How to Put Cleats on Cycling Shoes

One of the most commonly given advice to anyone who is trying to purchase cycling shoes is to install cleats on them. But what exactly are cleats? For those of you who are new to the world of athletic equipment and accessories, cleats are protrusions that are attached to the sole of athletic shoes.

These cleats are external attachments that are added to your pair of athletic shoes that serve the purpose of providing additional grip or traction. Cleats are used in almost every sports shoe.

Whether someone purchases a pair of soccer shoes or basketball shoes, cleats are an essential. The same is true for cycling shoes as well. However, that does not mean these cleats or shoes are interchangeable. 

Why Should You Put Cleats on Cycling Shoes?

You might be wondering what is so important about cleats and why should you put them on your cycling shoes. Cleats have a unique purpose depending on what type of surface the shoes will be worn on.

Cycling cleats are very helpful as they serve the purpose of transferring the force exerted by your feet onto the pedals of the cycle. Positioning the cleats correctly on your cycling shoes is very important, as not positioning it correctly can put you at risk of several injuries.

How to Put Cleats on Cycling Shoes

Before we get into the actual steps to the process of putting cleats on your cycling shoes, there are certain things that you need to remember. The first thing is that when setting up the cleats on your or any pair of cycling shoes it is essential that you keep in mind the front and back positioning of the cleat as well as the angle of the cleat that will be placed on the insole of your cycling shoes.

It is absolutely crucial that you make sure that the angle in which the cleat will be placed has been measured accurately. It does not matter if you are an expert cycle rider who is putting cleats on just a new pair of shoes and setting up the pedals or a complete beginner. Finding the accurate angle should be your first priority. 

You should keep in mind that if you mess up when measuring the angle the positioning of the cleats will also be wrong which will cause you severe pain in your knees as well as make you prone to other forms of injury.

Another very important thing you should remember is that the angle for the placement of the cleats will not be symmetrical or the same for both of your feet. So just to be on the safe side, take separate measurements for both of your feet.

As we already mentioned the location of the placement of the cleat’s front and the back should also be accurate. However, unlike the angle of the cleats, the positioning will not cause you as much harm if you get them wrong. Nonetheless, it is still important and you should put enough attention to it.

That being said, let us take a step by step look at the entire process of putting cleats on your cycling shoes.

Step 1: First thing that you need to do is put on a pair of your regular cycling socks. Now go ahead and put on your cycling shoes which you will be fitting the cleats on.

Make sure they are tight and snug on your feet as you normally wear them. Now using a finger or your thumb, press on the internal edge of your cycling shoes. Make sure to feel as you go. This is going to help you locate the position of the ball of your feet.

In case you are confused, it is the part of your feet between the toes and the arch of your feet with a little extra padding. This part should be easy for you to locate. The knuckle that sticks out on the side of your big toe should act as a guide.

Step 2: Once you have located the ball of your feet, you are going to now mark that position on your shoe. To do so, you need a pencil and you are going to take it and put a marker on the side of your shoes.

Be careful and place the marker or the point at the exact center point on the ball of your feet. If you find it difficult to do this on your own, feel free to take help from someone else. Now when you are done, you will have to repeat the same thing on the other foot as well.

Step 3: After you have located and marked the position of the center of the ball of your foot for both feet, you are going to take off your cycling shoes and place them on a flat surface. It can be the floor or even a table, as long as it is flat and leveled, you are good to go.

Holding the straight ruler against the mark or the point you located on the shoe, and draw a line to the sole of the shoe, making sure the line is straight. This will help you to locate the point on the sole of the shoes. Now you are going to flip the cycling shoes to check and see if the mark you made on the sole of the shoe is visible.

Step 4: In this step, you are going to align the ink on the sole with the mark that is there on the edge of the cleats. This will help you fit the cleats properly. What you are going to do in this step is fit the cleats loosely as well as close.

Keep checking to see that the point marking the center of the cleat is in fact aligned with the point of the sole. The cleat should meet the axle of the pedal right at the center once it has been clipped in.

Step 5: Once you are happy with the positioning of the cleats, you can tighten them up using the screwdriver. You are now ready to put on your cycling shoes and go for a ride if you want.

Types of Cycling Cleats

Now that you have learned how to put on the cleats on to your cycling shoes, it is necessary to learn about the various different types of cycling cleats available. Let us take a look at the most common types of cycling cleats.

  • SPD

The single most common combination of the pedal and the cleat has to be the SPD. It is a classic and is also known as the two-bolt cleat. This is because these cleats are attached to cycling shoes using, just two bolts.

These cleats are great as they make the user feel much more comfortable thanks to having a fixed point of attachment at the ball of their feet. There are plenty of advantages of using this type of cycling cleats.

They tend to be paired with highly comfortable shoes which are generally great for cycling as well as for walking. The SPD cycling cleats are also very easy to clip in, as well as less time consuming.

The SPD cycling cleats are great for people who own the pedals for mountain bikes.

  • Look Pedals

Look pedals are commonly used among road cyclists, but not so much by people who are into mountain biking. These cleats are even rarely seen on spin bikes.

Look pedals are a classic 3-bolt pedal with three points of contact between the cleat and the foot for a more secure fit. This provides them with a strong power base and a larger communication forum. Many of the top road biking shoes on the market today are compatible with the cleats.

Look pedals allow for some side-to-side movement even when completely clipped in. This is easier on the knees since each pedal stroke helps the leg to follow its normal range of motion. They have a more plasticky feel to them, as well as a triangular shape that represents the three-bolt style.

  • Speedplay

Speedplay pedals and cleats aren't as common as other products, but they have a dedicated following of road cyclists. The clip has a circular shape. Depending on which pedal you pick, the platform may be very wide or almost nothing.

It has a lot of functionality. Speedplays usually have dual-sided surfaces, which is ideal for getting clipped in quickly (like at a busy stoplight). For stuff like clip pressure and float, they have a lot of adjustabilities. They are also relatively light in comparison to other choices.

  • SPD-SL

In terms of style and feel, the SLs are very similar to the Look cleat and pedal design. They're a three-bolt design with a triangular design, much like the Looks. They have a big and large base, similar to the Looks, so the foot has plenty of surface on the pedal to transmit power.

And, like the Looks, they have a lot of float from side to side to make every cycling stroke more comfortable. They are compatible with a lot of shoes, especially the rigid, high-performance ones that we think give you the most speed.

Final Words

We hope this article has helped answer your queries regarding how to put cleats on cycling shoes, as well as making you more informed about the various types of cleats available. 


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