting a "heels down" position on descents and technical sections felt more natural, intuitive and stable. I have not yet compared whether I got the same foot position as on the flat pedals but I would say it is close enough. I ride Time Z platform pedals that provide a wide/long platform which also helps.
    So far, it seems this has been a good investment.


    Edit: Cross post from the Apparel forum http://forums.mtbr.com/apparel-prote...l#post13018368

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiciMapas View Post
    I got my shoes last week. The cleats can be positioned further back in these shoes than in any other I have had before. I could feel that the pedal axle was about a centimeter behind the ball of the foot. By swaping the new shoes and the old ones, the difference was noticeable.
    I rode them on the trails these weekend and I was able to climb with less effort, getting a "heels down" position on descents and technical sections felt more natural, intuitive and stable. I have not yet compared whether I got the same foot position as on the flat pedals but I would say it is close enough. I ride Time Z platform pedals that provide a wide/long platform which also helps.
    So far, it seems this has been a good investment.


    Edit: Cross post from the Apparel forum http://forums.mtbr.com/apparel-prote...l#post13018368
    I have pedalling innovation pedals on my fb and they say to center your arch over the spindle. Its cool, can use more glute and put down alot more power.

    My cleats i slam to the back and in as far as possible. Im use to the wide q factor all winter so it no issue on my other bikes and i dont "scrub" the paint off my cranks haha.
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  29. #29
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    Besides getting the cleat postion right, moving from a simple spd pedal to the Deore M785 pedal helped with pain in the front of my feet. The M785 has a frame around the part that grabs the cleat spreading the contact between foot and pedal much better. My feet are sensitive from a neuroma (from my first plastic tele boots) so I'm susceptible to pain in the ball of my foot.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by whoda*huck View Post
    I moved mine back, but for a different reason. I used to run them right under the ball of the foot like the OP, but a few years ago when I started getting more into the FR end of the sport (drops and jumps) I moved them back to alleviate the stress on my ankles from landing.
    This^^^

    Plus I find, for me anyways with the cleat all the way back you seem to engage your quads more and your calves less when pedalling, plus when descending you are a little more heeled own and apply more positive pressure through the pedals making corning a bit sharper and more reaponsive.

    Never had problems with numbness with them centered on my balls, but I like it much more slugged all the way back.
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  31. #31
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    Without reading any thoughts in this thread. The ball of your foot gives the most powerful and efficient stroke. If you are experiencing numbness from having them in that location maybe something else is going on. Like maybe your shoes don't fit correctly or even the cleats themselves may be a bad design. Or maybe your feet weren't meant for that positioning. I've used Time pedals and Time cleats for 20 years without issue. I'd look elsewhere and try different shoes and cleats before giving up the ball of your foot positioning of the cleat. Whoever told you the ball of your foot wasn't the most powereful and efficient stroke position is wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Without reading any thoughts in this thread. The ball of your foot gives the most powerful and efficient stroke. If you are experiencing numbness from having them in that location maybe something else is going on. Like maybe your shoes don't fit correctly or even the cleats themselves may be a bad design. Or maybe your feet weren't meant for that positioning. I've used Time pedals and Time cleats for 20 years without issue. I'd look elsewhere and try different shoes and cleats before giving up the ball of your foot positioning of the cleat. Whoever told you the ball of your foot wasn't the most powereful and efficient stroke position is wrong.
    I have been riding Time pedals for over 20 years as well. Initially ATACs and currently Z platforms. On all those years I used the under the ball of the foot cleat position and until 3 weeks ago, I would have agreed with you.
    Now that the cleats are about one cm behind the ball of the foot in the new shoes I got and after 3 weeks or so of using them almost everyday, I can say that comfort increased, leg fatigue diminished, climbing power is better, heels down is more natural and relaxed.

    There are several studies that do not support the ball of the foot positioning. Check Joe Friel's blog and there are some others I do not have in my mind in this moment.

    Cheers

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiciMapas View Post
    I have been riding Time pedals for over 20 years as well. Initially ATACs and currently Z platforms. On all those years I used the under the ball of the foot cleat position and until 3 weeks ago, I would have agreed with you.
    Now that the cleats are about one cm behind the ball of the foot in the new shoes I got and after 3 weeks or so of using them almost everyday, I can say that comfort increased, leg fatigue diminished, climbing power is better, heels down is more natural and relaxed.

    There are several studies that do not support the ball of the foot positioning. Check Joe Friel's blog and there are some others I do not have in my mind in this moment.

    Cheers
    I've read a couple of those studies and I don't agree with them. The ball of your foot is the optimum position for efficiency and power. You may find better comfort in other positions but as positioning goes with body mechanics it only makes sense that the ball of the foot produces more power and better efficiency than any other part of the foot.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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