You’ve hit the nail on the head. I am an orthotist (10 years and counting), insoles are horribly personal and so are people! Just because one product works for a whole bunch of people, doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else (and it definitely won’t work for everyone). 98% of my insoles are custom (partly because the NHS pays the bills and most of my patients have a medical need not just a comfort or performance need), but I would recommend custom for most cyclists who need them. The trick is you have to go to someone who knows what they’re doing. Even with all my clinical knowledge and my cycling experience, I wouldn’t be the best person to see to make insoles for cycling.
Also, insoles won’t solve everything and not everyone needs them (hence why shoes don’t come with much, better to under-support everyone and work your way up then to over-support everyone and cause more problems for those that don’t need it). If you have sore feet, numb feet, blisters or whatever, it may well be your shoe or insole, but you could need a cleat wedge, a leg-length assessment or a saddle adjustment.
See above - you need someone who knows what they’re doing. Foam impressions are only as good as the person taking the mould, do it wrong (and many experience orthotists I know still do!) and the insoles will be wrong too. It’s certainly not something you can do on your own either. You mustn’t step into the foam, your foot should be placed on top when relaxed and then pushed down by the technician/clinician in the correct alignment. Same goes for 3D scanning - if you’re a bike shop lacky who’s only done a 3 hour Zoom seminar to learn how to use the scanner, you’ll be hard pressed to get good results.
Try a wedge of foam, old bar tape, cork, or something under the instep to see what it’s like, might help you understand how much support you need.
I have custom Sidas insoles in both my road and offroad shoes are they’re good. My previous set last something like 5 years so when you consider the cost Vs use/benefits they’re exceptionally good value, though still expensive on the day. Custom insoles are also very dependent on who is doing the customising, go to someone good.
I’ve been running the custom Retul/Specialized BG heat moldable and have been happy.
Specialized insoles are just not remotely the same thing. Their highest arch support is like the minimum support option from g8, and is in the wrong place for me anyway. The Specialized insoles are also too thick and make half my road shoes too tight.
G8 insoles are easily worth it for the comfort they provide. Yes it’s painful to pay that much for a simple insert for multiple sets of shoes, but there isn’t a good alternative that’s close. They solved numb feet for me overnight.
I use Superfeet Carbon in my bike shoes and Superfeet Blue in my regular shoes.
Might give a set of Soles a try just for curiosity. Those who use them… Met Pad or no? I may try one of each.
I don’t have any serious foot issues that need to be remedied but I always find a good set of insoles a real comfort advantage over the crap insoles most shoes come with.
Have you tried comparing a wet footprint with some of the images from various footbed manufacturers? It’d give you a start point for whether you need low/medium/high - leaving aside the differences in what is considered to be medium or high by different brands and how far forward/back they put the support.
I had a Retul fit a couple of years ago, and the last thing the fitter did was give me a pair of Specialized green (+++) insoles. Honestly it felt almost uncomfortable under my feet as the arches had never been supported that like before, but I felt an immediate and very noticeable difference in stability of the legs when peddling. Instead of my knees collapsing inwards the leg felt like it was staying well aligned for the whole pedal stroke.
My feet adapted pretty quickly to the sensation of pressure under the arch and now it feels strange NOT to have that, but worth bearing in mind that you may need adaptation time.
If your budget/insurance makes it reasonable, custom is really great. Bring your insoles from the shoes to trace and make sure the new ones will fit.
For off the rack ones, I’m a huge fan of solestar and sole. If you get sole, the cork ones are great and heat moldable. Solestar are a bit more expensive but really great. My only gripe is they come from Germany and I’m pretty sure they used a canoe courier last time, as they took over a month for delivery. Have a look on their site from time to time, the regularly have at least 20% off sales
I got the g8 because I hoped they would help me with toe cramps on longer rides, and it seems it helped, haven’t had toe cramps in a long while now. I like how you can feel the support, but not sure if it gives you a better power transfer or whatever.
they are expensive, but they do last a long time
How stiff are the wedges? From what I could see online, they’re not super stiff. And James mentions that they don’t really work well with knit uppers, of which I have 2 pairs. So I’m not sure how they would work. Hence why I’m looking for a stiff arch.
I personally don’t like the g8s. They are incredibly generic feeling. The arch support is a normally shaped arc and doesn’t make any attempt to be foot shaped. Pretty unacceptable for such a premium product. Going custom now so I can compare.
Been having feet/toe issues since I started cycling. You all have convinced me to purchase the G8 2620. Expensive, but relative to everything else I own cycling related, at least it’s something I will use 100% of the time I’m cycling. Here’s hoping it helps.
I have a pair of those, and that put me off too. I just can’t convince myself that a part of my feet that basically never touches the ground (walking, running) needs support (even though I have high arches). I wanted to see if they helped with cold feet issues that I have, but I never got on with the “arch support”. I have stopped using them now and notice no difference to normal flat insoles (apart from that the odd feeling under my foot is gone). Maybe the support is in the wrong place for my feet?
I use the G8’s in both pairs of light weight climbing Lake CX302 shoes. I had them a pair of Mavic shoes that were like slippers, now no longer available. Not only do they have 5 different wedge supports, they can be adjusted front to back and side to side. They keep my feet from moving forward in the shoe. This was causing my little toes to be mashed on rides longer than 50 miles. Once I figured out the arch support size and position I have never had to move them in 2 years. My fitter placed heel wedges in my left shoe to counter a leg discrepancy issue and the wedges did not interfere in any way. Highly recommend them.
I got some Sidas custom insoles made during my bike fit. They’re in my S-Phyre shoes. Really like them.
They need a “mic drop” emoji for posts/replies like this. I have wide feet and have struggled with sore feet for years. This is giving me the push i need to see a provider about it.
I’ve got shortish and wide-ish feet and the wide version of the SPhyre with the Sidas insoles works for me.
I have weird shaped feet - very narrow heel, wide at the toe / ball of my feet, very high arch that is slightly oddly profiled compared to average. I tried lots of off the shelf insoles, but none of them had a good enough shape for my feet (I’m sure that many of them would be perfect for lots of people).
Custom Sidas insoles have a massive difference to my ride comfort and power delivery. I have them in all my cycling shoes
Lake sells heat mouldable carbon insoles with which you can dial in specific arch support and shape. Third year using them and they continue to perform very well
For a different approach, I use Superfeet carbon pro hockey insoles (yellow). Way cheaper than anything cycling specific (about $50 CAD).
Recommended by my Physio/ bike fitter.