Riding your bicycle with your foot in the right place can make a huge difference in both maximizing your power from every pedal, but can also make your ride much more comfortable! In this article we will be going through the correct placement of your foot, and answer some normal questions about this as well.
So what part of your foot should you pedal with? While most people likely pedal with the arch of their foot, the best place to put your foot is with the ball of your foot being right over top of the spindle (the rod that goes through your pedal). This will get you the most power, but will also keep you the most comfortable.
Why should the ball of your foot be over the pedal spindle?
The ball of your foot may not be the first place you think you should put your foot on the pedal, however it has some huge benefits! The way your body is built, the ball of your foot gives the most strength in the stride, and means you are not wasting any power that you put into the pedal. This is why you see that clipless pedal shoes have the connection at the ball of the foot, rather than at the arch.
If you are someone that likes to use the arch of their foot over the spindle, you likely have noticed that you can actually get some pain in the arch of your foot if you have been riding regularly, or for a long period of time. This is because your body is not build to keep your foot extended out in that manner while still giving power to the pedals.
How can you make sure that you have correct foot placement?
If you are someone that finds your arch over the spindle when you aren’t paying attention, there are two great ways to keep your foot there if you want to train yourself to keep it there!
Firstly is the easiest way, and this is called caging it in! This caging system (like this one right here) attaches to your pedal and makes it so you cannot push your foot too far forward. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and in a pinch you can get your foot out someone easily.
The second great way to keep your foot in the correct placement is by utilizing clipless pedals and bicycling shoes! While these are more for road cycling than mountain biking, they can offer a great way to train yourself to keep a good foot placement on the pedals. The main downside to these, is it is expensive to set up, and if you aren’t practiced in using them, it can be difficult to remove your foot enough to catch yourself in a fall.
Can you pedal with your arches over the spindle?
I would say most people that leisurely ride bicycles ride with their arches over the spindle! This is completely feasible to do, and is honestly not a huge deal. However if you are someone that is really wanting to take up riding bicycles as a serious hobby, or professionally, you will want to make the adjustment to riding with the ball of your foot.
As I had mentioned earlier, riding with your arch for longer periods of time can actually cause pain, and at least wastes some of your energy during the ride.
How can you get comfortable while riding correctly?
Most people that are uncomfortable while riding with the balls of their foot over the pedal are actually incorrectly set up on their bike. The main reason is that their seat is too low! When your seat is too low, you aren’t able to extend your legs far enough to account for that extra couple of inches that moving your foot forward on the pedal gives.
If you have decided to change your riding style to include riding with the ball of your foot on the pedal, you might want to make some other adjustments to your bike to be more efficient. This will mainly be your seat, but could also include adjusting handlebars.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have set up your bicycle correctly, you should not be able to put your feet completely flat on the ground. When sitting on the seat, you should only be able top place the ball of your foot on the ground to keep you up. If you find you can place your feet flat on the ground, you will want to raise your seat a bit.
Your toes should always be facing straight forward, rather than facing downwards. If your toes are pointing downwards you are losing power, and traction on the pedals and can actually be dangerous if you slip off of the pedal at higher speeds.
Generally speaking, you are going to want the saddle of your bike to be the same height as the tallest part of your handlebars. This will give you the right riding position that is the most comfortable and most efficient. Of course this can be different depending on the bike, but is a great rule of thumb.
So there you have it! The correct placement for your foot on a bicycle is with the ball of your foot being over top of the spindle (center of the pedal). This should give you the most comfort (if your bike is set up correctly), and the most power out of each pedal of your bike.