This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
I have sensitive legs--feet, ankles, knees, tendons, etc. If the
cleats aren't aligned properly, I feel it. I took a long time to find
a cleat alignment that was comfortable for long and/or intense rides.
I ride a Bridgestone RB-T, 62cm frame, triple chainring. I wear size
48 Specialized Ground Control shoes--evil-looking black and red
things. They were the only shoes I could find in my size that were
comfortable. When I installed the M737 pedals, I had 175mm cranks.
I set the release tension so that the indicator was at the loose end
but so that I could see the entire nut in the slot.
The azimuth I found most comfortable had both shoes pointing roughly
straight ahead. The ball of my left foot began hurting, so I moved
the left cleat back about 4-6mm. This placed the ball of my foot in
front of the pedal spindle. I did not make any left/right
Unfortunately, on longer rides, the ball of my left foot still hurt,
so I got a pair of custom CycleVac "Superfeet" insoles. I removed the
stock insole from the shoe, and inserted the CycleVac insole. The
CycleVac doesn't have any padding at the ball, and my foot didn't like
the hard plastic sole of the shoe. I had a pair of thin green Spenco
insoles lying around, so I put those under the CycleVacs to provide
some padding. I didn't use the stock insoles because they are too
thick. Finally, the pain was gone! If I remain pain-free for a while
I may try moving the left cleat forward again.
Then I replaced the 175mm cranks with 180mm cranks, and I lowered the
seat 2.5mm. My left foot was still happy, but my right knee began to
complain. Not only that, but my right foot felt as if it was being
twisted to the right (supinating), toward the outside of the pedal.
After fussing with the azimuth of the right cleat, I couldn't find a
satisfactory position, though I could minimize the discomfort.
I moved the right cleat as far as I could to the outside of the shoe,
bringing my foot closer to the crank. I also reduced the release
tension further. The red indicating dots are now just visible. This
helped my knee, but my foot still felt as if it were being twisted,
as if all the force were being transmitted through the outside of the
foot. In addition, my left Achilles Tendon started to hurt at times.
I lowered the seat another couple millimeters. This helped, but I
felt that my right leg wasn't extending far enough. Then I tried
_rotating_ the saddle just a little to the right, so the nose was
pointing to the right of center. This helped. But my right foot
still felt supinated, and my right knee started to hurt again.
I removed the right CycleVac insole and Spenco insole and replaced them
with the original stock insole that provides little arch support.
Bingo. The discomfort was gone. It seems I need the arch support for
the left foot but not for the right foot.
How long will it be before I make another tweak? The saga continues...
Copyright 1993, Bill Bushnell. Feel free to distribute this article
however you see fit, but please leave the article and this notice