Cleat position - Whats your theory?

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by LouisN

frenk wrote:last week I have been professionally fitted and the guy explained me a method to position the cleats.

Stand with bare foots on the ground, draw a little mark in front of your foot, then draw a point near your foot ball on the inside of the foot. Also draw a point near your foot ball on the outside of the foot.

Then move away your foot and draw two parallel lines that go each one through one of the two points. Take a point in the middle of these two lines, this is where your pedal axle should sit.

You can translate this measure to the cleat/shoe with a caliper.

To make sure the cleats are straight, you can just press the inside of your shoe on the ground, then with a "triangle ruler" (how do you say that in english??) check that the cleat is straight. This can also be changed slightly depending on your preference.

(sorry that's probably my worst ever computer drawing...)

I've been told the same thing since my frst bike , back in the mid-80's, and have always put my cleats this way...
.....Don't know if it's the most efficient way though...

Louis :)

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by bomber

Bit of background. In August last year I suffered a fractured tibial plateau, in in other words broke my knee. I returned to riding on the road late December with a 10cm difference in the circumference of my legs.

I January of this year I went for a fitting with Steve Hogg here in Sydney. We discovered amongst other things a functional leg difference due to muscle imbalances from the injury but also a disconnect and inability for me to activate the certain muscles fully. The functional leg difference was corrected through the use of shims.

The biggest change however was a move to speedplay pedals and the shifting of my cleat position from under the ball of my foot to behind the ball of the foot which necessitated a slight lowering of the saddle. The change on the trainer was instantanious with the full engagement of the quad.

Its been close on 5months of riding with this set up and my legs are nearly symmetrical now and I am able to climbing better than before the injury. Riding with guys who previously left me for dead.

I don't think I could go to the extreme as Steve has with a midfoot cleat but i am certainly very happy with my set up which is halfway between midfoot and under the ball placement.
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by syklisten

Kind of struggling finding the optimum cleat position, especially concerning the for/aft-position. I simply can't decide whether I wanna use the "ball of foot over the pedal spindel" theory, or one of the thousands that place it 5, 7, 9 etc. centimeter in front of the spindle. Any tips? Always when I adjust I keep thinking there might be a more powerful position. I'm also using Speedplay pedals, so even small changes takes several minutes.

If anyone knows: Is there a known connection between cleat position and cadence? Meaning that there will be more difficult to achieve a high cadence when the cleat are moved closer to the heal. Or is cadence mostly influenced by the saddle hight and the for/aft-position on the seat-post?

Hope somebody can help, because now is the right time of the season to make changes. :D

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by Rick

I seem to be following the "slightly behind ball" system.
I mark the "ball" on both the inside and outside of the foot. This creates an angle across the foot. Then I mount the cleat center at the midpoint. The cleat is actually centered slightly behind where the "ball" apears to be in the inside.
But there is so much variability that it is difficult to be sure. I use this method mostly for consistency. I am not convinced it really makes a difference in power. I don't "ankle" much in my pedal stroke. My ankle is "relaxed", but naturally stiff enough that it doesn't move much.

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by drmutley

I think Steve Hogg has some good concepts, and a proven track record...

Good read here.... ... -position/

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by Geoff

I think that is yet another 'personal preference' thing. A lot has been made of the 'mid-foot' cleat lately, but I don't think I could do it. Once you get so used to something, it is hard to change it. It would just feel too strange.

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by syklisten

I know, when I recently went for a BG Fit (mostly to get a second opinion on my position, only raised my saddle 1 mm and 1 cm to the front) the "fitter" too told me that cleat position is a personal thing. But what I simply wont is someone to tell me that "this" is the best position and I'll go with that. Now I basically can't decide and it feels that all the different theories has its pros and cons when I test them. :(

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by geraldatwork

I moved my cleats a bit behind prob 7-8mm the ball of my foot and have seen a noticeable improvement in my performance. I have SPD pedals for my road bike so I use the lower pair of holes all the way pushed to the bottom. I am a club rider doing 50-65 mile rides. From when I started last November I was among the slower 1/3 of the group to where now I am one of the 4 or 5 strongest riders of about 25. As always there may be other variables but I have been riding with the same group for 6-7 years and am 63 with no other major changes. Except I started drinking (frozen first) Nesquik on my rides at about the same time.
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by syklisten

Lately I have also had my cleats around 5mm to 10mm behind the ball of the foot. What I notice is that when going uphill this way my legs can push harder, and my legs does not feel very tired during a stage race. But when being out of the saddle I feel that the muscles on the upper part of my femur is taking a lot of the stress and that no other muscle groups are activated. On the flats I simply feel not that strong like when I got the cleats to the front. Keeping a nice and high cadence also gets more difficult and it it seams that my lower legs aren't contributing that much. But this might be affected by saddle position.

Earlier this year I had a bit more forward position of the cleat (0-5mm behind the ball...) and I overall felt much stronger. The downside was that I struggled with cramps and after hard effort my legs would feel stiff for some days.

Really don't know what to do...maybe I just should ask Alberto Contador or Andy Schleck what theory they are using. In seems that Contador at least has found a position that works as good uphill as on the flats. :D

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by shadwell

My Theory is to use the theory of those far more knowledable than me in this field.....

In my case that is Steve Hogg...

I took his logic 4 years ago, compared my own situation to judge applicability / relevence, then did my best to emulate it / apply it to myself..

A few years later following injury, i realised I had poorly applied the direction given which resulted in overuse injuries. i then sought a full physical assesment & bike fit from Steve Hogg.

Following numerous alterations to my interpretation of his information, and addition of adjustments which i had never applied / had the knowledge to ID the need to apply etc (custom arch support, custom varus provision etc.. )
I have been riding stronger and longer without injury for over 12 months, so mission accomplished...

One thing i have learned is that there is not necessarily one cleat position which is best for all cycling disciplines, track ""tend"" to have cleat over ball to allow faster accelarations as the leg is over tdc sooner, road race ""tends"" to take a middle ground looking to enlist all leg muscles in proportion of their ability, ie balance the load using the largest muscles to do the greatest work and the smaller muscles to do lesser volume / level of work, balancing endurance with speed in essence..... and for pure endurance with lower peak force, the cleat under arch (or midfoot ) position has been shown to offer considerable merits.... In every incidence the "evidence" is published so each needs to take from it what they will...

So pick your discipline then set yourslef accordingly...

Also don't disregard the impact age, reduction in flexibility, postural changes / challenges, injuries etc etc can have on your "best fit" in regards to cleat position (or any other aspect of bike fit for that matter), it may need to change slightly as time marches on...

Most of all seek the most knowledgeable and well regarded support within practical reach to nail this...

Hope this has been helpful to someone out there...

Best of luck

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by KWalker

syklisten wrote:I know, when I recently went for a BG Fit (mostly to get a second opinion on my position, only raised my saddle 1 mm and 1 cm to the front) the "fitter" too told me that cleat position is a personal thing. But what I simply wont is someone to tell me that "this" is the best position and I'll go with that. Now I basically can't decide and it feels that all the different theories has its pros and cons when I test them. :(

BG Fit can be great or it can be awful. They basically teach people to use a goiniometer, which isn't really that relevant most of the time, and how to question them/screen them for basic functionality problems and use a video camera to observe their pedal stroke. In bad cases, the fitter will actually recommend Specialized or other products to correct the problem before actually trying to correct it with the individual's current equipment and base their results on the gear not on the changes. In even worse cases they do both changes at once and can't trace what did what.

If a good fitter can't confidently recommend you a specific item position with sound advice based on your personal factors then they're not a very good fitter. Then, if you try their advice and it doesn't work they should have options for you and be able to adapt.

With that said I used the spindle slightly behind ball of foot protocol. I spent a long time going off of feel, then read Hogg's article and miraculously noticed that my most preferred position was actually right within his guidelines. I tried my cleats way rearward and didn't like it for many reasons.

People also have to remember that cleats are just one thing. A bad saddle position can cause even more bad feelings, such as those listed above. I'd get the cleat OK, and then worry more about saddle position.
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by natefontaine

I went from Ball >2cm behind with 6deg float to Ball over spindle with fixed cleats, but got there in a different way. I changed because I would fatigue quickly and get bad cramps in my quads, hamstrings and right arch, near the end of very hard efforts.

I now think it depends on shoe, foot and crank length. Interesting thought: I measured the center pressure point distances of the my 1st metatarsal and the calcaneus, and found it to be ~170mm +/-1mm. Also checked the impressions from an old pair of thongs, and it was about the same. I put the cleat 170mm from the pressure point center of the calcaneus while in the shoes. My crank happens to be 170mm also. Ipso Facto, ball of the foot over the pedal spindle. Not sure how to account for the side to side measurement. I just put the cleats close enough to the crank so there is no shoe rub, with fixed cleats, and heal angle outward a few degrees from center. 5 months and no pain, I can report that all elements of cycling have improved with the change.

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by syklisten

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The one thing that keep bothering me now is that someone means that the further back on the shoe the cleats are placed, the more power do you loose. Is this a fact or just an opinion (which there is a lot of when discussing cleat position)?

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by syklisten

Finally decided, the cleats are placed around 1 cm behind the ball of the foot. Thank for bother answering me. :D

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by Tinea Pedis

Add me to list of those behind Steve Hogg's method.

Definite improvements for me.

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