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Review - Solestars Cycling Orthotics

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So, I thought I’d give this reviewing thing a go!  Now, as a triathlete I was a bit of a shmo and now days I’m much worse than that.  But I thought that maybe few of us have gotten into the territory of using cycling specific orthotics in their shoes.  So this is a bit about the Solestar brand orthotics I’ve been using for a few weeks now.  One of the podiatrists at the clinic I go to is a cyclist and triathlete and does a bike fit assesment as part of the orthotics fitting process. So with an initial consultation and then a fitting appointment, I was measured up, flexibility checked, and had a bike fitting done.


Then we got stuck into the orthotics themselves.  She uses a brand of orthotic called Solestars.


They are not a custom molded orthotic, so I guess you’d say they’re ‘off the shelf’.   They are designed to get your foot into an optimum position within your shoe and during the pedal stroke, and also try and promote a slight amount of pronation during the stroke.  So I guess that’s the spiel.  Here’s some pics of them themselves.




Here are some pics next to the standard insole from my Northwave shoes.  Big difference!




In my case, rather than just supplying the orthotic, she has added a fair bit extra into the arch of my orthotics which you can see in this pic.  The extra is the grey stuff between the red and the black.


The support section of the Solestars are carbon fibre and is bloody stiff.  The section under my toes and the ball of my foot is soft and flexible; you can see in the pics the line behind my little toe which cuts across then down behind the ball of my foot, that's where the carbon support starts.  You can also see that it graduates down in thickness which is what is spose to help create a little pronation within your stroke.  On the top of the orthotic under the outside and behind your little toe is another thicker section which is also part of the pronation control.  I did ask my pod why cycling shoes aren't made with the same sort of shape or support that you find in runners etc. She expected that it was because in the end most of the force is going through the front of your foot, not the back where most support is.


I wear the same size and brand of cycling and tri shoes - Northwave, so they fit pretty well in those.  While I wear a size 43 in shoe, the size 42 orthotic fit quite well, with just a small amount of trimming around the toes. This contradicts Solestars website which recommends the same size orthotic as your Northwave shoes, so something to take into account if you look at them.  One thing I think to consider with these is how roomy your shoes are.  These orthotics do feel like they make my shoe a tighter fit, though I am getting used to them.  I did have to loosen them off a reasonable amount more at the toes.  I have chosen Northwave shoes because I feel they are a wider fit, which my Podiatrist did confirm when chatting with her.


All up my appointment (with bike fit) took around 2 hours and out I walked with the new orthotics.  She wanted me to ride no longer than about 45mins for my first few rides, so I stuck to the trainer for those.  My first was a lazy gentle spin of 30mins, but the next two were spinerval workouts of around 45mins.  They felt very awkward at first but within those first three rides I got pretty much used to them.  It probably helped that I’ve had to have orthotics in my everyday shoes as well.  Since those spin sessions, I’ve had 4 rides outdoors of 40ish+ k (one of those very intense (by my standards)) and one more spin on the trainer.  All the trainer sessions have been on my TT bike which has been the worst for my back over the last few years, and the first 3 outside have been on my roadie with the 4th on my TT.


What I have noticed is that my right foot position has changed slightly, and my right leg and knee position has changed quite dramatically.  She noted my right leg during the setup, that it hugged quite close to the top tube, and at times my right knee would almost tuck over the top of the tube at the top of my stroke.  She asked me if I felt it touching when cycling, which I most certainly have.  I even feel my right knee and leg brushing my seat tube drink bottle quite often.  Well, that has really changed!  My left leg is still pretty much moving how it did before, but now my right foot sits slightly toe pointing out on my pedal, and my right knee has moved out from my top tube quite a lot!  It now sits slightly further away from the tube than my left sits.  What I’ve also noticed is my right leg is much more stable during the stroke, moving more in a round motion without much left and right wafting which it often did, in particular under load.  What has been quite a revelation to me has been my back while riding.  This back problem (a muscular issue, I think it's my right external oblique) persists to this day.  It’s usually at it’s worse after 25 to 30k on the bike, but it can bother me in day to day life as well.  Well, on my TT bike on the trainer it is not noticeable at all!  Like, not at all.  On the road it starts to show up, but more as a niggle rather than a pain.  I clearly have more work to do on it, but it’s really been quite astounding the difference in these 8 rides thus far.  I had an appointment with my surgeon a week ago and mentioned this to him, and his response was that that was what he was hoping would happen which is one of the reasons he suggested the cycling orthotics.  My right foot and right biomechanics were really that bad (he originally commented that having me stand barefoot, to see my right foot made him physically sick).  I don’t expect this to be a magic cure-all, but with some stretching the Pod has me doing, along with having to now get a foam roller (I think I will learn to hate her for that), I hope to be able to finally get some relief from this.


Back to the orthotics.  As I said, they are really an ‘off the shelf’ product, and I believe you can source these yourselves and off you go.  They sell about 4 different models, of which mine is the second top model, the Kontrol.  I’ve noticed since I first started looking at them that there is a new version of mine - typical.  But so far they seem to be doing a good job for me.


Who are they really for?  Well, I don’t really know!  I would never have thought of them myself if not suggested.  I thought cycling shoes are already stiff so what would an orthotic do?  But in my case they seem to be doing quite a lot.  And even in the pics you should be able to see that there is quite a big difference in the shape and support offered, compared to what you get in a standard cycling shoe.  They have certainly stabilised my leg movement on my right side.  Two weeks down now and I don’t really notice them after about the first 5 minutes of riding.  How much extra weight do they add?  My original insoles weighed 12 grams.  My orthotics, with the extra support added to them, come in at 66 grams.  I couldn’t say how much they weigh without the extra added, but it would still be a fair bit more than 12 grams.


How much did it all cost?  Well, I had two appointments.  The first being an initial consultation where she measured a lot of me up and assessed my flexibility etc.  Then there was the bike fitting and orthotic fitting assessment.  After health fund rebates, the first appointment cost me about $45, and the second including the orthotics was around $189.  This actually ended up cheaper than when I had my other orthotics done.  Apparently because they are a pre-made product rather than custom the whole process costs less, hence my health fund effectively covered more.  The total cost of both appointments including orthotics and bike fit was round $700 pre health fund.  For my regular orthotics the total was closer to $900 with my health fund covering about $500 of that.

Edited by goughy
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  • roxii pinned this topic

On their website, they have a fair amount of Australian podiatrists listed as suppliers. Mine isn't even listed, but there's another one listed in Toowoomba even.

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