Ergon IP Touring Solestar Insole
113g UK9.5-10.5 EU 44/45 US 10.5-11.5 £44.99
The Ergon IP Touring Solestar Insoles are aimed at the cyclist who puts in the miles on tour or long day rides, but will also be kind to the feet of commuters and general riders. Correcting misalignment and increasing efficiency on the bike, but suitable for walking, too, they have a lot to offer. They have now permanently replaced the original insoles and my Sorbothane substitutes (in fairness, not a cycling specific design) have been relocated to my approach shoes.
Pros: very well made, cool, easily cared for, stiff.
Cons: size range dos not cover all foot sizes.
Spec and materials
Well, crushed nuts don’t often appear in the product test section, but finely ground walnut shells do so here.
According to Ergon, they’ll help to keep your feet cool. They’re in the padding that you can’t miss as soon as you open the box. The padding is foam; the surface nylon; the shell a microfibre composite. So, padded, stiff, and cool, should be the product.
The intention is to stabilise the foot and maintain optimal alignment, especially on long rides. Equally, the additional padding should help eliminate hot spots, whilst the support provided should alleviate stress on the underside of the foot.
A bit of context here may help. Whilst we all need good foot support, the last year or so has seen the development of arthritis in my left knee. So far this has had no detrimental impact on cycling other than a bit of a twinge when trying to push that extra bit on steep hills. More recently, I have had some pain in the bottom of my right foot. Changing insoles shoes has made a distinct improvement when walking. Hence my enthusiasm to try out some cycling specific insoles in my favourite trainer type Shimano SPD shoes. Now, I’m not saying that the IP Touring Solestar are just a solution to a touch of arthritis, but I’ve found Ergon products very effective the past – their bar tape, for example. I see no reason why they should not work even better for all touring cyclists. Maybe they’d even prevent the development of pesky conditions.
Size and fit 4.5/5
Checking your shoe size is vital. Don’t guess, take a look at the label just to be sure. There’s a useful little leaflet in the box in which Ergon utter dire prognostications should you make any attempt trim or modify these (as you might Sorbothane insoles, for example, be ye expert or amateur. Beware! They come in EU 36-45 shoe sizes: UK 3.5 to 10.5. Whilst I am happy that my son’s size 12 feet will prevent him nicking mine, I concede that some people will be disappointed.
Apart from the warnings of dire consequences, getting the right fit matters. The arch supports are very stiff and you do not want any slippage or bulging of the shoe: you want your foot to cradled comfortably, with the support, padding, and reinforcement in the right place. Having said that, Ergon point out that there may well be a ‘wearing-in’ period. Even so, the Solestar should fit snugly int your shoe without forcing. Remember to remove the old insole first.
I found ours to be a perfect fit in an old pair of Shimano SPDs. I admit I was a little surprised as they appeared to be larger than the insoles I was taking out. Yet in they slipped with no undue cajoling. The arch support looked to be very high and I noted the stiff upper edge. Even so, foot inserted and it immediately felt very comfortable and supported.
That experience was repeated when using the Merrell approach shoes I sometimes use for shorter rides or when I only have space for one pair of outdoor shoes and cycling is not the main activity.
Care and durability 3.5/5
Easy care really, just a wipe every now and again. If they get wet, remove them and just let dry. I was pleasantly surprised that they dried overnight after a distinctly wet ride without overshoes. That was without any direct artificial heat, which should be avoided. Let the shoe dry, if possible, before replacing. That may not be convenient, of course, especially on multi-day tours. However, I’ve just removed ours, wiped them, and let things dry at the first opportunity and there seems to be no ill effects.
Although I have only done a few hundred of cycling in mixed weather, these still look pristine. I’ll update in a few months’ time. In the meantime, the spec suggests they are highly durable, and I have seen nothing to make me think other than that there’ll be many miles of cycling pleasure before they go to insole heaven.
The first thing I noticed was the improved stiffness right across the shoe, with the whole foot feeling supported. Flex was there of course, but I felt that there was a more even transfer of pressure during the pedal stroke. This boded well for longer rides, but since the first outing was just on the commute that would have to wait. Mind you, a ten-hour shift, with much spent on my feet, and the return home felt equally enticing.
A good eighty-miler definitely felt more sprightly – and feet less tired – than with the original insoles or the Sorbothane replcaements.
Off the bike, whether around the office or searching for Commonwealth War Graves in cemeteries and churchyards – perhaps a slightly morbid niche interest – the insoles just feel superbly supportive. I’ve used Sorbothane insoles for sport and long distance walking for many years and really like them, but they do not match the stiffness when it comes to miles on the bike.
Sidas Flashfit Bike+ Insoles are ten pounds pricier, and some folks have praised their stiffness compared to insoles sold with cycling shoes. They are also trimmable. Specialised SI Insoles are much cheaper, but do not have the same properties, in my opinion. Equally you can find insoles at around £80 that promise to deal with a number of medical conditions: but you may want to get a medical opinion before going down that line.
The Ergon IP Touring Solestar Insoles seem to be to be very effective and, although a touch shy of £45 is a good deal of cash to fork out, I wish that I’d come across them a lot of years ago.
I replaced some Sorbothane insoles with our Ergon test model. They’d done well, but were great at absorbing shocks rather than providing stiffness for efficient pedalling or, in my opinion, the same level of support. However, they do offer a wide range of insoles at a range of prices – and they can be cut to size.
These are highly effective insoles that will make a difference to any kind of cycling. For the tourist it might be the last few miles of a long day when they come into their own. On the other hand, comfortable away from the bike, they promise lot to commuters and utility riders, too. I’ve found them helpful with a couple of minor ailments, but these are for all long mileage cyclists, not just an old codger with a dodgy knee!