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Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes
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I recently received my pair of full custom cycling shoes. There are countless reviews online about cycling components and clothing, but very little information on full custom footwear. In my opinion, shoes are one of the more important contact points when it comes to cycling performance, so I wanted to provide some information on the process of buying the shoes as well as the benefits Iíve experienced since I got them almost 2 months ago.
The cliff notes: These are extremely lightweight shoes that feel stiffer than anything else Iíve tried. They are so comfortable you donít notice you have shoes on, and the performance is unreal. Iíve DEMOLISHED my 5 sec and 30 sec power records since I started using these shoes. A more "tri-friendly" pair is on the way, once Dave figures out a way to put the shoe on quicker than a conventional tri shoe.

Full version:

The shoes Iím using are made by Simmons Racing (http://www.simmonscyclingshoes.com), a custom shop in Cape Coral Florida. The owner (Dave Simmons) and his wife have been making inline skates since 1991, but are relatively new to the cycling market. Every shoe is made by Dave and his wife from start to finish. None of the labor is outsourced. They are handmade in the USA.

Daveís goal is to build the most comfortable, lightest, and stiffest shoe possible. Heís built plenty of shoes (in adult sizes) under 100 grams. The upper and sole are the same piece of carbon fiber, so it is stiff like nothing else youíve ever felt.

The process starts with a cast of your foot. He has a video on his website to show you how to cast yourself, or you can schedule an appointment with him at one of the events he is attending. I flew out to Fort Wayne, Indiana to have Dave do the cast.

Your foot is wrapped in plaster and as the plaster begins to harden he has you put your weight on your feet to make sure the bottoms of your feet are formed well into the cast. He does one foot at a time and the process takes about 30-45 minutes. When he gets back to his shop he creates a replica of your foot using the cast. He builds the shoe around the replica of your foot so that the shoe is a perfect fit and conforms to every toe indentation and every bump on your foot. This isnít just a custom insole or a heat mouldable shoe. The entire shoe is basically vacuum-formed around your foot as it is being built. It is the type of fit that no lacing system, straps, insoles, etc can provide you with. It is hard to describe, but when you put it on your foot you can almost forget it is there because it fits so well and it is so light.




You can customize a whole lot more than the fit. If you under or over pronate, Dave can build the shoe to compensate. There is no need to purchase wedges because the canting is built into the boot at whatever level you need.

The shoe is made for whatever cleat system you are using. Iíve talked to a lot of speedplay users who are limited on their footwear choices because they donít want to use an adapter plate.

Cleat mounting is also fully customizable. You get to decide where the mounting block is on the bottom. If you think youíd rather have your cleats mounted further back or further forward than your current shoes allow, let Dave know and he can make it that way. Most stock shoes are designed so that the toes curve up. During your casting you can let Dave know exactly how much you want your toes to curve up. If you arenít sure how much your toes should point up or where your mounting block should be, donít be overwhelmed. If you donít have a preference, Dave can build the shoes similar to what you are currently using.


The ďlacingĒ system is up for you to decide on. You can get as few or as many buckles as you want. He can do laces if you want laces. If there is another lacing system out there you prefer (like a Boa type) he can do that too. I went with a single buckle. It is interesting that the custom fit is so good that I can run the shoes without the straps and not notice a difference until I get up to sprint.

Iím still realizing the full potential of these shoes. I knew they would be good based on the inline skating boots Iíve gotten through Dave in the past, but my expectations were pretty quickly surpassed. On the first ride I could tell this shoe was a step ahead in the evolution process of cycling shoes. Remember the first time you ditched toe clips for clipless pedals and you had that ďAhaĒ moment where you realized this is how cycling shoes should work? Well, I had this moment all over again. Since the top of the shoe (the whole upper) is the made out of carbon fiber, the entire structure of the shoe is stiff. Your entire foot feels connected to the cranks, not just your sole. It is impossible to put the feeling into words, but if you are ever racing in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, or Kansas and have around a size 12 (47) foot, Iíd love for you to take them for a spin so you can feel the difference for yourself.

They are noticeably lighter than anything else Iíve owned (Mavic, Sidi, Specialized, and Shimano).

I havenít used aerolab or the chung method to test the aerodynamics of these yet, but Iím willing to bet the cda is lower than anything else I own, even if I donít have shoe covers on these and I do on the others. Since it is an exact mould of your foot, I canít see how the frontal area could be reduced any more. The buckle system I chose adds some drag, so if aerodynamics is a big concern for you, you may consider a different style of buckle, but I like these for the ease of on the fly adjustment.

There really isnít a need to really crank down the strap because the shoe fits so well. When every square millimeter of the shoe is hugging your foot, you donít need to go crazy with the straps. Think of trying to tighten something with 1 bolt vs using 4. With 1 bolt you have more fatigue at the spot where the bolt is located. If you use 4, the pressure is distributed over a larger area and that distribution will keep you from putting too much pressure on one spot. These Simmons shoes are like the ladder. You donít get hot spots while riding because the tightness of the shoe isnít just located along the straps, it is all over.

So how does that relate to performance? At first I thought I was just getting a benefit in the first 6 to 10 pedal strokes and then everything went back to normal, but it was more than that. I could tell my jump was much stronger, and the powertap confirmed it. Pretty much any day of the week I can go out and put out a higher 5 sec power number than my previous record with my Mavic Zxelliums.

I thought that was the extent of it, but then I looked at some other sprints I had done in the mavics and noticed that my 15 sec power was higher on the new shoes as well. Last night I did a 30 second effort and blew my old 30 sec record out of the water. It wasnít even close, and oddly I didnít even feel great riding last night.


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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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They look nice but is there any ventilation at all?

Forget speedwork. Speedwork is the icing on the cake and you don't have a cake yet. - MattinSF

Basically they have 9 tenants, live life to the fullest, do not turn the cheak, and embrace the 7 deadly since. - TheForge (on satanists)
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [Lazy Ben] [ In reply to ]
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They are much cooler (temp wise) than they look. That was one of my first thought to. Some air does get in under the flap. I did some rides over 70 miles while in Kona and my feet never got hot and my socks were dry when I took them off.

Dave lives in Florida and hasn't had issues with heat. It gets hot here in Oklahoma, so I'll know for sure next summer. Dave said he could make some vents in them if my feet start getting too hot next summer, but he didn't think I'd need them.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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Fair enough, I just looked up the pricing so the vent issue is irrelevant anyway :)

Forget speedwork. Speedwork is the icing on the cake and you don't have a cake yet. - MattinSF

Basically they have 9 tenants, live life to the fullest, do not turn the cheak, and embrace the 7 deadly since. - TheForge (on satanists)
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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They appear to be good-looking and well-designed shoes.

But I would have one major hesitation about such expensive custom shoes: your feet are a not as static as we are led to believe. Running, mileage, muscle tone, body weight, lots of things can affect your foot size, shape, and geometry. And, depending on your lifestyle, it can change in a remarkably short time. Can these shoes be easily modified to change size or shape?

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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [DarkSpeedWorks] [ In reply to ]
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I know that his skate boots are heat moldable. You can heat up the boots and push out any hot spots. I assume the cycling shoes are the same way.

He can also stretch the toe area out quite a bit. He did it on a pair of my speedskates. I sent them overnight to him. The day he got them he stretched them and sent them back to me overnight.

I'm not sure he can make them smaller though.

I was a little worried about what would happen if my feet started to get swollen, but it hasn't been an issue, even after 8 hrs on an airplane. You can just leave the buckle loose and it gives your foot a little extra room to expand.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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Freaking awesomely mega cool. It's like Judist Priest cool.

customerjon @gmail.com is where information happens.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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look great but wow on the price

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I use what I love: ISM, Blue70, Trek, FLO
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Last edited by: milesthedog: Jan 27, 16 16:38
Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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Wow... $1600 for a cycling shoe.... It looks cool. Maybe it really does improve 30 sec power but as a triathlete I care only about FTP. Hard to imagine it will help that at all. As for aero... well, I might have to pass on that advantage. It would probably be more than negated by the difficulty of putting them on or pedaling with your feet on top of them anyway.

-------------
Ed O'Malley
www.VeloVetta.com
VeloVetta is developing AERO cycling shoes with CFD and wind tunnel testing.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [RowToTri] [ In reply to ]
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$1900. and I also don't care about my 30sec power. I didn't buy these for extra watts. I'll train better to hit that 375w FTP this season... and I'll do it in comfort with no foot pain due to the shoes. For me, the purchase of these shoes was all about comfort.

wovebike.com | Wove on instagram
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [milesthedog] [ In reply to ]
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Ah. Foot pain is not something I have to deal with on my bike, thankfully. My off-the-shelf mid-priced shoes are super-comfy for me.

-------------
Ed O'Malley
www.VeloVetta.com
VeloVetta is developing AERO cycling shoes with CFD and wind tunnel testing.
Instagram ‚ÄĘ Facebook
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [milesthedog] [ In reply to ]
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IN. SANE.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [milesthedog] [ In reply to ]
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Also, my sworks were shimmed and the Simmons don't require any shimming; the shimming was compensating for the sworks last not supporting my arch, even with the Lake insoles. Note: I don't have any foot abnormalities and my arches are neither flat or super high.

wovebike.com | Wove on instagram
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [milesthedog] [ In reply to ]
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milesthedog wrote:
OK, did some riding on these shoes. Very different and it is a very good different. I've become so accustomed to the feeling of soft leather wrapping my feet and the bunching feeling of my toes signaling a good fit. The Simmons fit is pretty much static across and around the foot, with the BOA providing a bit more tightness around the uppers. There is much more room in the toe box and the shoe fits each toe and metatarsal perfectly with room for foot swelling. The biggest difference is how there is not pressure under the ball of the foot. There is no nerve pressure, no pressure on the metatarsals, rigid support on the sides (like Bont), but the full custom lowers is what makes these special. I'm looking forward to having these for years to come. The price was justified in my mind, with Sworks costing $500 now-a-days and those only lasting 3-4 seasons... I have a friend on L.U.S.T shoes from 2000 and they're still going strong. This original thread is what really influenced my decision to go with Simmons; Thanks!

Here are some photos comparing the shape/last of the Simmons to the '09 Sworks. note: I have heat-moldable Lake insoles in the Sworks and they really were great and I highly recommend them, even over Bont, which only heat molds the upper unless you go the full moldable $1k option.... I felt at $1k, I should go all in with Simmons, the cleat plate being a big draw for me since it would prevent any chance of the cleat bolts causing pressure on the ball of my foot. There is carbon under the aluminum cleat plate on the Simmons; there are holes in the carbon that are visible under the insole of the Bonts and other carbon soled shoes and that was a deal-breaker for me.



So the difference is mainly 1. the shape of the toe box (foot shaped, instead of tapered to squish your toes together) and the 2. "toe spring", of the amount that the toe is "up", and also the heel is also elevated in most conventional shoes.

In the following link is a description of a 4 step process that any Joe with normal household tools can do to "hack" their regular cycling hoes to try to get them to feel better and be healthier for their feet: http://naturalfootgear.com/...cycling-shoe-surgery

I would add a 5th technique: taking a hammer to the rigid toe cap in the shoe, which may allow for a wider but flatter toe box, that may fit a normal human foot better.

I have been unable to find (I admit I haven't been looking very hard) any actual scientific reason for the current shape of commercially available cycling shoes.

Toe spring is something that (I think, but if you are a cobbler or shoe maker, please feel free to chime in) may have been put into walking shoes a hundred years ago, when shoe soles were made of inflexible materials, to allow some kind of walking in them. I think cycling shoe makers in the the early 20th century just copied what cobblers making walking shoes were doing, without any consideration of cycling mechanics. I have found toe spring in a cycling shoe to be very uncomfortable, causing pain, hot spots, and making it very difficult to use my feet for walking/running activities afterwards (n=10 pairs over 24 years, brands=4 Shimano, NW, Bont, Vittoria).

The commercial shoes with the least amount of toe spring currently are Northwaves, but even they have some. What I notice (and love) about the custom shoes you have is the completely flat sole without toe spring or an elevated heel. I however, like many, cannot justify the cost.

Maybe one day commercial shoe makers will actually start making shoes that work with, and not against, the normal human foot. Until then, I have manual and power tools and endless hacking drive to try to make them "fit".

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [sxevegan] [ In reply to ]
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Custom shoes sure have gone up in price.

I agree though that they are often worth it. I've got 2 different width & size feet and my feet are high volume. with wide a forefoot but narrow heels.

I can say that the $650 I spent for full custom D2 shoes almost 8 years ago was the best investment I ever made in cycling equipment.

I'd love to give these a try..once my D2's die....which I hope is never.

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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [RowToTri] [ In reply to ]
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RowToTri wrote:
Wow... $1600 for a cycling shoe.... It looks cool. Maybe it really does improve 30 sec power but as a triathlete I care only about FTP. Hard to imagine it will help that at all. As for aero... well, I might have to pass on that advantage. It would probably be more than negated by the difficulty of putting them on or pedaling with your feet on top of them anyway.

I think $1600 if you can have a lifetime of superior comfort cycling is worthwhile. I have easily spent more than that amount in saddles alone in the last 5 years, forget about how much I spend on wheels and frames. The amount I spent on helmets+clothing is closing in on that total for the past 5 years, so in that context it does not seem bad. Having said that, often a $100 low end tri shoes with lots of inside padding seems to suit me better than "higher end shoes" that are stiffer and harder throughout....I keep coming back to the cheaper models because they have more give all around. If this has no give AND if fits like a glove with no nerve or metatarsel hot spots, could be a good thing.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [OneGoodLeg] [ In reply to ]
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OneGoodLeg wrote:
IN. SANE.

I will add stupidly insane. When you have more money then you know what to do with. Just as I think I about seen it all, I get amazed. $10000 bikes are ok compared to this. That is how I comfort myself. :)
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [DrTriKat] [ In reply to ]
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DrTriKat wrote:

I have been unable to find (I admit I haven't been looking very hard) any actual scientific reason for the current shape of commercially available cycling shoes.

Available molds. That's it and that's all.
If you have thoughts, feel free to e-mail me at robert dot pickels at ucdenver dot edu.
This is part of a larger conversation that is being had.

The above poster is a physiologist employed FastTalkLabs. However, statements are not made on behalf of nor reflective of FastTalkLabs in any manner... unless they're good, then they count.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [xtrpickels] [ In reply to ]
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xtrpickels wrote:
DrTriKat wrote:


I have been unable to find (I admit I haven't been looking very hard) any actual scientific reason for the current shape of commercially available cycling shoes.


Available molds. That's it and that's all.
If you have thoughts, feel free to e-mail me at robert dot pickels at ucdenver dot edu.
This is part of a larger conversation that is being had.

To expand on that, shoes have traditionally been built around molds called lasts (see pic below). Companies can build all sorts of lasts, but tend toward the "conventional" looking rounded/tapered toebox mostly for aesthetics. For example, I love the wide toebox in my Altra running shoes, but it does make them ugly as sin compared to a set of Nikes. Simmons is basically making a custom last from a casting of the user's feet. They also (IMO) have done a great job making the shoes look nice and not too "earth shoe".



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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [ck21trhc] [ In reply to ]
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Expensive sure, but I bet if you'd be surprised at the actual costs that went into a quality custom made item like this. Labor, materials, general overhead, capital equipment cost, custom service.

There is an business opportunity if you think you could make the same product at 50% price. ;)
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [Pantelones] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for posting this. I now know what my next splurge will be. Amazing.

For those that know feet really well, how would a shoe like this help with a bone spur/bunion on the top of the foot?

Now how am I supposed to go put on my normal $300 shoes and ride having just read up on these. It's almost not worth it.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [Titanflexr] [ In reply to ]
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Titanflexr wrote:
[

Firewood.

Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.
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Re: Review of my custom Simmons Racing cycling shoes [DrTriKat] [ In reply to ]
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How thick are these shoes? What is the final weight of them? Also, do they give you the option to be able to place the cleat hardware where you want (for example a midfoot cleat position)? Is there anything on the inside of the shoes to seperate you from the resin/CF? Do you go barefoot in them or wear socks?
Last edited by: 2011ironorbea: Jan 28, 16 9:25
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