Avoiding The Rash
This article is based on information that I felt riders that were 5’4” and shorter needed to know. As I worked on this article and put more of this info down and reflected on the hundreds of riders I have worked with over the years, how many riders that were well over 6’ tall had the similar issues, I became aware that information can apply to almost all riders. The dreaded problem of “Toe Overlap” can quickly jump up and bite you, quickly causing a case of Road Rash. Here are some thoughts on how to help minimize those problems.
In the picture on the left, you can see and probably recognize the point where the front wheel rubs the rider’s shoe. This is a mechanical interference, so it is solid contact, this usually turns scary very fast. The picture on the right shows how the rider now has some clearance and has avoided a dangerous situation, same bike, same shoes but now using a shorter length crank.
Short cranks are getting a lot of attention right now but the general discussions are about the better performance they offer, we want to discuss another very valuable fitting option that they also offer. For riders using a frame from 46 - 51cm with 700c wheels, it is very common for the front wheel to overlap the toe point of your cycling shoes when making a tight turn. When riding your bike and having to turn around in the road or doing an event and having to make a turn to reverse direction, these tight radius turns can get you in trouble quickly. Altering your cleat position on your shoes can help but then it is easy to run into other fit problems doing that, besides, changing the cleat position usually can only gain about 3mm of clearance and that is still not enough. The shortest cranks that most 2019 small size frames are equipped with are 165mm long, we have direct replacement cranks down to 145mm long which can be an immediate fix.
Another area that can require special attention are the riders that adopt a “Mid Mount “cleat position. Mid mounting the cleats has several good reasonings, it offers great relief for Achilles and other lower calf problems. There are companies that sell adapters to aid in this and in the past fitters would redrill the rider’s shoes to achieve this rearward cleat position. But be warned, toe overlap is a huge problem when doing this on almost any size bike, check for this toe overlap problem before going for a ride. You don’t want to create a bigger riding danger for yourself and our cranks can give a larger rider an addition 30mm of clearance, that’s over a 1 ¼” gain in toe clearance.
The discussions about rider power and foot speed are very common for the shorter length cranks right now but rider safety is equally as important. Check for that Toe interference on your bike and know that there is a simple way to improve your safety on the bike.