As well as having a visit from the guys from Retul, during a recent team meeting in Belgium, our riders also sat down with Ashley Sult, a footwear expert from Specialized.
In this blog, Ashley tells us about the process of finding the perfect footwear for our riders, that will keep them comfortable and able to perform kilometer after kilometer, as well as optimising their performance while avoiding injury and reducing fatigue.
“The first thing that we will do is to measure a rider’s foot and their arch position, and then we can look at which model of shoe would work for them. Sometimes we may send a rider home with several different pairs of shoes to try on, and then they can pick the shoes they would like to ride for the next season. We then look at footbeds to insert into the shoe. We use BodyGeometery footbeds, which are red, blue, and green, but we can make custom footbeds if they are needed.
There are several differentials to the differences in the shoes and the footbeds. There is no such thing as a typical cyclist’s foot – they all have different feet, in different shapes with their own features. So, we try to have different options in shoes and footbeds to make the range of choice wider to fit almost all scenarios. This does evolve though – for example original idea was that our Ares was going to be our high powered ‘sprinters’ shoes, but what has happened is that the base of that shoe is nice and soft, riders that would not normally be in that category are loving the shoe and most riders are now using them. Because of the design, it closes from both the arch and the heel and it gives a nice comfortable fit. The bottom strap then gives a lot of volume adjustment over the ball of the foot. This is important as we found that a lot of cyclists were unknowingly bracing their big toe and pushing into the top of the shoe, to avoid floating at the top of the pedal stroke. The design is one of the things that we have implemented to eliminate that stress on the foot.
The S-Works 7 are more traditional and beautiful shoes that work for a lot of riders, but we found that some riders were getting huge divots in their footbeds, where their toes were grabbing on.
Footbeds are not something that most cyclists would naturally think of when it comes to cycling shoes. However, because a rider is connected to a stiff soled shoe, it makes a huge difference to their comfort. Unlike with a running shoe, where the shoe flexes with the foot, the cycling shoe has a stiff outsole. With a footbed, there is the opportunity to fully support the arch, which means the lower leg and the foot are not tightening up much and therefore saving energy.
I think that most people would think of this for performance cyclists, but this could relate to any cyclist- it is really about energy saving and comfort than performance. For most people, when they are riding a bike, they don’t think about their feet before jumping on and the goal should be to remain that way. It is not natural to be attached to something too stiff and the goal of choosing the right shoe and using footbeds is to make it feel more normal.”
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel