The Minimal cycling shoe utilizes an unconventional flat sole that is more bio-mechanically correct for cycling than a traditional curved sole. Your foot naturally rests flat, and when you pedal, the ball of your foot, your toes, and your heel all apply downward force at the same time on the same plane. No matter where in the pedal stroke you are, this plane does not change. Therefore toe spring, heel rise, and other random curves provide no bio-mechanical advantage. Most cycling shoes use a curved soles out of tradition rather than science, and that’s fine, it’s just not what we want for the Minimal.
Of course, you may want various amounts of arch support as well, which is better dealt with by using an insole. There is no conclusive evidence to support one insole design over another, and one design certainly does not fit all –this research report concludes simply that one should just choose whatever insole feels the most comfortable.
Midsole Cleat Position
The Minimal cycling shoe has more cleat position options than any other cycling shoe. One of these options is the midsole position, which seems to provide a bio-mechanical benefit by giving your legs a more direct path to the pedal and removing the levering effect of your ankle, resulting in less moving parts per pedal stroke. That means you use your quadriceps more and your calf muscles less. This should benefit triathletes during the running segment, because their calves will be more rested after getting off the bike compared to using a traditional cleat position.
If you are changing to a midsole cleat position from a traditional position, there are a few things you should be aware of. First, you will need a new bike fit as the saddle needs to be lowered by several centimeters. Next, adjust how you corner, because your wheel will strike your toes when turning. Finally, if you stand up on the bike, your toes could strike the ground if they are pointed downward too much.
Of course, you don’t have to place your cleats in the midsole. Setting up your cleats in more standard positions around the ball of your foot also works great, and after a few rides you won’t notice that the sole is flat.
The Adjustable Heel
The Minimal has a patent pending adjustable heel that can move in or out to match your foot length, ensuring a perfect fit every ride. Wrapped around the heel is a layer of 12k carbon fiber that increases stiffness and helps the rear strap glide easily over the heel. This carbon layer is flexible enough to slightly conform to your heel shape.
Sticking out of the bottom of the heel is a stiff, reinforced carbon fiber “stopper”. The stopper can be manually positioned inside or outside the shoe and allows you to choose 2 different types of fit.
The first option is to keep the stopper inside the shoe. Now as you tighten the rear strap, the heel is free to keep moving inward and press against your heel, leaving no gaps between your foot and the heel. Think of it like a “shrink wrap” fit where all four sides of the shoe are compressed around your foot. The stopper keeps the heel from flexing and rotating downward as well, so everything stays stiff. What’s beneficial about this option is that there are no gaps between the shoe and your foot, which results in greater power transfer from your foot to the shoe. However, some people don’t prefer this configuration because it can create pressure on your big toe.
The second option is to keep the stopper on the outside of the shoe. The stopper limits how far forward the heel can move to just a few millimeters, so you’ll get a near shrink wrap fit without pressure on your big toe. When the stopper is outside the shoe, the heel actually pivots forward as well to provide extra heel hold along its top edge.
Since everyone’s left and right feet are slightly different in length, some cyclists may choose to put the stopper inside for one foot, and leave it outside for the other foot.
Either way, the adjustable heel holds your foot securely and eliminates any heel slip, as it’s always snugly pressed against the back of your foot.
How It Feels
Like anything new, the Minimal shoe takes a few rides to get used to. Its sole will feel like a regular cycling shoe after a few rides, and deciding to put the heel stopper inside or outside takes time to figure out as well.
The upper is made of mostly mesh, reinforced internally to keep some stiffness. Overall the shoe is supple so that it can adapt to all shapes of feet. It’s also very breathable, great for triathletes as water can drain or evaporate easily, especially from the toe box area.
The heel and main straps wrap around your foot very well creating a snug fit. The toe area is a bit flexible, similar to Nike’s Flynit shoes. The front of the toe box is reinforced and slightly heat moldable so you don’t lose any power when pedaling hard.
We put an extra layer of EVA foam under the insole for two reasons. One is to help cyclists figure out the fitting. Some people have a low instep, and the foam will help fill in the extra space. The other is for comfort, as some people find the sole too stiff and need some extra cushioning. You can remove the foam if you like.
Since the Minimal heel is adjustable, we were able to combine four shoe sizes into one. Normally there is a 6mm difference between full shoe sizes, and 3mm between a full and half size. Our adjustable heel can move more than one centimeter, easily encompassing several sizes. For example, our medium size shoe fits 42, 42.5, 43 and 43.5 (scroll down for size chart). We’re also able to consolidate sizes because of the large range of cleat positions available so the cleat can easily remain under the ball of your foot.
The Minimal shoe is also a bit wider to allow some natural toe splay.
- 100% Carbon Fiber
- 4.5mm thickness
- Speedplay compatible (Speedplay cleats will fit from the front of the sole all the way to the midsole by default.)
- SPD compatible (SPD cleats will fit from the front of the sole to almost the midsole position by default. If you need SPD at the midsole position, please specify in the notes section at checkout and we will provide the SPD-specific sole.)
- Look/Shimano compatible (With our Speedplay to Look adapter available for purchase separately, you will be able to use Look/Shimano cleats from the front of the shoe to the midsole.)
- The heel tread is made of TPU and is replaceable via a screw.
- The toe tread is 100% carbon fiber and is replaceable via a screw. It is a carbon fiber piece that protects the sole, and does not have any grip. The heel tread and cleat will provide enough grip.
Speedplay to Look Adapter
These shoes will use your muscles in new ways, so take it easy at first! Dedicate a week or so to get used to them, and stretch every day. Consult your bike fitter as well.
Expect to see some glue along the edge of the shoe, because we use a lot. We would rather use too much glue instead of too little, so some squeezes out but won’t slow you down. Regular cycling shoes only have one centimeter or so of surface to bond the upper and sole together, but the Minimal has a much larger surface area to bond and therefore a more secure sole.
The Minimal shoe is manufactured in a way different from any other shoe. We treat the design like a piece of software that keeps evolving and receiving updates whenever needed, not limited to an annual basis or model year. So from time to time, expect to see slightly modified shoes available online as we keep on improving the Minimal.
Below are downloadable pdf documents with to-scale outlines of our sole sizes, so you can print and compare the sizes to your feet. But make sure your printer does not scale the drawing!