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Was there any difference in the cycling performance between cleat placements?

If not accustomed to the midfoot placement, I'm curious if the subjects "held back" during the cycle.

Chris Watt

Thanks Joe- interesting. Did his data confirm that the bike times were also faster using the mid-sole position? You said no difference in the metabolic variables on the bike data- just wondering about the times?

PS. though this is my first post I've been following your blog regularly for a long time and really appreciate your open-mindedness to new ideas.

Chris L

Interesting information but what is the impact on bike performance? The benefit in running is quantified but I'd assume there is an adverse impact on cycling due to the minimized use of the calves, but that isn't quantified. I'd think both results would be of importance to a multisport athlete.

Joe Friel

Chris--As mentioned near the end, there were no unusual metabolic occurrences on the bike portion. For more on the bike performance, however, you might want to view the previous posts at the top.

Joe Friel

Chris W--This study was not focused on the bike. For more on that see the previous posts linked at the top.

Joe Friel

Brian--See my answers to questions from Chris W and Chris L.


Any reason for a amature road racer to use the midsole cleat position? Would I lose power and agility?


I realize the concept of midsole is relatively new, but i still find it interesting that none of the shoe makers have capitalized on this theory!

Joe Friel

Steve--Read the previous posts linked in the first paragraph of my post.


My own personal experiece is that midsole assists with sustained power, but has a negative impact when it some to sprinting and accelerations--both are critical for road racing.

The slight gain in force, considering strengths and weaknesses, is not worth the compromise in snap and peak power.


Hi Joe!
This recent blog articles on cleat position have come at a good time.
My wife recently bought me some new cycling shoes (she's good like that)and for more years than i can remember i have always been told to have the first joint of the big toe over the pedal axle.
This came from ex pros and pros at the time.
I have won medals,championships in mountainbike and cyclocross etc in the past so i guess it was not a problem,but with the new shoes and the recent articles by you i thought why not give it a try....so i moved the cleat so that the pedal axle was 10mm behind the joint of the big toe..........wow what a difference,on seated climbs on the mountainbike the extra power was so much noticeable and pedal spin on the flat seemed easier. And one big difference was that a lower back pain which keeps flaring up has gone.
A big thank you Joe.

Kelownagurl  (Barb)

Joe, is this true for both tri bikes and road bikes?


Joe Friel

Kelownagurl (Barb) - Don't understand. I'm sorry. Is what true?

Kelownagurl  (Barb)

Sorry, I meant is the mid-sole cleat effective for a road bike setup with aerobars, as well as a tri bike?


Paul Tregouet

Hello Joe,

We have recently finished a study in which me measured EMG of several muscles. There are some significant differences in Gastroc and Soleus activity with changes in cleat position. We will be presenting it at the Science in Triathlon conference in Spain, and hope to follow up the study.


Joe Friel

Kelownagurl (Barb)- Yep.

Joe Friel

Paul T--Cool! Is it in print? Could I get a copy? (jfriel(at)trainingbible.com)

eric johnson

hey joe,

do you know of anyone that makes a shoe pre-drilled for midsole cleats for less than D2? $750 is beyond what i (and many AG-ers) can afford by several hundred dollars.


Joe Friel

eric johnson--No, I sure don't. Maybe some day.

Melissa Lind

Would a mid sole cleat position help with ankle injuries? I have been battling sinus tarsi syndrome that I thought was due to running but am now thinking maybe it is from cycling. Been to a podiatrist and ortho surgeon and so far their solution has just been cortisone shots. Any thoughts on how this placement would affect foot injuries?

Joe Friel

Melissa--There's no known data on the effects of midsole cleat position on ankle injuries that I know of. But perhaps someone with experience will see your question and comment.

Joe Friel

For some weird reason this comment from Goetz Heine did not come through as normal so he has asked me to post it for him...
@ Melissa:
Yes, in my practice midfoot position together with manipulation does present a considerable
relief in patients with a sinus tarsi syndrome. Just treated a young lady in India with this
problem and put her back on the bike.
@ Eric:
750?!? Don't know how you convert a Euro to the Dollar in your country, still my practice sells
the lightest (<180gramms) and most advanced cycling shoe with the patented arch-cleat
position (bio-mxc²) for around Euro 400,- everywhere on this planet...

Adam Story, DC

Dear Mr. Friel:

I had surgery for a morton's neuroma and the surgery was a failure. I can no longer run. The surgeons have said that the only way to "fix" it is to do it again. I think I'll cut my losses. The great news is that the cleat position is the only thing that allows me to cycle. It's almost a no brainer. If the cleat is not under the nerves/metatarsal heads, they can't cause pain/numbness. For cyclists with lots of numbness and/or medical problems with morton's neuroma, your ideas about cleat position are a godsend. Thank you.

Ben Troia

Excellent article.. For me, keeping the cleat positioned behind the ball of the foot has always felt more effective to exert high pedaling force while maintaining the control necessary for mountain biking and BMX racing.

Thanks for the clarification.



I it enough to simply push the cleat as far back as possible in the existing holes?

I appreciate that the full benefit may not be realised but would it be a good starting point?


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