I originally started out with some cheap Specialized road shoes and never thought much about my shoes. I developed a problem with really bad hot spot at the ball of my one foot which happens to be my dominant leg. The opportunity presented itself so I picked up a pair of R220 last year and even had them molded. They were good for a while but the issue returned and became a sharp pain. Upon inspection of the shoe I had an issue with construction and they were actually replaced under warranty. But that is getting of topic. I recently purchased a pair of Specialized S-Works and love the shoes. They helped immediately with foot comfort but the hot spot issue was only improved not remedied. The pain was interestingly behind the ball of the foot not on the ball. After doing some reading I realize that the red insoles supplied with the shoes are for pretty much flat-footed people. I promptly moved up to a blue insole because I already knew my arches are normal to high based on my running shoe experience. I did a century on the blue and saw big improvments with the issue. Based on those results and the fact that I was not feeling the arch support as much after the initial change, I have now moved up to the green insoles. I did a quick 30 miles ride today and experienced no foot pain. This was something that would happen at times only 15 miles into a ride and was typically effort related (climbing/sprinting).
This is interesting because I have previously read that insoles would not fix a hot spot problem. In speaking to a tri coach regarding this subject he made the issue real clear to me. With an insole that does not have the proper arch support what is in effect happening is the arch is collapsing and the foot is forced to flatten again the sole of the shoe. This explains the reason why the problem was behind the ball of the foot. The other upside to proper insoles, at least in my case, is shoe fit. With high arches the front of the foot tends to be flatter. This leaves a lot to be desired in veritical space in the toe box (too much). Having the insoles supporting the arch the vertical spacing is much improved.
My point of this post is, if you are suffering from fit isues with your shoes, it is worth it to perform a wet test of your foot to see where you are at with your arches. It's been said before here and other places but Specialized really deserves a lot of credit for thier insoles.
Cross: Ritchey Swiss Cross
MTB: Scott Scale, Norco Bigfoot