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Of the 3 contact points (saddle/handlebars/pedals) which holds you back the most?

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Of the 3 contact points (saddle/handlebars/pedals) which holds you back the most?

Old 12-04-22, 04:49 PM
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masi61
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Of the 3 contact points (saddle/handlebars/pedals) which holds you back the most?

When I was a young rider I would say it was the saddle. Because it took a lot of adjusting and experimentation to get it right for all day comfort.

But these days it has become the pedal/foot interface. I think I had issues here when young as well but back then my feet could seemingly tolerate the abuse. I mean the poorly fitted shoes, the improperly positioned cleats, the toeclips and straps, etc..

Due to some neuropathy issues and post surgery Morton's neuroma issues I now am super protective of my feet. I spent more than half of this past cycling season "soft pedaling" on group rides. So much so that the other riders questioned my high cadence and they were feeling complelled to advise me to upshift into bigger gears more. I protested on several occasions and whined to my ride leader that I "couldn't" do it. Later this cycling season I have continued to refine my insoles, my cycling shoes and socks and also doing foot work in yoga classes in an effort to strengthen and make more flexible my feet. Call it a work in progress. I actually have to count down in my head cycles of 8 or 12 on my dominant then non-dominant feet while standing to climb out of the saddle. By doing this, I can manage the bone on bone sensation that I sometimes get when putting downforce from the ball of my foot onto the center of the pedal.

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Old 12-04-22, 06:04 PM
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I've never had anything stop me from continuing the ride, no matter how long. That said, I've never done anything tougher than a mountain 400.

Hand problems have been solved by the right gloves and continuously changing grip.

Arm problems have been solved by hard work in the gym.

Butt problems have never gone away completely, but have been made tolerable by me going through several cardboard boxes full of saddles and many different models of shorts over the years.

Leg problems have been solved by lots of gym work and progressively longer and harder fast group rides.

Foot problems have been solved by the right shoes and socks, in my case Sidi Dominators and SPD pedals with various different pairs of socks. It probably also helps that I pedal circles with as little downforce as I can manage on long rides. It probably also helps that I do long walks and hikes and backpacks in the mountains. Specialized has insoles which have various shapes to help with ball of foot issues.
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Old 12-04-22, 06:43 PM
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I'm still adjusting everything. If not the saddle height, then the saddle position itself. Handlebar height, and type of handlebars are my latest obsession; recently switched 'beater' workout bicycle from drops to flats, now I just need to find the proper angle for those. I don't use clipless shoes/pedals, but I still fiddled around until I found the most comfy flat pedals. I still move my feet around on those, but I think that's just adjusting for fatigue that develops in different muscle groups in my legs.
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Old 12-04-22, 08:09 PM
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I've got a congetnal foot issue that lables me 'differently abled', but I ride just fine. I've had a professional bike fitting, which gets my sadde/cleat position about as ideal as I can get with my condition. I use a custom orthoic in my shoe to help my allighment. As such, my feet feel pretty good riding.
Saddles: The right height is vital; but beyond that sometimes we just have to try a bunch before finding one that works.
Handlebars: For me, only an issue with long days back:back bikepacking. But otherwise, no.
What's holding me back most is just finding time to ride as much as i want.
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Old 12-04-22, 09:30 PM
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The balls of my feet sometimes begin aching around the forty-mile mark.
I tried a few hacks lately, like inserting some insoles or monkeying with shoe tightness.
On some 60+ milers during the year, the pain forced me to remove my shoes and soak my feet with cold water.
Interested to hear of other posts here. Thought of starting my own on this topic, but happy to glob on. lol
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Old 12-04-22, 11:17 PM
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Butt and feet are fine. My hands are painful all of the time due to compressed nerves upstream
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Old 12-04-22, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr View Post
The balls of my feet sometimes begin aching around the forty-mile mark.
I tried a few hacks lately, like inserting some insoles or monkeying with shoe tightness.
On some 60+ milers during the year, the pain forced me to remove my shoes and soak my feet with cold water.
Interested to hear of other posts here. Thought of starting my own on this topic, but happy to glob on. lol
Your shoes are too tight/small. Your feet swell and create pressure which causes the pain.

I went through this and ended up ditching 2 pairs of cycling shoes and jumped up a full size. I also keep the forward most strap/closeure as loose as possible and cinch the middle and closest one to my ankle. On hot days it was even worse and could only do about 30 miles and would have to stop and remove shoes and socks. Now with bigger shoes, zero issue. Our feet grow larger as we age so we can’t wear the same size as we did in our 30s and 40s.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:14 AM
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After I resolved the burning feet issue (see directly above posting) the next was getting a sore bum and especially the sit bones on 40+ mile rides. I saw a bike fitter and had all the positioning dialed in (had shoulder issues which were fixed with PT) but still issues with the saddle. So I bought at least 6 saddles until I found the right one (along with some excellent shorts - pricey) and now 60 miles pain free is not an issue.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:15 AM
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Hands I can manage by moving them around. Hotfoot I can address by loosening shoes or worst case unclipping and letting the foot hang for a moment. Low back pain after a long climb I can alleviate by stretching on or off bike. But saddle pain, once it sets in, is there for the duration. Out of saddle time gives only temporary relief.
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Old 12-05-22, 10:59 AM
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Since going to a recumbent and trike, I have no contact point problems at all.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:56 AM
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In the Spring it's the saddle! No amount of stationary cycling can prepare your bottom for bumpy roads.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:55 PM
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I started having foot issues - blisters, infections, bone issues that felt close ot cracking over my arch from me doing three things together that my feet perceived as a conspiracy. I aged into my 60s. I stopped wearing laced up cycling shoes and rode exclusively strapped shoes. Then I started riding the week long Cycle Oregon fix gear. (Yes, I cheated. I brought all the cogs, 12 to 23, then 24 teeth and a lightweight chain whip and brought the appropriate cogs (up to 4) on the mountain days.)

My second fix gear Cycle Oregon I brought Teva sandals with my on the hard days for foot relief at rest stops. (The red bag you can see under the top tube in my avatar photo.) Better but I still visited the doc after and ran 10 days of antibiotics. Then I took those same shoes (Lakes with lasts my feet love), cut off the straps and installed brass grommets from a kit from Tandy Leather. Laces! My feet loved 'em!

Last summer, as Cycle Oregon was approaching and I was committed to doing my last fix gear attempt, I looked at those shoes and thought "you know, they just might not survive another hard week of fix gear. And I'll be over 100 miles from the nearest Lake dealer, no way to get there and won't have an address to ship to. So I went on the Lake website to find the cheapest 3-bolt LOOK pattern shoes in real leather (no break-on or trial time left). Fully prepared to cut off those brand new straps or whatever and install good old laces.) Shock! First pair that met those requirements was the best, most expensive shoe. (Second best this year. There's a new model.) Found a local shop, had them order what I wanted in my usual Lake size. Went to try them on. And ...

Wow! Leather as nice as I've ever felt. Wonderful padded tongue. A double BOA system that felt as good as laces with 8 or 9 pairs of crossings. And a wide toe box! And after the week - well the ride was hard. I'm no longer young and 30,000' in gears never lower than 36x24 wasn't easy. I muscled more than a few hills in much bigger gears so I wouldn't have to stop twice. Two of the days took me back to some of my epic rides in my race days. Days where I was tired to the bone after. And my feet! For them, it was almost a walk in the park. Only issue - those BOAs are powerful! I overtightened to pain a few times. (Adjusting on the fly riding fixed with those knobs and the pedals turning at 70-100 RPM isn't a precision process. But I learned.)

So, all this to say - some of the new (expensive) shoes are a revelation for comfort. If you have foot issues as I have had, those bucks spent might well be bucks you didn't spend at the doc. And every time you put them on, the smile comes back. (I cannot vouch for other brands. Most of my shoes and all of my regular riders are Lakes because their lasts work so well for my feet. All cycling shoes that work for me have had toe boxers that were tight and that I just considered the price of doing this business of cycling - until these shoes. (Shoes that allow my feet to slide will be sending me to the doc for more antibiotics. That's not a maybe.)

My shoe, the Lake CX 238. Not a sales pitch. The color I got and like is discontinued so if no-one touches them, I may be able to get more years from now. At the same time, I want Lake to stay healthy and keep making me wonderful shoes. (Those lasts! The el-cheapo Performance brand shoes simply worked. It wasn't until I had years on several pairs that I learned they were made by this company I'd never heard of, Lake.) I have enough problems getting most shoes to be comfortable that I'm guessing what works so well for me is probably not the best for others. But I'm guessing that the other big cycling shoe manufacturers are making roughly the same high end shoe with lasts that work for people who do not have my feet.
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Old 12-05-22, 01:27 PM
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And to the other contact points - butts and hands. Gotta find the right seat. And dial it the height, fore and aft and angle. Height is easy. A completely separate bolt. I put a piece of tape 1/2" above the top of the seatube so I can track height. And if at all possible, I set my bikes up with 2-bolt seatposts so I can systematically vary angle and fore-and aft. Go for rides with both wrenches. And stop to adjust until everything is "right".

Hands - I ride with real weight on them. Have forever. I'm long, lean and light. A shape that really does poorly upwind. Being able to be comfortable for long stretches with my back close to horizontal is a g**send. So the details of my hand positions is important. New bikes go for their early rides with mo bar tape, just the cables electrical taped down. Again, all the wrenches (plus a small crescent wrench to turn the hex key for the brake lever). I set all my bike up so all day in the drops works. The drops are my go to. Great hand comfort, secure (I'd rather be there than anywhere else on the bars when I hit that rock or pothole I didn't see), best bike control and easy low back. Yes, the aero-style palms on the brake levers is faster but I don't want to be there when things go bad.

My first dial-in for my hands is rotating the bars until the drops are just "ahhh!" Then I slide the brake hoods to get the same. And do some long rides noting how my hands feel during and after. (I'm now prone to nerve issues and the angle of the bars is critical for having my palms in the right place. For those newer to this game of cycling, don't worry. It took me 4 decades and half again laps around this planet - miles stretched out like a string - to get to where my body is now.)

And back to feet - my knees need my feet at the correct angle; a place my feet do not come to on their own. So the usual clipless wth float do not work for my knees. I must use no-float cleats/pedals and position my cleats to force toe-in. Pretty easy for me now. Its a once per new pair of shoes set-up duplicating my other shoes. Maybe a tweak after a ride or two. The other issue that I was oblivious to my first 50+ years is that my right leg came from thje factory 1/2" short. Now all my cycling shoes get 1/4" plate aluminum shims under the right sole for the cleat and as close to 1/2" of lift at the right heel as is feasible for those shoes. (That heel lift only matters when I'm off the bike.)
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Old 12-05-22, 02:38 PM
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I got some new cycling shoes and had to relearn how to hold my feet in them and put more pressure on the side my big toe is on. For some reason when I got them I was putting pressure on the pedals more with the outside metatarsals. I can only imagine that my other shoes held my feet at a different angle and I just got use to that. Shims of some sort might have fixed the issue too. But a few rides realizing what the issue was and being aware of how I began my pedal stroke quickly solved the issue just by how I held my feet to put power into the pedals.
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Old 12-05-22, 10:21 PM
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None in particular. Resuming more walking in 2018, in addition to cycling, and running in early 2020 strengthened my feet, legs and knees. If anything I have fewer problems with my feet related to cycling than I did before 2018.

For one thing, I need less arch support. I used to need custom orthotics or ProFoot Miracle insoles, the best off the rack insoles I've tried. And I still prefer those for my road cycling shoes. But as my feet have strengthened I've mostly gone back to the factory original insoles in my Nike, Adidas, Atreyu and Under Armour running shoes.

I have Scott and Fizik road shoes, which feel pretty similar in terms of rigidity and needed minor fit adjustments via insoles and inserts to minimize heel slipping. I use old school Delta Look cleats and pedals for my old steel road bike, Shimano SPD-SL for another. The third road bike, currently disassembled for overhaul, takes Look Keo. After adjustments there are only minor differences in feel and usage. They're all just variations of the 3-bolt, plastic wedge cleat.

And I still prefer platform pedals and whatever shoes I'm wearing that day for my hybrids. I haven't found any reason to use clipless on my hybrids.

I'm not too particular about saddles and have a different type of saddle on each road bike. All basically variations of the same long nose, narrow, fairly hard saddle. There's a Cobb V-Flow triathlon/TT saddle on one, a Selle Italia that's somewhat similar to the Cobb on another, and a race oriented Selle Italia on another. I like them all about equally, once I get the height, etc., dialed in.

Neck pain from old injuries and worsening cervical spine stenosis forced me to unslam the stems/handlebars on my road bikes, raising the bars about one or two inches below saddle height. In some cases that involved minor saddle adjustments. In other cases, maybe swapping to a longer stem to get approximately the same handling feel. And tweaking the position of brake/shifter hoods to suit my neck and hand comfort.

I still use the original old school classic drops on my steel road bike with downtube shifters. For the carbon fiber bikes I prefer compact drops with shorter reach. That helps keep my hand position roughly the same on all three bikes when I'm using brifters on the carbon fiber bikes, so I'm not too stretched out or upright.

Some of those adjustments and component sizes are dictated by frame geometry. My most recent model carbon road bike has the shortest top tube, semi-compact frame, and needed a longer stem to get the same overall reach and riding position as my steel road bike with more classic geometry, longer top tube, etc. Each bike differs a couplafew millimeters, and I occasionally tweak them to suit however my neck feels on any given day or week. If my neck is really glitchy I'll take the old steel road bike since the quill stem is easiest to adjust quickly during a quick break on a ride. Threadless is more finicky and I dislike messing with spacers and torque wrenches on the road.
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Old 12-06-22, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
In the Spring it's the saddle! No amount of stationary cycling can prepare your bottom for bumpy roads.
What about parts selection and set-up? Iím thinking tubeless tires or latex tubed clinchers as low of psi as practical. Also a slightly lower saddle with a bit more set back on a complainant carbon fiber or titanium seatpost could save your bottom on the springtime bumpy roads.

And then there are the shorts/tights/knickers or whatever you chose to wear and your butt salve of choiceÖ all these things help and also there are butt preserving on-bike skills such as rising out of saddle or unweighting saddle as you traverse all those road cracks.
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Old 12-06-22, 08:29 PM
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After years of wrist pain with bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery, and ongoing low back and neck issues, I changed to a recumbent last year. So far no wrist/shoulder/neck issues at all, and only an occasional case of 'recumbutt' if I've been off the bike for too long.
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Old 12-06-22, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Due to some neuropathy issues and post surgery Morton's neuroma issues I now am super protective of my feet. I spent more than half of this past cycling season "soft pedaling" on group rides.
May I ask what brand and model of shoes you wear? Most cycling shoes (or any shoes for that matter) are not made for foot health, they're made to look good at the expense of foot health.
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Old 12-06-22, 11:48 PM
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I'm good.
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Old 12-07-22, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
May I ask what brand and model of shoes you wear? Most cycling shoes (or any shoes for that matter) are not made for foot health, they're made to look good at the expense of foot health.
Sidi Genius (series 4 I believe, size 46.5. I purchased some Sidi Shot pro level shoes in good used shape about a month ago and have some rides on them. Right now due to the cold I am riding my Fizik Arctica winter cycling shoes. I have these leather metatarsal inserts in the both Sidi pairs (Pedag Comfort 3/4 insoles) and with the Fizik shoes I wear thicker wool socks and might use my ďStrutzĒ arch supports that are from Wal-Mart.

The Shotís are bling with blue patent leather. But they are very technical shoes and while the carbon sole is even stiffer than than the sole of the other 2 pair, I feel like I can adjust them for comfort.
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Old 12-07-22, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Sidi Genius (series 4 I believe, size 46.5....
The Sidi Shots look like amazing shoes. Is the leather soft? My first pair of Sidi shoes decades ago were my favorite shoes as they were made of real leather that eventually conformed to my foot, but most modern cycling shoes are designed not to stretch at all.

If you're willing to take a few minutes to perform a little experiment, walk around barefoot for a while and then look at the shape of your feet... in particular, your toes. Are your shoes shaped like your foot or is it likely the shoes are putting your toes in an unnatural position? (See image below.)



I'm pretty convinced that most road shoes (and shoes in general) aren't shaped like a normal foot and are the reason people have so many foot problems as we age. Road shoes are pointy at the toe because it's a traditional "look" that people are used to, but I see no performance advantage to squashing one's toes in a shoe... power doesn't come through our toes. It's usually quite difficult on many road shoes to loosen-up the toe box area. If you tighten the shoe around the mid-foot, the BOA laces will likely tighten the toe area as well. Having recently dealt with Morton's neuroma, tight shoes and even socks can irritate the nerves at the base of the toes, making cycling shoes a likely source of the pain. The only cycling shoes I've owned that don't put pressure on the toe area are the Lake CX201 shoes.
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Old 12-07-22, 07:20 AM
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For arthritis in hands anti-vibration gloves which are much better than cycling gloves with handlebar gel pads have made a difference and a well maintained leather suspension saddle, Brooks, Selle Anatomica work well and for bad Arthritis days a recumbent trike is perfect.
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Old 12-07-22, 07:45 AM
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My hands, since my mid 40s.
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Old 12-07-22, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
I'm pretty convinced that most road shoes (and shoes in general) aren't shaped like a normal foot and are the reason people have so many foot problems as we age.
Iím another one who has benefited from moving to minimal, foot-shaped shoes. I was able to ride a bike in Nike Flyknit with a manageable amount of discomfort in the nail of my right big toe, but running was a different matter.

Now with wider, flat shoes I have been able to run three or four days a week and primarily use running and walking for my cardio workouts. That is easier to manage during the cold, dark half of the year. And my feet feel stronger and healthier.

Otto
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Old 12-07-22, 10:46 PM
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canklecat
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
What about parts selection and set-up? Iím thinking tubeless tires or latex tubed clinchers as low of psi as practical.
Absolutely. The main reason I got latex tubes was for the comfort on our increasingly coarse, harsh chipseal roads. Lower rolling resistance is just a plus, and I'm not fast enough for it to matter much. But coupled with supple tires, it's much more comfortable. Reminds me, I need to rewrap the rims on my road bikes with Gorilla tape or tubeless tape. Last time I used latex tubes I didn't prep the rims properly. After a year the inadequate support resulted in the overlapping glued joints at the base of the latex tubes to bulge and leak.

If I ever switch from my older skinny tire road bikes to an all purpose, endurance or gravel type drop bar bike, I'll go with clearance for 700x32 or wider tires and tubeless.
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