I booked a bike fit session with Marcel at Lynnwood Cyclery recently to get properly set up on a new bike I’m riding. Because your feet are critical contact points with your bike, the fitment includes foot analysis. When he looked at my old Specialized footbeds/insoles, he noticed how my toes had worn small grooves into them and asked me if I curl my toes when I pedal.

Although not consciously, I realised I actually had been doing that because there’s enough space in my shoes for my toes to curl slightly. He recommended I try custom footbeds and I figured it could only be a good investment. The process was interesting. There are only two custom footbed fitting systems in South Africa – one in Stellenbosch and one at Lynnwood Cyclery. It’s a four-step process:

Step 1: Marcel assessed my feet to determine my foot length, width and arch height as well as look for anything that may create difficulties. Fortunately, my feet are fairly normal and healthy.

Step 2: The next step was to prepare the Retul foot moulding tray. The blue area is soft and malleable and, while my feet stayed place, Marcel pushed the blue material against my feet.   My soles remained in place and created their own impressions in the mould. This all took about 15 minutes.

Step 3: Once he was satisfied that my feet moulds were complete, he started heating a pair of 43 custom footbeds/insoles. Once they were heated to a point of being soft, he placed them into my foot recesses in the mould and ensured that they mimicked the shape of the mould created by my feet. 

Step 4: As they cooled – helped with ice – they hardened into the shape of my feet. Creating customized footbeds. At first my shoes felt a bit tight with the new footbeds in (remember, there was probably too much space in there before, causing me to subconsciously curl my toes slightly). 

How does it feel? My first ride felt quite different. Instead of my feet, especially my toes, having room to move, the custom footbeds helped my feet fill the shoes and I felt a more purposeful, powerful pedalling action. I don’t ride with a power meter, so can’t know if there’s any marked improvement, but I certainly feel more efficient and composed in my pedalling with the custom footbeds.

The technology is costly, but in order to make it accessible, the charge is R1800 per custom pair of footbeds (standard footbeds cost around R600 a pair). If you’re looking at fine-tuning your performance or comfort (or both), I can highly recommend this as an investment.

Sean Badenhorst, Editor, TREAD Media

More info and online booking here.