The insoles that come with many cycling shoes leave a lot to be desired.  Many are just there to provide basic support (if any) or simply to provide some aesthetic look to the shoe.

There are many brands of cycling specific insoles you can purchase.  Many range from $30 and up but aren’t completely customized to your foot specifically.

Many riders spend hours at time in the saddle.  We focus on fit, comfort, geometry and all sorts of little details.  These hours in the saddle equate to days if you add them all up.  We spend hundreds of dollars on lightweight carbon fiber shoes in the hopes that they’ll be the magic bullet to fix any knee or hot spot we may have while riding.

The point is, all cyclists spend hundreds of dollars dialing in their bicycle.  A bike fit will cost you anywhere from $100 to $250 or more.  Shoes that have a “moldable” insole costs $250 or more if you can find them in that price range.  Why not take a look at getting a custom insole that fits your foot down to every curve, bump, and shape?

Retül Fütbed insoles have a solution.

Retül Fütbeds were created in partnership with Masterfit, a premier designer and manufacturer of insoles for the snow sports industry.

Recently my local Retül fitter, Jim Cunningham at GCM Multisport, started offering custom Retül Fütbeds.  I was highly interested in getting these and wanted to give them a try.  The cost might seem high at $150, however, it’s just a bit more than off the shelf high high-quality inserts that cost $50 or more.  My justification was simple; I’ll pay a little more so I know that my insoles are exactly formed to my foot and are exactly right for my shoe.  The entire process takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour so you can be in and out with your new insole relatively quick.

What is the right size for your foot and shoe?

Retül has many starting sizes of the insole to begin the fitting process.  These insoles have varying materials and levels of rigidity to them.  Here you can see the 4 available sizes that a fitter would start with.  I don’t recall my specific size.

After opening the insole package, you see that you have this loose blue piece just sitting there and I was wondering, what do you do with that?  We’ll come back to that in a minute, but you can see on the underside of the insoles there are 3 distinct colors.  White, pink and blue.  Each color is a different material that is more rigid than the next.  Again, we’ll come back to that later.

Molding your foot.

The entire time Jim @ GCM was explaining the whole process to me I couldn’t help but wonder what this big blue tub was for.  I found out quickly that the big blue tub is actually nothing more than a plastic covered shaker table that has a very fine sand type of substance underneath it that will eventually mold to the bottom of your feet.

You start by putting your heel as far back as you can in this machine and air is sucked out of the blue chamber (note the small dial between your feet).  As the negative pressure starts to take out the air the fitter can then start to mold the underlaying sand to a shape around the base of your foot.  It’s important for the fitter to get a good fit of your arch and also the width of your foot.  This process didn’t take long.  After a few minutes and some start/stop with air in and out of the chamber, Jim had a good shape for my foot.  Once my mold was complete Jim would then take out all the remaining air from the chamber and that would be the mold for the insole.

Prepping the Insole

After Jim found my correct insole size he has to apply some very hot air to allow the insole to be a little more flexible and workable.  Remember what I said about the different colors of the insoles being more rigid than the others?  Jim used this industrial hot air gun for about 10 minutes to get the insoles flexible enough to get into the mold.  You can see the picture of him working the back side of the insoles and the very rigid blue heel piece.

One picture that I wished I had taken during the insole molding process was how he assembled the insole with the blue heel piece.  It’s mostly what you see in the picture.  He placed the blue heel piece on top of the pink piece while being very careful to align the blue piece cutout on top of the pink piece cutout nearest the heel.  It’s a stacking game of materials; least rigid to most rigid and in this case white, pink and blue.  After getting the insole assembled Jim took a great deal of time ensuring that the insole fit into my shoe exactly.  You have to realize that once he starts cutting the insole to match your shoe that if he takes off too much material he would have to start over assembling a completely new insole.  So, it’s best to measure twice, cut once in this instance.  My new insoles fit my shoes probably better than the original insoles do now.

Conclusion:

My first 2 rides with the new insoles felt very different from the original pancake flat insoles that came with the shoes.  The addition of the new insole did initially make my shoe feel a little bit smaller resulting in a less volume for your foot inside the shoe.  You might find that you don’t have to strap your shoes up nearly as far with the new insoles installed.

I could tell right away that I had much more support on my arch than before.  I wasn’t sure if this sensation of added support was normal or not.  Jim said I had very high arches and this should help me with power transfer.  I was a bit skeptical at first and noticed the more “solid” feeling in both feet right away.  After about 30 minutes into the ride, I completely forgot about them being there.  It did feel as if I could apply more force to the pedals without losing any extra effort.  It made, in my mind, a more stable foundation for my foot to apply power through the shoe and straight to the pedals.

I’m very happy with the results of the insoles.  I would recommend them to a serious rider who is concerned about comfort, getting the most out of their pedal stroke and trying to eliminate any hot spots or shoe discomfort.  On the surface $150 is a lot of money for insoles, however, I believe it’s a justified minimal “up cost” to off the shelf insoles which might provide you better support if you’re lucky.  I can tell you these insoles are very rigid and very well made.  I expect them last a long time and I’m hopeful that I will eventually be able to swap them between shoes.