Jerry Gerlich, one of six Steve Hogg “Approved” bike fitters world-wide is constantly refining ways to integrate cyclists and bicycles. The connection between the feet and pedals is the crucial base of a comfortable, efficient and solid cycling experience. Shoes, insoles, pedal choice, shimming and subtle wedging (canting of the foot in the shoe or the shoe on the pedal) can massively influence comfort and performance.
Just like a well-fitting pair of ski boots or a horse saddle, appropriately shaped cycling shoes can and should feel awesome. Bont, Lake, Louis Garneau and Shimano offer heat moldable cycling shoes that can adapt to unique foot contours. These shoes have carbon fiber soles with resins making them pliable between 160-210 degrees Fahrenheit allowing for shape customization. The upside to these products is the ability to customize the shoes around foot anomalies like bunions and high arches. One downside is that the user needs to work fast with specific plans as the carbon soles cool quickly and can harden before achieving the desired contours. Also, molding the forefoot area of the shoe too snugly can crowd the toes together causing discomfort. Some companies offer basic hand-molding suggestions while Shimano offers a vacuum bag that encapsulates the whole shoe/ankle to suck out the air and apply equal tension around the whole shoe. The vacuum bag technology can work very well for some riders, but not so well for others.
Back in the mid 80’s to mid 90’s, Jerry did a lot of high volume drumming and mountain biking with shoes too tight for both applications leading to claw-like toes and chronically sore feet. Below is a description of various unique techniques Jerry recently used with his heat moldable mountain biking shoes. His goals were to contour the shoes allowing for a wide and comfortable toe box yet a snug fit at the arches and heel cups for efficient power transfer and reduced Achilles tendon chaffing. Be forewarned, these “unique” techniques might seem a bit odd. The bottom line is a individualized result for some unique feet.
• Step 1: Remove insoles/cleats and heat the shoes in a toaster oven per the manufacturer’s temperature and time instructions
• Step 2: put on toe socks with the tips cut off and 3 layers of tape around the smallest 3 toes while shoes are heating. This technique widens the toe area of the forefoot around which the heat moldable shoe to conform. You can add 2-4 layers of tape around the big toe or bunion areas to push the inside of the heated shoe outward if desired (see picture)
• Step 3: remove one heated shoe, insert the desired insole (Jerry uses G8 2620’s with level 5 arch supports) place the foot in the shoe and adjust the Velcro, buckles/dial tensioners to an appropriate feel working quickly
• Step 4: insert the foot/shoe into the center portion of two blood pressure cuffs hooked together via Velcro and pump them to an appropriate pressure to push the arch area of the shoe into the bottom of the foot to what feels appropriate, roughly 140-160 mm/Hg and quickly apply a hobby clamp around the back sides of the heel cup to snug that area against the foot appropriately (see picture)
• After everything cools for at least 15 minutes while you are just sitting on the floor, reinstall the cleats, go for a ride to see how things feel
• After a quick spin, Jerry used a heat gun (carefully) to warm up the heel cup area of the sole until malleable then used the hobby clamp to mold that area for a comfy fit sans heel slippage (see pic 3)
• Took more time than the videos from the manufacturers but the outcome was fantastic!
All of Jerry’s Comprehensive Fittings come with a 100% money back guarantee. If the client is not satisfied that Jerry did all he could do to sort out the positional issues 90 days post-fitting, all fitting fees will be reimbursed. The idea of true functional and ergonomic change on a bicycle is easy to talk about but tough to execute. Jerry has the knowledge, skills and follow up recommendations to clear the most challenging fitting hurdles.
Ready to get started? Have questions for Jerry? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-472-3605.