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cleat alignment setup

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by Crackle, 30 Oct 2007.

  1. Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    Having just gone clipless after 25 years of toeclips I'm still at the setup stage.

    2nd ride today, 17 miles after a 10 mile amble to build up slowly. I've made what I think is a final coarse adjustment today, bringing the cleats further towards the balls of my foot and skewing the alignment more to match my pigeony feet!

    I do now have some unusual muscle tenderness from just above the back of the knee up but no pain in knees or joints just the kind you get from pressing different muscles into service.

    It's worse on my left leg than my right. My right is normally pulled into the toeclip tight so doesn't rotate but my left is looser and so had a tendency to rotate further out with me correcting my foot position now and again.

    I hope my final adjustments will now ease this and at the moment I'm thinking that the muscles will get used to the cleats. I might even be using some muscles to pull 'around' that I hadn't been using before, especially with my left leg.

    Just wondered if anyone who'd swopped to them had had similiar experiences and if anyone had any useful tips on cleat alignment?
     
  2. alfablue

    alfablue New Member

    It is suggested to sit on a table with feet dangling free to see the natural angle the feet take up as a starter guide to cleat alignment. Then it is a case of fine tuning on and off the bike. For and aft position is likely to be best with the cleat right under the bal of the foot, or very slightly rearward (just a few mm). If the cleat is too far forward this could well cause knee or achiles problems, and possibly the aching at the back of your knee, as the muscles will probably go through a more extended range if the pivot point is too far forward.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    Lookly that was suggested to me on another post, so I had already skewed the cleats, just did it a bit more today.

    No, the tenderness is definetly muscular [goes and speaks to wife...]. It's my hamstrings apparently!
     
  4. Have you adjusted the saddle height to account for any difference in foot to pedal axle dimension.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    I hadn't but the difference is small, a few mm. I also checked position of foot width, q factor is it, that's now the same as was.

    I've also been doing some reading around and am feeling a bit more confident that this might just be down to a greater effeciency of the clipless pedals making me use my hamstrings more. It might be co-incidence but the last two rides have been, on average, 0.2 to 0.3 mph quicker. Not hugely significant I know.
     
  6. frog

    frog Guest

    Do your pedals have any 'float' built into them? This allows the knee joint to bend in a natural way rather than as a mechanical door hinge would
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    yes, they have 5 degrees I believe (SHimano A520). I have no problems (yet) with knee pain.

    Is float the side to side movement in the horizontal plane? If it is I have float in either plane on the right but my left foot was hard to the left side of the movement today, hence me adjusting it again.
     
  8. Blonde

    Blonde New Member

    Location:
    Bury, Lancashire
    Sound like a slightly tighter IT band on your left leg than the right. If that;s what it is then it will effectively shorten your leg. My left leg is not actually shorter than my right, but the tighter IT band on the left side it effectively shortens it by about 2mm which is enough to cause pain. This is normal - it really is very common to be tighter on one side than the other. I had pain in the left knee/muscle to the outside of the knee, (and slight 'waggle' of the left knee) until I put a 2mm LeMond Wedge under my left cleat which has completely solved the issue. The pain has gone and the knee tracks straight. If your leg is already actually shorter by a mm or two then with any additional tightness causing even more shortening, you may need several wedges. May be worth a try if stretching does not help.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    Thanks that's really useful to know. How did you find out your left leg was slightly shorter, trial and error?

    By chance I found a website which sells cleat shims so I know where to go if I end up needing them.

    I haven't got any IT band pain but that's not to say it might not be a factor. My knees also feel fine but my left hamstring is still sore today more so than the right. At the moment I'm still tending towards thinking that my muscles still need to get used to the different demands on them, particularly being in the same position. The cleats hold your feet from rotating far more effectively than toeclips. With toeclips upward movement is discouraged with tightening the straps however your feet do still rotate sideways near the toes. I was often having to re-adjust my feet straight on the pedals through my ride. I also think I need to adjust the saddle down slightly [Mickles' suggestion] as I have it up to far and am less able to compensate for that in cleats than toeclips but as I am just awaiting a new one I shall do that setup when it arrives.

    It's all quite subtle which is why other peoples knowledge is so vital as it may point me at something to look out for. I had expected some problems moving to cleats and hopefully they'll be minor. So far I think clipless is a much more convenient and easier system than toeclips - easier to get your feet out of as well, though they could be famous last words!!:blush:
     
  10. Blonde

    Blonde New Member

    Location:
    Bury, Lancashire
    No I had a CycleFit in London: http://www.cyclefit.co.uk/ It's more of a 'cyclist's fit' rather than a bicycle fit and I found it very useful.
    The ITB itself did not hurt, only the area of muscle directly next to the knee. However any muscle tightness that isn't exactly the same on the other side means there is some shortening of one side compared to the other.
    That's the problem. If in order to be comfy you need to rotate your feet, than then either position of the cleats is not right, or, you may need to wear orthotics in your shoes to stop any rotation at the ankle, or at the knee and to get comfortable. It's all because as cyclists we are trying to get comfortable on a symmetrical machine, but our bodies are not symmetrical and our feet may curve inward or outward at different points on each foot and our insteps may not be the same length, height or angle. Mine aren't, My left foot is larger than my right but has a shorter instep. The angles that my insteps curve at are not the same either so one knee/leg used to point inwards and one outwards when on the bike, and my left knee also moved n and out rapidly when pedalling (creating a 'waggling' effect) without the custom made orthotics and a 2mm wedge under the left cleat. I now look symmetrical on the bike, due to these alterations and there is no pain because I'm not constantly fighting a symmetrical pair of shoes, symmetrical cleats and symmetrical bike. Changing the saddle height could help, but it will depend on how much and where the asymmetry is as to whether this does enough to get you comfortable and pain free. Note: In terms of fore/aft and angle adjustment, do check that your cleats are not set up in exactly the same position on each shoe because it's very unlikely that your legs or feet are exactly the same length and so the ball of your foot may be slightly forward or backward of where you have placed the cleat. I agree with 'alfablue' that it's worth checking before you try anything else if you've not already done so.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    yes, makes perfect sense...

    I think you may have hit the problem for me here. It's something I hadn't really taken into account and could be why my left foot rotates out more in toeclips because by doing so it gives me more height extension by using the toe of my foot more than my right.

    I will now lower my saddle slightly prior to the new one arriving and try it out tomorrow.

    They are not the same. My left cleat has an entirely different angle on it now to my right. I can see by looking at the marks on my shoe made by the toeclips that my feet take different positions on the pedals. I've tried to match this.

    With the adjustments to my cleats already made after the last ride (both, further forward, left cleat skewed more) and my saddle slightly lower, I shall try another ride tomorrow and see what difference it makes.

    This may well take me longer to setup than I first thought.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    OK. Well the weather was too wet, grey and windy to hit the road today so I've done an hour on the turbo instead.

    Well adjustment wise, things have gone well. The lowering of the seat (approx. 5mm) made a profound difference to the left cleat. Now I had already angled the left cleat more to point my toe's more out from the bike so as soon as I started riding I could feel the float to either side of my foot. Previously my foot had been hard to the left of the movement but that wan't just it, more explanation below.

    My right foot had float in either direction but was hard to the front of the cleat i.e. pressing forward. Also I had over compensated on the angle of the right cleat in an attempt to get my left foot correct. Half way through the ride I stopped and adjusted the right foot straighter and moved the cleat ever so slightly back.

    My left foot is now perfect. In fact the left foot is beginning to come straight. I can only put this down to the fact that I've had my seat too high all of this year, that and the toeclips not holding my foot straight has probably allowed my muscles to develop unequally and start to skew my foot.

    My right foot needs further straightening and in comparison to the left feels as though it's not quite extending enough but it's OK.

    There is no soreness at all in my hamstrings.

    Lowering the seat has also given a smoother pedalling style and allows me to put a more even pressure around the pedal stroke and has put my ar@e in a more comfortable spot. Small but profound changes.

    So thanks to Mickle and Alfablue for giving me the right advice and for Blonde for helping me see what was going on and why I needed to make the changes.

    I'll see over the next few rides how things develop. If my left foot continues to come straight I may be able to raise the seat slightly and take the slight extra pressure off my right knee. If it doesn't I think I may buy a shim for the left cleat.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Pah Staff Member

    Location:
    Wirral
    Well just for completness I thought I'd just finish off my move to cleats experience.

    Nearly got them right now, some 10ish rides later, some slight adjustment forward or backward in the right foot left, that's all.

    All in all, I find them more convenient than toeclips, easier (famous last words) to get in and out of. No great advantage over toeclip effeciency on the flat or long steady climbs but huge advantage on short sharp out the seat and honk climbs as I never used to have my toeclips tight enough to keep my feet from moving about under huge strain.

    Big disadvantage for me is that I don't like walking about in SPD's and I'm thinking about touring here. I've currently got Taho's but might look for some others which have the cleat more recessed - any suggestions?
     
  14. alfablue

    alfablue New Member

    I used Shimano MT90 boots for touring, the cleats are well recessed, they have vibram soles like walking boots, and they are waterproof. May seem over the top, but I found them ideal for all round use on and off the bike, especially when negotiating muddy campsites and crossing streams.