But we now know that when the foot stays in contact with what it is on – like it does during the pedal stroke – that it wants to stay balanced between the front and back of the foot and push through the mid-foot. This creates a strong, stable arch and foot and balances the forces being applied by the foot.
We also know that you don’t need to use your ankle and calf muscles to push and pull for power. This study (J.R. Van Sickle Jr, M.L Hull/ Journal of Biomechanics 2007) showed no difference in power or economy between the ball of the foot and the mid-foot position…which means that the ball of the foot isn’t “better” or it would have won. At worst you won’t lose anything by using the mid-foot position.
However, it did show an important difference in how that power was produced. They found that driving through the ball of the foot placed more stress on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, while the mid-foot placement took that stress and put it on the hips.
This is interesting when you consider that the hips – and not the quads – have been shown to be the major drivers of the pedal stroke (ELMER, S. J., P. R. BARRATT, T. KORFF, and J. C. MARTIN. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2011).
Taken together, all of this points to a pedaling platform that stabilizes the foot by supporting both ends of the arch and optimizes the mid-foot placement to better recruit the hips, which are the main drivers of the pedal stroke.
And this is exactly what we did with the Catalyst Pedal.
To accomplish this it gives you the longest platform available – 5 inches/ 128 mm. While some oversized flat pedals come close to this length, through testing we found that there is a “critical mass” that is reached with the Catalyst Pedal which allows it to connect both ends of the arch of the foot.
The Catalyst Pedal is also no wider than a normal flat pedal – 3.75 inches/ 95 mm. This means that it is narrower than any other oversized flat pedal, disappearing underfoot and not exposing any extra pedal body to rock strikes.
Tested over the last 8 months on a variety of trails in the Fruita/ Grand Junction CO and Moab UT areas, the result is a patent pending design that supports your foot the same way the ground does. This creates a strong, stable platform for your foot that is not available with any other pedal.
This improved foot position and support has 3 main benefits:
1) POWER – By supporting both ends of the arch of the foot you naturally support the arch itself, which gets rid of flex in the arch. An arch that is only supported on one side is weak and flexible while one that is supported on both sides is strong and stable. By supporting the arch with the pedal body itself you get rid of the foot flex you usually need stiff soled shoes for. This improves power transfer since the pedal body itself is far stiffer than even the stiffest soled shoes, which means every bit of power your legs produce go straight into the crank arms.
2) EFFICIENCY – The mid-foot placement of the axle balances the foot, which takes stress off of the ankle joint and allows for better recruitment of the hips.As mentioned earlier, the hips have been shown to be the major muscles used when pedaling, not your quads (ELMER, S. J., P. R. BARRATT, T. KORFF, and J. C. MARTIN. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2011). The mid-foot position has been shown to shift the stress from the ankles to the hips (J.R. Van Sickle Jr, M.L Hull/ Journal of Biomechanics 2007). This means that optimizing the mid-foot position allows your body to better recruit the main muscles powering the pedal stroke.
3) COMFORT & STABILITY – The more balanced foot position achieved from this pedal design will result in a more balanced application of force into the pedals.Instead of pushing forward into the pedal through the ball of the foot you will push straight down through the entire foot. This will result in less stress on the feet since you aren’t pushing them into the toe box of your shoes with every pedal stroke, plus your feet won’t push over the top and come off during hard sprints on the trail.
All of this adds up to an improved experience for your foot on the bike. And since your foot is one of the major contact points with your bike this can have a dramatic impact on your riding.
In fact, we are so confident in this pedal design that we back it up with a money-back guarantee – if it doesn’t improve your power, stability and comfort then we’ll be happy to refund your investment.
Right now we are working hard to bring the Catalyst Pedal to the market by the end of the year. We have teamed up with VP Components – makers of VP Pedals – to handle our manufacturing and the first order is placed so it is just a matter of getting them made and delivered.
You can learn more about the story, science and logic behind the Catalyst Pedal Right by visitingwww.pedalinginnovations.com. You can also pre-order your pair at a special pre-sale discount now through Saturday October 10th.
With over 400 pairs sold so far around the world, we are looking forward to bringing the evolution of the pedal to riders everywhere.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Catalyst Pedal
Q: Don’t I need my ankles to help smooth out bumps on the trail/ act as extra suspension?
A: I’m not going to argue about someone’s personal riding style and preference. However, as a strength coach I know that a more stable foot allows the rest of the body to relax and move better which will more than make up for a few lost inches of movement out of your ankles. Your body needs a certain amount of stability and if you destabilize the foot then it tries to make up for it with stiffness in other areas of the body.
I mean, try it for yourself – get up and balance on the balls of you feet while trying to get down into a mock Attack Position like you are on your bike. Now try to do it with your heels down and your foot balanced. There is a huge difference in how smoothly you can move and while you may not realize it, this is happening to you on the bike to some degree when you balance on the balls of your feet.
Using your ankles as extra suspension can also result in an ankle getting snapped back and sprained (I’ve been there before myself). I’d also like to point out that most pedals are set up for you to be on the ball of the foot and so it is hard to say what someone’s preference would be on pedals that changed the platform and balance points. If you feel that it works for you and you are not interested in trying something new that could be better then that is fine but that technique certainly isn’t “right” and there are some arguments against it.
Q: Don’t you need a concave design and/ or more pins in the middle?
A: Not with this design. When you are on the ball of the foot then your pressure points on the pedal are more in the middle of the pedal body and pushing forward. This requires a lot of pins and/ or a concave design to combat.
Q: Don’t I need to use my ankles for leverage when pedaling/ Won’t pushing with my ankle help me add power to the pedal stroke compared to just letting the calf muscle do nothing?
A: This study (J.R. Van Sickle Jr, M.L Hull/ Journal of Biomechanics 2007) showed now difference between the ball of the foot or the mid-foot position in power or economy. It also showed that the mid-foot position placed less stress on the calf and Achilles tendon and instead suggested that the stress was placed on the hips instead.
This means that the mid foot position better recruits the hips and that the ball of the foot isn’t “better”. If it was it would have won, not just tied. In fact, from a functional movement standpoint taking the stress off of the smaller ankle joint and putting it at the stronger, bigger hip joint is how the body is meant to move. Your calf needs to act as a stabilizer for the ankle so it can help transfer the power from the hips and when you try to move it to “add” to the power you decrease that power transfer and place extra stress on a more sensitive joint.
And if you look at kids or people in 3rd world countries ride their bikes they are almost always mid-foot on the pedals – this is the natural riding position and unless someone at some point told you that you needed to push through the ball of the foot odds are you wouldn’t have learned it.
Again, I can’t argue with your success and if the ball of the foot works for you and you don’t want to try something that could be better then that is fine. My point is simply that using your ankle for leverage isn’t “right” and in fact I could argue goes against how your body is built to optimally move.
Q: Don’t you need to pull up on the backstroke?
A: The short answer is no. The Korff (et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39:991-995) and Mornieux (et al. Int J Sports Med 2008; 29:817-822) Cycling Efficiency Studies clearly show that pulling up on the backstroke produces less power and burns more energy than simply driving hard on the downstroke and letting the trail leg come up just hard enough to get ready for the next hard downstroke push.
In all my years of looking I have found no studies or evidence that supports the theory that you need to pull up on the backstroke and I have an open challenge to anyone who can show me some. This was just a theory that sounded great but now that we can actually look at what is happening during the pedal stroke the evidence clearly shows that pulling up on the backstroke is not the “right” way to pedal. Follow us here on Pinkbike at @PedalingInnovations