Update 5/3: Pricing information added.
Update 5/7: Pricing lowered!
Hot on the, ahem, heels of the announcement that Retül will be using FootBalance custom footbed systems alongside their their bike fitting services, we have a pair of the company’s new Quick Fit self-molding insoles. Unlike the rest of FootBalance’s line, which require visits to a specially-equipped fitting center, the QuickFit insoles are designed to be molded at home by the wearer. Initial impressions after the jump!
As someone with somewhat wonky feet, knees, and hips, I’ve greatly benefited over the years from supportive insoles. Seeing as many cycling shoes are built with board-flat soles, a few hours in the saddle can easily lead to uncomfortable or numb feet and joint-tweaking accommodations. Adding a bit of properly-placed support can make a world of difference as minutes stretch into hours and miles stretch into… more miles.
Footbalance’s use of a rigid base material suggests that the QuickFit insoles will outlast those made simply of dense foam (which can break down over time). As is usually the case, insoles are trimmed by the user to match the insoles being replaced. Quick tip: tracing the old insole onto the new with a fine-tip Sharpie seems to produce better results than trying to hold two funky-shaped insoles together while cutting one. Our samples provided plenty of material beyond the stated size, so measure twice and there’s little danger of one’s toes hanging off the end of too-small inserts. The QuickFit model has a slim profile and mid to high arch that easily fit into all but my snuggest riding shoes.
After trimming, the QuickFit insoles can either be heated in an oven and formed to the wearer’s feet relatively quickly- or simply worn until they take the shape of the foot. In my experience, the wear-to-fit method seems to reproduce the foot’s position in riding shoes better than the oven method, so into the shoes they went.
With a bit more support at the outside of the foot than cycling-specific insoles like Specialized’s, the Footbalance insoles do feel a bit different at first. While Footbalance don’t provide a timeframe for wear molding, four weeks’ worth of rides is likely plenty and the insoles remain supportive without causing any hot spots. Interestingly, they seem to be more comfortable than other brands on long descents, reducing the tension in my toes, and I have ridden in them for as long as 5 hours at a go without any discomfort whatsoever.
While the initial impressions are excellent, we have had $50+ insoles break down in under a year’s time: the true test of Footbalance’s latest will be many more months’ use. Will the QuickFits justify their $45 asking price? Check back after a summer’s worth of epic rides for a final verdict!