Cleat Wedges and my Weird Feet (content warning)

I know some people really don’t like feet so don’t scroll down if so.

I use Assioma Duo pedals and Specialized Torch 2 shoes for my road bike. Following a bike fit the cleat is positioned so that the pedal axle is largely in line with the ball of my foot.

I am experiencing pain in my right foot on the outside edge which starts quickly and leads to numbness across the ball of my foot. It’s not intolerable but it’s not ideal. It is alleviated by standing and consciously pulling my foot up to get pressure off the base of my foot. I am also experiencing some knee pain in my left knee, not intolerable but noticeable and not alleviated as yet by foam rolling, stretching, massage gun etc.

The person that did the bike fit follows a BikeFit methodology and uses their tools. They suggested downloading the BikeFit FootFit Calculator Android app as this isn’t part of the service they offer. The results as taken by a friend are below. The app is suggesting 12° of tilt in my right foot (first photo) and 16° of tilt in my left foot (second photo) which is absolutely massive.

Are my feet seriously weird and is the app remotely on the right track?


I’m a ski boot fitter by trade, so not exactly the same, but I would think any sort of unweighted measurement like you’re showing in the pictures would be almost irrelevant to how your foot is positioned when weighted in your bike shoes. That is a TON of correction to make based on an unweighted measurement. Since you are having knee pain, I would imagine you have some biomechanical chain issues in your stance, which may or may not be caused by the positioning of your cleats. For reference, when addressing biomechanical stance issues with skiers via canting the soles of ski boots most people have something like .5 to 3.0 degrees of correction. More than that is very unusual.

Again, not exactly the same as shoes but the basic principals are similar considering in both cases you are in a fixed position during the activity of choice (biking vs skiing).

I would recommend seeing a Certified Pedorthist and start by getting a custom footbed for your shoes. That might help a lot. From there maybe do an alignment assessment to address the foot and knee pain, which I assume would be with some sort of wedge under the cleats like you were saying .

Edit – clarification

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Thanks this is really helpful. The cleats were moved during a bike fit, and the knee pain is new so is likely to be related to that. The foot pain was pre-existing and the reason for the bike fit, but it hasn’t gone away.

Have you contacted the person who did your bike fit? If I had a ski boot customer ask me to address a certain problem (foot pain etc) and the work I did created a new issue with their knees and failed to correct the foot pain, I would be pretty embarrassed and do whatever I could to make it right.

The other thing to keep in mind --and this is entirely related to ski boot fitters but I assume there must be some of the same mentality in bike fitting – is that there is the “correct” way to do things as far as fitting, stance, footbeds etc, that leads to optimal performance capacity. More often than not, the absolute, by the book, correct way doesn’t work for everyone. Just because some chart or manual is telling the bike fitter your feet need to be positioned over the axle that way doesn’t mean its going to lead to a good experience for you.

Just some food for thought. I hope you get this sorted, and I have a feeling a good footbed and repositioning your cleats to where the knee pain is gone, but you’re still able to have a good pedal stroke would do wonders.

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You have different amounts of forefoot varus on each side (the degree to which the front of your foot is rotated relative to your heel). The previous commenter is correct, weight bearing position of your foot/ankle is more important than a non weight bearing assessment. If you are over pronating to compensate for your foot mechanics then it will rotate your tibia and femur to compensate and thus can throw off your patella (most probably where your pain is).

I have very high arches and require shims under my cleats in order to correct for forefoot varus. You also seem to need different amounts of shims side to side because your varus is assymetric (which is fine, humans are not symmetrical).

You could try putting in shoe orthotics in your cycling shoes to correct for some of this and then clear wedges. A tip is to stand barefoot and compare your kneecap position when standing barefoot on the orthotics. You could even put a bit of material acting like a shim would on the inside of foot and compare again. Grain of salt because this isn’t on the bike but would give you a better idea of how your feet anatomy is affecting your knee anatomy.

I had a bike fit 12 years ago that put orthotics in my road shoes and 4 varus wedges under my cleats on each side. Life changing. I used to be unable to ride 20 miles without pain. Now I am very sensitive to clear position but when it’s right I’m pain free.

Good luck (also I’m a sports/ortho PT but NOT a bike fitter)

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Have a look here as well:
https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/faq/
The ‘foot correction series’ are quite informative and helped me make very gradual adjustments.

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With regards to cleat wedges, the fitter said they haven’t been trained on this aspect hence them directing me towards the BikeFit app, which is the system that they use. I had previously had my cleats further back on the basis of a triathlon bike fit which the fitter said was a fine approach but wanted to try cleats further forward using the dogma of the ball of the foot being in line with the pedal spindle.

The reason I didn’t immediately go back to the fitter last week is the staff in the shop all got hit by covid so there was no face-to-face, I was keen to hear some real world experience of cleat wedges. I’ll speak to the fitter once the shop reopens and will explore custom orthotics with local podiatrists. In the mean time I have added a single 1° wedge on each side along with shifting the cleats back so they’re halfway between where they started and where they ended up.

Wow there is a wealth of interesting information here, thanks for sharing.

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