The most expensive shoe is not always the best, Wall and Hewitt warn. A cheaper pair of shoes, given the sole and upper are sufficiently stiff, can be more appropriate if the fit is better.
Much can be made of a less expensive shoe by setting up the cleats correctly and using appropriate orthotics, or footbeds.
“You can make a cheap shoe – as long as it gives you good support – a very good shoe, but supporting the foot in and outside the shoe. You can take a £50 or £100 shoe, as long as it’s not flexible, put a support in, adjust the cleats, and it will perform perfectly adequately,” Wall says.
Hewitt adds that Cyclefit will attempt to resolve issues with intervention inside the shoe rather than outside. “We always start by supporting the foot internally before we think about doing anything between the cleat and the bottom of the shoe.”
A standard, off-the-peg insole will help most people, he believes, and there are custom footbeds for riders with particular issues or seeking a very precise fit.
Orthotics are intended to support the arch of the foot, which can be weakened by a Western lifestyle, Cyclefit believes.
For some people, typically older, heavier riders, the arch collapses under load – typically when moving from a seated to standing position.
The biomechanical relationship between foot and bicycle places it under different demands: the arch helps to support the foot as the leg is extended and power is pushed through the sole of the shoe to the pedal.
A varus tilt – where the foot falls inwards on the arch – is common, Wall says. “I think something like 86 per cent of the population have varus tilt, where the ball of the foot is higher than the little toe.”
Some manufacturers have adopted the soles of their shoes to accommodate this tendency, he continues.
“Depending on how much varus tilt you have, your feet can roll in the shoes, and that can affect the knee tracking and the pedaling,” he says.
“If you can help support the foot in the downstroke – and some of the big guys are doing 400 or 500 watts, with everything going through those five metatarsals – you’ve got to put something under the sole of the foot to stop it rolling in the shoe.”