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  1. #1
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    Insoles - really worth it?

    I see many different retrofit cycling insoles out there and many strangers (to me) swear by it. Some are quite pricey but I was wondering if they are what they cracked up to be. Are they worth it?

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    Hate 'em. Every one of them I've ever tried, no matter that the shoe was designed for. What I've always found is that it takes a shoe that, when you bought it, it fit pretty well, and turns it into a hot, cramped instrument straight out of the Spanish Inquisition.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mapei View Post
    Hate 'em. Every one of them I've ever tried, no matter that the shoe was designed for. What I've always found is that it takes a shoe that, when you bought it, it fit pretty well, and turns it into a hot, cramped instrument straight out of the Spanish Inquisition.
    I guess that's why so many pro racers use them, they must like the pain. And you won't find an elite ski racer anywhere that doesn't use them. If you're foolish enough to buy the shoes first then buy insoles they would hurt. I'm definitely not saying that every insole will work w/ every shoe for every ride at all...but the standard insoles in 99% of the shoes made are completely useless from a support standpoint.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    I guess that's why so many pro racers use them, they must like the pain. And you won't find an elite ski racer anywhere that doesn't use them. If you're foolish enough to buy the shoes first then buy insoles they would hurt. I'm definitely not saying that every insole will work w/ every shoe for every ride at all...but the standard insoles in 99% of the shoes made are completely useless from a support standpoint.
    I had the same experience as Mapei.

    Sidi and now Maressi, another Italian shoe maker, fit my feet perfectly. The soles are hard, reminiscent of the famous wooden shoes trackies rode on until the '80s. I also ride in sneakers. They're ok. The whole shoe distorts over the pedals. But those pads between the hard shoe and foot make my feet sweat. I prefer air conditioned thin socks over hard shoes. Efficient and comfortable.

    Maybe I've been lucky. Plenty of riders use the insoles. Not all feet are the same.

    Also never tried insoles that confirm to the shape of the foot and then aren't squishy.

    I'd say, generally speaking, use them only if hot spots develop on the bottoms of the feet, or if there are leg length discrepancies. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 04-13-2018 at 08:16 PM.

  5. #5
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    my size 14-15 feet never fit any shoe made of any kind with the oem insole, since I turned 40. I have been using the SOLE brand heat-programmable insoles for about 10 years now and they are excellent. Ridiculously expensive though. I also had a set of $500 cusotm orthotics made .. and those are utterly useless for me.

    must be a very very very individual thing

    The SOLE brand I use come in various thicknesses. In bike shoes I use the thinner model sole, and I heat in oven-step on it in the shoes. then I have to trim a little around the bigger toes. perfect

    https://www.orthoticshop.com/SOLE-sa...kaArSAEALw_wcB

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  6. #6
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    Think this is a personal preference.

    I use the grey superfeet in my shoes. All of their other ones as well as the SOLE brand are high volume. I.e., they take up alot of space in the shoe. While normal walking shoes have volume to spare, cycling shoes do not.

    Also, make sure you remove the oem "insole" before adding an aftermarket one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    I guess that's why so many pro racers use them, they must like the pain. And you won't find an elite ski racer anywhere that doesn't use them. If you're foolish enough to buy the shoes first then buy insoles they would hurt. I'm definitely not saying that every insole will work w/ every shoe for every ride at all...but the standard insoles in 99% of the shoes made are completely useless from a support standpoint.
    What are your insoles of choice cxwrench?

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    I have custom insoles that were printed in Colorado and shipped to me. Actually, the original fellow was a skiracer/biker. He used to operate the business in Rhode Island. He has since passed away.

    Where do I go next?

    The pad in the front of the sole supported my toes. I think that this makes a difference. I see few options. My arch is often behind the spot that many standard insoles support. I want the pad.

    Does anyone know where to go?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    I guess that's why so many pro racers use them, they must like the pain. And you won't find an elite ski racer anywhere that doesn't use them. If you're foolish enough to buy the shoes first then buy insoles they would hurt. I'm definitely not saying that every insole will work w/ every shoe for every ride at all...but the standard insoles in 99% of the shoes made are completely useless from a support standpoint.
    Former alpine guy here...+1.

    As for cycling, having proper arch support and a good heal cup helps knee alignment/tracking and for me with huge arches prevents deformation. Given how many times we push down each hour day after day month after month, this is one of those pieces of equipment that can help prevent injury. Personally I find the metatarsal pads amazingly uncomfortable so it's taken a while to find one that works for me. Also, having high arches and getting used to proper arch support was sort of unfamiliar and I didn't like it at first. It just felt like too much pressure on the arch when I pushed down hard. Now that I'm used to it, I don't feel anything. Finding the right fit took some time.

  10. #10
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    The blue Superfeet work reasonably well for me, and there are thinner one. They are sold at Dick's Sporting Goods and Scheels if you have one of those nearby and want to see how thin they are.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    I guess that's why so many pro racers use them, they must like the pain. And you won't find an elite ski racer anywhere that doesn't use them. If you're foolish enough to buy the shoes first then buy insoles they would hurt. I'm definitely not saying that every insole will work w/ every shoe for every ride at all...but the standard insoles in 99% of the shoes made are completely useless from a support standpoint.
    ^This.^

    I need some kind of support as I have a low volume foot (low arches and narrow). My favorite insoles for the longest time were blue Superfeet. Then I started having foot problems again and my podiatrist recommended Pure Stride which is what I use now.

    No brainer here: Take your preferred insoles with you and try new shoes on with them before you buy.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    No brainer here: Take your preferred insoles with you and try new shoes on with them before you buy.
    Thank you (& others that chimed in).

  13. #13
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    It depends on the shoe. I've used Superfeet, Sole and Specialized for years in Nike, Diadora and Specialized shoes. I bought a pair of Sidi Wire shoes 18 months ago and the only ones that work are the stock Sidi ones.

  14. #14
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    I found that the Giro Supernatural footbeds work for me. The interchangeable arch support was the key, one foot needs a Large and the other and XL to be comfortable.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11spd View Post
    What are your insoles of choice cxwrench?
    I've found the Specialized work pretty well for me, I'm currently using some old esoles that we used to sell at the shop in both my road and mtb shoes. They have adjustable arch supports and metatarsal pads. The company no longer makes this type (afaik) and are only doing custom stuff. We are currently selling the Bontrager insoles that come in 3 levels are arch support. I haven't tried them yet but customers seem to like them.

    When I was skiing a lot I always had custom footbeds that were used in the custom foam inner boots. I remember trying some out-of-the-box boots at one point and could barely get my skis to turn...huge difference once you have the best stuff and it fits really well.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    No brainer here: Take your preferred insoles with you and try new shoes on with them before you buy.
    that only goes so far though. with the heat-shaped Sole brand they are not goind to feel good until you heat mold them. And can't do that until you buy them. but I guess will give you an idea of the volume they take up - but even then not really
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  17. #17
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    It literally depends on the following:

    1. Does your foot require additional support and alignment?

    2. If it does how much additional support and alignment does it need as the inserts or orthotics vary immensely in design and degree of support and alignment.

    3. An addendum to number two is that the space taken up inside the shoe varies dramatically by orthotic design.

    Since 1978 I used orthotics and could not have been the lifetime athlete that I have been without them. One pair I have are from 1978 and will last my lifetime being made of super rigid German plastic. The take-up virtually no space in the shoe. They make my fit in my Sidi Mega-Fit bike shoes a perfect fit. My feet on the bike are never uncomfortable thanks to the specialized orthotic. But I needed it. A great percentage, probably most people either require minimum changes or none. YMMV.

    Note: I played college basketball before 1978 and did a lot of cross training including running. All of that without any of the support I so, (unknowingly) needed so badly. If I had orthotics then I would not have the permanently damaged knees that I now have.

  18. #18
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    In addition to depending on your foot it depends on you shoes. Take arch support for example, some shoes have a lot built into the shoe. Others don't.
    So if you find some inserts that work well it's not safe to assume they will in another shoe.

    OP, good quality inserts can make or break shoes. But don't go searching to solve a problem that doesn't exist. If you're perfectly comfortable and applying pressure to the pedals as you should I'd stick with whatever you got now. If something is off though different inserts are a very likely solution.
    If you buy some try to go to a store where you can try them with your shoes. Different thicknesses can effect fit fairly drastically.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    If something is off though different inserts are a very likely solution.
    I get a bit of numbness around the ball of my feet after an hour of ride.

  20. #20
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    Former alpine ski racer here too. As a group, we are definitely more pro-footbed than the general public.

    I pronate fairly badly, which causes my knee to bow out on the top of the pedal stroke and collapse in on the downstroke. Proper footbeds keep my knees tracking straight.

    I wear them in all of my shoes to protect my knees (which are an issue as well).

    Some people don't need them, some people do. I am definitely in the "do need them" camp.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bvber View Post
    I get a bit of numbness around the ball of my feet after an hour of ride.
    I don't know enough about it to recommend anything specific but an insert could help. Something with what the company probably calls a "metatarsal button".
    Be careful though. If that is actually coming from shoe fit putting more volume in that area could make it worse.

    It's also possible that a cleat wedge is the solution for you. That essentially shifts the angle of your foot to more evenly spread the pressure you apply. That's tricky business though because using them has a chain reaction to knee and hip.

    Although very slight and not really a 'problem' for me I've had the same issue as you. One fitter recommended a wedge. It did help take pressure off the ball of my foot but overall I thought using a wedge sucked and I ditched it quickly. They work well for some though.

    In my case it turned out more arch support and cushion in that area totally got rid of the issue. Mostly the arch support. And when I say cushion I mean specifically dense cushion as opposed to pillowey which gets compacted so easy it's essentially useless.

    Fast forward a few years to new shoes and to tie into what I said earlier: With my road shoes they have great arch support built into the shoe itself so any cheap insert works. In fact I need cheap nothing-ish or else there will be too much arch support.
    But with the shoes I use for cross I need to get the proper support by using good inserts with aggressive arch support.

  22. #22
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    I had the same pain in ball of foot with a pair of shoes that had inadequate arch support. Sidi shoes solved the problem. Maressi also has good arch support.

    Yes, dense cushioning spreads the weight over a wider area, avoiding a hot spot on the ball of the foot. Lots of people have weak arches that don't help hold the ball in place when pushing down. The arches stretch and concentrate pressure on the ball if they have no support.

  23. #23
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    Insoles - really worth it?

    I had cycling specific orthotic insoles in a pair of shoes and it was agony because they made the shoes too tight. I bought roomier shoes that had room for the insole and they were very comfortable. All the difference. I think the Specialized insoles made an improvement in ride comfort for me. Like someone said, everyone's feet are different.
    Last edited by mfdemicco; 04-15-2018 at 03:52 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCSaltchucker View Post
    The SOLE brand I use come in various thicknesses. In bike shoes I use the thinner model sole, and I heat in oven-step on it in the shoes. then I have to trim a little around the bigger toes.
    I have SOLE insoles in my cycling shoes and my alpine ski boots. You don't even have to heat mold them, as the warmth of your feet will eventually do that. I just started using a new pair of cycling shoes and first tried them with the supplied (very flimsy) insoles. Much better feeling when I swapped in the SOLE insoles. YMMV.

  25. #25
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    I wear orthotics in my daily footware but they are NOT sutiable to cycling, different build for different foot action (walking v cycling).

    i tried the Specialized ones but found they didnt have enough arch support. Been using Solestar ones for a while now and like them. Definitely take up volume in the shoes so need to buy shoes to fit them. They are fairly stiff but hold your foot in position, feels like the whole foot is transferring power now. They do custom ones but I just bought the off the shelf ones.

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