BACKGROUND – Ergon IP3 Insoles
The ERGON IP3 insoles are made in Germany and co-developed with Solestar – one of the ‘real’ cycling insole specialist.
Several years ago, I completed an exhaustive review of insoles. Part II can be found here http://biketestreviews.com/the-best-cycling-specific-insole-part-ii/ .
One of the important items noted in that review was that virtually every insole manufacturer claims to make a ‘cycling specific’ insole, but, the fact of the matter is that very few do.
It is my intention that as new cycling specific insoles become available, I will add them to this now growing list. Solestar/Ergon are one of the few insole manufacturers that actually do make cycling specific insoles.
One of the insoles previously tested was the Solestar Kontrol BLK (now called the Solestar BLK). The BLK is their top-of-the-line insole. All Solestar’s insoles appear to have a very similar shape and high quality including the new IP3.
The major differences are the BLK has a carbon fiber bottom layer, the IP3 has stiff plastic. But, the IP3 is also lighter, thinner and $110 less than the BLK. Having used both insoles, I actually like the IP3’s better than the BLK.
One potential issue identified with the original Kontrol BLK was that, at least for Shimano shoes, Solestar indicated that the insoles would not fit. This was due to (a) Solestar said that the height of the ankle support, the insole wouldn’t fit into the Shimano shoes and (b) Shimano uses a wider last and the BLK had a narrower forefoot.
What this meant was that there would be a noticeable space around the forefoot section of the BLK when inserted into a Shimano shoe. This has now been fixed and the Ergon IP3 fit perfectly into my SH-R320, SH-R321 and new Sphere. The IP3 has been designed to fit all low-volume cycling shoes… there is no shoe limitation with the IP3.
An insole is usually made up of 3 parts or sections. (a) top cover, (b) foam padding and (c) a hard carbon or plastic stabilizer. Each part plays an important role in making the entire insole system work. Not only does the manufacturer need to choose the right high-quality materials, but also needs to package this system into a low-volume cycling shoe.
Couple this with other requirements such as a cycling specific arch support (i.e., height and placement within the insole – which is placed at a different location than a running shoe), metatarsal bump, and a deep heel cup. So, you can see that there’s a lot that needs to be designed into a quality insole. This is what we looked at in the previous test.
• CYCLING SPECIFIC INSOLES – To summarize the extensive insole test, there are hundreds of insole manufacturers that all claim to make cycling-specific insole. As shown in the above-mentioned test, very few do. The IP3 is one of about a dozen insoles on the market that are real cycling specific insoles!
• AVERAGE INSOLE PRICE – The insoles that were previously tested range from (now 2017 prices) $30.00 to $169.00. The average price is $73. The Ergon IP3 slips in under the average price at $60, which, in my opinion is still very inexpensive for what you get. Therefore, I place the IP3 on my ‘RECOMMENDED BUY’ list.
• 3rd PLACE TIE – Ergon IP3 tied with 3 other insole manufacturers for 3rd place. The 3 other insoles were priced at $75.00, $80.00 and $90.00 making the IP3 the least expensive in this category. Why 3rd? This is explained below.
• NON-SLIP TOP COVER – Made from antibacterial carbon fabric are among the best on the market. These top covers are lightweight, cool, ventilate well, soft on the feet and most importantly non-slip.
• STABILIZATION SHELL – Fiber-reinforced plastic is lightweight and stiff. Includes small met bump.
• UNIQUE ANKLE SUPPORT – Prevents buckling of the foot as well as preventing inner rotation of the leg during the power phase of the pedal stroke. Unique feature that works. I just wish they would have coupled this with an actual arch support (see below).
• PRICE – At $59.95, you get A LOT of insole for your money.
THE ‘NOT SO GOOD’
The following items were where the IP3 lost points.
• PAD THICKNESS – At 2.5mm, the Ergon IP3 has one of the thinnest foam pads tested. The IP3 uses a firm orthopedic foam compared to the ICEBUG (placed #1) which uses a 2mm gel foam. Even though the ICEBUG is 20% thinner than the IP3, the ICEBUG is a much more comfortable insole. This is due to the gel-infused pad. On the other end of the scale, Specialized uses a 4.5mm thick foam pad which is very similar in feel to the IP3, but, as you can see, it is almost 2x as thick as the IP3. Remember that the pad is the only thing between the bottom of your feet and an extremely hard and rigid carbon fiber outsole which can be rated at a 12-14 … and believe me, that’s HARD!
• TRANSVERSE ARCH SUPPORT – If you look at the picture to the right, you will notice that a foot has 3 arches. The Transverse arch, the outer longitudinal arch and the inner longitudinal arch. One common complaint from many bike fit clients is that their feet go numb – specifically from the metatarsals forward. This is due to the transverse arch collapsing and pinching off the nerves and tendons that run along the bottom of the foot. The best solution is to add a met bump into the insole that supports the transverse arch. The caveat being that the met bump needs to be tall enough to support this arch. The extra small met bump of the IP3 provides little to no support for the transverse arch.
• NO INNER LONGITUDINAL ARCH SUPPORT – Solestar includes a tall ankle support which prevents buckling of the foot as well as preventing inner rotation of the leg during the power phase of the pedal stroke. The issue is that although this insole offers great ankle support, there is little to no arch support. In fact, if you look at the insole photos below, the arch support area is flat right under the ankle support.
So even though this insole prevents the ankle from buckling, what I felt when riding was my arch collapsing during the power phase of the pedal stroke. Ergon should work with Solestar to include both ankle support and arch support features into this insole.
• HEEL SLIPPAGE – If you look at the photo again, you will see a very shallow to non-existent heel cup. What I felt was my heel moving around slightly, especially when transitioning from pushing muscles to pulling muscles. A deeper heel cup would allow the heel to stay in place.
These were the 4 main areas of contention that I feel should be addressed. These would seem to be very easy to address and would make for a set of unique features that no other insole manufacturer offers as a total package.
ERGON’s IP3 insole is a very high quality insole. Top-end materials and workmanship. I especially like the non-slip top cover, ankle support, stabilization shell and competitive price. There were several issues which detracted from making this the top insole in the test.
These insoles are available for purchase through Amazon, please click links below.
|Ergon IP3: 38-39||Ergon IP3: 40-41||Ergon IP3: 42-43||Ergon IP3: 44-45||Ergon IP3: 46-47|