Author Topic: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride  (Read 4661 times)

Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« on: November 21, 2018, 01:55:53 pm »
Last Sunday I did my first long ride (about 64 miles) with some Campagnolo Pro-Fit clipless pedals, when I did the (quite hilly)  Nailsworth Mini Sportive. After the first hour or so the ends of both my feet started to go a bit numb (though my feet didn't feel cold and I was wearing Pearl Izumi toe covers overs my shoes), then after the second major climb I started to feel some pain/discomfort, especially under the left foot - felt almost like there was a narrow bar perpendicular to my foot digging in, just behind the balls of my feet - though if anything on the left foot I think the cleat was mounted too far forward and the pedal spindle was perhaps slightly in front of the ball of my foot. The shoes have a rigid carbon sole, so I shouldn't have actually felt anything through them as such. The pain/discomfort subsided a little after most of the big climbs were out of the way, so I was able to finish, but it still wasn't great.

I guess it's possible some of the numbness was down to having the boas on the Specialized Torch 2.0 shoes too tight, though I didn't think to slacken them off at all at the time, as the shoes didn't feel that tight or otherwise feel uncomfortable. It's also quite possible (in fact quite likely) that I don't have the cleats in the right position, especially on the left, though I'm finding it quite difficult to figure out how to position them in the optimum way, despite initially having some help from the shop where I bought the shoes and subsequently reading some guides. Any tips? Could cleat position have a big impact on numbness/comfort on long rides?

I'm wondering if part of the discomfort may be down to the Campagnolo Pro-Fit pedals themselves, which have a platform quite a bit smaller than more "modern" clipless designs, though I would have thought with a rigid carbon sole, the platform size shouldn't matter so much? I'm a bit loathe to ditch the Campagnolo pedals, though, as otherwise I like them very much - unlike other 3-bolt cleat systems I've tried (Look, SPD-L), it's very easy to clip-out (whilst still providing good retention when riding), which I appreciate very much when riding in traffic, the bearings are wonderfully smooth (probably doesn't make much difference to performance, but feels nice when pedaling) and, well, they're shiny and look great...
I found them a little tricky to clip into at first, but the bearings have now freed up a bit, so they tend to hang back end down most of the time now and I'm also probably just getting the knack of clipping in.

When I checked out some (new) Look Keo pedals, as well as being harder to clip out of, the bearings felt much rougher in comparison and I didn't like the idea of the open spring design.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2018, 02:33:12 pm »
I find that having my cleats too far forward makes me unconsciously 'claw' my toes, which leads to arch pain. How about you?
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2018, 02:44:54 pm »
I'm not aware of the campag pedals, but I wouldn't have thought that they can be much smaller than the SPD (MTB style) cleats. The Torch is a reasonably rigid shoe, so I would discount the cleats.
According to a bikefit video I was watching the other day, cleat position can cause numb toes if it's too far forwards causing you to claw your foot - I've no idea if this is science or bollocks though!

If you've not had a bikefit, then I'd suggest one - they should start with your feet and work upwards. There are a few recommended people in Oxfordshire, though I've only used one, so I can't speak about the others. It's not cheap, but it is cheaper than buying lots of different shoes/pedals.

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2018, 02:52:48 pm »
Some people (like me  :-\) just seem to get numb feet with clipless. Doesn't matter if it's SPD or Look / Keo in my case, or relatively supple / full carbon soles, or Shimano/Sidi/Lake/Shimano etc shoes, I still sooner or later get numb toes, tho no pain as such. It's less of an issue if (like LWaB) I move the cleats backwards  on the shoe.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2018, 03:06:44 pm »
I had a bike fit when I was first measured up for my Hewitt Cheviot (which the pedals are currently attached to) 10 years ago and haven't changed the bars or saddle position since, but obviously haven't had a bike fit with these particular pedals attached.

It is possible the cleats may be too far forward and I could be clawing my feet - I'll first try moving them back a bit. Thanks.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2018, 04:21:25 pm »
This may not help (diff factors at play?), but in my early days of SPD I used to get significant 'hot foot' (after 50-70km) particularly in my left foot, such that I sometimes had to stop and take my shoe off...  This was with lidl spd shoes, and I tried moving the cleat, and adding alu plate under the insoles etc.  It only really went away completely, when I changed to decent Shimano XC range SPD shoes.  edit.  These are very comfy, and I have a good amount of toe wriggle room.
"an inordinate fondness for beetles"

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2018, 04:22:08 pm »
Another possibility is that the toe box is just slightly too narrow.

I have a narrow heel and thus buy shoes my heel does not lift out of but have a slightly wider forefoot.  In almost all circumstances under about 300km I am fine but beyond that I get a numb forefoot unless I have a very specific insole (home made) supporting my transverse arch.

If your foot is comfortably enclosed it may be that after a few hills the foot is swollen and slightly squashed leading to the problem.

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2018, 04:27:53 pm »
The only time I've had a similar problem its been down to lacing my shoes too tight - bending over to lace rather than crouching with a bent knee.
ymmv, of course

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Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2018, 04:40:43 pm »
The shoes are Specialized Torch 2.0, which actually have quite a roomy toe box and heel, they're definitely not "Italian fit", and my toes do not feel crushed in the slightest.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2018, 05:14:54 pm »
BTW I think it was after only about the first 15 miles that I was getting discomfort / numbness :-(
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small just Far Away at the back
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2018, 05:48:04 pm »
I recently traced my shoe problems on my right foot thanks to the size guide on the Lake website.

I wear size 42 trainers, hiknig boots and cycling shoes,
my left foot is the length and width for a lake 41
my right foot is the length of a lake 40 and the width for a lake 44

In cycling shoes this is presented as hot foot at the ball of the right foot.
In trainers it's presented as struggling to get the width of my foot through the opening (but plenty of toe box on trainers.


Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2018, 05:59:17 pm »
as well as all the things mentioned above;

- if the cleat centre isn't under the middle of your foot (laterally speaking), this also tends to make you do something weird with some of the support muscles in your feet, and this can fairly quickly lead to discomfort and even cramp.  A slight (camber) tilt of the sole to one side or the other can have a similar effect.

- some shoes with carbon soles (amazingly) don't have a flat sole on the inside of the shoe. It is always worth lifting the insole to see what lies beneath. On some shoes I have had to fill holes with something so that the insole has something flat to sit on.

If you can try the pedals with different shoes and the shoes with different pedals this may tell you where the problem is really coming from.

cheers


frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
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Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2018, 06:24:47 pm »
I'm wondering if part of the discomfort may be down to the Campagnolo Pro-Fit pedals themselves, which have a platform quite a bit smaller than more "modern" clipless designs, though I would have thought with a rigid carbon sole, the platform size shouldn't matter so much?

Doesn't matter how stiff the sole is, you still need an adequate platform under the shoe.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
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Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2018, 10:35:20 am »
https://audaxing.wordpress.com/2014/07/04/happy-feet/

Thanks, some useful tips there. I'll try to persevere, first thing I'll try is to check the alignment of the cleats again, think the left one, in particular, is quite out - with toe caps on they rub the cranks slightly, which the right one doesn't do and the cleat feels more forward than the right one, but I'll try moving both back a bit.

If that doesn't improve matters I may give some Shimano SPD-L pedals a proper go, These have a significantly larger platform and lower stack height than my Campagnolo pedals, and I've read that the bearings are pretty decent, at least on the higher end models, though sounds like they've replaced the central roller bearing with a bushing on the latest Dura Ace pedals, which sounds like a retrograde  step. I would also probably try the yellow SPD-L cleats, which I think give 9 degrees of float (my Campagnolo ones have 6).

The main thing that has put me off a bit regarding Shimano SPD-L pedals previously (apart from not being shiny like the Campagnolo ones...) was that even on the lowest spring setting I found that they required quite some force to release the shoe from the pedal, which concerns me a little if I have to suddenly disengage quickly (as I did on my ride to work this morning, thankfully easy with the Campagnolo pedals).
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2018, 12:58:35 pm »
Why not try Looks?

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2018, 01:49:56 pm »
Why not try Looks?

I did (briefly - I didn't do any long rides with them) try some Look Keo 2 Max pedals, but the bearings felt rough and positively "agricultural" compared to the smooth bearings on the Campagnolo pedals - probably makes no difference to pedaling efficiency, but I don't like the feel of bearings that aren't very smooth when riding. Also I was not keen on the idea of the open spring design, can seen that corroding in British winters, and I found they required quite a lot of force to clip out of.

Of course Speedplay is the other option, though I understand that whilst you can get an adaptor interface to make them work with shoes with only 3-bolts (which is what I have), they're best used with 4-bolt shoes designed for them. I know many people swear by them, but they seem to have some issues to.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2018, 04:30:46 pm »
A lot of force to clip out of?  You were using the steel (not carbon) sprung ones, right?  You know they have an adjustment screw?

Mine last several seasons at a time ...

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2018, 04:47:29 pm »
Why not try flat pedals?
People find the clicky feeling and sound pleasing, but, other than for sprinting where it does make a difference, no-one has ever come up with other genuine benefits from clipping in.

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2018, 04:54:23 pm »
I can spin faster (e.g. on fixed) using clipless pedals. I know BMXers can also pedal fast on flat pedals but I tend to ride further than they do.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2018, 05:00:33 pm »
Why not try flat pedals?
People find the clicky feeling and sound pleasing, but, other than for sprinting where it does make a difference, no-one has ever come up with other genuine benefits from clipping in.

Off the top of my head:

Reducing shin-bashings due to muddy shoe:pedal interface when riding off-road.
Reducing shin-bashings due to poor pilot-stoker communication.
Not breaking your ankle/leg by running over your own foot with a tadpole trike when you hit a pothole.
Not having to work to support the weight of your legs in a recumbent position.
Keeping your foot in a specific known-good alignment to prevent recurrence of owmeknee.

(As with sprinting, none of these may apply to the OP, making flats a potential option.  But that doesn't mean clipping in is otherwise pointless.)
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #21 on: November 22, 2018, 05:06:21 pm »
A lot of force to clip out of?  You were using the steel (not carbon) sprung ones, right?  You know they have an adjustment screw?

Mine last several seasons at a time ...

Yes, regular Keo 2 Max pedals (not the blade ones), adjustment screw was at minimum, seemed quite a bit harder to exit than the Campagnolo pedals
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #22 on: November 22, 2018, 05:11:23 pm »
Wax on the cleat/ pedal interface (or even a good clean) can reduce friction considerably.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #23 on: November 22, 2018, 05:13:55 pm »
Why not try flat pedals?

Well I have when commuting and touring for most of the past 10 years, apart from sometimes using SPDs, but I'm getting more into fast road cycling.

Quote
People find the clicky feeling and sound pleasing, but, other than for sprinting where it does make a difference, no-one has ever come up with other genuine benefits from clipping in.

I'm definitely faster when using clipless pedals, whatever scientific tests may say, especially when accelerating, but not only that, even on the flat keeping a constant fast pace when pushing hard seems easier, maybe it's the more rigid soles or lighter shoes/pedals, but it definitely makes a difference for me. I don't think I get any extra power from upstrokes, though, like some claim, I don't pedal that way. I'm also more of a fast spinner than a masher, and it's reassuring to know my feet aren't going to slip off the pedals at high rpms.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyway

Re: Numb feet and discomfort from clipless pedals on long ride
« Reply #24 on: November 22, 2018, 09:01:48 pm »
I can spin faster (e.g. on fixed) using clipless pedals. I know BMXers can also pedal fast on flat pedals but I tend to ride further than they do.

I managed 180 rpm on flat pedals last week. My feet did come off though!