recumbent biking and stiff shoes
Aug 29, 2015 at 4:19 pm #1332139
On a recumbent bike (delta trike actually) with a weight of 60-65 lbs and 3 wheels 1,75" wide and a 20" diameter, a lot of force on the pedals is required to overcome the weight issue and the friction forces to ascend (very) long mountain passes. Currently two types of shoes are being used: a trailrunner with a very nice footclimate but also too flexible and a GTX-boot wich is stiffer but lacks the nice footclimate. Specific biking shoes have been tried but didn't fit. So a solution is being sought to have the footclimate of the trailrunner combined with at least the stiffness of the GTX-boot. Any ideas ?Aug 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm #2223829Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
How about adding a large plate to the pedal. Then you could wear the light trail runners. This has been done to fit trail runners to crampons, and it worked fine. CheersAug 29, 2015 at 10:10 pm #2223885Peter JSpectator
@northoaklandLocale: Temescal Creek
I wouldn't give up on bicycle specific shoes too quickly. If your feet are higher than you waist on the trike, clipless pedals are really nice. Otherwise you use a lot of energy just holding your legs in the air and can't relax your leg muscles as well during the pedal stroke. With soft soled shoes you can get platform pedals which give a larger surface area to push on. Or, you can even go with clipless sandals for maximum air flow :) There are also mtn bike shoes that are really close to being light dayhikers. -Peter (bike: Bacchetta Corsa)Aug 30, 2015 at 3:56 am #2223902
@Peter Clipless shoes are already being used; feet are held up in the air by some piece of elastic sling that starts at the pedal, runs around the foot and returns to the pedal and a toebasket (like this) ; I think the pedals are already platform-like; and MTB-shoes were already tried but those are too flexible. Just a lot of power (A LOT) is put on the pedals. Other recumbent bikes (so 2 wheels) doing the same have been seen and they pedal a lot easier and go faster (my guess would be due to lower frictional forces). @Roger do you mean permanantly attached plates ?Aug 30, 2015 at 7:39 am #2223912Dave GreyBPL Member
Woubeir, If your trike rides well on the flat, friction is not likely to be a factor, other than reducing weight I would consider whether your gearing is appropriate. DaveAug 30, 2015 at 2:11 pm #2223951
Believe me, gearing is appropriate. I had a derailler which was already ok, but now there's an IGH on the trike with the gear inches of 3 gears smaller then the smallest with the derailler and the smallest now (about 10 gear inches) more then 24% smaller then the smallest then. Yes, there are ways to go even smaller, but not by much.Aug 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm #2223965Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> @Roger > do you mean permanantly attached plates ? Sort of. I would try bolting some good-sized (foot shaped) plates to the pedals so they stay there as long as you need them, but could be removed if you don't like them. If it turns out to be a really good idea, maybe you could actually replace the whole pedal on the crank. CheersAug 31, 2015 at 6:23 am #2224074
Interesting idea. I'm also thinking about carbon fiber insoles. They're not cheap on their own, but compared to the cost of the trike with all the alterations, they are cheap. But are they rigid enough ?Aug 31, 2015 at 3:01 pm #2224171Peter JSpectator
@northoaklandLocale: Temescal Creek
Typically, the pedals that you posted a picture of are considered pedals with "toe clips." The sling around the heel is a cool answer to the question of how to keep your feet in the pedals while riding a recumbent! Clipless on the other hand, have a cleat on the bottom of the shoe (Look, Shimano, Speedplay…) that attaches directly to the pedal. The ones for road cycling tend to have a larger contact area on the bottom of the shoe than those intended for mountain biking. Road cycling shoes are designed to address the very question that you have posed – how to be stiff enough for a full transfer of power to the pedals. If you were to create a stiff lightweight insert for a pair of trail runners you still have the problem of the squishy sole reducing the efficiency of every pedal stroke. And, if you created a custom shoe with a stiff sole and the uppers of a trail runner you would have essentially created a well vented road cycling shoe, which do exist. If it is more of a fit problem some do have insoles that are similar to the ones found in ski boots (heat them up in the oven, then stand on them while they cool). High end bicycle shops that offer 'bike fitting services' can also customize insoles. Good luck and happy riding up those alpine passes! -PeterSep 1, 2015 at 4:28 am #2224302
@Peter J I have different pedals then the one in the picture but the rest is the same. The surface area is larger with mine, but I don't know how much. Do I understand it correctly that for the clipless attachment, you still need a specific shoe ? That I would still have some reduction in powertransferefficiency with just the use of stiff insoles, is ok for me. I have plenty of power in my legs and it's all about not having those painfull feet anymore when I use my trailrunners which are too flexible or less painfull feet but an uncomfortable footclimate in the GTX-boots and I hope such a stiff insert would take that away. But am I wright in hoping that.Sep 1, 2015 at 8:00 am #2224325
Woubeir, I'm a bit late here but I'm also more of a cyclist than [bike/back]packer so I might be able to help a bit more than usual here. It really sounds like your solution is to get clipless pedals. They're a bit tricky at first but after getting used to them over a few rides they're amazing and you'll never want to go back. If you're already using toe-clips like that then you're 90% of the way there and it should be a fairly easy transition (just need to get used to the ankle flick movement that unlocks the shoes–you probably already have to remember to pull your foot out a certain way so it's just a manner of adjusting, not relearning from scratch) You may very well end up finding a solution with a heavy duty boot that's very breathable but I think the cost would match that of a clipless pedal/shoe setup…the downside is that you're then left with heavy shoes that are still unlikely to perform anywhere near what clipless setups offer (toe-clips help greatly with performance in allowing you to generate force through the upstroke while pedaling…clipless lets you generate power the entire rotation and there's less power loss as well because you're attached directly to the crank/pedal) Regarding stiff insoles — These exist as a solution for orthodic issues. If you pronate/stupinate then you buy a stiff orthodic insert. This is simply not a solution for your problem though. Though, if you actually need orthodics, I highly recommend getting custom ones from an orthodic doctor or from sols.com (you can spend a few hundred bucks but they last a lifetime and have fixed almost all of my running/cycling issues regarding comfort and joint pain–I pronate very badly in my right foot though) My suggestion would be this…determine your needs and clipless pedals/shoes that match; If there's any chance of getting the bottom of your shoe muddy go with MTB pedals/shoes. The pedal mounting in MTB shoes is quite stiff and you shouldn't have any issues with it. Road shoes/pedals are made for pure stiffness but perform poorly if they get dirt/mud/sand into them. MTB shoes/pedals are less stiff (but way better than non-clipless) but dirt/mud/sand have a minimal impact on performance. MTB pedals — I like Crank Brothers (egg beaters are amazing…candy is OK) and Shimano (SPD is good) Road pedals — I like speedplay but they're a bit pricy (shimano is cheap and a good first step) FWIW, I know quite a few cyclists that use MTB pedals/shoes on their road bikes and have no issues…they usually do this because MTB shoes are far more comfortable off the bike and are a worry-free setup (ie, you don't have to worry about cleaning your pedals/cleats)Sep 1, 2015 at 9:19 am #2224347
All good info. To explain this a bit further, I don't use clips (the clip on the pedal matches the clip on the underside of the shoe, wright ?) and have already tried MBT-shoes but those are really not stiff enough. And pure road shoes are too narrow. About the pain-issue: it's not about painfull joints, but about pain in the footsoles from having to press on the pedals. Getting smaller gears has not solved this. Getting boots with stiffer midsoles has made the pain smaller but those boots vent hardly and create hot feet. That's why I was thinking about stiff insoles; to make up for the flexible midsoles in my trailrunners. And about price: as my bike and all the alterations have already cost me perhaps $7000 or more, even a few hundred dollars is no problem if it takes the problem away.Sep 1, 2015 at 9:49 am #2224353Andy StowBPL Member
@andysLocale: Midwest USA
You will have to do some work to attach straps, but you may want to try the MKS Lambda / Rivendell Grip King pedals. The force is spread out over a larger area, and the area where a typical hot spot forms is open. I use them, and love them, but I just use them on an upright bike with no straps.Sep 1, 2015 at 10:12 am #2224359
First, can somebody explain what sort of different shoe-pedal connections there are because I'm start to get confused about all the terms and certainly how to understand them as English is not my native language and I see terms like clips, clipless, cleats, … and perhaps the way I interpretate those terms may be not what you mean ?Sep 1, 2015 at 1:01 pm #2224397
http://www.bywayofbicycle.com/toe-clips-vs-clipless/ ** Toe clips attach to platform pedals…use with normal shoes ** Platform Pedal — Flat "normal" pedal Toe Clip — foot strap (attaches to platform pedal) ** Clipless pedals require a cycling shoe. Cleat locks shoe to the pedal ** Clipless Pedal — "special" pedal that requires cycling shoes Clipless Cleat — attaches to cycling shoe. (when you buy clipless pedals you get cleats for your cycling shoes) This shows the difference between road clipless and mtb clipless: http://university.tri-sports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/pedal50-copy.jpgSep 1, 2015 at 2:31 pm #2224418
OK, thanks, that helps a lot. So mine are actually a sort of platform pedal with clip features.Sep 1, 2015 at 2:49 pm #2224419
OK, so apparantly I have clips and as I need special biking shoes in the clipless way, going clipless and getting specific biking shoes is not an option. I know that seems strange but I really prefer not to explain.Sep 7, 2015 at 9:23 am #2225379
Mmm, no input since I said clipless was no option. To get the highest gain in efficient power transfer, I agree going clipless would probably be the most efficient. But as my goal for now is just pedalling pain free without feeling the pedals through my shoesoles, how good or bad would the idea work of very stiff insoles ?Sep 7, 2015 at 9:29 am #2225380Dave GreyBPL Member
Woubeir, Have you considered cutting thin sheets of plywood, to cover the unevenness of your pedals? ie. between pedals and shoes. It would be a cheap, light solution. DaveSep 7, 2015 at 3:05 pm #2225417
Interesting idea although I'm already pretty sure it wont be enough.Sep 8, 2015 at 11:27 am #2225588
"But as my goal for now is just pedalling pain free without feeling the pedals through my shoesoles, how good or bad would the idea work of very stiff insoles?" I mentioned this earlier, but the problem with using stiff insoles is that you will still have a cushioned shoe soaking up energy. A stiff insole (orthotic insert) can definitely help with "hot spots" and foot pain. It will not help with transferring power to the pedals though. A less expensive alternative to orthotic inserts is a "Heat molded insole". These are insoles that you bake in the oven at a low temp to get them soft…then you place them in your shoes and stand in them for a few minutes to shape them to your feet. I don't believe that this will completely fix your foot pain from the pedals but it should help spread out the pressure more evenly. The inserts that I have used in the past are "Sole Ultra Softec". They cost me $40 USD and I ran thousands of miles in them before upgrading to an orthotic insert. Orthotics can cost $100+ and should require a doctor visit but are lighter and last a lifetime. I guess if you wanted to do it really cheap, you could try some "heat molded plastic beads" and make your own custom insole…I'm not sure how comfortable those would be though.Sep 8, 2015 at 11:49 am #2225598
Thanks. As I already mentioned, even the cost of a few hundred dollars is neglible if you compare that to 7000$ or more that I already spend on the bike. I also realise that it wont be the most transferefficient, but taking the foot pain away or at least reducing it largely) is the n°1 priority.Jun 8, 2016 at 12:44 pm #3407733Matt ThyerBPL Member
@feetforbrainsLocale: Pacific North West
I’ve ridden bent for a number of years and I think you’d be happier with an SPD pedal and shoe combination. Being able to hang your legs from the crank arms on long rides provides a momentary rest on long rides and the stiff soled shoes make the force required less of an endurance effrot.Jun 8, 2016 at 6:46 pm #3407814Justin WSpectator
Off topic, but was wondering if you have seen Cruzbike recumbents? I have an old version “Soft Rider” (which they no longer make), and really like it. Kind of the better (not best) of both worlds.Jun 9, 2016 at 4:27 am #3407880Adam KilpatrickBPL Member
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I have a lot of experience riding recumbent trikes. Early on for me, and also my mate Stephen, we both had foot hotspot issues with our clipless Shimano MTB SPD pedals and shoes.
This is a common problem with clipless cycling shoes (and indeed other pedal systems), in upright cycling, and the issue can be amplified on recumbents. However, its easily rectified. Two main ways:
1. Better quality shoes. Not all are equal. The cheaper ones are less stiff. Even just going up a model makes a big difference. We both had relatively low end Shimano shoes, and went out and bought top of the range (eg I bought Shimano M230…in fact I still use these despite them having over 30,000km on them not). Made all the difference. The carbon in them is NOT for show.
2. Different clipless pedals. The smallest ones are great for off road use as they dont get as full of mud. But you can get versions with a small amount of extra platform (eg some of the XT and XTR pedals). Makes a small difference, though we never had to bother.
On a solo training tour I did a few years ago, I rode to Sydney in under 9 days (from Adelaide). This was on my cheaper shoes, and I hadn’t realised the problem yet. This tour brought it out. After a few days my forefeet were numb and tingly. The tingly sensations didn’t totally go away until a couple of months later! When I got back I researched this and spent up on better shoes (as well as rested from recumbent triking for a little bit). Problem solved instantly…I could feel the difference straight away.
Actually it seems counterintuitive, but my M230 inner soles actually have a deliberate little ridge that presses up in the middle of my forefoot. Apparently this can also help some cyclists with this numbness issue.
Definitely avoid pedals on a recumbent trike that you aren’t clipped into! Much dangerous. You don’t want to slip off at speed…far more dangerous than on an upright. Also, much more efficient to be clipped in solidly.
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