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Sore feet and feet numbness, excessive pressure, and inflamed feet balls – do these problems sound familiar to you?
I spent more than 10 hours researching this topic and how to solve these issues. In this article, you find the answers and my selection of the best cycling insoles for flat, normal, and high arch feet.
You also find out how to choose cycling insoles that are the right for you to increase your comfort and prevent injuries when cycling.
DISCLAIMER: This article does not provide medical advice. It was written using multiple reputable sources for people who want to try to fix the cycling discomfort by themselves. However, I recommend consulting using cycling insoles with a professional bike fitter or with your orthopedist to maximize the effects or even prevent injuries caused by wrong insoles for your feet.
Do you Need Cycling Insoles?
According to Steve Hogg, a bike fitter with 30+ years of experience, 97 to 98% of cyclists need cycling insoles. And it doesn’t matter if they have over-pronated feet, medium or high arches.
However, cycling shoe insoles are not self-saving. You should not forget that the basis for a comfortable ride lies in a correct bike fit. Ensure you have the correct bike size, saddle height, saddle type, cleats position, etc.
If you experience any of the following problems during long rides, and you are confident in your bike fit, cycling insoles may help you with:
- Excessive pressure
- Inflamed feet balls (metatarsalgia)
- Sore feet and feet numbness
- Efficiency losses
- Prevent injuries caused by postural imbalance
- Feet stability
If you experience feet numbness, watch the following video where professional bike fitter, Neill Stanbury, explains its 2 main causes:
- The first cause is what is happening inside the shoe (shoe width, insole, socks, etc.).
- The second cause is happening outside of the shoe (correct saddle height, type of the saddle and position, cleats position, etc.).
In the video, you also find out the 3 ways to get rid of feet numbness.
How to Choose the Best Cycling Insoles?
Choosing the right insoles depends mainly on what arch support do your feet need. If you decide to buy cycling insoles on your own, you may also consider insole adjustability, durability, and other features.
There are 3 basic foot arch types (see the picture below). However, every individual has a slightly different arch height, so bike fitters have to be more creative when solving their customers’ problems.
The insoles available on the market differ mainly in the support they provide for your feet. Most manufacturers use their own scale (e.g., low, medium, high).
Unfortunately, this scale is not unified in any way, so one brand’s medium support insoles may provide different support than the other brand’s medium insoles.
Some insoles like G8 Performance Pro allow you to adjust the arch support, but they are usually more expensive.
Arch Type Test – What Arch Type Do You Have?
If you don’t know what foot type you have, take this simple foot arch test:
- Put your foot into a shallow pan with a thin layer of water.
- Step onto a cardboard box, heavy paper, or any other flat surface where you will be able to see your foot imprint.
- Repeat this with your other foot and compare your imprints with the picture below.
Based on these results, you can choose the insole with the correct amount of support.
|Arch Type||Support Needed|
|Low Arch||Low Support|
|Normal Arch||Medium Support|
|High Arch||High Support|
Only some cycling inserts will allow you to adjust the arch support. Most insoles are mass-produced for one of the 3 feet types of arch height (learn more). G8 Performance Pro insoles are a good example of adjustable insoles. But they come with a higher price.
Are Custom Insoles Better Than Prefabricated Insoles?
Custom shoe insoles (orthotics) are expensive. They can cost you between $200 to $800. Are they worth the difference? Well, probably not…
According to this study, it does not seem the custom insoles were better than prefabricated, off-the-shelf insoles. Several other studies also confirmed this conclusion, and this study also showed that off-shelf insoles were as effective as custom insoles.
But, according to Dr. James Ioli, custom orthotics are a must-have for people with complex foot disorders, poor circulation, diabetes who have a loss of feeling in their feet, or severe foot deformities caused by arthritis.
This being said, if you don’t have any complex health issues with your feet, you should be fine with prefabricated shelf insoles or with customizable insoles.
It is pretty difficult to determine how long your new insoles will last because it depends on many factors. You often have to rely on reviews of other customers or your own feeling.
When you take the cycling insoles out of the shoe and see that they are damaged, it is probably a good time to replace them.
Also, if the insoles start to feel uncomfortable, check their condition and replace them eventually.
Here are a few recommended brands that produce quality cycling insoles:
- G8 Performance
- Sof Soles
When choosing insoles for your cycling shoes, you should also consider the following features:
- Thickness – if you have cycling shoes with a lot of space in the toe room, you can use thicker insoles. But, if the toe room is tight, make sure to get thinner insoles to avoid squeezing your feet. This can cause feet numbness.
- Material & breathability – most sports insoles are made of odor-proof materials that can take away sweat. These features are a must-have for summer cycling. Avoid buying too warm insoles to prevent excessive sweating.
What Are the Best Cycling Insoles?
Icebug Slim Low and Fat High Cushion Support Insole
- Arch support: Low – High
- Low or high cushion
- Can be trimmed
Icebug is a well-known manufacturer of shoes and shoe insoles. The Icebug Slim and Fat High cushion insoles are their most popular models.
You can choose from the low and high cushions. The difference is that the slim cushion is around 5 mm thick at the heel and 2 mm at the forefoot. The high cushion insole is 7 mm thick at the heel and 5 mm at the forefoot. This thicker profile includes a temperature-reactive layer that subtly molds to your foot.
Of course, both insoles provide you with sufficient arch support – you can choose from low, medium, and high support. This makes them perfect for people with flat feet, normal feet, or even high arch feet. And, you can also trim them when needed.
The slim insole is better for cycling shoes with less space in the toe box and the thick for shoes with more space in the toe box.
- Arch support: Superfeet has a unique approach (more about it below)
- Great power transfer
- Can be trimmed
Superfeet insoles are not designed with a specific arch height in mind. They are designed with joints of the rearfoot as the focus point. This means the insole can help the power distribution from the start of the movement, improve the overall power transfer, and avoid internal knee rotation or discomfort in your hips and lower back.
Superfeet’s offer is pretty wide, and it may be complicated to find the right ones, so I contacted their customer support team to recommend their best insoles for cycling.
They recommend the following three:
- Carbon Pro Hockey (ignore the name) insoles fit well in cycling shoes thanks to their low volume fit. They also have a narrow heel, a carbon cap and an elevated heel-to-toe profile perfect for power transfer. They are ideal for performance-oriented riders.
- Carbon insoles share similar features as Carbon Pro hockey. The difference is that they have a wider forefoot and a deeper heel cup making them suitable for wider feet.
- Blue insoles have more volume and softer top sheets, providing you with better comfort rather than performance. They are popular among mountain bikers.
Sof Sole ATHLETE Insoles
- Arch support: Medium
- Moisture-wicking treatment
- Can be trimmed
These are one of the most affordable insoles in this selection. Yet, this doesn’t mean they are bad! They provide an excellent price-value ratio, and they are known for their great durability.
Sof Sole ATHLETE insoles include gel pads in the heel and forefoot to increase your comfort while they are not too bulky. They are 4mm thick at the forefoot. This makes them perfect for cycling shoes with more space in the toe box.
Thanks to the moisture-wicking treatment that takes away the sweat, your feet will stay dry even during high intensities or hot weather.
The only downside of these insoles is that they are available in medium arch support only. This means they are ideal for people with normal arches, and people with flat or high arches should look elsewhere.
Sidas Activ’ Insoles
- Arch support: Low – Medium – High
- Low profile
- Can be trimmed
Sidas insoles are available for people with all arch types. So, if you have flat, normal, or high arches, you can choose the arch support you need.
They are made from lightweight, breathable material that keeps your feet dry even during hot weather. This is great for summer bike rides when our feet tend to sweat a lot more.
These insoles increase your comfort thanks to heel pads and a non-slip design that prevents burning sensations and blisters.
Thanks to the low profile, they are ideal for shoes with limited vertical space in the toe box. And, of course, you can trim them when needed so they will fit your cycling shoes perfectly.
Oboz O FIT
- Arch support: Medium
- Can be trimmed
Oboz O FIT are popular cycling insoles among people with normal arches because they provide medium arch support.
Their heel cups help to stabilize your feet and improve the natural cushioning to improve your comfort.
The upper layer is made of odor control material. This is great news for people who sweat a lot.
Oboz One More Tree program is also worth mentioning. They plant 1 tree for every pair of insoles, so if you care about our environment, you have an option to support it this way.
Also available on Rei.com
G8 Performance Pro Series 2620
- Arch support: 5 arch heights (from low to high)
- Highly customizable
- Thin, lightweight, and breathable
- Can be trimmed
If you are highly demanding and look for insoles that you can customize, the G8 Performance Pro Series 2620 insoles are right for you.
They come with 5 arch heights that you can arrange in 11 positions. This customization level makes them the go-to insoles for many professional bike fitters because they can adjust them for different arch types – not only low, medium, or high, but also the arch sizes between.
The customizability doesn’t stop here, though. You can move the inserts laterally and fore and aft based on the unique shape of your feet.
The insoles include chambers for better airflow so your feet won’t sweat as much. They also increase blood flow in your feet and reduce hotspots.
Their main downside is a higher price. But I believe it can be easily justified by the added comfort you will get.
Insoles into your cycling shoes are important. Some professional bike fitters even claim that up to 98% of cyclists need them.
They will help improve your comfort and prevent injuries caused by the shoe’s wrong foot position.
Although I recommend consulting the used insoles with an experienced bike fitter or your orthopedist, you can try fixing your feet’ discomfort on your own.
If you try insoles and you still won’t get the desired comfort, try a bike fit from an experienced bike fitter in your area. The problem may not be with your shoes or feet but with other things like the wrong saddle height, type, bike geometry, etc.
Cycling Insoles FAQ
This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up-to-date tips on products. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.