Question: I just bought a new bike and now my heels hit the chainstays on each pedal stroke. I never had this problem before and haven’t changed my pedals or cleat position. What gives? — Jeremy D.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Aluminum frames with oversize main tubes may also have fatter chainstays. Plus, frames that are made for racing will have a tight wheelbase with short chainstays. The means the stays must flare at a greater angle from the bottom bracket to the rear dropouts.
All of this leads to heels that hit. I’ve experienced it on a Specialized E5 frame. My heels brushed the fat aluminum chainstays when I stood.
Cycling shoes can play a role, too. Those that have a hefty heel counter can cause chainstay contact. When it’s time to replace your shoes, look for a model with a slimmer heel that’ll create more clearance.
Another fix is to move your cleats fully toward the inner edge of the shoe soles. This in turn moves your feet toward the outside of the pedals, giving your heels more clearance. For an even wider stance, you can put a washer between each pedal and its crankarm.
Use any or all of these ideas to solve the problem. You may feel like taking a hammer to the chainstays, but it’s not recommended!
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.