Custom Orthotics

I used to have custom orthotics made when I was an alpine ski racer. Yet, for cycling, I’ve always just used mass produced cycling specific insoles like Superfeet, Bontrager, etc…Seems a bit silly to neglect this most important contact point. But, before I spend money needlessly, does anyone have experience with going custom? Help, hurt, no different? Waste of money or money well spent? General comments welcome.

Just got mine a few weeks ago and they’ve made a huge difference. No more hotspots and pain in my feet. And feel like I’ve got a much more stable, even pedal stroke.

But note that I’ve gone straight from off-the-shelf shoes to custom orthotics. Never used cycling insoles.


I have custom orthotics for my running shoes going on 10yrs now. As for cycling, I have been using the insoles from Specialized for about 5yrs. They have low, medium, high arch insoles. You pay extra for these insoles. Prior to that I was using whatever came in the shoes. No problems either way, but the additional arch support does feel better.

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@KickrLin yeah over the years I’ve used the Specialized, Superfeet (Bontrager), eSoles, and SoulStar. I have extremely high arches and w/o some support my arches collapse under high power and then all kinds of bad things happen. The off the shelf insoles have gotten better imo but, man are my feet different from each other. I think guessing at this all these years is not the way to go for me.

@martinheadon how much did they cost? Did you see a Podiatrist or just a fitter?

The Podiatrist who will be making them has been an avid cyclist for decades so this seems like a no brainer. This will be interesting. I’ll be honest, I’m thinking a small bump in power is going to happen. I’ll post in a couple weeks when I get them.

I run the high arch Specialized insoles with Varus shims and they really work well for off the shelf. Still think I would benefit from customs some day, but this is working for centuries with long climbs.

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Just had a serious bike fitting and ended up with the Bontrager insoles. Had to buy two separate pairs, since one foot needed a different size. Used to have near-constant issues with my right foot sliding around in my shoe, but since the fitting, I’ve had no issues, whatsoever.

If you have a high end fitter in your state / county I would strongly recommend making the trek.

You mean Podiatrist, not Pediatrist.

(Pedantic Pedaller)

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Yep. I’ll edit.

It was part of a full bike fit. Prices (£) here:

Note that they told me I had a particularly pronounced arch, so it’d be less likely that non-fitted insoles would work for me. More common foot shapes might manage fine without going custom.

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It’s hard for me to assess as I crashed and injured myself the first ride I wore them!

My instinct is that they won’t make a huge difference to doing a single ramp test. However I think that in a longer ride or race they will reduce fatigue and sore spots, allowing you to put out more power later on.

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I use SIDAS fully custom moulded insoles in my cycling shoes, and can’t imagine being without them now. I never had notable ‘issues’ as such, but foot fatigue is drastically reduced and they help my knees track well. I bought a new pair of shoes and wore them a few times before getting round to having insoles made for them and my feet ached like mad for days.

Big style recommended!


I’ve been using custom insoles from Retul for several months. I agree with another user, no more hot spots and just feels more “natural”. I have not been able to quantify it, however, I would imagine there is a gain in power even if marginally.

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+1 for the Sidas custom moulded insoles. I’m super adaptable with my bike fit and can easily be comfortable in a whole range of positions (saddle heights, bar positions, etc) but the one area I really need to have right is my feet. The custom moulded insoles massively improve my pedalling mechanics and make riding so much more enjoyable.

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I’ve seen a podiatrist and had custom orthotic insoles for nearly two decades. The insoles go into every shoe I wear — running shoes, dress shoes, cycling shoes — and that means I never have a shoe that fits poorly or is uncomfortable.

I highly recommend orthotics to anyone considering them.


Got mine from the fane clinic in peterbourough which correct for flat feet and a leg descrepency. Much more comfortable now that my right knee tracks properly

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Tangential question here: Do any of you orthotics-wearers do exercises to strenghten your feet as well? The orthotic is technically a brace that enables you to live your daily life reducing/removing pain…

But do any of you do anything to be less dependent on them 100% of the time?

When I first gained weight I started wearing superfeet as my weight gain + flat feet meant plantar fasciitis galore even from walking. I still rock a pair of them in my ski boots (they were key in my ski boot fit in avoid cramps). But after months of training and strengthening exercises I was able to remove them from my casual and running shoes. I’ve even switched to non support /0 heel drop shoes and feel much better in them.

Anyone else?

@PhilippePhlop interesting but, no. What sort of exercises?

For ski racing I don’t think there is any substitute for orthotics. It wasn’t a matter of being dependent. They are a very important piece of equipment used to help feel the ski, apply subtle pressure more precisely. For the rec skier none of that matters but, I’m sure comfort improves and that in itself is important.

I have no idea but, it’s possible that cycling is the same in that you really don’t want your foot to slide around. The more the foot deforms under load and moves around there is more potential for pain and loss of power. The more bio mechanically challenged your foot the more benefit from custom (I’m guessing).

Again, I don’t think it’s a dependency issue. I’m open to reading more though as I’m no expert on this. I’m not sure why I thought about orthotics now after all these years? Now that I’m thinking of it it seems crazy not to invest especially for riders concerned with power over hours and hours of riding like DK200 and/or short high power applications like a criterium.

There’s lots to be learned about it and those exercises can go a long way in re-enabling the foots strength.

There are a bunch of exercises here:

but in terms of readings I don’t have anything specific …a lot of the stuff i read was relating to running (like Ready to Run from Kelly Starrett) which obviously translates to capabilities outside of running. And just day to day life :slight_smile:


A video just popped today (i’m watching it right now, the extended cut!)

so another way would be to look at getting minimal shoes (gradually including them to help strengthen the foot)

Pretty cool…went in today and they took a cast of each foot in super soft foam. The difference between my feet was amazingly noticeable especially the shapes of each arch. Very different to my surprise. My friend, the Podiatrist, came in and was a wealth of information how power transfer happens in cycling. Not worth me misrepresenting but, if anyone is reading do a search. You really don’t want your foot moving (duh) but, controlling or limiting? pronation maybe is interesting. The orthotics I’m getting he said, are the same ones used by local pro and former National Champion Eric Marcotte and World Champ x3 Peter Sagan. Needless-to-say I’m a very anxious to get them.

It will take two weeks to get the final product (casts sent to Tennessee). Will update then…