Bike Tips: Your Pedal Cleats

Maximize the use of your pedal cleats


Pedal cleats, or ‘clips’ as cyclists say, are an important asset in the development of power and fluidity throughout the pedaling motion. The cleats make it possible to pull the pedal upwards with the same efficiency as the pushing motion. Since their appearance on the market, there are more and more mechanisms, sizes, and colors of pedal cleats. But first, which one to choose? Here are some tips to make your choice easier:

  • If you want to walk with your bike shoes: The mountain pedal cleats, or SPD, are easier to use and more versatile. They are often associated with cycling shoes that allow you to walk normally as the cleat is small and hides inside the sole.
  • If you are a mountain biker: The mountain pedal cleats, or SPDs, are easier to use again, but for mountain bikers, it’s the ease through which the pedal cleat can engage in the pedal that becomes interesting . Indeed, several types of pedal are available for mountain cyclists. The most popular pedals are the egg-beater pedals, which have the distinction of having several attachment surfaces for the cleat on the same pedal.
  • If you are a road or triathlon cyclist: the road pedal cleats aim at long-term performance and comfort. These cleats are lighter, but larger and therefore offer a greater contact area with the pedal. They are however less suitable for walking and have a higher disengagement mechanism, which makes it more difficult to get out of the pedal.


If you have decided to opt for road pedal cleats, there are even more options available to you. Color, size, shape, all these variables are to take into account when making a choice:

  • Rotational movement of the pedal cleats: Some road cleats have what is called angular freedom; that is, the degree of rotation that is available for the cleat to rotate from left to right when engaged in the pedal. You will feel that your foot can rotate slightly when it is fixed.
  • Size: The larger the cleat, the greater the contact area with the pedal. Load will thus be distributed more evenly in the foot as you pedal.
  • Color: When choosing triangular road pedal cleats (Look, SPD models), the color becomes an angular freedom indicator.
  • Manual adjustment: With rectangular cleats (Speedplay models), you can adjust the degree of angular freedom yourself. The mountain pedal cleats will automatically have no angular freedom and will be fixed on the pedal.


But what to choose? The choice of degree of angular freedom depends mainly on your pedaling power and your ability to control your knee during the pulling and pushing phase. Mostly, you need to be comfortable when pedaling. Still not sure? Our physiotherapists are here to answer your questions.

After choosing the cleats that suits you best, here are some tips to maximize the use of your cleats:

  • Position your pedal cleats in the center of your transverse arch under the shoe. In order to find your arch, you must locate the head of the 1st and 5th metatarsals on the sides of your foot. The center of the pedal cleat should go through the line drawn between these two points. A centered cleat helps to distribute pressure in the foot and improves pedaling efficiency.
  • The pedal cleats should be changed regularly to maintain their effectiveness. Your cleats need to be replaced if they show major signs of wear or if it becomes difficult to engage or disengage the pedal despite adjustment of the mechanism.
  • If you want to change the cleat on the same shoe and you are already comfortable with the positioning of your cleat, simply use a marker to trace its outline, and place the new one in the same place.

If you find it difficult to engage or disengage your holds, it could also be that the pedals have too tight a mechanism. You can adjust this mechanism easily and safely at any time! Do not hesitate to ask a bike mechanic or our physiotherapists for help.


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