There has been so much happening in the fitting industry of late. New systems are always coming out and always promise bigger and better things, at Retul headquarters the guys are constantly updating there products.
At Vanilla Cycles we like to stay in touch with all things new in cycling and as a Retul custom bike fitter I believe the biggest gains at present are in relation to the three contact points on any bike. Hands, backside and feet.
Saddles generally have a trial and error approach, or course there is a science to finding the right shape and width but I believe saddles will always come down to personal preference and the ability of the individual to express the exact feeling that that the saddle has so that the fitter can then recommend a more appropriate saddle.
Hand pain, this is an easy one to alleviate as there is always going to be a reason for the discomfort or pain be it muscular or neurological. The presented signs and symptoms in the hands (pun intended) of a decent bike fitter will always be able to be rectified.
This leads us to the feet. This is the area that has seen the most developments in bike fitting of late and with good cause. A lot of times when I am out on rides be it mountain or road there is generally a comment about shoes. “How does this model feel”, “I used to wear this model… but!” Well what I noticed is that most people aren’t comfortable with their current shoes and fit, more so they accept a level of discomfort as cycling must equal pain. There are some great shoes out there but like saddles and bums no two feet are the same, so why do we choose to view shoes and fitting any differently. It makes sense that for a proper fit custom footwear for cycling would seem appropriate? Interesting to note that I see more problems with shoes these days than ever before. A few people have put this down to the advances in technology in cycling. Carbon fibre in cycling shoes is only a recent addition to the general public, most of us grew up wearing cycling shoes that were softer and much more flexible. The addition of carbon fibre soles has definitely shown an increase in efficiency, stiffness and the ability to transfer power from the legs into the ground but it also means that unless the shoes fit perfectly any small problem/s with foot alignment or fit will show up a lot quicker.
What does this leave us?
There are many great shoes out there and many people will swear that one brand is the best shoe in all things cycling, on the flip side though you will certainly have people who disagree with that person. Why? Again because we all come in different shapes and sizes. All cycling shoes have there merits and knowing the strengths of each shoe be it quick release systems, breath-ability, adjustable heel cups, wide fit options, stiffness and Insole options are all things that we should look at when purchasing a shoe for our chosen discipline.
Insoles – (we finally got here) I personally believe that we should look at shoes and insoles as two separate pieces of kit, at least until someone truly offers complete custom insoles with factory shoes. Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose a shoe that had the features that you wanted, then by means of a custom insole you had both feet custom fit perfectly. Your feet would be some happy customers then. I know there are a lot of shoe manufacturers that are moving in the right direction by offering a couple of different insoles with your shoes at time of purchase, but none of these as yet are a truly custom fit.
At present I have been exploring all the options on the market available to bike fitters, and believe I have come across one product that is proving itself a great solution. I’m currently testing the insoles and although not the cheapest product on the market, they are completely custom and results have shown that the price won’t be factor as the level of comfort and efficiency has proven too great.
So leave me a comment if you have a chance. I’d love to hear your experience with shoes and insoles and also what you would consider paying for custom insoles after shelling out for a brand new set of shoes?