By Tim Cusick, PCG President and Elite Coach
Flash back to Interbike 2013, where I met Oliver and his Solestar team. Oliver convinced me to let him make me a pair of custom insoles to help deal with a long-term issue of left/right imbalance that I had always attributed to a hip and pelvis issue I have. After a few measurements, my insoles were ready! I returned home and began my test.
First ImpressionI immediately felt what they call “stabilization-delta” in the shoe. The insoles have a unique shape and support that make you think they’ll feel odd as you stuff them into your shoe, but as soon as you put the shoe on your foot, you feel the insoles’ support platform building up and supporting your foot. The insoles were immediately comfortable. I took a few spins around the driveway and from the very beginning felt better connected and more solid in the pedals.
Riding with SolestarPerfect! I knew by the time I was a mile away from my house that this was going to work for me. I immediately felt more stable in the foot/shoe/cleat attachment. Once I warmed up I was ready to get rolling through the test, but I’d started to notice something. I’m a Speedplay pedal user, and I love the ability to customize my float; I’ve had the same setting for years. Suddenly, however, my left heel wanted to be more out and was pushing against the float limit. I figured that since this was a test, I should test everything, so I headed back to the house, made a quick adjustment to the Speedplay float, and back out I went. I know items like insoles are personal “feel” pieces (like saddles), so I won’t go deep into how they felt to me except to say that they were very comfortable and very stable. I loved the feeling of connection to the pedals. Since that ride I’ve used my custom insoles in my road shoes and the Kontrol version in my mountain bike shoes. Quite simply, I love them.
Data DiscoveredSo back to my first point. Since that first ride I have noticed another benefit. My initial test ride showed a power balance rating of 50/50. Power balance is SRAM/Quarq’s way of measuring left and right that focuses on power generated on the downstroke segment of each pedaling revolution. There are a lot of confusing claims and measurements regarding left-right pedaling, but I focus more on the change. My balance went from a consistent 47/53 average pre-Solestar to a 50/50 post, and it still averages that today. This aligns with my impression, as my left leg gives me issues and the feeling of better connection to the pedal; now the data supports that (and it always gives me confidence when the qualitative feeling matches the quantitative data). I have charted this in a simple Excel chart that I’ll update soon with a new tracking system that will be found in WKO4, but for now you’re stuck with a vague chart of summary points. This is an average of my daily data recorded approximately every two weeks. Sorry, it’s not perfect science, but it’s a good overview.
ConclusionFor me, the Solestar insoles really work. Great feelings and data clearly demonstrate that they have helped balance my pedaling, as noted by the clear change. I do believe this has helped my efficiency, but it’s really hard to connect to the data, so just take it as a feeling. All I can CONFIRM is that they did change my pedal power balance. I believe their stabilization-delta technology was key to my success, as I was forced to adjust my left heel from day one of using the insole. I now believe that my foot was looking for that support and was leading me to run that heal more in, thus not correcting the issues in my left leg and hip.
Congrats to the team at Solestar, and thanks for letting us in on this great product!
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