In part one of this review Mark Newton from Jet Cycles answered your questions about the efficacy of custom insoles, what they can help alleviate and how and when they should be used.
Now for the practical side where Mark fits me with some of his custom insoles to see if he can alleviate my specific issue and also cure my innate cynicism.
When this process started I mentioned to Mark in passing that I really didn’t have any “issues” as such but I had extremely thin feet, and by that I meant thin in height, or as Mark puts it “low volume” feet. This means that it is nearly impossible for me to simply buy shows put them on and then go! Some ratchet and Velcro shoes have me running out of strap and while shoes with BOA lacing systems have improved the situation slightly, they are still not perfect. The solution forme thus far has been to amass a selection of different thickness and density standard insoles and use these to “pump up the volume” or lift my feet in the shoes to get a firm closure. Now the issue with this is that firstly it is a very fiddly process, and also that lifting the entire foot can end up with toes that are squashed or a heel that lifts out of the shoe. So it is a less that perfect solution, but I have had no real choice up until now.
The additional packing insole I normally have to use to get my shoes to "almost" fit me.
So firstly I removed my shoes and socks, and Mark and I had a good chuckle about the state of my feet. Let’s face it, feet are at the best of times, a pretty unusual appendage, and how someone can have a foot fetish is beyond me. The feet belonging to those of us that run are usually a whole new level of weird with black toe nails, if in fact you are still lucky enough to have your full complement, bunions, all manner of arches, and that is without mentioning the asymmetry of something that is supposed to be a “pair”.
Flatter than the MCG wicket
Not much better from this angle.
Now Mark tended to disagree with my statement that I had no feet “issues’. His opinion was that I had a bus load of “issues” buy I was lucky that none of them were actually causing me any pain.
My feet are asymmetrical, I have a bunion on my right foot and have collapsed arches; pretty much a rattly old bag of bones and probably not much different to a lot of others out there that have run a bit.
Anyway Mark sat me down and explained at length the processes of the foot, how we need it to perform when cycling and running and how proper support plays an important function in this process. The insoles come in different thickness depending on the feet that need fixing and the shoes that need fitting. Needless to say I needed some pretty thick puppies and some additional wedges as well.
Post moulding, Premoulding, Underside and one of the fitting wedges.
The insoles are placed in the base of the machine which heats them up to mouldable temperature. Meanwhile you stand on the machine, which looked like the old shopping centre pay and weigh scales. Thankfully they didn’t weigh me, but they do scan your feet and take images to show the foot’s imperfections and for me also graphically demonstrated the collapse of my feet inward as the knee bends. Once we know what we are dealing with Mark removes one sole at a time from the heater and placed them between my feet and the big soft moulding blocks to get the shape and to mould in the shape of the wedges, then also manually moulds then to my foot in the optimal position.
Screen showing the level of collapse on the right foot.
Top view of finished moulded insole.
Bottom view of finished moulded insole showing the permanent wedge impression.
With that process done to both feet it’s time for the moment of reckoning. The soles are placed in my shoes in place of the original standard insoles and I slip on my socks and prepare for my Cinderella moment.
It’s at this point that Mark says that he would like to video people’s faces as they slip into their new shoes to capture their expressions. At this point I’m still a little sceptical, at which point my foot slides fully into my shoe and without a word of a lie, I grinned like an idiot!
Mark asked me what I thought and had to pause, and had a little trouble talking as the sensory information that I was getting from my feet was literally overloading my, admittedly limited, mental capacity.
For the first time in my memory I had a pair of cycling shoes that fit me the way I assume they are meant to. If this is how your shoes feel all the time, all I can say is, to borrow a quote from Life of Brian, “You lucky, lucky bastard”. I have been riding around for years in $400 dollar shoes that were performing like $100 shoes. Now the feel like a million bucks. What I was encountering before, and had come to accept as normal was only parts of my foot actually contacting the sole of the shoe, now with the moulded soles my whole foot was contacting the sole, and to be frank at first the sensation was quite overwhelming.
My shoes fit, in all three dimensions. The better fit and the arch support also allowed my toes to relax noticeably and they no longer felt like they were trying to hold on to the shoe.
Of course this was while standing in the shop for 10 mins and the proof will be out on the road in the days and weeks to come, but a quick preliminary test on the bike was looking very positive and I will report on the longer term results in due time.
If you think your shoes could fit better, then $139.00 could be a small price to pay for the result these insoles can offer.
Contact Mark at Jet Cycles
Note: When I got the result I did, I expressed to Mark that my result would be hard to express honestly without it coming across as being seen as less than impartial. So Mark suggested that it may be a good idea to get one or two members who may be interested to drop in and get a similar fit done at a discounted rate to verify my results.. If you think you may fit that bill, jump on the forum and make yourself known.