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The Significance of Precise Cleat Adjustments

Updated: Feb 18

A bike fitting should start with the accurate adjustment of cleats. This often-overlooked step is crucial, as the cleat serves as the first and most securely fixed point of contact among the three critical connections between the rider and the bicycle: foot, buttocks, and hands. It is imperative that all bike fittings begin with the precise positioning of cleats since an improper adjustment can affect saddle and handlebar positions.


Adjustment of Pedal Axis


The precise adjustment of the pedal axis occurs between the first and fifth metatarsophalangeal joints (small and big toe). Often, this means positioning the foot further forward and mounting the cleat further back on the shoe. In extreme cases, adapters may be necessary if the shoe does not allow for this adjustment.


Bike Fitting - Positioning of Shoe Cleats


Adjustment of Foot Angle


The correct adjustment of the foot angle, and thus the cleat angle, is equally crucial. Various cleats offer different degrees of freedom in foot angle mobility (see table below), but an incorrect adjustment can still lead to knee problems and pain. For precise adjustment, the rider's natural foot angle is measured, divided by three, and then adjusted on the cleat using a special tool.


Bike Fitting - Adjusting Shoe Cleat Angle

Various Pedal Systems and Cleats


Manufacturers of pedal systems provide a variety of cleat models with different degrees of foot angle mobility. Below is an overview of the most important cleat models in the road cycling sector. (see image)

 


Bike Fitting - Shoe Cleat Types

The careful consideration and precise adjustment of cleats ensure not only optimal power transfer but also a comfortable riding experience that protects against potential discomfort in the long run. Therefore, it is essential to pay due attention to this often overlooked but fundamental aspect of bike fitting.


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