With shoes like those shown below, when you adjust the buckle to the most tight position, the release handle is blocked (IMHO, this is due to bad engineering but cannot be changed.) Usually, this happens to me during several hour bike rides after readjusting, i.e. tightening the ratchet strap. As a result, I have to use tricks like inserting thin sheets of metal between the buckle and the strap, which is especially tricky in places where you do not have those devices around.

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The major question is, how can I avoid this with my existing shoes? E.g. I was thinking of "inserting something" so that the most tight position is blocked.

However, I am also wondering whether I am the only one who experiences this problem, i.e. whether I am the problem, by e.g. buying shoes that are too large (by common standards, this is not the case) or by feet that shrink much more than average during pedaling.

EDIT: Regarding myself as a problem, I should add that due to a rare type of blood cancer, my blood is "thicker" (which is a physically incorrect term) than average, resulting in a bad (micro)circulation, especially during long exercise. Hence, an optimum solution would not increase the chance for unwanted heating, e.g. by wearing additional socks.

  • Can't say I've ever had that problem, in fact I've always found ratchet-style fasteners to be very good. Just to clarify, you're tightening by pulling the white bit up, and loosening by pushing the black bit down, right?
    – PeteH
    Jun 14, 2014 at 16:02
  • It sounds like you might have too big shoes.
    – Batman
    Jun 14, 2014 at 16:08
  • @Batman I agree, but it's really only the sound ;-) Regarding the (little) space from my large toe to the toecap, the position and space consumption of my feet, and finally the shoe size, it is a "perfect" fit. Plus, I've never had any shoe size / fitting problems before, which provides at least an estimate of my ability to choose appropriate shoe sizes.
    – StefG
    Jun 15, 2014 at 12:23
  • @PeteH Exactly, and in its most tight position, there is no space to push the black bit down. Apart from this problem, I am very much with your opinion on ratchet-style fasteners; they are so much more convenient than anything else.
    – StefG
    Jun 15, 2014 at 12:24
  • That does indeed sound like a design flaw. I've had Specialised and Sidi shoes and never had any problem whatsoever. Sorry I can't help.
    – PeteH
    Jun 15, 2014 at 13:23

4 Answers 4


To fix your existing shoes, I would either move where the strap attaches to the "tongue" of the shoe or where the buckle is fixed to the side of the shoe. The straps are designed to be replaceable ( as well as the buckles ).

I would take a closer look at your shoes, many Shimano models have small screws that fasten the buckle to the shoe so it can be replaced. If I am remembering correctly, they also have two sets of positions so you can place the buckle lower on the shoe if you want.

Even if this is not the case with your shoes, you should be able to move the position of the buckle using pop rivets. This is something skiers do with ski boots all the time, so if your local cobbler can't handle the problem, you might try a ski shop.

  • That could have been the solution if the small screws you're talking about would come off. I do not know whether this is a problem of wearing the shoes for around a year almost daily 1-2-3 hrs. I will follow your advice to consult corresponding professionals, txs!
    – StefG
    Jun 16, 2014 at 18:16

Streuth, you are right! I just tried tightening my Shimano SR215s and now I can't get my shoes off! I thought you must have very thin feet, but I do not and this position is not all that tight. I have never tightened them up this much before simply because the ratchet straps are old and difficult to tighten. When I get some replacement straps, this is going to be a problem.

Rather than building up the straps with Sugru or tape you could grind away the ratchet teeth from the top of the strap with a box cutter or angle grinder.

Few, I managed to get them off using the blade of a pair of sissors inserted from the bottom.

I would like to thank Fred the Magic Wonder Do because I have moved the buckles to the low screw position, not only making this over-tightened position near impossible but also allowing me to use a different part of the strap, giving new life to the straps and my shoes!


Perhaps the shoes are the right length, but too wide for your feet. You could wear extra socks so you wouldn't have to tighten them so much, but that would probably make them too warm. Maybe an extra insole would make them a little tighter without making them much warmer, as there isn't much airflow through the sole anyway.

  • Thanks for this proposal that will hopefully help others with this type of problem. However, in my case, I would like to refrain from anything that has a chance to decrease airflow / increase heating, see my edit.
    – StefG
    Jun 15, 2014 at 12:39
  • Northwave makes high end shoes with velcro only attachments. Shimano tends to be wider than average when it comes to shoes. European brands like Northwave, Sidi (i.e. made in Northern Italy ) tend to have narrower lasts that might match your foot shape better. Jun 15, 2014 at 14:58
  • There are also shoe brands that allow you to move where the rachet band attaches to the shoe. Jun 15, 2014 at 15:00

One word: Sugru.

It's a great self-curing plastic that allows you to "hack" your shoes in all sorts of ways. You can knead in a bit of it to make sure the tightest buckle position is blocked. You can use it to add a lip to the release to make it easier to grab. You can use it to repair your shoes. Next to ShoeGoo and gaffer's tape, it's the Best Thing in the Universe®.

You can get it at http://sugru.com/ -- and sadly no, I don't get any kickbacks from them otherwise I'd be a millionaire, as I evangelize it as much as I can. :-)

  • 1
    Another idea that appeared to me based on your proposal and the fact that I will move soon and cannot currently order sugru (due to the ongoing address change) is duct tape. With duct tape, I can prohibit positions where releasing the straps becomes impossible. Nevertheless, as an ex-professional material scientist, I will check out Sugru ASAP for various purposes, txs!
    – StefG
    Jun 18, 2014 at 19:15

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