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How to fit and adjust cleats for cycling shoes (video)

Cyclist magazine
24 Apr 2020

Put your best foot forward as we show you how to get your position nailed when fitting and adjusting road bike cleats

Cleats are the only fixed interface between bicycle and rider, so getting them into the right position won’t just keep you comfortable and ensure you’re efficient as possible, but can also help you avoid injury.

There's nothing worse than changing over a set of cleats only to have put them in the wrong position. After all, it may lead to knee or back pain.

So when it comes to getting your feet into roughly the correct spot this simple six-step procedure will get you on the right track.

You will need: Allen key - Grease - Cleat lube  
Time taken: 10 minutes

For a guide to the best road cycling shoes on the market, see our buyer's guide here.

How to fit and adjust cleats in six steps

1. Mark the position across the ball of your foot

Pop your shoes on. On the inside of your foot, feel for the bit that sticks out behind your big toe. Mark the front of this on the side of the shoe.

On the other side, find the back of the similar protrusion behind your little toe and mark that, too. To save ruining your shoes, add some masking tape first.

2. Draw between the points and find the midpoint

Take your shoes off and flip them over. Draw across the sole the points showing the position of the front and back of the ball of your foot.

On the base of the shoe there will likely be some markings. Use these to align the parallel lines you draw across the sole.

3. Locate the centre of your cleat

Take a look at your new cleats. Most will have a small marking to denote the centre. This is the point that sits directly over the pedal axle.

Shimano cleats have a marking on the side, as do Look models. If you haven’t had a bike fit, we recommend choosing cleats with some ‘float’ or give.

4. Grease the bolts

Your cleats, like your feet, have a hard time on the bike. That’s because sitting close to the ground means they tend to get blasted with water, grit and grime.

Prevent the bolts that hold them in place from seizing by adding a dab of grease to the holes in the bottom of the shoe before fitting.

5. Rotation

With the cleats centred between the lines on your shoes, you’re almost done. However, if your heels point either inward or outward, you might want to make some allowance for this by rotating the back of the cleat slightly in the corresponding direction.

6. Tighten up

Once you’re happy, tighten everything up and go for a spin. If you find your heels are rubbing against the crank, you might need to make some further adjustments.

If the ball of your foot is rubbing the crank, you might have a particularly wide stance and need to space the pedals out. cleats set up correctly?

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