Longer axle pedals

I’m just curious and fresh from epiphany (disregard excessive enthusiasm if you find it here). I’ve long wrestled with a right knee issue that I could never resolve. At first it just felt funny. Then it became uncomfortable. And finally it matured into chronic pain, although nothing approaching excruciating. Over the years I’ve had at least four bicycle fits and gotten input from a few self-proclaimed specialists. Not once did anyone ever mention the option of trying longer axles. I came across an article on the internet that’s now at least 4 years old, written by Rick Shultz, that states a large number of riders he works with suffer from a wider stance that is being forced to fit into a narrow Q-factor dictated by equipment standards in the industry (caution: I’ve put a little spin of my own on that characterization of the article).

Do You Really Need Shoe Wedges, Or Is Your Q-Factor Too Narrow?

Anyhow, I just tried longer axles. And from what I’ve experienced so far, the wider Q-factor appears to be addressing the problem. Hallelujah! But I’ll still need to give it more time before I can draw any hard and fast conclusions.

Anyhow, I’m just wondering how many others in this community are riding longer axles. What drove you to make the change? Is it a small minority of us that benefit from a wider stance on the pedals? Or are there a lot out there? (Rick Shultz ventures to suggest there’s an anatomical difference between North Americans and Europeans, the latter group and region driving much of new bike technology given the historical significance of cycling there).

If you’re “industry typical” do you have any riding buddies that ride a pedal with longer axles? Thanks for any thoughts if you have them.

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I don’t, but my cleats are set up to the limit of how far they’ll go laterally, which increases the stance (Q-factor).

Also experimenting with an extra washer (you can do that to the tune of 2mm with Look design pedals, they’ve got a bit longer threaded bit than needed), but I’m not sure that’s needed / a good idea. That increases their Q factor from 53 to 55mm, while Shimano’s long axle will take you from 52 of the standard ones to 56.

Assioma power meter pedals are roughly between the standard Shimano and wide Shimano at 54mm.

I used (still have them btw) longer axles Speedplays on one of my bikes that had narrower cranks.

Since then, changing cranks + shoes that allow me to set the cleat more to the inside) + adding a 1 mm shim to each pedal saved me from getting another pair of longer axles.

I gained an extra mm on each side when I switched to Pwrlink Speedplays, and haven’t felt the need to remove the shims.

Speedplay used to be the go-to for pedal related fit issues. I have cleats pushed in (= shoes out) to the max. I have just received some ‘after market’ axles for my Speedplay Zeros which are 6mm longer, to give me back some adjustability in cleat position and get my foot back over the centre of the pedal. As a side benefit some improved heel clearance on the chainstays too - maybe.
I have a turned-out natural foot position and the sign of trouble is a feeling of pressure on the outside of my knee. Might be an indicator for anyone else who is experiencing this fit issue.
Just reading the article again - knees flicking out at the top of the pedal stroke can also be due to reduced range of motion in the hip joint, suggesting shorter cranks rather than longer pedal axles!

I’ve got 4mm longer axles in my DA SPD-SL pedals. Irrespective of axle length, I still have valgus tilt for one foot and varus tilt for the other.

I went to a 167.5mm crank length some years back. Good point to make here.