Friday, 31 March 2017

What Is A Good Bicycle?

Maybe you read in magazine the roadbike A better than roadbike B, or you hear your friends say "i have a good time in bicycle C..frame was stiff  bla, bla, bla..." But, the classic problem will appears, if that thing work for them, did it work good for you too?

In a good bike, design, materials, and construction are well-balanced and suit the intended purpose and cost of the machine. An ultra-light, aerodynamic time-trial bike made for the Tour de France and built of advanced composite materials, and a crude cargo bike made for hauling bananas to market in Nicaragua and built of crude mild steel, can both be good machines.

Low cost is essential. For the Tour contender, exotic design, space-age materials, and high-tech construction; for the banana-carrier, a simple design, easily-worked mild steel, and rudimentary joinery. A good bike is honest. It does the job it sets out to do, is made with good and efficient use of materials, and will stand up.

To put it complicated (:D hahahahaha) a good bicycle its depends on:

1. Frame material and design
2. Suspension or vertical compliance
3. Wheels
4. Transmission
5. Brakes
6. Handlebars, stem and saddle

But i don't talk about that now.

Whatever the pedigree, whatever the job, good bikes are well found and well-executed. A bicycle is a vehicle for you, and while it is important to give any new bike a fair trial and strive to learn how to get the best out of it, you do the work and the riding, and you either get results, or you don't. Ride, and the difference between an honest bike made to do the best it can, and one that is badly built or only a marketing idea, will usually become apparent. 


A good bike is one you like because it works for you.

Ride On!

Psssttt...if you like motorcycle too, visit my other blog at 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Tech Talk: Bastion Road Bike

Technology and art have always combined in bicycles. One man’s treasure is another man’s poison, hanging off a bang up-to-date creation, the beauty, and elegance of a bicycle are indisputable. Bastion Cycles are taking this perfect marriage up a notch by ‘Engineering a New Art Form’

The Bastion uses 3D-printed titanium lugs, filament-wound carbon tubes and a computer-optimised design offering bespoke geometry and stiffness levels tuned to your preference. Rather than being created in moulds using sheets of pre-preg carbon, Bastion’s tubes are fabricated in Australia using a filament-winding process that offers a high level of influence over the bike’s characteristics.

Ribbed Lugs

Using titanium powder, the machines use lasers to melt the powder layer by layer to construct an incredibly detailed and supposedly strong structure.  McGeary went onto explain how the ride can be changed – “we’re putting ribs in the titanium (lugs); with this we can tune the compliance and stiffness of the bike. If you want a really compliant ride, we can take ribs out, if you want a stiff and aggressive bike, we add in ribs.” It also creates the stunning finish of the carbon tubes.

Distinctive Wave
Mixed material carbon and titanium bikes are nothing new, but the processes being used for the titanium lugs particularly certainly are, but it is yet to be used to this level or on so many key structural parts of the bike frame.

All of the tech aside; the lug shapes, dropouts, finishes and variations in tubing thicknesses being produced by Bastion result in striking-looking bikes that you cannot help but fall in love with. They’re beautiful. ‘The distinctive weave has become part of our design DNA,’ says Bastion founder Ben Schultz. ‘This wasn’t our intention. We’d planned to paint the tubing, but we’re yet to have a customer who wants that.’

During the construction process, Bastion supply prospective customers with one of the most clear and concise frame drawings. In addition, a file is sent to customers which enable the customer to view and play with a full 3D model of their new bike via a readily available app. Each Bastion frame is given an ‘Engineering Report’, which projects the frame onto a scatter diagram of riding and stiffness qualities of other frames for comparison. Different options are given to the consumer – ‘Regular’, ‘Stiff’ or ‘Extra Stiff’.’


Ride On!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Basic Clothings For Riding

Think you don't need special clothing to ride? You're (mostly) right. With the exception of always including a helmet, you really can ride in anything. However, technical bicycle clothing helps keep you safe, comfortable, and faster on the road. Most bicycle clothing is made from materials that are made to dry quickly and wick perspiration away from your skin. This is extremely important because as you’re riding, any moisture in your clothing can cause chafing and irritation. 

The two most common fabrics are high-tech poly mixes and merino wool. Both materials wick sweat and are quick drying, but the high-tech polyester mixes are more common and affordable. Merino wool is not your granddad’s sweater material. It’s nature’s miracle fiber that is highly durable, wicks, insulates (keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, depending on the thickness), dries quickly, and has antimicrobial properties that keep your clothes from building up with “gym stink.” 


This is your bike shirt. It comes in short-sleeved, long-sleeved (for the winter), or ladies’ sleeveless variations (for the summer). From the front, it looks like a regular tight shirt, but it is actually a well-thought-out piece of clothing that is defined by a few key design components. Jerseys are intended to be worn snugly to help keep you aerodynamic. 

The jersey is cut longer in back and shorter in front to accommodate your bent-over riding position. This adds to the awkward look when you’re just walking around, but covers your lower back and keeps material from binding up or cinching in the front when you’re on the bike. The front also has a three-quarter to full-length zipper to give you extra ventilation when needed.

Another technical aspect of the jersey is the back pockets. You’ll want one with at least three. There are jerseys with fewer, but most riders find that they want as much space as possible to carry all the things they may find themselves needing, including food, water, on-the-road repair items, sunscreen, jackets, and more. This clever placement not only keeps your stuff where you can easily reach it while you’re riding without it falling out, but also keeps it tucked out of the way of the wind.

If you want a loose jersey, you can buy AM or DH jersey, they tend to loose fit, look like a motocross jersey and usually doesn't have any pockets in the back.

Bike Shorts and Chamois

Bike shorts are made of the “slimming” Lycra that most people envision when they think of cyclists. Though commonly referred to as shorts, they also come in three-quarter-length and full-length versions for cooler-weather riding. The shorts are usually made of multiple panels of material to help create the most smooth, snug, and comfortable fit.

You’ll also have a choice of whether to get bibs or regular shorts. Regular shorts have a waistband that can be a source of discomfort because you’ll be bent over the whole time you’re on the bike. The bibs make you look like a high school wrestler but eliminate the rolling and binding of the waistband through the use of over-the-shoulder straps. This can make bathroom breaks a little tricky because of the need to remove your top to get your bibs off. However, most riders find that this minor inconvenience is well worth the extra comfort in the long haul. 

Sewn inside is the chamois (commonly pronounced “shammy”), a big padded liner that protects your behind from soreness and chafing. The word originates from the goatlike animal whose skin was the fabric for the first liners ever used. Lucky for us, the modern chamois is made from some combination of foam and gel and is covered with a microfiber cloth that wicks away sweat.

Beware of getting the thickest chamois thinking it will offer the most protection. If the padding is too thick, it can actually cause numbness and lose its beneficial quick-drying properties. For commuters who may not be riding for hours at a time and sometimes ride in their work clothes, there are thin liners to be worn under your “regular” clothes that have a thin chamois. This works a bit like the regular bike shorts but without the bulk and you can wear them all day long if you like. Almost forgot to mention, nowadays you can buy baggy shorts if you don't like the tights. in some baggy shorts, they have a tight and chamois padding inside and the other's don't.

Shoes and Socks

Your shoes will mostly depend on what type of pedals you’ve chosen to ride. If you’ve decided to ride flat pedals, any fitness or gym shoe will work fine, though the stiffer the sole, the more power that can be transferred from your body to the pedal, so some shoe companies offer a shoe that works fairly well. 

If instead you’ve decided to go with a clipless pedal system, your choice of shoes will be based on whether you decided on the road or mountain type of pedal. The mountain cleat attaches with two bolts, the road cleat with three, so generally you’ll need road shoes for road-specific pedals, and mountain shoes for mountain-specific pedals. With either kind the fit should be somewhat snug around your foot—not too tight, but as narrow as your foot will allow. This helps transfer power and keep you aerodynamic. 

Cycling-specific socks are made of special wicking fibers and are designed to give support in the arch, to provide padding where you need it, and not to bunch up or rub. Of course, there are varying lengths to choose from, but the height of the cuff has little to do with functionality and everything to do with fashion.


This is the most important and valuable item you’ll put on to ride a bike. Riders shouldn’t saddle up without reaching for their helmets first. Of all the parts of your body that can break, your brain is the most valuable and least repairable. Yes, the chances are slim that you’ll fall. Unfortunately, if you do it’s never expected. Because of the riding position, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to protect your head in case of an accident without a helmet. 

Even when you’re not moving quickly, it’s all too easy to bump your head on the pavement or curb if you go down. All helmets sold in bike shops meet the same levels of safety certification standards whether they cost $40 or $300. The main difference is that the more expensive helmets are much lighter and have better ventilation and more high-tech bells and whistles for adjustment without compromising on safety. So if you’re resistant to wearing a helmet because you love the feeling of the wind in your hair, invest in a higher-end helmet so you can enjoy the wind and keep your best asset safe.

Big Book Of Cycling for Beginners

Ride On!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Bikepacking Part 3: Ride On!

Assuming you have already bought your bike and gear, the next stage is to start testing it, and yourself in the process. Genuine testing that pushes you to your limits, and raises those limits in the process. 

For those of us who have spent decades cycling and racing, consider starting your prep by doing yoga or pilates. Veteran muscles become shorter and less supple, which means they are resistant to a full range of movement. By building your core strength and stretching your leg muscles, you’ll be much less likely to suffer injuries, and you’ll become surprisingly more efficient on your bike. Some describe yoga as the “Antidote to the cycling position”

Make a list

Next comes the experience of combining your bike, body and gear on a bikepacking trip. Choose somewhere new, and carefully write a list of everything you take with you. After the trip, you can revise that list, adding the few things you forgot and deleting the many things you didn’t really need. But have a column for ‘cold trip extras’ – beanie, extra top, warmer sleeping bag, etc.

The comfort testing

Contact points come next. You might think that’s all about the bike, but the flip-side to your seat, shoes and handlebars are your butt, feet and hands. There is a delicate balance between front and rear pressure. On the front, it is hands, shoulders and neck that are affected. On the rear, it is mostly the butt. With a good, balanced position, a subtle shift from the aerobars, to the main bar, to the bar-ends, all create slightly different pressure points. By constantly varying your pressure points you can travel a long way in comfort. 

What works for 200 kilometres may not work so well after 4 days, and be untenable after 10 days. Keep an open mind, and be prepared to adjust your position. This may mean flipping your stem, or putting on a shorter stem, or adding gel padding to your bars. Your butt needs time to get used to the seat you’ve chosen. 

It takes around 3 days continuous use for ‘saddle rejection’ to occur when it is a poor fit. Saddle rejection means pressure point damage, either to your sit bones, or right between your legs. Even when you have a good saddle it may take a few weeks for your butt and your saddle to reach a mutual understanding. To help that frictious relationship, choose a good chamois cream and the best shorts you can afford. 

The next bit of hardware your body needs to get used to is aerobars. As weird as these things look on a mountain bike, they are highly recommended as they give your hands a complete rest – otherwise, nerve damage to your hands is highly likely. Dropping down onto the aeros and then tracking a smooth line takes a bit of skill – if it’s a rough road, quite a lot of skill. And you have no brakes on the aeros, so learning to quickly move back to the brakes is critical. Also, leaning down on the aeros can lead to lumbar pain. If that happens then you’ll need to raise your bars, or spend more time doing yoga.

The final contact points – feet – aren’t generally such a problem, although your feet may swell during long days. Choose a shoe with plenty of space, and a wide flexible sole that will be good for walking over rough terrain. This is no place for narrow, lightweight racing shoes! Also, cut your toenails a week before any big brevet, to avoid another potential pressure point. Despite all this preparation, on a big tour you will almost certainly discover additional problems with your contact points, simply because of the longer time in the saddle.

Get packing

A big part of bikepacking is being able to load your gear efficiently and handle your bike when fully loaded. Every bit of gear should have its place and be packed in a certain order that you’ll formulate while training. A lot of people put their tent/ sleeping bag and mat in their handlebar roll; tools in a small bag on the top tube; then first aid kit into the seat bag first, followed by clothes in a dry bag. It’s really up to you to work that out.

Getting a reasonable night’s sleep becomes more and more important, the longer the trip. If you plan to camp out, then a tent will be invaluable on a rainy night. You’ll need to know how to pitch it quickly in dark and possibly stormy conditions. Alternatively, if you are taking a bivy bag, then the emphasis will be on choosing the right time and place to doss down and away from mosquitoes. Spend at least one night in your bivy bag to discover how much condensation builds up in it.

Staying in cabins or a motel certainly saves time, and is a lot more comfortable. Finding accommodation at the last minute is becoming harder and harder though, as the tourism industry booms, and travellers disperse into the smaller towns. Try to book ahead as early as possible. 


It’s also important to get used to the sort of food you can buy on the road. Pies, chocolate milk, bananas, and muesli bars are all staple foods for bikepackers, but on long rides you’ll need to knock back some fresh fruit and veggies to ensure you stay healthy. Discover what you like from dairys and service stations. You’ll probably burn four times as many calories as normal. Food should not just be fuel, it should be pleasure too!

Mental preperation

The toughest parts of a brevet are the challenges of the mind. Attitude can make a big difference, and preparation helps a lot. Study the course, so you have many manageable goals. Visualise reaching those favoured locations, savouring your favourite foods and beverages when you really need them, socialising with new friends, and tucking into a dry warm tent or cabin for a revitalising night’s sleep. Accentuate the rewards.

Now...close this page and ride on!

New Zealand Mountain Biking magazine 2/2017

Ride On!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Earn Your Name, Claim Your Own Legendary Nickname

A good news for Strava member, site will analyze your ride data and give you your own legendary nickname and customized poster. You just need enter the site and synchronize it with your strava account. After a few second you will get your own legendary nickname and customized poster from them. You can also download the poster after that.

Here's mine:

The Poster

Cool! :D i get my own nickname "The Unseen", Hahahahahaha

Ride On!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Type of The Cyclist

Finding The Right Ride For You...

The Recreational Rider

You don't want to compete and losing a few kilograms might be a bonus, but you’re attracted to bicycling as an experience. Maybe you’d like to explore the world around you a little more closely, or find a way to spend time with friends on two wheels. If these characteristics sum up your cycling attitude, then recreational riding is a great fit for you.

Whether solo or in a group, this riding is all about the experience, recapturing the joys of childhood, and taking stock of the world rolling by. Recreational riding is recess on a road bike. Many riders of all stripes start by riding solo. These riders find that they prefer to pedal along on their own, keeping their personal pace and timeline and enjoying the quiet time. 

Bicycle touring is one of the most revered types of recreational riding by all types of riders. Road touring involves picking a point-to-point destination or a loop of roads, which you’ll cover over a series of days. Most touring guides suggest that the best way to tour is to focus on the recreational aspect, stop often to eat, and explore the land you’re journeying through.

Commuting and everyday riding are the last kinds of recreational riding. You might question how commuting could be considered a “recreation.” If you have the ability to cycle to work—meaning the stars align so that you live close enough to ride to work and you either have a job you can wear commuter gear to or your place of work offers facilities for you to clean up and change—it’s one of the best ways to beat stress, get active, strengthen your immune system, get your brain revved up in the morning, and wind down on the way home. Other than that, many riders come to find that getting to work by bicycle actually saves time off their commute, negates their gym membership, and leaves them happier and more productive on the job.

Everyday riding is similar to commuting but a good choice for individuals who don’t have riding to work as an option. It’s defined by accomplishing daily tasks, entertainment, and errands on two wheels. Your road bike can be a wonderful way to get to the library, grocery store, coffee shop, happy hour, or movie theater. You can even buy a trailer to cart your kids to school or to the park.

The Fitness Cyclist

You look at a bike and you see a way to test your body, your heart pumping, and maybe lose a weight. You’re not looking to race anybody. You mostly want to spend time in the saddle getting fit and healthy, setting up personal goals and knocking them down. 

Many people come to cycling as a way to make themselves healthier without the embarrassment or competition of other sports. You can head out on the road solo, or with a few supportive buddies. It’s a common occurrence in bike shops that someone who has never been “fit,” “athletic,” or a participant in any sports outside of high school physical education walks in and buys a road bike. 

While cycling, the heart rate will be at a perceived exertion of somewhat hard to hard. If you’ve already got a solid athletic base, your first ride will be longer than if you’re starting out fresh. Fitness riding is defined by the amount of time spent on the bike combined with the effort at which you’re riding. Usually this type of rider will spend a minimum of an hour riding, working up to an average of an hour-and-a-half to more than 3 hours per ride, between 2 and 5 days a week. This can be quite a time commitment, but it’s also a great excuse to get away from the of our chaotic, plugged-in lives. 

Actual mileage will depend a lot on how fit you are, and even then how fast you are. Terrain and weather conditions will make a difference, too. A flat route might seem easier than a hilly one, but flat routes are also typically windier and not necessarily faster. In any case, most cyclists like to mix up their terrain.

The Racing Cyclist

You've watched the pros from afar and now you're inspired to test your limits. Fitness riding seems a little too unstructured for your goals. You’re ready to pin on your race number and head for the start line. If you’re a road racer, it’s likely that you already know it.

There is something very enticing about speed. The wind in your face, the burning lungs, the thrill of pushing corners with just over 2 centimeters of rubber between you and the road—in the sport of cycle racing, that velocity is mostly dependent on your strength, fearlessness, and cunning. How quickly you go up, how much risk you take to be the first one down the hill, how wisely you use the energy of the riders around you—and possibly your team—to conserve energy all make a difference in a race situation.

Due to the time commitment, it can quickly become both a lifestyle and an identity. People who are new to cycling but attracted to racing tend to have an athletic background. However, you don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy the sport. All you really need is a competitive streak. If you’re not convinced this is your forte, be aware there are a variety of types of racing on the road. Regardless of the type of race, you’ll be training. This looks similar to fitness riding, but your time on the bike will be much more regimented to optimize your race results.

In this sport, even races are a part of your training for the big performance of the season. Racing bicycles is not an activity that you’ll do from home. After all that time training on the road, you may have to drive significant distances to get to the races. Beyond time, there’s also an added financial investment. You’ll need to buy an annual state or national racing license and entry fee for each race. Because it’s dictated by a calendar, road racing is both seasonal and cyclical. Depending on the weather where you live, there will be a season that racers rest and recover, a pre-race season training, and sometimes a long (more than 6 months) race season. 

Big Book Of Cycling for Beginners

Ride On!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Do You Need A New Toys?

Gear (sometimes) makes us mad. Deep inside, we like to dot our i’s and worry about the details. We’re told champions are made in that last 1 percent, and we'll be damned if we going to lose because we didn’t buy the right kind of tyres. The problem is this philosophy assumes we’ve already gotten the other 99 percent right. And you know what 99 percent of our race time comes from? Actually training.

The point of all our gadgets and gear and fancy equipment is to supplement and showcase our training. The devices should make you faster on race day after you’ve already trained. They should make it possible for you to train smarter so you can train harder, not so you can avoid work. That’s why heart rate-based training was revolutionary in its time, and why power meters took the idea another leap forward in cycling. Not because it allowed you to buy your way out of work, but because it allowed you to work more effectively and, in sum, harder. That makes you faster. Not the device itself. 

All that fancy très cher gear and equipment is only as good as its owner. Pro athlete is allowed to worry about the last 1 percent of details because they already nailed the other 99 percent. The rest of us haven’t yet. You don’t need that new bike. You don’t need new clothes or a new watch. You don’t need toys. You need to train. And if you are going to get some toys, be smart about it, do not show up on a ride with a GoPro and Bluetooth helmet but no power meter.

Triathlete magazine, 01/2017

Ride On!

Friday, 3 March 2017

Book Review: Infographic Guide To Cycling

A few days ago, i managed to get copy of this book "Infographic Guide To Cycling" the cover make me curious to look inside and unconsciously i finished this book only in 1 hours! Infographics make this book like a resume of the world road cycling. You can see any information from the bike itself until the grand tour and doping scandal.

It's a good book to people who wants to know brief of road cycling but doesn't have many time to read an essay. For you who already experienced in road cycling, this book its worth to keep to help you pass the knowledge to others without too boring lecturer.

This is some page from the book:

Ride On!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Do You Need Insoles? (Final Part)

Type of insoles

Cushion and support
The simplest are cushioned inserts, designed for people who merely want to reduce shock. "Maybe they like the flexibility of their shoes, but their feet are not used to getting bruised or pounded," Mieras says. "Or they're older and finding that the padding on the bottom of their feet isn't what it used to be." The ideal cushioned insert, should be lightweight, flexible and made of materials that won't break down within a few miles.

If you want to try something a little more customized to your foot, another option is a heat-moldable footbed, which can be conformed to your foot by first warming it up (typically in an oven at low temperature), then standing on it while the plastic is still warm (but not too hot). When molding the insert, make sure you're standing straight, with your foot pointed forward so that your second toe is directly in front of your shin. Also, be careful not to press down too firmly on the inside edge or you'll squash down the intended arch support. 

Toe splay

Metatarsal pad
Metatarsal pads are simply cushioned lumps that fit behind the metatarsal heads (the ball of your foot), distributing weight and forcing the toes to spread. This serves several functions. In McClanahan's minimalist theory (if you have a broad enough toe box), it lets your toes splay to keep you from overpronating, in a far more natural manner than a full-length arch support. The pads also take pressure off the metatarsal heads. "If you have a neuroma or pain around the metatarsal heads, (pads) can help," Mieras says.

Many full-length arch supports include metatarsal pads, among them a pressure-relief insole, but several companies sell standalone inserts with adhesive backings that glue the pads into your shoes. If you use a metatarsal pad, it's important to get it in the right place. "It's critical that it doesn't touch the metatarsal heads," McClanahan says, noting that if you put the pad too far forward, it raises the metatarsal head rather than spreading the toes, opening the door to stress fractures and other injuries. "They can do harm if they're not in the right spot," he says.

Heel lift

Heel lift pad

The final common type of shoe insert is a heel lift. Typically these are used to take pressure off an injured calf or strained Achilles tendon. As with metatarsal pads and forefoot pain, the pain-relief effect can be dramatic. Not that this means a heel lift can instantly cure your injured Achilles: It merely takes the strain off while it heals. You still need to do the normal stretching and rehab work, Mieras says.

Also, if you use a heel lift for too long, your Achilles tendon will shorten and you'll discover you need the insert simply to function normally. "You can use it for a few weeks," Mieras says, "but then you need to wean yourself off of it." To make this easier, she adds, don't use the heel lift all the time. And as your injury heals, you can shift to smaller and smaller lifts. One way to do this is with layered felt pads.

Who needs insoles?

Based on the latest science, anyone looking to enhance the comfort of their running shoes may want to consider trying a running-specific insole with a dynamic design to improve pressure distribution. This can range from someone dealing with an injury, to an elite athlete looking to gain a legal performance edge during workouts and races.

Some people aren't going to get relief without expensive inserts. Others will do just fine--and possibly even better--with a less expensive option. "There are a wide range of inserts, all the way from something to cushion your foot to something that's going to change how you land," says Jamie Mieras, a podiatrist at the Boulder Valley Foot and Ankle Clinic in Colorado. 

Who does not need insoles?

If you do not find the insoles you try to be more comfortable or comparable to your shoes with the original sock liner, then they may not be for you. 

If you want to try, look for...

A running specific insole designed for the unique motion patterns of running. Comfort is king. A zero mm drop is ideal so they will not interfere with your running shoe’s design. Visit your local specialty running retailer to try several options available and discuss how the varied designs will affect how your favorite running shoes perform. 

Before you buy, press on the arch of the insert, Braver says. If it collapses, it's not supportive enough. Also, don't buy half-insoles that just go under your heel. "You push off the ball of your foot, and that's when your foot pronates and collapses inward," Braver says. "So the insole needs to cover this area." 

If you find an insole that helps--but not 100 percent--take them to a podiatrist, who can customize them. It's cheaper ($75 to $100) than a prescription orthotic, and may work just as well, Braver says. In fact, a study published in the July issue of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society's journal found no significant difference in the incidence of foot problems between users of custom orthotics and those who wore over-the-counter devices.

Step it up If all else fails, custom orthotics are probably the way to go. Not only are they molded specifically for your foot, but the materials chosen to make the orthotics reflect your particular running needs. Custom-made orthotics should last at least five years, and podiatrists can also refurbish them every couple of years to prolong their lives. 


Run On!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Do You Need Insoles? (Part 1)

Not long ago, runners seeking to correct imbalances in their feet had to buy custom-made orthotics insoles at prices as high as $400 to $600. Today, however, a host of manufacturers offer over-the-counter inserts designed to do the job of orthotics at a fraction of the cost. The insole market is a multi-million dollar industry and with more options available than ever. The two questions many runners ask themselves are: 

1) What type of insoles are right for me?

2) Do I even need insoles at all?

What is an insole?

When you purchase running shoes, they come with a sock liner designed to enhance the comfort of that pair of shoes. While some insoles intend to address pronation, the latest insoles designed upon current research, are built to enhance comfort, which according to the latest studies, is the key (and only proven) method for preventing running injuries. 

Available over the counter or prescribed by podiatrists, orthotics insole properly align your feet to avoid and treat injuries. About 25 percent of people have a normal running pattern. The rest of the running population overpronates or underpronates, meaning their foot turns too much or not enough at heel-strike. Orthotics insole can correct these imbalances by adjusting the angles at which the foot strikes the ground.

Orthotics insole are often considered the cure-all for just about any kind of lower-body, running-related injury, says sports podiatrist Richard Braver, D.P.M. They are used to treat plantar fasciitis (heel pain), chronic blisters, shinsplints, and leg-length discrepancies. "Orthotics insole can prevent and cure a problem by reducing and eliminating the stress that caused it," Braver says.

You'd think with all the technology that goes into making today's running shoes, runners wouldn't need additional support. But Ray Fredericksen, president of Sports Biomechanics Inc. and Runner's World technical editor, says companies skimp on the sock liner (the thin insole that comes with the shoe). "Sock liners are designed to break down and conform to the foot to enhance the fit," he says. "They're not designed to add extra cushion or act as an orthotic or a stabilizer." That's why so many runners are replacing them with over-the-counter or prescription alternatives. In fact, about $375 million was spent on over-the-counter orthotics in 2003, up 14 percent from the previous year.

But orthotics, especially prescription ones, should be one of your last options, Braver says. Custom orthotics cost between $375 and $450, and only about half of all insurance companies cover the cost. They aren't an overnight solution either. A podiatrist makes a plaster cast of your foot, and then a lab creates the insole from the cast. It can be about a month before you get them, and then when you do, they're still not race-ready. You need to break them in for one to two weeks, and you could feel some discomfort until you get accustomed to them.

If you're experiencing some kind of lower-body or foot pain, Braver recommends this course of action: 

Get Fitted
Problems can occur when you're in the wrong shoes. People with low arches as well as heavier runners need more stable, motion-control shoes, and those with high arches need more cushioning. Visit a specialty running store to make sure you're wearing what's right for you.

Alternate Shoes
"Most runners get injured because they run the same pace on the same surface on the same shoe, day in and day out," says Fredericksen. By alternating the shoes you're running in, the slight modification will give you relief from a high-stress area. If you like one particular brand and style, you can just rotate a slightly worn shoe with a new pair, Fredericksen says. 

See a Pro
Orthotics insoles are often the solution for structural deficiencies. But if your pain is caused by tight or weak muscles, Braver says, a physical therapist or massage therapist could solve the problem--and make orthotics unnecessary. See a sports podiatrist for a proper diagnosis.

Useful as they may be, such arch supports aren't without controversy. One voice of caution is Benno Nigg, co-director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Calgary in Canada. Such inserts, he says, can be useful in recovering from injury but may not be something you should wear indefinitely. That's because, by reducing the range of motion of your feet, they allow some of the small muscles of the foot and ankle to get lazy. "It seems preferable to have strong muscles," he says. "Strong small muscles around the ankle joint and foot solve the majority of lower-extremity problems."

Portland, Ore., podiatrist Ray McClanahan agrees. "It shouldn't be a permanent, lifelong thing," he says. In addition to Nigg's concerns, he warns that anti-pronation arch supports can heighten the risk of sprained ankles, particularly for trail runners or people who run on slanted surfaces. There are times, he says, when you want your foot to be able to roll inward, "So don't use it on all routes," McClanahan says.

McClanahan is a minimalism advocate, favoring shoes with wide toe boxes, a small heel-to-toe drop and limited "toe spring" (the upward curve that most shoes have in their toes) as an alternative way to stabilize the arch. "We have the same goal but go about it in a different fashion," he says. He adds, however, that he's not adamantly opposed to foot supports. To begin with, they can be useful to take the pressure off a recent injury. "Maybe you strained a plantar fascia ligament," he says. "That might be a good time to temporarily put in a device to let it heal." In addition, McClanahan says that 4 or 5 percent of his patients do need permanent arch supports. "These are people who have structural problems," he says. 

To be continued...


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