SPD Cleats and Screw Types

If you’ve dabbled in a few disciplines of cycling, you’ve inevitably noticed that different cleat types utilize multiple screws: hex, flathead, and Phillips.  Although these are technically interchangeable (threading and length could be equal), there is a reason behind using specific screw heads for certain cleats.

In today’s example, we’ll focus on SPD cleats.  Unlike other cleats (Look 3-screw and Speedplay 4-screw), there are only 2 fasteners and a minimal contact surface.  This means that the screws used in an SPD application must have the highest torque level possible to prevent slippage, bolt loosening, and potential crashes.

During the development of the original Cleat Wedges, I knew that a secure connection was imperative, considering the addition of a wedge would impact the cleat-to-shoe connection.  Initially, I tested numerous screw types, including Philips head screws.

Although Philips head screws are ubiquitous and inexpensive, they were designed for a screwdriver to cam out or slip out of the head when torque reaches a certain amount. We tested Phillips head screws for one day and found it impossible to get an SPD compatible cleat fastened tight enough.

Consequently, BikeFit chose to invest in hex screws like most 2-hole cleat manufacturers (Shimano, Look, Time, Crank Brothers…etc.).  Hex screws provide the torque necessary for a secure connection with 2-hole cleat applications.

Considering that SPDs or 2-hole cleats are used rigorously by mountain bikers, road riders, and commuters throughout the world, you would think that any cleat or wedge manufacturer would likely arrive at the same conclusion through ample testing.

Unfortunately, some manufacturers chose an inexpensive, unreliable alternative, even at the cost of rider safety.  When you purchase cleats or cleat wedges, investigate the type of screws included and choose wisely. 

-Paul Swift, CyclePoint CEO, BikeFit Founder, and the BikeFit Team

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