Does Cleat Stagger Remedy a Leg Length Discrepancy?

Cleat Stagger

What is Cleat Stagger?

When the cleat on one bike shoe is shifted forward and the other one positioned to the rear, rather than symmetrically aligned (see the photo above).

We tend to hear more about cleat stagger when it accompanies a comment suggesting that a particular anatomical leg length difference is located at the femur. With that information in mind, many fitters and cyclists consider staggering the cleats. Is this the right answer?

Things to Consider:

  1. How can you be sure the leg length difference is only in the femur?
  2. Are you sacrificing optimum cleat fore/aft position with cleat stagger?
  3. What other aspect(s) further up the chain is/are compromised by cleat stagger?  Are you sacrificing too much in order to avoid a simple solution?

We noticed that by addressing almost all leg length differences as a leg length discrepancy, you will most likely discover the best solution: a Leg Length Shim. This also tends to minimize other complications from the foot up that can possibly occur via cleat stagger.  Some of these sacrifices can include injury, pain, imbalance or loss of power.

Cleat Stagger

Find our for yourself!  Try both a cleat stagger and a Leg Length Shim separately.  In most cases, a bike fitter or BikeFit Pro will be able to observe better symmetry from the rear view.  For the individual, you will likely feel a distinct difference between the two.  Which one felt better? In our experience the preferred solution usually, if not always, includes the Leg Length Shim as the primary adjustment.  Some cyclists expressed that the cleat stagger drives them absolutely bonkers (medical expression).

Lastly, remember with all leg length issues, it is best to have a bike fitter or BikeFit Pro check your posture on multiple shaped saddles.   Some different saddle shapes mask the potential asymmetrical movements often associated with a leg length issue. Only by checking your posture on a few different saddles can you assure you have indeed addressed the difference as well as possible.

At BikeFit, only after installing the shim is staggering the cleat ever-so-slightly a consideration we make in order to fine-tune.  Even then, it is rare at best.

Leg Length Shim Safety

Leg Length Shims

Protruding Shims

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 Shim Safety Engagement1

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

Leg Length Shim Safety Engagement2

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.

More Examples

Take a look at 2 more examples below of the size differences between BikeFit’s LLS vs. others.

Leg Length Shim Safety Styles 2 Leg Length Shim Safety Styles 1

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.  If you are looking for Leg Length Shim Saftey, BikeFit provides you with the best comfort and options.

 

 

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