Which Type of Cleat Wedges Work with Your Bicycle Cleats?

Most cycling shoes are designed to work with clipless pedals and feature holes drilled in the soles for attaching cleats. The bicycle cleat engages 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.

bicycle cleats

Some cycling shoes are drilled to accept both 3- and 2-hole bicycle 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).  Get SPD Cleat Wedges.

SPD Wedges Bicycle Cleats

 

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 the ones found with the 2-hole type. Popular brand names of 3-hole bicycle cleats are; Look ®, Shimano SL, Time ® Road and others.  Get Look Cleat Wedges.

 

Look Wedges Bicycle Cleats

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.

Speedplay Wedges Bicycle cleats

cleat wedges

Please feel to e-mail us with any questions regarding how your pedal/cleats fit with your wedges.  Contact us!

Speedplay Cleat Wear and How to Remedy the Problem

Speedplay Cleat Wear

Taking into account pedal and cleat wear is often an overlooked aspect by many cyclists and bike fitters.  In this article, we focus specifically on Speedplay cleat wear.

This information is static (will not be seen with motion capture or data capture during a bike fit). In other words, if your fitter only looks at dynamic (on the bike) data, they miss important information. Why? Although extremely important, dynamic fitting is just one aspect a fitter must consider.

The ultimate bike fit includes both dynamic AND static analysis (the cyclist and the bike or equipment) as well as consideration for how the cyclist feels. Keep in mind, how you feel is as actually more important than how you look on stick-figure printouts or a picture of you in a video.

Your Equipment Tells a Story

Take a look at your shoes. Turn them over and look inside the circle area of your Speedplay road cleat. MOST people notice uneven wear.

speedplay-wearSpeedplay Cleat Wear

 

Do not be surprised when you see this.  There is something you can do to alleviate the problem.

Next, look at the springs. Uneven wear inside the red circles is the norm–not the exception.

uneven-wear-speedplay2

Why? The foot is naturally tilted and it wants to stay that way even if the equipment initially forced it flat. As a result, equipment wears out uneven.

Let’s also look inside of your shoe. One of our most popular illustrations is the one on the below where people say they feel more pressure on the outside of the foot. Why?  The pedal and shoe are flat but the foot is tilted.

unever-wear-insole

The Uneven Wear Culprit

Is this Speedplay’s fault? Absolutely not. All pedals are flat and wear out unevenly. For example, unlike running, in cycling, you can only buy shoes that function one way. All cycling shoes function the same regardless of price or brand (there is one brand that purports to include added tilt to the shoe but all of the shoes within that brand function the same). In running, even within one brand, you purchase shoes for different body architecture (stability, support, neutral…etc). In cycling, you only buy shoes that are flat at the forefoot.  Consequently, you can now diagnose these problems, take a look at possible solutions, and connect with a BikeFit Pro to make your shoe/cleat fit the pedal properly.

Remember it is normal to see uneven wear, but normal does not necessarily mean right. It is also common to see the foot in a relaxed position hang with a tilt or angle to it.

First, you must flatten the foot or it won’t even clip into the pedal. We as cyclists learned to master this skill of leveling the foot to get into the pedal but we are hardly aware of it. Once clipped in, the foot tries to go back to its natural tilted position.  Hence, uneven pedal wear.

The Solution: Cleat Wedges

Knee on a chair and ask someone to hold a straight edge across the bottom of your feet. They will most likes look like the figure on the right.

Foot Tilt Pedal Wear forefoot-tilt-straight-edge

or Download the Free Foot Fit Calculator for Android and with the help of a friend, you’ll discover foot tilt and how many Cleat Wedges you need in minutes!

Speedplay Cleat Wear

If you are looking for more detail, a BikeFit Pro fitter measures foot tilt with the FFMD tools (physical or the BikeFit App for iPad) pictured below.

Foot Tilt speedplay pedal wear     FFMD speedplay pedal wear

Foot tilt is the number one reason for uneven pedal/cleat wear and for most foot discomfort in cycling. This is why we need wedges.

Here is a rear view of Speedplay cleat with 2 cleat wedges.

Speedplay Cleat Wedge Pedal Wear Speedplay Cleat wedge pedal wear

If you would like more information regarding wedges, see our page on wedging benefits.  We also reveal more information on the foot/pedal interface in another fitting article: How to Fit a Road Bicycle.

We have never seen a broken Speedplay spring from a cyclist that has a flat forefoot. However, a flat or neutral forefoot is rare, to say the least. This comment is not coming from Speedplay but it is absolutely our belief that the correct use of cleat wedges will prolong the life of your Speedplay cleat springs. Remember it is important to follow the manufacturer’s suggestion for upkeep and maintaining your equipment.

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