Sunday, February 4, 2007

Biomac shoes

There have been a couple of mentions of Goetz Heine's Biomac shoes in the original post and the follow up comments. Here is a picture of his shoe design with the centered cleats. This is the shoe I use and the one Leo refers to in his recent comment.

They are remarkably light--the lightest shoes I have ever worn by far. Without the cleat and insole, each shoe seems to weigh just a bit more than my Oakley sunglasses (I haven't actually weighed them yet).

I showed the Shimano shoe in my original post (below) to illustrate how "some" shoes could be modified to accommodate the centered cleat. But I wouldn't recommend getting out a drill and doing so without learning a lot more about cleat placement. Not all shoes can be modified due to their uneven surfaces in the arch areas.

To learn more about Biomac go to

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At February 7, 2007 11:28 AM , Blogger Pete said...

It makes sense to place the cleat towards the arch or midsole to me. After all, who does squats on their toes or balls of their feet? When I squat I use my heels or midsole. That's where the power is. Even more important I believe that this new position would actually decrease the possibility of injury to the achilles tendon and calf muscles. More power less injury risk. It's a win win situation.
Pete Simon

At February 7, 2007 11:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This debate makes no sense to me. Yes all the power comes your hip and back down through to your heels, but squats are squats, cycling involves turning the pedals around in a circle. This seems quite different to me. I know in skating, whether ice skating or ski skating, all the power comes through your heel, but again, this isn't the cycling motion. When I try to imagine pedalling with my heels I also imagine getting dropped really fast.

At February 9, 2007 6:16 AM , Anonymous Joe Friel said...

Anon--I guess you'll never understand until you try it. I was skeptical at first, too. I wouldn't go back now. Too much improvement.

At February 17, 2007 6:22 PM , Blogger Gwendolyn said...

OK Here is another way to look at the cleat issue. The vector arm for force bisects the foot at mid sole (arch). We eliminate the lever arm by moving the cleats back so all the force is translated down the leg directly thru the mid foot into the petal.Ergo more power. Another way to think about this is if you bench press where is the bar bell resting the metatarsal heads (beginning of your fingers on your palm OR near the base of your palm. Why is it near the base of your palm because you put it here for more force. You intuitively did this.. we really did not have this choice with cleats since they automatically are designed for forward attachment...until now. Brilliant.Time to get the drill out.

At February 22, 2007 12:38 AM , Anonymous Götz Heine said...

Gwen, how about looking at bio-mxc²(midfoot) pedaling the following way: During downstroke the feet travel an increased circumference around the bottom bracket thus minimizing the pressure on the thighs for similar perceived effort noteably. Reduced weight, stack height and the made-to-measure option is what it takes for a modern cycling shoe provided you want to leave the drill in the shed ;-)

At February 23, 2007 1:30 PM , Blogger Andy Reid said...

Hi Joe, Gotz and others...
Joe, I know you mentioned that your HR was 9bpm lower at a given power output(which of course should be taken as an indication of a decrease in oxygen consumption), but my question is what changes have you seen in your power time that surely gives a better idea of functionally how much difference the new cleat position is making? Additionally so you guys see any ramifications for adjusting crank length to optimise the new cleat position? All this stuff makes a good deal of sense to me...I'm just interested in whst your experiences are Joe andwhat you have seen with different athletes Gotz.

At February 28, 2007 8:10 AM , Blogger Gonzalo said...

Did your critical power increase for all durations? Or was it just that at a given power your hear rate was lower?

At February 28, 2007 11:26 AM , Blogger Gonzalo said...

I just drilled the holes and installed the cleats (shimano shoes and time atac mtb pedals). The feeling is weird at least.
If anyone tries it be VERY carefull with slow turns, make sure the feet of the side where you're turning is in front of the other feet!

At February 28, 2007 10:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

darn it, I just unleashed the Black'n'Decker on my brand new $419 Sidi's... I missed the pilot holes! Oh well, maybe I've discovered a new and improved cleat position.

At March 16, 2007 11:23 AM , Blogger Wayne said...

Joe, Gotz, and Steve Hogg,

Since all three of you come at this issue from slightly different perspectives I'm looking for all your thoughts. First, what is the effect of mid sole cleat placement on determining the correct crank arm length? Additionally, as pedal mechanics are different (no ankling, etc.)what are the potential issues with asymmetric crank rings? Thanks.

At March 17, 2007 1:48 PM , Anonymous Steve Hogg said...

To Wayne,
While I have been talking to Gotz for sometime, midfoot cleat position is relatively new to me so I can't answer your question definitively at this stage. Maybe I'll never be able to. What I am embarking on is using torque analysis software to determine optimal crank length and other things that flow from the change in cleat position. I have always ridden with much more foot over the pedal than most - centre 1st mtp 15mm in front of pedal axle centre for size 44 shoe. Midfoot position is not the same but more so, it is totally different and in a personal sense, I have a lot of small boxes to tick in nailing down the positional changes this is forcing on me. Call that a product of my functional but damaged body. What I can say is that midfoot cleat position is an improvement because my torque curve is much flatter. This means less peak muscular contraction for same power output or road speed, which in turn means that high intensity efforts can be maintained for longer.
I also recover more quickly.

I will be experimenting with crank length as I progress down this midfoot cleat position path and using torque analysis to determine the relative efficiency of each. That will teach me something that I suspect will be applicable to me only. I'm not sure whether the lessons I learn from this exercise are applicable to all unless they go through the same exercise.

I think that individual differences in structure, function, technique and the usage to which the bike will be put will make the answer to "What crank length is best for me with midfoot cleat postion?" as individual as most other things in cycling. At the moment I suspect that I will be able to use a longer crank effectively but don't KNOW that yet.

At March 19, 2007 10:23 AM , Blogger Andy Reid said...

Hi Steve,
just wondered what torque analysis software/ hardware you are it possible to measure on the bike or only in the lab?

At April 9, 2007 12:39 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Sorry for the delayed replies.

Wayne--I am using oval rings with a mid-sole cleat and have experienced no downsides. On the athletes I coach does the same. Neither of us had any difficulty adapting to the combination. On the other hand, one other athlete I work with has had trouble adapting to mid-sole cleats. I would not attempt to add another variable for her until she adapts--if she does.

Andy--Actually, what changed was my power-heart rate ratio for all workouts combined over a several week period. Power rose slightly and HR dropped slightly. A 9% total change in P:HR.

Gonzalo--My CP30 changed immediately. The only other one I check regularly is CP6 and it did not change initially. Over time it has risen but this is probably driven primarily by fitness.

At April 11, 2007 11:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont under stand the reason that people are so interested in this performace enhancer that will either damage your shoes or damage your bike or damage yourself. yes i under stand all the references to doing other biomechanical movements such as weights or other training methods but come on, why are shoe or pedal companys not doing this to their shoes??

At April 11, 2007 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

read about this particular oddity in the april edition, april fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At May 17, 2007 6:53 AM , Blogger velobob said...

Joe - can you give percentage improvements in your CP30 or other critical power durations?

At May 17, 2007 1:33 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

velobob--I saw power increases of up to about 5% across the board. I found that my endurance at upper level power outputs improved also. This is strictly subjective. I also saw a decrease in HR. On average, over the course of several weeks my P:HR ratio rose 9%.

At June 10, 2007 4:26 PM , Anonymous Eric Johnson said...


Can you comment on all changes in bike fit that YOU made to accommodate the mid-foot cleat position?

It's obvious that your seat would need to go down. We all know that as the seat goes down, it also goes forward.

I would guess that one would still need to move their seat forward after getting the seat height set appropriately.

(It does not seem like the forward change in fore/aft - through a lower seat - would be enough to compensate for the many centimeters forward that the cleats are now positioned)

I purchased the Speedplay adapter plates this winter (after hearing you talk about mid-foot cleat placement at the USA Triathlon Congress) to move my cleats back a few centimeters.

I feel more powerful - and my chronic calf spasms have disappeared) - but then started experiencing frontal knee pain for the first time in my life (competitive triathlete/runner since 2000).

I think I need to fix my fit somehow. My local FIST fit specialist thinks the mid-foot cleat placement is a bad idea, so they aren't much help.


At June 11, 2007 4:44 AM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

The saddle was lowered 13mm. Also moved aft but failed to record how much. Frontal knee pain around patella is often associated with saddle being too low or too far forward.

At June 20, 2007 7:44 AM , Anonymous jtorchia said...

Hi Joe:

Do you think there is a linear relationship between increases in power output and the distance the cleat position is moved towards the arch, or is it an all or none effect.I have moved my cleats back as far as they will go on ( approximately 1.5 cm) my Shimano shoes and have noticed a significant increase in power particularly during climbs.

Joe T.

At June 20, 2007 12:49 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Joe T--I don't know. I'm still learning about it myself. The three studies I've seen on this seem to show there is no difference in economy based on cleat placement anywhere between the ball of foot and the heel. Whether that is the same for power I can't say. I suspect it may also be an individual thing. Some may get better results with the cleat in one position than another. Then there are other variables such as bike fit changes, leg length discrepancies, bike geometry, etc. All I know for certain right now is that my power increased a bit and my HR decreased a bit as soon as I made the change. Others have experienced quad cramps when doing races or hard workouts immediately after making the switch to midsole. There may well be differences in the time required to adapt which would throw off the research and someone's initial reaction to it.

At July 18, 2007 6:09 PM , Anonymous Bike Mike said...

This is all very interesting, but you're forgetting something crucial: The reason all of us non-pros ride bikes is to get sweet calf definition. Mid-sole cleat placement = little calf exertion = sorry-looking calves. Sorry -- I won't do it, even if it means slightly better placing in a Cat 4 race.


At July 30, 2007 7:36 AM , Blogger steve said...

Does anyone live in california who would be willing to install the arch cleat position on my cycling shoes? I have various shoes to try this on, including the shimano shoes joe friel has done his on. Im willing to pay....

At August 5, 2007 9:33 PM , Anonymous Götz Heine said...

Steve, don't you think that someone who comes forward with an idea like this knows more about shoes, therefore the product he puts onto the market is more than just 'shifting your cleats further back'? If as you write you are willing to pay, why don't you just get yourself a pair of original biomac boots instead of hampering with some other company's shoes not designed to do the job properly?
Also keep in mind its a patented device, so everyone who takes money for the job you want him to do automatically infringes current Patent Laws and no insurance company will compensate in case of accident.

At October 26, 2007 9:20 AM , Blogger G said...

Joe, Steve, and Gotz

I have been diagnosed with Morton's Nueroma. In your opinion would this cleat placement fix or help me overcome this setback?



At October 26, 2007 2:41 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Gary--I don't know. Don't see a connection between the two but perhaps Steve or Goetz will. My wife has had 2 surgeries for MN but still has a bit of trouble from time to time. She hasn't mentioned any benefits from mid-sole cleats. I'll ask her though.

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At January 14, 2008 2:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi --- My feeling is that sprinting snap is severly reduced using a centered cleat position, because there is less leverage from which to achieve the snap. Moreover, I feel that the comparisons to squats or benchpresses are not correct precisely because these movements do not involve snap. Sprinting (or doing any kind of acceleration) with centered cleats is like doing plyometrics flatfooted. Nevertheless, it sounds right that this position might lower sustained HR given a certain sustained power output, but the position does not seem practical for many road racing situations. Would like to hear a reply... thanks.

At June 18, 2008 1:36 PM , Blogger BRIAN said...

It has been awhile since I have seen anything from you regarding the midfoot cleat position. Are you still happy with it?
Where would I buy Goetz Heine's Biomac shoes? The website given gives me a link which is in German(?) and seems to require a user name and password. Thanks!

At June 18, 2008 2:47 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Brian, I still position my cleats that way as does my son, Dirk, and the athletes i coach. So, yes, I am a firm believer in it. I've asked Goetz to give us an update on his URL.

At June 18, 2008 11:38 PM , Anonymous Götz Heine said...

As usual biomac's URL is
However, this site is under construction at the moment. For all inquiries send a message to .

At July 5, 2008 2:29 PM , Blogger Wilfried said...

I followed this blog last year very interested in the topic since it confirmed something I had experienced during occasional training on a stepper. So finally I took out the drill and modified the position of my cleats in a midfoot-position. Interestingly the effect seemed to be noticable but not too significant at the beginning. However nearly one year later I improved some of my personal records on local mountains (one of them the Kandel, the hardest Climb in the Blackforest (8,2%, 865m climb) quite dramatically (41:45 down to 39:05) and I did not change the Quality and Volume of my training.

So my main Question is, if other people also needed that long to fully adjust to the new position.



At July 5, 2008 2:36 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Wilfried--Thanks for your input. I've not heard of that before, but we each seem to respond in unique ways. Glad to hear it's working for you.

At August 3, 2008 3:18 PM , Anonymous William said...

I am currently using Steve Hogg 11 mm behind first MTP postion with size 47 and small varus wedge. In mid foot cleat postion will the need for the wedge go away or is it trial and error. I previously had medial knee pain. I am 76inches with long legs and femurs so lowering CG will be good and sustained power and power at threshold are limiters. Will I be able to increase crank length as my knee will be less flexed going over the top? That limatation has kept me at 175. I am looking to improve preformance at race pace.

At August 3, 2008 9:01 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

william--THese changes may be possible. But I'm afraid the only way to find out is trial and error.

At October 29, 2008 12:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, I have numbness in my 3 largest toes on my left foot. Right foot feels great. It starts after 30 mintues of riding. I use speedplay pedals and have the extender plate adjusted all the way back. I believe I need to move a little further back. Should I invest in custom shoes to get more rearward cleat placement?

At October 29, 2008 4:55 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Hi Anon--That's a tough one. I'm afraid there's no way of knowing short of trying. But if I was in your place I'd probably try modifying an old pair of shoes first just to see if it helps. Doing that can be quite a challenge, by the way. Having had an extender on your Speedplays with the cleat all the way aft would still leave you a good ways short of midfoot unless you have a really small foot. My son used to use Speedplay extenders with a size 12 foot. He tells me that when he went to a midsole cleat that there was a significant improvement in pedaling and power. But he wasn't suffering from numb toes.

At January 6, 2009 1:50 PM , Blogger arrhythmia rules said...

I am a recreational cyclist coming back to cycling in my early 60's. I used to do a lot or riding till I was in my late 20's.
I started with the mid foot position about 18 months ago after reading Steve Hogg's articles and reading about you Joe.
I have a fairly significant atrial fibrillation which makes training and comparison pretty meaningless. I cannot go anything like as well as a few years ago. However my feeling is the mid foot position has been beneficial. I would not go back. I certainly did not loose power and felt slightly stronger. I agree the snap may be less strong but climbing is good.
I ride a fixed, mostly over the winter, as well as gears. My fixed is an old road track with significant toe overlap at any time. So when riding fixed I do not use shoe plates at all. My cadence continues to rise slightly. My max is certainly down from a record 200 with plates to 175 last winter without. Make what you will. General cadence is up a bit.
I did wonder about ankle movement. I have always ankled well. I ankle at least as much as before if not more. I suspect the mid foot may help to give a smooth pedalling stroke.
Midfoot lowers centre of gravity, lowers seat to road height each of which are useful.
On my gears bike slight toe overlap has not been a problem.
Having spent years urging a ball of the foot pedalling action as a gospel I am more than ready to encourage people to give mid foot a try. Especially those new to cycling who want to try cycling. The safety issue alone makes it worthwhile.

ps any views on training with atrial fibrillation would be welcome, and yes my Dr does know!! With the increasing numbers with Afib some thoughts from experienced coaches would I am sure be widely welcomed.

At March 26, 2009 3:15 PM , Anonymous Götz Heine said...

Hi Anon,
although the bio-mxc² position helps to reduce stress on knees and calves notably, if you experience a numbness in three lateral toes of one foot after thirty minutes into the ride, you have a problem with your lumbar spine, no shoe will resolve. Also your left leg will appear shorter and less powerful in an analysis of leg force. Could be due to a dislocated lumbar spine, hip or joint for example which you should examine first.

At June 11, 2009 10:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have Morton's Neuroma. I have positioned my cleat back towards the heel as much as possible on both a Shimano and Sidi shoe, but this position still doesn not relieve the droning paining with each down stroke.

I wear with great satisfaction MBT shoes ( give me super relief for MN when walking.

Does anyone have input on whether the biomac shoes would similarly relieve some or all pain the foot's pressure is disover the arch and not on the ball of the foot???

At June 21, 2009 6:27 AM , Anonymous Götz Heine said...

Anon, amongst others there are also top endurance athletes who rely on our shoe and position for they feel that in biomac shoes pressure gets distributed onto the entire sole rather than onto the metatarsals only. Watch the current RAAM '09 and those who take advantage of shoe and position and then simply apply for a test pair. Cheers, Götz

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