You have 5 points of contact with your bike. Two hands on the handle bars , one bum on the seat and two feet in shoes with cleats that attach to the pedal. Getting your cleats set up in the right place is absolutely crucial and a starting point for me when I do a bike fit for anyone at Doctor Sprocket’s Workshop
When you take into consideration how many times your legs revolve in an hour on your bike it is easy to understand how damage and pain can occur to the knees and lower legs if you have you cleats set up wrong forcing your body into a position it does not want to be in.
In any bike fit I will always assess the natural position of the feet on a rider as their stance has a bearing on cleat position. The pedals spindle is the main axis of power transference to propel you forward and in an ideal world the application of pressure either upward or downward should be directly over the pedal spindle.
An easy rule of thumb is to have the pedal spindle and cleat set up in a way that the spindle runs between the boney protrusion of the 5th metatarsal ( little toe) and the boney protrusion 1st metatarsal (big toe).
That said there needs to be consideration given to the angle of the foot from the centre line which if extreme needs allowances to be made.
I have heard a rule of thumb that goes….. if in doubt set the cleats to the rear although I am a keen advocate of setting them correctly in the first place. Rearward cleat settings move the shoe and foot further forward ahead of the pedal spindle. This gives a large area of the underfoot to absorb the pressure around the middle sole. Hot Foot and pain can be improved by moving cleats to the rear.
If a cleat is positioned forward the shoe and foot will be farther back and most likely behind the pedal spindle. This effectively increases the length overall of your crank reach. Some issues that can arise effect the overall position of the rider and the delivery of power. This type of positioning can encourage the knee to come behind the pedal spindle which is not efficient and can cause injury. Achilles problems can occur from a forward cleat position as the extension of crank length encourages the heel to extend further.
KOPS ( Knee Over Pedal Spindle ) is a measurement which I always pay careful attention to when carrying out any bike fitting in my Wirral workshop There are many benefits not only in rider comfort but also in efficiency and power delivery when the KOPS is correct.
A common mistake made by riders is measuring KOPS from the knee cap, however, this will not give the correct positioning.
Duck toed people are very common. In fact most people point 11 to 1 on the clock. Heavily duck toed people need careful cleat management so they are not forced into riding positions that will cause injury or pain. Many people with duck toes find their heel points towards the crank arm and in extreme cases they will see their shoes and crank arm can wear out from repeated contact during every revolution.
Adjustments can be made to move the foot outboard and in extreme cases some pedal systems (such as Speedplay) offer longer spindle options to move the feet away from the cranks
Cleats are designed to be moved in multiple directions offering endless positioning possibilities. The ability to move the cleat and shoe either closer to or farther away from the cranks is one direction they can adjust.
So how does this help? In an ideal world if we were all biomechanically perfect! We would have our knees tracking straight up and down like pistons directly above the pedal spindle. This would give the optimal delivery of power. Having wide or narrow hips can affect the way the knee and foot track in the pedal cycle. Moving the cleats in or out as necessary can help adjust the rider’s positon giving more comfort and less movement across the tracking line.
Duck toed riders can use a balance of this adjustment to find a middle ground moving the heel away from the cranks. Nearly all cleat systems offer some kind of float as an option depending on the cleat you choose or by offering built in float as standard. Some pedal systems offer differing spindle lengths which can effectively move the feet farther out or closer to the cranks by using a longer or shorter spindle which is an integral part of the pedal. All these options are available at most online retailers.
Online retailers offer the widest choice of pedals in terms of price, manufacturers and variations. Based on their buying power most internet cycling outlets are hard to beat on price. I always recommend that my bike fit customers start by looking online.
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Doctor Sprockets Cycle Workshop is a trading style for Doctor Sprocket Ltd. Company Reg no 10757920.