I have received a few emails over the past 24 hours regarding a recent cyclingtipsblog.com.au article relating to orthotic fit in cycling shoes so I thought I’d respond here. Most queries relate to what we at Cobra9 feel about the Solestar device and the other orthotics discussed in the article.
Firstly I was very impressed with the depth and underlying biomechanical content of the piece. Tom Barry obviously knows a lot about feet and cycling biomechanics. I get the impression that his level of understanding on this issue would shade many podiatrists working in Australia. The basis for this I would assume relates to his love and dedication to cycling and bike fitting. This is important, as anyone can issue you with a cycling orthotic, but not everyone has the same level of applicable biomechanical aptitude and cycling specific knowledge.
If I had to choose someone to fit me with cycling orthotics, the first thing I’d like to see is some shaved legs. Well, maybe not to that extent, but someone who holds cycling dear to their heart. This is not for any irrational cycling love factor but because there is a lot to know and understand about the role your feet play when cycling. When you want the right product, you go to the people who understand the domain and are able to pass on that knowledge and experience to you.
Secondly, you want someone who understands cycling specific orthotic fit and the relevant anatomy and biomechanics. This is not specific to the cycling industry. Working in the podiatry field for many years has clearly revealed that each clinician has a focus of expertise. It is simply not possible to be an expert on everything. We at Cobra9 make cycling orthotics. We also practise some general podiatry and focus largely on biomechanics but we spend much our time developing and making cycling orthotics. MOST podiatrists do not know a lot about cycling. I would hazard a guess that most osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors also have a limited understanding of cycling and it’s pedal demands. If you want a good result, go somewhere where they deal with this field regularly.
As a relevant side note, I have been asked many times to make other types of orthotics over the years, especially skiing devices when I worked in New Zealand. In each instance I have always steered clients to professionals who specialise in that field. My ski boots were fitted by a sensational technician in Darfield, New Zealand and I have never had cause to complain.
Our journey in this field at Cobra9 has spanned many years and the current product is the result of a number of iterations. It takes time, experience and most importantly, an open mind to new research and developments in technology to make a cycling orthotic to a high standard. Going for a ride with your customers to discuss and incorporate feedback is the other important component of product development.
This brings me to Solestar. I kind of like this product. When Solestar first appeared on the radar I was interested in the ‘custom’ nature of the product. Once the product became available, it became clear that it lay more in the highly customised end of the semi custom orthotics. Not a full custom device but from what I have seen so far, probably the best mass produced cycling orthotic available ( Semi Pro available soon 🙂 ). I think from this point of view it takes the mantle from ESoles. I also like it’s cycling specific nature as opposed to the other devices including Esoles that all look very similar to their running/walking counterparts.
The key to the success of the device lies in the capability of the technician who performs the fit. Based on the evidence I have seen in mass franchise clinics in capital cities, your Solestar devices may be fitted by an authorised dealer without a great understanding of cycling.
We at Cobra9 are about to release our cycling specific Semi Pro device. In 2012 we will be rolling out these devices and ‘training’ clinicians in prescribing this device and casting of our Cobra9 pro devices. These clinicians will include podiatrists, physiotherapists and bike fitters. The main reason why this has not occurred up until now has been our desire to keep our casting/impression process and subsequent products at the highest standard. We are committed to only using technicians who hold the same level of commitment to our product as we do. We will also continue to study cycling biomechanics, seek out new technology in the footwear and orthotic arena and ride as much as our wives and bodies can tolerate (in that order!)
Send any other queries and we will attempt to answer promptly.