Proper Foot Placement on a Bike Pedal

Cyclist riding bike
Get more power with proper foot positioning. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

A bicycle is an efficient machine, but only when it's a proper fit. The correct position of the seat, pedals and handlebars in relation to your height, ensure that you enjoy an efficient and enjoyable ride. Because your foot is your body's direct connection for providing motion to the bicycle, proper foot positioning on the pedal is extremely important.

Position

You should position your foot over your bicycle pedal so that the ball of your foot, also called the metatarsal, is directly over the pivot arm of the pedal. The pedal's pivot arm is the axis, which runs through the body of the pedal. Positioning your metatarsal over this part of the pedal maximizes stability when bicycling. Practice proper positioning every time you ride, until it you can feel when your foot is out of place on the pedal.

Benefits

Placing your foot properly over the body of the pedal will help to ensure maximum pedal power and efficiency. Positioning the pedal at the ball of your foot promotes a process called "ankling." Ankling to the natural rolling of your foot as it rotates through the crank arms full range of motion. If your foot is farther back on the pedal, you will lose reach and power because your foot cannot rotate properly. If your foot is too far forward, it will place too much pressure on your toes, reducing power and in some cases, causing pain or injury.

Clips And Cages

Cages and clips provide more efficient riding by attaching your foot to the pedal. Cages work by providing a metal or plastic form that fits over your foot and the bike pedal. Adjust the cages' forward position and the tension on your foot to ensure proper alignment. Specially designed biking shoes can clip or snap onto your bicycle pedals. You need to adjust them properly to align the ball of your foot with the pedal's axis.

Fit

Proper foot positioning on the pedal is easier when other bicycle fit adjustments are correct. Your foot's position is dictated in large part by your bicycle seat's position. Your should ensure that your seat's height, forward and aft position, and tilt are properly adjusted. When fit correctly, your feet should comfortably reach the pedals throughout your full range of motion. When adjusting seat for position, make sure to wear your normal riding shoes, which can affect fit, especially through seat height.

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