If you’re a serious cyclist, then at some point you’ve considered ditching your clunky pedals in favor of the best cycling cleats. If you have yet to make the switch but you think it could be for you, then we’ll give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.
When you see professional cyclists and mountain bikers riding, you’ll notice that they’re not wearing sports trainers or casual sneakers. The reason for that is simple: they’re not as efficient and comfortable as cycling cleats. But do you need them?
Before you proceed, we feel it’s our duty to ensure you’re aware of the fact that cycling cleats are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to having a great time on the road. In order to enjoy your ride more, try getting yourself the best bicycle bib shorts, the best bicycle socks, the best bicycle disc brake pads, and the best bike accessories. When you do, you’ll be biking in style.
What are Cycling Cleats?
A standard bicycle pedal is an ingenious but simple concept — you step on a pedal, and it rotates around a central axis. By applying force to the pedal, you can propel most bicycles forward, allowing you to get from point A to point B with minimal effort.
A cycling cleat, on the other hand, is a small metal foot wedge cycling accessory that clips into the sole of a cyclist’s shoe. They are spring-loaded, allowing cyclists to clip in and out of their pedals quickly — without needing to bend down and re-tie laces. To clip in, place the cleat at the middle of the pedal, then push down to engage — you’ll hear a click when you’ve done it right. To clip out, simply rotate your ankle away from the bike.
For cyclists who prefer the smoothness offered by clipless pedals, a separate set of smaller clips is used in place of the standard flat pedals. It’s also important to note that different clips will work with different pedals, so you’ll need to check which cleat will fit your bike. To help you decide, read on below to learn more about the various combinations.
The Advantages of Using the Best Cycling Cleats
The best cycling cleats can make you a better cyclist, as they give you more power for the amount of energy you put in. When you cycle, all the power comes from your quad and hamstring muscles. Your calf muscle and lower leg aren’t generating any power — they’re just transferring power. You need to maximize this power transfer, and that’s where the best cycling cleats come in.
When you ride with a trainer shoe and a flat pedal, you don’t really generate much power there. That’s because the surface of the trainer is soft and floppy, which gives way to pressure under the foot. In addition, a trainer shoe lacks a stiff midsole, which means there is no direct contact with the pedal.
If you use the best cycling cleats, you don’t have to lean forward to maintain contact with the pedal, thus it’s easier for you to engage throughout the pedal’s travel. This makes it possible for you to apply force during more of the upward motion than what would be possible if you weren’t using cycling cleats.
Although it might not sound as comfortable to be clipped into a pedal, using cleats is actually better for your feet. The energy you expend on the pedals can be as much as 25% more efficient when you use them.
Cycling can weaken your feet if you’re constantly riding in soft shoes. You can offset this by using cycling cleats, which help build foot strength while allowing you to enjoy the benefits of cycling in general.
Problems with cleat alignment can also be problematic for runners, as misalignment can cause blisters and irritation in the feet and ankles due to the misplacement of pressure points. So before you get into it and attach cycling cleats to your shoes, it’s crucial to have the cleats correctly positioned. Even if you use one of the best cycling cleats, a misaligned cleat can lead to knee pain. To prevent knee pain, riders should seek out professional advice on the proper installation and adjustment of cleats.
Pedal spindles should be placed in a spot that makes sense on the rider’s foot and sits comfortably between the first and fifth metatarsal head. Placing them in this spot will ensure that the spindle is above the rider’s foot and parallel with the ground, allowing you to ride with the best posture possible.
If you want to guarantee that your cleats are in the ideal position, start by putting them all the way back. If you put your cleats all the way back, your foot will be much more forward on the pedal as a result —less knee strain and a greater ability to travel effectively through the power phase of your pedal stroke.
How it Works
Another major problem with using cycling cleats, if you come to a complete stop, you have to remember to unclip. If you don’t, your bike will topple over — and so will you.
Getting used to clipping in and out in a fast, safe way will make you feel more confident on the bike. Do it at a stationary point to get your technique down before hitting the road or trail. Every cleat system works slightly differently, but the gist is that to engage the cleat with the pedal, you have to push down in the center of your foot.
To unclip, turn your right ankle clockwise to lock the cleat into the pedal, or turn your left ankle counter-clockwise. It’s inevitable that you’ll likely fall over a couple of times! This is simple to get the hang of — and once you have, you’re clipping in and out like a pro.
It’s finally time to see which best cycling cleats are worth investing in! Security, performance, and durability are all essential qualities in a pair of the best cycling cleats.
If you’re looking to upgrade your cycling shoes for a smoother and more efficient ride, then you should think about getting SPD-SL cleats. There are so many cycling cleats out there, but the SPD-SL cleats are the best of their kind and will be sure to impress even the most discerning of buyers.
Even though the three models of this brand have different cleat options, all of them offer better traction. Better traction means you can put more energy into your steps — it’s a simple equation, which adds up to a big difference in how you cycle. It’s worth noting here that the plastic cleats will wear out faster than your pedals.
Know that if you choose the yellow variant, it will be floating at six degrees, while the red ones will float at zero degrees.
Perhaps best suited for indoor cycling and road bike cycling, this pair of cycling cleats from BV stands out with its top-level power transfer. These are great cleats for fitness cyclists, allowing you to log miles with the highest level of comfort.
Because these cycling cleats are designed for riders who cycle 10 miles or more, they are the best cycling cleats for anyone who wants to ride for longer distances without getting tired and sore. With their 9-degree floating system, you’ll be able to keep your feet in the most comfortable position possible — making sure that you can ride as far as you want.
Some cleats are only good for pushing off the ground, but these are great for transferring that power to your pedals. Once you have a solid footing, just push down with all your might onto the pedal and pull yourself along with the bicycle. These cleats are quite lightweight, making them perfect for long distances.
This pair comes with 3-hole arrangements that allow you to alter the cleat position to match your cyclic flexibility. As every cyclist knows, it is very important for cyclists to have as much flexibility as possible when riding a bike.
Being one of the best cycling cleats, LOOK Keo Grip Road Cleats come in different colors (black, grey, and red) and floating systems (zero-degree, 4.5-degree, and 9-degree). Whatever pair you go for, no matter which one it is, you can rest assured that you’re getting something out of the ordinary.
It’s important to note that these pedals are one of the lightest on the market. And LOOK really invested a lot of time and energy into making this cleat compatible with all the other cycling shoes out there. You’ll love the KEO fit system. It makes it easy to customize the position of your cleats.
A unique aspect of these cleats is their ability to remember their position when you adjust them. No more fidgeting with positioning, no more hassle — just take the cleats off and put them back on and you’ll be in the same spot every time.
Cycling cleats are a necessary tool for any serious cyclist. When you consider the power transmission, secure foot placement, and security from slipping that they provide, it’s easy to see why cyclists all over the world recommend them during their journeys. In order to get the most out of your cleats, though, you need to make sure you install them correctly so that they’re not going to give you any problems.
Wish you well on your cycling!