Most cycling shoes are designed to work with clipless pedals and feature holes drilled in the soles for attaching cleats. The cleats engage with the pedals to create a secure connection. Cleats are supplied with your pedals, and they should match the type of cycling shoes, whether road-specific or off-road/multi-use-specific.
Some cycling shoes are drilled to accept both 3- and 2-hole cleat designs, but most will accept only one or the other. Shoes made for use with 2-hole systems cannot be modified to use a 3-hole cleat. The 4-hole Speedplay® pedal system can be adapted to fit 3-hole shoe styles. There are a few shoe brands/specific models drilled with 4-hole Speedplay-specific bolt pattern.
What’s the difference in functionality?
The 2-hole system is commonly known as the SPD system (SPD = Shimano ® Pedaling Dynamics). The 2-hole system can be used for all types of riding, including road cycling, mountain biking, touring and commuting. When paired with some shoes, the recessed cleat design allows easier walking. Most off-road racing, where a mud shedding cleat design offers an advantage, is where a small two-hole cleat is popular. There is a road specific version known as “SPD-SL” (3-hole bolt pattern). Click here to buy the SPD Cleat Wedges.
The 3-hole system is also known as the Look-style system (for the pioneering manufacturer/brand, Look Cycles). The 3-hole system is most often used for road cycling because it offers a stable platform for energy transfer while riding. The soles of many performance oriented shoes are often made more for riding than walking with stiff soles and little tread. The larger cleat design incorporates a three-fastener connection, which is much more secure connection than with two fasteners, like found with the 2-hole type. Popular brand names of 3-hole cleats are; Look ®, Shimano SL, Time ® Road and others. Click here to purchase these wedges.
The 4-hole system is associated with the Speedplay® pedal/brand. Speedplay design has the clasping mechanism on the cleat, rather than on the pedal, like with SPD and Look systems. In this system, the shoes are made more for riding than walking. The system with a four-fastener connection, generally offers more adjustability options in the foot/pedal connection, often making it a favorite of bike fitters. We offer these in both the Walkable™ style (shown below) and regular road cleat style.
Please feel to e-mail us with any questions regarding how your pedal/cleats fit with your wedges. Contact us!
One of the most important and overlooked aspects in bike fittings is the tilt and angle of the forefoot. Studies show that 96% of all cyclists are misaligned in their connection to the bicycle, decreasing comfort and efficiency. Of these cyclists, most have what is known as a Forefoot Varus (the inside of the foot tilts upward). This causes a misalignment as soon as you clip into a pedal because the pedal is flat.
Without Wedges With Wedges
A simple tilt adjustment where the cleat/shoe meet can resolve the most common “hot spots” (your foot feels like there’s a flame underneath it). Cyclists frequently contact BikeFit complaining of discomfort or pain on the bottom, outermost part of their foot. The left illustration shows the location of the MOST common “hot foot” or foot discomfort. The right illustration shows the ideal even pressure across the entire ball of their foot. Cyclists often describe this as feeling better connected, more stable, even-feeling and so on.
You can look at your own feet (with help) and see why there is often more pressure toward the outside of the foot. Kneel with on a chair and have someone hold a book or ruler across the balls of your feet. Are they angled up toward the inside or up at the outer part of the foot? If so, there’s a simple solution to reduce the pressure and increase comfort on your bike rides.
Cleat Wedges are stackable to fine-tune your unique forefoot tilt. They are specially designed to “fill the gap” between the natural tilt of the foot and the flat pedal. Consequently, they allow your foot to remain closer to its innate position, not change it.
Deciphering the amount of Cleat Wedges can be accomplished with the Forefoot Measuring Device (far right photo) or the Foot Fit Calculator.
BikeFit provides 3 different styles to fit almost any cleat type!
Do you want to find our more about our Cleat Wedges or the Foot Fit Calculator? Click on the images below!
The new BikeFit manual “When the Foot Meets the Pedal” is the foundation for every good bicycle fit. This comprehensive manual teaches you the foot/pedal interface and beyond through rich content and descriptive graphics. This is a “must have” for any fitter regardless of their education or history in bike fitting.
From Max Testa, MD:
Over 30 years ago during my Sports Medicine Fellowship, I was told that you cannot assess a cyclist’s performance or injury without looking at the bike fit. Since then, I have rarely evaluated a cyclist in clinic without checking her/his position on the bike. With practice, I also learned that the foot-pedal interface is a key factor for a successful bike fit.
With their new BikeFit Manual, “When the Foot Meets the Pedal,” established bike fit experts Paul Swift and Dr. Katrina Vogel have completed another step in their effort to educate on the applied science of bike fitting. This easy-to-read, well-illustrated book condenses a lot of information about the proper assessment of the cleat’s positioning and alignment. The readers, from bike fit professionals to the more serious cyclists, will find a lot of valuable and practical information, supported by great illustrations that take them step-by-step from the basics to the advanced understanding of the topic.
I strongly recommend the reading of this book. It will be a fun and productive experience.”
Max Testa, M.D.
Intermountain LiveWell & Sport Performance Ctr, Salt Lake City, UT
Chief Medical Official, BMC Racing professional cycling team, USA
The manual is a standard component in the BikeFit Bicycle Fitting System™
Click here to get your copy of the BikeFit Manual today!
Talk a look at our edu/combo online course with the manual for the best value and education in bike fitting!
Leg Length Shim Quick Tip
Why are BikeFit’s 3-hole Leg Length Shims (LLS) longer and protrude out more than other brands? The additional length is by design.
Cleats are designed to be used on the bottom of a cyclIng shoe (directly in contact with the sole). Take the cleat away from the surface (sole) and it will no longer work as it was designed. Adding length to the front of the LLS is like adding shoe surface to assure the cleat/pedal interface will function properly.
Engagement problems may begin to occur when building up a 3-hole road cleat to as little as 3-4mm in height. Of course, the greater the stack height, the more likely an engagement issue will arise. The front of the cleat may dip into the pedal too far causing a delay or even the inability to clip into the pedal.
Same Size Leg Length Shims = Dangerous
Leg Length Shims of the same size and shape as the cleat contact surface force the cleat to dip too far into the pedal. If the LLS does not extend out in front of the cleat, the increased gap between the shoe and the cleat can cause problematic engagement.
BikeFit Protruding Leg Length Shims
BikeFit’s Leg Length Shims extend well beyond the front of the cleat providing a platform that allows the pedal to facilitate smooth and easy engagement.
Take a look at 2 more examples below of the size differences between BikeFit’s LLS (Universal and Look Keo style) vs. others.
The engagement problems may not occur every time you attempt to clip into the pedal, but it will eventually happen! It only takes one mishap at an inopportune time to cause significant concern.
See our products to pick up a set of Leg Length Shims today!
As long as you are talking about BikeFit branded wedges, this is not one wedge against another. Both of the wedge styles offered from BikeFit work extremely well. Each wedge, however, has its place. In most cases, it’s preferential to use the Cleat Wedge.
When to Use In the Shoe Wedges
1.) Cleats not compatible with Cleat Wedges
The In The Shoe (ITS) Wedge often is a “fill in” product for types of cleats that are not compatible with Cleat Wedges like Crank Brothers. However, Crank Brothers provides a shoe shield (seen on the left) where you can use Cleat Wedges with their cleats.
2.) Hyper Mobile Feet
A hyper mobile foot would be a good place to use an ITS in combination with a Cleat Wedge. This type of foot needs more support. A more rigid foot tends to be more responsive with less wedging and the Cleat Wedge is a better solution for most rigid feet. This also may be a great option for those who have room in their shoe and would not be affected by the change in volume inherent with the addition of In The Shoe Wedges.
In The Shoe Wedges are also great for diagnostics. If you are looking to determine the effects of wedging on cycling mechanics, ITS Wedges provide the ability to make quick changes. This also holds true if you are testing out comfort but do not want to take the time to remove your cleats, add cleat wedges, and realign (time saver). We should mention that this is usually a temporary change. Once the comfort or mechanics are confirmed, the first choice to correct your foot’s natural angle/tilt is almost always cleat wedges.
4.) Fine Tuning
In The Shoe Wedges also offer a fine-tuning option for cyclists “in-between” wedge levels or it is tough to tell if 2 cleat wedges or 3 cleat wedges is the better solution. In other words, if 2 or 3 cleat wedges help correct your mechanics and reduce foot pain, try using 2 cleat wedges and add an ITS as the 3rd wedge. Go out on a ride and spend some with the ITS in the shoe and some time with it in your back pocket. Over a period of time, you will usually discover the preferred amount of cleat wedging. For many cyclists, you may require more than 3 Cleat Wedges. Since we do not recommend using more than 3, the ITS wedge provides the extra bit of tilt needed!
Bike Fits recent growth in the industry is a good thing. However, with growth we must also be careful to progress properly. There is a huge amount of misinformation floating around regarding bike fitting. Be aware of this and learn the difference. Many people have been mislead on this issue. We will do our best to provide the proper knowledge!
“I have been indoor cycling (spinning1) for a year. I love it and do it 2 times a week sometimes 3 or more. Unfortunately, I’m experiencing problems with my SIDI bike shoes. I love them but I noticed well into class that I started to develop a pain/soreness etc. As a result, I placed insoles in my SIDI bike shoes and they didn’t provide relief. The soreness resides on the outer side of both my right and left foot–more on the fattier side of your foot aligned. I’m desperately looking for a solution. If you could help me with some information I would really appreciate it. Thanks.”
Many customers contact us complaining of discomfort or pain on the bottom, outermost part of their foot. The illustration on the left below shows the location of the MOST common “hot foot” or foot discomfort. This seems to hold true with the description mentioned in the question.
The illustration on the right displays even pressure across the entire ball of their foot. Cyclists often describe this as feeling better connected, more stable, even-feeling…etc.
There are 2 ways to look at your own feet and see why there is often more pressure toward the outside of the foot.
With your knees on a chair, ask someone to hold a book or ruler across the balls of your feet. Are they angled up toward the inside?
Foot Fit Calculator
Download the FREE Foot Fit Calculator at the Google Play Store. The App will walk you through the process (you still need a friend to help) to measure your foot tilt. Not only will it help you determine foot tilt, but it will also provide you with the solution to your foot pain! This method is preferred to the manual measurement do to the ability to provide your with the number of cleat wedges you may need to alleviate foot pain.
BikeFit provides the solution for you called Cleat Wedges. They accommodate for your foot’s natural position by creating an angle on your cycling cleat(s) where it connects to the pedal. The number of Cleat Wedges on one shoe in no way dictates the proper number of Cleat Wedges you’ll need on the other shoe.
Each Cleat Wedge contains one degree of slope (or angle) and can be stacked based on your needs (see below for an example of “stacking”).
You also mentioned the insoles you tried did not provide relief. That does not mean your insoles are bad but, insoles rarely (if ever) address the tilt of the foot as described above. Consequently, SIDI bike shoes are not the culprit. Rather (from what you just learned), cyclists experience foot pain in most cycling shoes.
You can order Cleat Wedges by clicking the picture of wedges above or visit a BikeFit Pro or Dealer who carries them.
1Spinning is a registered trademark of Mad Dogg Athletics, Inc.