Shoe upgrade performance test

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Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:01 am

I have an interesting test I'm planning. There is nothing scientific about it, it's just a little bit of fun. It's the age old "does equipment make a difference" question, which unfortunately rarely seems to ever get answered properly. Well I commute the same route very often, so I've gotten to know the hills, the winds and of course my own legs. I can tell by looking at the weather forecast and how I feel, whether I'm likely to break a new PB or not on my favourite strava segments and be pretty accurate. The test is to try to beat 3 of my favourite strava PB's with an expensive shoe upgrade.

The upgrade is:
Pearl Izumi SPD commute shoes $50 to Shimano R320 carbon soled shoes $275
Shimano A520 pedals $32 to Shimano 105 pedals $46
SPD cleats to SPD-SL cleats

If marketing has taught me anything, the shoes are a no brainer to increase performance. My shoes are stiffer than the average sports shoe, but their thick clunky rubber soles are surely no match for an ultra stiff thin carbon fibre beauty for getting power to the pedal. I'll also get a huge weight reduction on the shoes, which I will try to measure, but it's a claimed 150g per shoe, might even be more at my size 49. Other benefits are less for speed and more for comfort, which I don't think will change my test results much, but will of course help my general bike riding, and will be wellcomed for that.

Pedals shouldn't really make much of a difference. Their weight is almost identical, and I researched a bit before deciding on the 105's, and sorry marketers, but forums did kick up a stink to paying over $200 for Dura Ace SPD-SL pedals when the 105 gets the job done "probably" just as well. Even the Ultegra step up was over double the price and only reduced a hair of weight from the pedal.

SPD vs SPD-SL. I know less about this variable in terms of potential for speed increase, but there are plenty of claims that SPD-SL feels more connected. Whether more connected means faster I'm not sure.

To me this is the ultimate test. You take the lowest of the low parts, upgraded them to virtually the highest of the high parts and have a crack at recently set PB's. If there is no performance increase, then marketers trully have won this game.

My main testing is over strava segments I've done up to 100 times each, and they are uninterupted by intersections, cars or pedestrians as much as can be. I have a 1km steep hill, a 5km ride through the national park and a 2km fairly flat uninterupted freeway sprint. My PB's on all of these have come in the last 2-3 weeks, and I've been busting a gut to make that happen, so I'm going into this thinking a PB is a very strong result to start with. I can also guess to some degree the wind factor. Like yesterday I felt great, so had a genuine crack at the 1km steep hill, but failed by 4 seconds on a 1:27 PB. That was a wind that was kind of neutral, I had a tailwind when I set that PB, so I put most of the result down to wind, maybe a touch of legs/form. National Park is a little more variable, but unless the wind is right against me, there is usually little in it still.

So my test will last a couple of weeks only, and after that I think fitness gains may start to play too much of a part in it. If all goes well, I'll swap over equipment tonight, and be doing my first couple of segments tomorrow afternoon for attempt 1 at a shoe upgrade performance test.
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by BNA » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:22 pm

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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby jasonc » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:22 pm

sb944 wrote:might even be more at my size 49.


finally, someone with bigger shoes than me (size 48)
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby dynamictiger » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:03 pm

Must admit to curiosity. Keep wondering about my shoes.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby Crittski » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:37 pm

Go for it, just a pity you wont be blind to the experiment.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby AKO » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:08 pm

I'll follow this with interest. I received my new shoes and pedals yesterday from Merlin (Sidi Genius 6.6 size 47 and Ultegra SPD-SL's). These replaced my LG Montana MTB shoes and Wellgo SPD road style pedals. I ride the same route pretty much every time I ride solo which is a 31klm ride. My average speed has been constant for the past 10 rides on this circuit at 27.4 to 27.9. Yesterdays ride with new shoes and pedals jumped to 29.1 which included considerable discomfort (hot spots) due to new shoes. I'm not saying it was the new shoes but that is by far the best average speed I've achieved on that route.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:05 am

First update, picked up the new shoes from Bike Bug, and was very pleased to see they fitted as well as I'd hoped they would. I stayed around for 15 minutes just to make sure, as they would have one more size to order in if needed. I'll need to get used to how tight the buckles need to go, but I couldn't order a better size, so there are no excuses for these shoes not being SPD killers.

One problem, I couldn't get the pedal off. I laboured for 10 minutes with a multitool hex key, then came inside and read up on which way they need to turn, and decided I had the wrong direction, and probably the wrong tool too if tight. On that direction I tried a multikey, but couldn't budge it, cheap hex key, which I wore down instantly, and a sort of multi function wrench thing that fit well. All no good, so I gave up. Fresh mind today, I read up on the net again, and I decided I was definitely trying the wrong direction at the end, and also I had the wrong tool. I bought a decent 15mm wrench on the way to work. It's not as long as a pedal wrench, but I figure I'll sit on the bike and use my feet to torque it up a bit.

AKO, great news about the speed increase, not so great about the pains. I have some esoles for adjusting my shoes with potential pain I might get, which with a couple of wedges potentially, should be enough to make my ride super comfortable as well as fast.

I often average between 26 and 28, but if I go all out on a ride, and attack every intersection and downhill, can get to 30km/h on the same route. For that reason, I think a smaller strava segment is a better test, as I never hold back on those, and intersections don't come into play.

I'm going to try the pedals again at lunch, and if it works quickly enough, will do a little break in of the shoes and test clipping/unclipping near work. If not ... I'll probably be crying my way to the super expensive bike shop near work.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sogood » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:26 am

Placebo is a wonderful thing!
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:28 pm

OK, dramas over with the pedals, the wrench worked wonders, the old pedals were off in no time using a wrench and my feet to get that first rotation. I slipped on the shoes and started walking around for the first time, not as bad as I thought, but walk slow. I walked a few steps to the lift, and realised these shoes really do feel like you have no shoe on, pretty great. Riding was fine, no problems with clip/unclip compared with SPD, and in fact easier to clip into, unless that was just luck. I do have to say, while the shoes feel great, it's still hard to believe any speed increase will happen, in the couple of small bursts I gave.

Winds are favourable for a couple of the strava segments today, my legs feel OK, so I'm expecting a PB if these are substantially better at getting power down than my old SPD shoes.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby richbee » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:11 pm

You'll probably find the perfomance increase is greater on a longer segment than a shorter. On a short segment fatigue may not be a factor, but on a longer segment the greater stiffness of the carbon soled shoes and the wider platform will reduce fatigue levels which is where the road shoe wins out on the more pliable commuter shoe.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby Baalzamon » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:41 pm

Going from Northwave shoes to Bonts saw an immediate .5kph speed increase
Shame my feet and Bonts didn't like one another
Tomorrow I'm getting my scott premium road shoes setup with speedplay cleats and they should see a speed increase as well
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby vander » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:30 pm

richbee wrote:You'll probably find the perfomance increase is greater on a longer segment than a shorter. On a short segment fatigue may not be a factor, but on a longer segment the greater stiffness of the carbon soled shoes and the wider platform will reduce fatigue levels which is where the road shoe wins out on the more pliable commuter shoe.


Not not really. I would say not at all the shoes dont affect your efficency too much. The real benefit should be in a sprint where there are greater forces, but even that I doubt will be significant.

Its a lot of marketing using speeds and not things like power and VO2 mean that you are pretty much guessing anyway.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:40 pm

OK ride 1 over, mixed bag, inconclusive so far. First, while the shoes felt amazing underfoot, the SPD-SL system feels weird with how much it floats around. I keep thinking I need to push my toes down to stop it moving around, will google this later.

I was riding the other direction to my segments and thinking the wind was spot on, but it was a little off once I got there, still blowing in my face more than when it's right behind, when I usually get my PB's. I got my freeway sprint in, and a PB it was, 2:14 for 4th spot, 2 seconds quicker than previous best. My feelings were maybe not a PB, I just wasn't really getting the float thing, and wasn't used to the feeling when you stand up. Rested up before the next big sprint hill, and didn't get a PB there, same as Monday 4 seconds down. I will say I got a couple of strong blasts of headwind near the top of the steep bit, but either way, didn't improve at all on Mondays efforts. I do have another segment I have spirited runs on, and managed to equal my PB there too, with a poor take off from lights, and the PB was set without having to stop at the lights, so I was pleased with that.

The rest of the ride was as I mentioned, feet felt wonderful, but the slipping sensation was annoying. What I haven't mentioned is standing up, this felt incredible. I got the greatest pleasure just standing up on the pedals, you feel like you are on top of the world compared with before. The other big thing was after the ride. I was eating dinner and noticed how relaxed my feet were, rather than the stretched stressed feeling they usually have after a ride.

So if nothing else I'm thrilled with the shoes, even if performance increase is still yet to be determined. Tomorrow I'll hopefully have a crack at the national park 5km stretch.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby _mike_ » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:39 pm

i noticed no diff apart from comfort from going from the old plastic soled lace up shimano spd shoes to my new fancy carbons. In fact the old plastic soled shoes are a lot lighter, just too worn. Winds and the motor make the difference. Go buy a set of aero bars, cheapest way to go faster :D
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sogood » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:48 am

Pseudo-science defined. ;)
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby rdp_au » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:48 am

sogood wrote:Pseudo-science defined. ;)


That's a shame - just last night I picked up a new pair of fancy carbon shoes to replace my worn out commuting shoes. Was hoping for an immediate performance boost. Does this mean it won't happen? :(
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sogood » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:56 am

rdp_au wrote:That's a shame - just last night I picked up a new pair of fancy carbon shoes to replace my worn out commuting shoes. Was hoping for an immediate performance boost. Does this mean it won't happen? :(

LOL! :mrgreen:

Only if it's more aero. And then, the speed difference will be so small that it's not perceivable. As others suggested, comfort on long rides will mean you can sustain your power a tad longer. It's about the rider and the bling.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:22 am

Yes it is pseudoscience, although the only reason this is not more scientific is due to convenience rather than trying to skew the truth. I'm very happy to report if these shoes are much quicker, but don't have a problem reporting that expensive carbon shoes are not quicker than cheap rubber ones. And since I've done these runs so often, I feel like an increase in speed should be pretty obvious by around this time next week if there is one.

From the website I bought these from, first line of the description:
Focus on the pedaling efficiency: Expressed as Power to The Pedal

Sounds GREAT.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sogood » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:53 am

sb944 wrote:From the website I bought these from, first line of the description:
Focus on the pedaling efficiency: Expressed as Power to The Pedal

Sounds GREAT.

How does one focus on pedaling efficiency? Where's Alex? ;)
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby vbplease » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:31 am

sogood wrote:Placebo is a wonderful thing!

I agree.. I also think it’s a definite factor. As the old saying goes “when you look good, you feel good” and when you feel good you go faster :D

The only true way of measuring the difference between cheap plastic shoes and stiff carbon soles is with a power metre which would gauge the energy losses caused by the flex of the sole. Without doing it, I’d be willing to bet it would be less than 2% difference..

The variance in wind, physical form that day (fatigue from previous exercise and energy from what you previously ate) would have a much bigger difference.

I’ve been interested in getting the Mavic Huez shoes (hopefully $200 on ebay), so I read a few reviews.. one kid reckons he got a 12% power output increase. I very much doubt he was using a power metre.. perhaps his last shoes were a pair of freebie VB thongs thrown in with a carton? I’m still keen to get the Mavics just because they look so awesome in bright yellow :D
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby TDC » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:11 am

vbplease wrote:
sogood wrote:Placebo is a wonderful thing!

I agree.. I also think it’s a definite factor. As the old saying goes “when you look good, you feel good” and when you feel good you go faster :D

The only true way of measuring the difference between cheap plastic shoes and stiff carbon soles is with a power metre which would gauge the energy losses caused by the flex of the sole. Without doing it, I’d be willing to bet it would be less than 2% difference..

The variance in wind, physical form that day (fatigue from previous exercise and energy from what you previously ate) would have a much bigger difference.

I’ve been interested in getting the Mavic Huez shoes (hopefully $200 on ebay), so I read a few reviews.. one kid reckons he got a 12% power output increase. I very much doubt he was using a power metre.. perhaps his last shoes were a pair of freebie VB thongs thrown in with a carton? I’m still keen to get the Mavics just because they look so awesome in bright yellow :D



It's a huge thrill when you get that massive performance boost from an expensive piece of equipment you bought. :lol:
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sogood » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:25 am

TDC wrote:It's a huge thrill when you get that massive performance boost from an expensive piece of equipment you bought. :lol:

Bling bling credit... Priceless! :mrgreen: 8)
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby sb944 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:52 pm

See I disagree somewhat. I do these strava runs often enough, that I build up a pretty solid DB of performances. The PB I beat yesterday I equalled 4 times in the last couple of weeks, and that's a 2:16 run, with all the variables you mentioend, though the wind is usually somewhat behind you on that run. Even the route I'm doing today I've equalled the PB over the last 2 weeks, and that time is 8:49, on a blustery day last week I still managed 8:56.

2 seconds from 2:16 is inconclusive, but 12% would be plainly obvious with these tests, and I think you can already rule that out. I think even 5% would be plainly obvious by this time next week, as I'd have to have decent PB's on everything I tried, after a few runs each. I couldn't do that without some equipment change in only 1 week.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby Xplora » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:35 pm

It's not all Placebo. I went from Shimano MT42s to Specialised Expert road shoes, and speedplay zeros. The shoes aren't even close to dialled in well, and I get some numbness in the toe on one foot, but I've gone from punishing myself to get 34-36kmh on the Parra Riverwalk (flat, carless, not too many distractions) to easily doing 38 to even 41 on a hot run, nothing else has changed except a 1 inch drop on the tribars. That is a BIG improvement due to gear. Unless I'm finally seeing benefits from my training runs in December?

So much for control groups huh? LOL

The change was seriously intense.
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby burger » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:17 pm

vbplease wrote:I’m still keen to get the Mavics just because they look so awesome in bright yellow :D

and that is as good a reason as any!
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Re: Shoe upgrade performance test

Postby TDC » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:39 pm

burger wrote:
vbplease wrote:I’m still keen to get the Mavics just because they look so awesome in bright yellow :D

and that is as good a reason as any!


With regards to the Mavic shoes, I have read that the cleat placement has limited rearward adjustment. If you like your cleats set back, they might not be suitable. It could pay to investigate before you drop the $. Plenty of threads about it on other forums.

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blo ... -are-best/
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/revie ... _4492.html
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