This floor is yours – Jack Lee makes custom moulds for the best fit possible in a cycling shoe
Think custom cycling shoes and one name comes to the fore – Adam ‘Hanseeno’ Hansen. At the time of writing, he is racing in the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia, and on his seventeenth Grand Tour (GT). That’s seventeen consecutive, three-week professional tours, through flat lands, high mountains and summit finishes. He’s also an accomplished computer programmer, and equally remarkable is that he has a work-room where he makes his very own cycling shoes from scratch. So, it’s safe to say, if anyone knows about making quality cycling shoes, particularly ones where you’ll be dancing on the pedals all day in, it will be Mister Hanseeno.
“Everyone’s been saying they can’t be comfortable, but the thing is, it’s the exact shape of my foot. A normal shoe is not the shape of your foot. So you got to always over tighten it. Then you’ve got some areas that you over tighten; some areas are not. Where(as) my shoes are moulded to my foot, exactly. So, it’s not ever over tightened in a specific area…” – Adam Hansen (1.40-1.59 from video below)
Is that Johnny Vegas interviewing Adam Hansen?
No Trickle-Down Effect
Which is why for years people have been knocking on his door to get a pair. Unfortunately for us, Hanseeno doesn’t want to revolutionise the shoe industry just yet – he’s got plenty more watts in the tank to shred. Instead, this leaves us with the established manufacturers insisting that their latest offerings of heat mouldable shoes, in premium leather, with or without laces, are the closest thing we can get to the best fit, but are they going far enough?
The Penny Dropped
One brave man has dropped everything, including his day job, to do just that – taking the shoe game from where it is and spinning it on its head. The man in question is Jack Lee. In true 21st century fashion, we meet online through his IG feed. One day, photos of his shoes pop up as recommendations on my phone and we start talking. After his trip to Hong Kong, Jack and I meet up in a coffee shop in London to discuss his ideas and the birth of his Fully Customised (Carbon) Cycling Shoe company – FCCS.
Like Adam Hansen, Jack describes how he would always purchase a certain brand of shoe, but later discovered that the fit would change with subsequent editions, which eventually made cycling unbearable. Having studied in architecture design, Jack set to work to see what he could come up with. His solution, he believes, is simple – taking the arduous task of moulding his feet and making the right shoe through trial and error. And like Thomas Edison before him, Jack Lee has found ten-thousand production processes that don’t work, but thankfully one that does, and he believes it is the best method yet.
At less than 160 grammes, these shoes aren’t just light, they’re colourful too
The Green Light
According to Jack, he only discovered later that Adam Hansen was one of the pioneers of modern shoe making. And out of respect, he actually got in contact with Hanseeno, once on Twitter, and to know if it would be okay to go ahead and produce his own custom shoes. Jack wants to be clear that his discussions with Adam Hansen have been brief, yet supremely cordial.
Hearing how down-to-earth Adam Hansen is, it’s no surprise, that Mister Hanseeno himself has given the thumbs-up to Jack’s enterprise.
Taking all of my 77 kg of weight, like a good shoe should
I Dare You
You can tell Jack believes that the proof is in the pudding. He confidently unzips his bag to bring out his latest pair of handmade shoes. In haste I try them on, and naturally, because they aren’t mine, they aren’t the right fit, but they are certainly stiff and comfortable where they should be. He assures me that once he takes a mould of my feet – they will be spot on. Jack then suggests testing their strength under pressure; he asks me to stand and stamp on his shoes. I’m reluctant at first and hop with just one foot, but Jack eggs me on, “Use both feet!” he dares. I do and to my surprise, and relief, they are indestructible under my 77 kg load.
I then inspect the construction and Jack talks me through the process, but declares it will make more sense once we actually go through the fitting process. Before we leave to do so, he remarks that he is making new discoveries all the time. With his latest find inspired by Formula 1 (F1). After a recent update in F1 safety requirements, he too has incorporated Kevlar into the shoe, so that if a cyclist were to have a collision, their feet would have sufficient protection from injury.
It may seem obvious, but fitting whilst standing is best
Naturally, I can’t go through the specifics of the process, but what Jack is happy to share are the conversations and the pictures:
As we go through the fitting, Jack describes the reason for each step of the process. He gives his own testimony of how he finds it unnatural that the world often assigns people the same shoe, when the shape of our feet are so individual. Jack observes further that the need for a custom shoe is paramount when you consider that it connects our human engine to the bicycle, and that it makes sense to get this working efficiently, and effectively. Of course, there’s a part of me that is saying this is a ‘sales pitch’, but there’s also a part of me, and I do hope this is the rational side, that is nodding in agreement to his reasoning.
Even though two clients may take the same shoe size, it is clear from the centre picture above, that every curve and outlier is picked up through the fitting process. Ultimately, says Jack, this will make for a better ‘individual’ shoe and cycling experience. The process takes less than an hour, but we spend much time talking about the sport we share and enjoy.
See how elated the gents at GCN are when they unveil Jack’s designs:
It’s All About The Base
Jack is quick to acknowledge the progress of fellow innovators, such as Rocket7, as worn by Olympic and Paris-Roubaix Champ, Greg Van Avermaet (GVA), or Simmons Racing, who fitted out the British Cycling squad for Rio. Where Jack’s shoes stand out, is in the process of fitting. He believes that the small, but very exact process makes a world of difference, and that it ultimately makes for a better shoe.
We return to the above picture, not only to demonstrate that everyone has very different feet, but that each foot is different from the other. Jack may not have GVA, nor the British Track Squad on his books, but two pro-cyclists have on their own accord, and out of their own pocket, approached him for the full FCCS fitting-treatment, and are now awaiting the final product.
It’s clear that Jack Lee has the imagination and the fortitude to make things happen. Let’s see if his creations can stand up to the test. We’ll be taking our first look at the fully customised carbon cycling shoes this summer.
You can reach Jack Lee through FCCS
:: The review is independent and the club does not have any involvement with Jack Lee, FCCS, CWCODE nor Hanseeno. We simply like their ideas. You can find a range of reviews here ::