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I ride my Brompton in normal shoes with quill/cage pedals and half-clips:


I've done 25-100 miles journeys, and occasionally find the balls of my feet get sore / toes go a bit numb. It feels as though it occurs where there is localised pressure from the leading edge of the cage. My guess is that the sole of my shoe does not distribute pressure enough (although from other questions here, perhaps I have a circulation issue too).

I see that rigid insoles exist for medical conditions. Would inserting one (or just a metal/plastic sheet of some sort) under a normal insole spread the pressure out at all? Would heat-moldable insoles do anything useful?

Would switching to platform pedals be likely to make any difference?
I need removable pedals, so something like MKS Allways, say:

Or, going really DIY, the Esprit cage is bolted on, how about mounting a strip of aluminium L profile over the leading edge to increase its surface area?

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  • Turns out (a) using Endura Humvee flat pedal shoes, or (b) not using toeclips (I guess foot position changes slightly) alleviates the symptoms. But I prefer half-clips in the wet, so shall next try adding a spacer to the half-clips, May convert this to an answer if it works out.
    – jhnc
    Jul 24, 2023 at 2:17
  • Another thought is to try a pair of shoes with thicker soles to spread the pressure, or some orthotic-type inserts to cushion more of the foot.
    – Criggie
    Jul 24, 2023 at 3:23

3 Answers 3

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Addressing a couple of your points:

  • If you wanted to stiffen the sole, you'd need to add quite a lot of stiffness to some shoes; in others, adding padding might help:

    • The left pair (black casual trainers) are probably a bit soft and might benefit from stiffening. I'd use 1 or 1.5mm polycarbonate sheet, and cut it with a jigsaw, clamping 2 sheets between 2 boards of scrapwood and cutting both feet at once.
    • The Oxfords on the right may already have quite a stiff sole, but they often have a thin sole. A thick gel insole might be all you need, assuming you have room for it.
  • Screwing extra aluminium onto the back edge might help, but you'd have to watch for the effect on the balance of the pedal - adding too much mass will alter the way it tilts and make it harder to get you toes into the clip.

But pedals with a cage of bent sheet metal (like those Esprit) are about the worst for concentrating pressure. They grip most soles well, but almost anything else would be better.

If you're into DIY solutions, a pair of aluminium sheets per pedal could be used to fill in the middle - choose a thickness so the cage is just proud of the sheet, and countersink the screws into the top - your toe clips clearly define a top and bottom so (self-locking) nuts on the underside wouldn't be a problem. I'd probably use chequer plate (checker/tread plate) to provide some grip. Offcuts and small sheets are cheap on eBay.

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  • If you're keen on the DIY idea and I wasn't clear enough, I can sketch something out
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 8:21
  • The left pair are actailly cycling-specific shoes (Leatt 1.0) and supposedly already have a "stiffened insert for pedal support"
    – jhnc
    May 16, 2022 at 15:00
  • Then it's definitely the cage that's the problem
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 15:02
  • I just had another thought. I have biggish feet (~UK11). If I add spacers to extend the toe-clip, the ball of my foot would be between the cage edges, rather than directly over one, which might also help.
    – jhnc
    May 16, 2022 at 15:03
  • That's easy enough to test with a couple of nuts as spacers and longer bolts. But it just moves the pressure point, which may or may not be enough
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 15:05
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The pin pedal pictured will help, providing more surface area than the edge of metal one.

Without making a specific product recommendation, do look about for pedals with a different shape of platform that may suit you more.

enter image description here
the MKS Lambda pedal offers length. The Gamma is similar.

enter image description here
the MKS GR-10 platform.

Be aware that some of the odd-shaped pedals may not take a toe retainer (cage/basket)


Most of these will be for normal thread-in crank arms. You want quick-plug axles, which some manufacturers offer, but another option is to look at adapters. You're not limited to Brompton compatible pedals using an adapter like this:

enter image description here
all over aliexpress and similar sources.

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  • 1
    My Esprit use MKS's "EZY Superior" QR system. I think pedals like the ones in your picture usually copy the older EZY system and need an easily-lost plastic clip to be secure. The Urban Platform EZY Superior seem to be the QR equivalent of the GR10 and look like they could be a good option. They take(need) toe clips but fitting rear-facing reflectors looks a bit tricky. More importantly, they don't seem available here in UK. Boo.
    – jhnc
    May 16, 2022 at 4:08
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    @jhnc (I'm also in the UK) most clipless pedals lack reflectors (or they theoretically exist but they're not imported and anyway fall off easily). So while supposedly required it's not a big deal. I've added retroreflective tape to some of my pedals and a pair of bike-specific shoes (3M brand sticks better than the cheaper stuff I've had). It wouldn't work so well on all pedals. I might take up Criggie's idea of putting a little on the cranks as well.
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 8:08
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    BTW there are also retroreflective paints. A sample size container would be enough for a pair of pedals
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 14:07
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    @ChrisH Thanks, I prefer actual BS6102/2 reflectors (I was amazed at the outright lies a driver told to avoid taking responsibility for sending my friend to hospital with a broken spine, so minimising scope for (arguably legitimate) claims of contributory negligence should ever one hit me seems prudent).
    – jhnc
    May 16, 2022 at 14:55
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    @jhnc understandable, but very limiting. Anyway you could be head to toe in standards compliant lights and reflectors and a driver hitting you would still have a high chance of getting off very lightly, so I've given up. BTW I first came across these lies decades ago (not me, my brother, on a motorbike, lying van driver)
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2022 at 15:01
1

In general, I get Plantar fasciitis. Since wearing MTB shoes and MTB pedals on my road bike, I get a lot less pain.

The stiffness of a MTB soles and grippy shoe sole compound means I can get more support on my feet while riding and still walk with them to a change room where I can then replace my footwear to suite the day.

Also I have replaced my cheap pedals with MTB pedals and I've put half-toe clips. I had to improvise with with the toe clips, I bought MKS metal half-toe clips and then snap-off the angled bracket and drill wholes on the clips and one hole on the pedal to hold the clips in place.

Here are some photos of what I needed to purchase to finished product. Also photos of my MTB shoes, pedals and half toe clips assembled.

I hope this helps any one with similar feet problems. Regards

SHIMANO SH-GR701 FLAT PEDAL SHOES BLACK

Bike Pedals 9/16 Inch

MKS (Migashima) Half Clip Steel Deep with Leather

List of tools for half-toe clips in MTB pedals

Half-toe clip underside

Comparison old with new pedals

New pedals in crank

enter image description here enter image description here

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