Pedal selection, toe numbness, calf cramping

Hi - I need help with my pedals.

TLDR: When on my road bike, I have to use MTB pedals with my cleats all the way back on my MTB shoe. If I try to use road shoes and Shimano road pedals I get toe numbness and calf cramping after 45min-1hr.

I’ve ridden mountain bikes my whole life and have used crankbrother candy pedals for 10 years. I got a road bike a few years ago and used the same pedals with my MTB shoes. 2 years ago I switched to flat pedals on my mountain bike to work on my skills. I kept riding road on my candy pedals and MTB shoes.

In the spring I got a smart trainer and jumped on zwift. I found myself getting calf cramp after each 1hr workout. I pushed my cleats all the way back and the problem went away. Still riding candy pedals and MTB shoes.

This summer I started crit racing and so I grabbed a pair of road shoes what were the same exact brand, style and size except being the road version vs MTB version. I got a pair of Shimano SPD-SL pedals and put the yellow cleats (6deg float) as far back as I could. I really like the locked in feeling and the stiffness of the road shoe. Unfortunately I still was getting toe numbness and calf cramping after about 1 hour riding. I lowered my seat slightly to accomodate the new pedals but that did not help.

I’m thinking of getting speedplay pedals and the extension plate that allows for a rearward cleat position. How are these for sprinting and out of saddle control? I don’t love the massive float and wiggle I get from my candy pedals as well as the relatively flexible MTB shoes. I did try to put my candy cleats on the road shoes but the platform was horrible and I was unclipping so easily. The stiffness was great though.

Help?! Any advice? I’d go straight for speedplay but don’t want to drop $200 on pedals if they won’t solve my problem. Thanks

1 Like

I would say if you get on fine with mtb pedals/shoes just stick with them. There is no rule that you have to use road specific shoes.

I use crank bros eggbeaters with mtb shoes on my road bike as I don’t really race and sometimes commute.

The only suggestion I would make it to not over tighten at the toe end of the shoes. Whenever I have had foot problems loosening the front strap has relieved it.

Also, maybe see a bike fitter before buying speedplay

I recommend you see a bike fitter as well preferably one that has experience with pedaling mechanics. This is just a guess but It sounds like you might be pedaling toe down. As to what part of the fit is causing this who knows but it might not be the shoes or pedals.

Ya I agree and likely will. However, I really do like the more firm secure fit with the SPD-SL pedals compared to the crankbrothers. I get a little nervous sprinting and/or moving aggressively on the bike.