Bike Shoes & Cleat Positions

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    Brett Sutton

    With Daniela Ryf’s explosive performances this year and the wearing of the Biomac ‘ballet shoes’ early in the season, it has created the buzz around the fact that the shoes are in fact are custom made for mid-foot cleats. Thus giving a completely different position on the bike.
    While this position was new for Daniela, several squad members have been using a compilation of different cleat positions since 1993.

    Our Head German Coach, Jo Spindler, used them for 10 years while racing extremely successfully and running off the bike with times equal to the sport’s superstars.

    However, for now I will point out why we incorporate them into some of our athletes’ programs:

    The number one point is we do not use them primarily to help bike speed.
    I am in the business of training triathletes. Not cyclists. We use this set up primarily to enhance the run component of our ‎triathlon.

    While remembering our bike set up is a total package. Pedal placement does not take place without crank length and seat angle position being accounted for. We don’t just change the shoe position, we break it down in finite parts just as we do with the swim.
    There must be a reason for any change and it must not fit just what is best for the bike, but what will work in harmony with the run.

    Mid-foot in my opinion is superior in time-trialling and running off the bike if one pushes bigger gears and does not rely on the spinning motion. There is a view that it can be beneficial to higher cadences ‎also, but I personally use it for the less spin inclined.
    We do not advocate it for the drafting races.

    While it may be easy to assume it works for Daniela Ryf because of her superior size plus talent – as an example I would prefer to look to Diana Riesler, who had a breakthrough year in 2015 with multiple Ironman 70.3 and Ironman wins. Diana has ridden at least 10 Ironman performances with a sub 5-hour ride. What makes that so impressive? She weighs 52kg. A pocket rocket on the bike who has improved her run greatly with each season.

    Diana also rides more forward and deep, just as the Angry Bird. She wears the custom Biomac shoes as explained here. Size and power of the athlete is not the main ingredient to the sub 5-hour club.

    We use the shoes on very few athletes because they must be able to cope with the psychological aspects of using a technique that is not espoused through the triathlon community.
    However, if athletes can and are willing to change their position on the bike it is our opinion that it takes away some of the workload off specific calf muscles, that in turn allows the athlete to run faster and further off the bike.



    I am an age grouper who is comfortable coping with using non-standard techniques that work.
    Therefore, do you know of any off-the-shelf bike shoes that can be set up with a mid foot position like you describe?
    (Men’s in large would fit me, but I’m sure other readers would be interested to know of other sizes).

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