I recently replaced my clip-in pedals(SPD) with regular flat pedals on my commuter cycle with the hope to avoid wearing shoes with cleats on my commute. I want to wear my water proof boots to work when cycling. The problem I face is that my feet are not positioned properly, I usually find that one foot is farther or behind the other foot.

  1. I considered adding a cage on the flat pedals but I cannot fit my boots in the toe clip.
  2. I tried booties on my cleated shoes with clip-in spd pedals, but it is too much effort for commuting, the booties wear out fairly quickly due to frequent stops/walking and I feel that cleated shoes/booties are good for long rides on the weekend.
  3. Pedals with SPD on one side and flat on the other still poses the same problem, alignment of foot when using the flat side.

I am looking for a solution where I can wear normal shoes/sandals/boots that is weather-appropriate when I am commuting to work. I think a vast majority of cyclists use regular flat pedals/ flat pedals with toe cages. Is there a trick/tip to align both feet properly on pedals or should I give up hope on being able to wear non-cleated shoes and go back to clip-in spd pedals? Or do I just need more practice with flat pedals? Are there other riders who have this problem? I did ride a mountain bike with flat pedals during my high school days but never thought about foot alignment, but back then I had never used clip-in pedals.

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    You can get a sort of toe clip cage that has no "cage", but just a front lip and provisions for a strap. Or you could probably even craft something with some odd parts from a hardware store -- you just need a lip on the front end to "register" your shoes where you desire them. Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 22:37
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    You seem to have considered every alternative except finding waterproof cycling shoes. I have used SPD pedals for everything since I discovered them 20 years ago, and wouldn't consider changing. The big advantage of proper cycling shoes is the stiffness they have, to support your feet. If you start getting foot soreness then change back asap, because foot injuries can keep you off your bike for a long time!
    – andy256
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 9:27
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    @andy256 - Waterproof cycling shoes solved my problem. After riding SPD pedals for just a year and switching to flat pedals; I couldn't ride the flats for more than couple of weeks. I switched back to SPD as I did not want to spend lot of energy and focus on my feet position.
    – Akshay
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 20:14

5 Answers 5


This is a mindfulness technique rather than a product, but when riding on flat pedals I consciously focus on keeping the balls of my feet over the pedal spindles. (I also resist the temptation, every time I see someone pushing flat pedals with their heels, to yell out "You're doing it wrong!")

  • Oh every couple of rides down a rocky hill that mini-heartstroke when one of my foot slips on the wet platform ... only to rotate is 180 degrees and grip it with the heel, preventing me from rapidly "sitting" onto the top tume! Stepping on the arch is more stable, but slipping is not recoverable for me.
    – Vorac
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 8:41

I ride flats for everything: city, XC, DH, DJ. Depending on what you want to do you can move your feet appropriately. I find that for XC and commuting types of riding moving my feet back so the balls of my feet are slightly forward of the axle/spindle gives me the best power transfer. If I want more stability I move my feet forward so the arch of my foot is firmly across the spindle so I have more foot on the pedal. Moving your feet inboard (towards the cranks) can increase control and moving outward can give more clearance to your legs.

As far as getting the same spot every time: practice! Did you nail a clip-in perfectly on your first few rides? Probably not, same goes for flats, the more you ride that way, the quicker you'll teach your body where the foot goes.

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    The first few rides with clip-in; the only thing I nailed perfectly was to deal with my bruised ego and not give up on the expensive pedal/shoe setup I just purchased.
    – Akshay
    Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 20:46

James Wilson, who provides mountain bike specific strength training coaching, has made a blog post and video describing how to get a good foot placement on a flat pedal. He has already explained it well, so it's best just to quote him:

3) Foot Placement: The first thing that you will notice on flat pedals is that your feet naturally go to a mid-foot position where the ball of the foot is placed in front of the pedal axle. This is much different than the foot position where most clipless pedals want to put you, which is with the ball of the foot directly over the axle. However, having the ball of the foot in front of the axle is actually a more natural and, one could argue, better position for your foot.

From a functional movement point of view, trying to place the ball of your foot directly on top of the pedal axle is not the best position for your foot to be whether you are on flats or clipless pedals. Driving through the ball of the foot is what you want to do when you are propelling your center of gravity forward – like when running or jumping – but this is not what is happening when we pedal out bikes. When pedaling you are driving the pedals away from you, much like when you squat or deadlift, and that type of leg drive is much better delivered from a more mid-foot position. This more mid-foot position also allows improved recruitment of the hips during the pedal stroke, especially when standing.



When I abandoned my SPD pedals after breaking my ankle, I had the same problem you faced, my feet slid around on the pedals and I could not keep my feet positioned. As others have mentioned, practice helps and your placement will improve as you consciously work on it about it. Then I recently discovered flat 'pin' pedals and now my feet stay planted where ever I put them. There are a number of different styles with both set screws and 'smooth pins' on the pedal. I purchased a pair of xpedo's for my touring bike and plan to add them to our tandem over the winter. I feel my pedal problems are history with these new pin pedals whether I am riding with biking shoes, walking shoes or my Keen sandals my feet stay put and starting and stopping is effortless.

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I will point out two things Sheldon Brown has on his site - Keith Bontrager's "Myth of KOPS" and Sheldon has a page on Bicycling in Pain.

Short version: The general old guideline is position around the ball of the foot.

I prefer to go a little bit towards the arch cause its more comfortable for my geometry.

http://sheldonbrown.com/pain.html http://sheldonbrown.com/kops.html

Theres also a good thread on rec.bicycles.tech which is a bit long: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.bicycles.tech/nmXPJGOFMjo

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