After having used platform pedals, I've recently started using Shimano SPD pedals on my cyclocross bike, which I mainly use on paved roads. I really like being clipped in, however, I have a condition with sore forefeet, with the pedals just making things worse due to pressure being applied in quite a small spot.

My question: What are the best pedals for distributing pressure across the largest possible area on the foot? Something like Shimano SPD SL?

  • 2
    Just for clarification: Is the pain a piercing pain (from high pressure), numbness (pinched blood vessels or nerves) or chafing?
    – Michael
    Aug 23, 2019 at 9:22
  • It's metatarsalgia.
    – agibsen
    Aug 24, 2019 at 11:46
  • I have a similar problem, and I added a soft insole to my shoes. It helped a little, but it’s not perfect.
    – SimonL
    Aug 26, 2019 at 9:23
  • 2
    Get shoes with a stiffer sole to spread the load
    – Mr_Thyroid
    Aug 26, 2019 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


All clipless pedals, including road versions, have very small contact patch. Even though road pedals are large, most of the size is just mechanism and actual contact patch is the small metal patch over the axle. The largest contact area is probably with MTB pedals that have metal frame around the clipping mechanism.

What you need is shoes with stiffer soles.

I have had flexy shoes from Mavic for both SPD and road pedals, and those were painful to ride. Stiffer shoes have been just fine with the same pedals.

  • Agreed. In addition a good insole with arch support can help. Proper cleat position below the ball of the foot (or slightly towards the heel) is also important.
    – Michael
    Aug 23, 2019 at 9:18
  • I'm not sure that arch support does much in cycling. All the weight should be around the ball of the foot.
    – ojs
    Aug 23, 2019 at 12:43
  • 2
    On a CX bike where some running is included, the soles need to be stiff at the cleat but have enough flex to enable off cycle activity.
    – Carel
    Aug 23, 2019 at 13:18
  • 1
    The flex for walking is in different direction than the flex you don't want for pedaling, so with clever design and some toe spring shoes can be good enough for cyclocross.
    – ojs
    Aug 23, 2019 at 14:13
  • 1
    You'd need a shoe with extra room and some cobbler skills to do that. Structurally thin and stiff is impossible, you need to have thick insole or some 3D structure for stiffness.
    – ojs
    Aug 23, 2019 at 20:05

Certain clipless pedals include platform-like components to support the foot. From the cleat brand I am using these include Crankbrothers Candy, Mallet and Double Shot (in the order of the increasing size of the platform).

The platforms are rotating around the spindle independently of the locking mechanism so that the pedals do not loose the four-side clipping feature.

Double Shot pedal

The pedals offered to your preferred cleat system may provide similar pedals.

These pedals are all classified as MTB, but especially the smaller ones can certainly be used to even race professionally on the road.

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