How To Set Up Clipless Pedals Easy Guide - Thunderhead Alliance

How To Set Up Clipless Pedals Easy Guide

We’re going to look at how to set up clipless pedals and shoes. First, set the cleat placement in the shoe.

The cleat is this little metal interface that actually clips into the spring retention system on the pedal. Placement on the bottom of the shoe is really important for pedaling efficiency but also affects how well you move your weight around on the bike. In the bottom of your shoe, you have two of these slots so you can move the cleat up and down and get a feel for where you want to place that cleat. Something I see a lot of with coaching is a lot of people have their cleat really far forward in the shoe and that will make you ride slightly toe-down It’s not always the best place to be, especially if you’re riding technical trails.

So actually sliding your cleat further back in the shoe will make you stand a little bit flatter on the pedal rather than being up and on your toes like that. There’s a slight argument in that if you stand a little bit more toes-down, you’ll use your calves more for pedaling but there’s nothing that really proves that that is a more powerful pedal stroke, so something I definitely know is if you bring that cleat a little bit further back it will flatten your foot out and that can really help with riding technical terrain. The ball part place start with your cleat, is about on the ball of your foot I actually run my cleat as far back in the shoe as it will go and that slides my foot a little bit further forward on the pedals. Makes me slightly more heels-down and that really suits my style of riding, but something that’s well worth playing around with, that front-to-back movement on the shoe.

With your cleat you’ll get two bolts to mount that cleat to the bottom of the shoe, but also you’ll get this little plastic spacer. First thing you’ll do is mount that cleat at the bottom of my shoe in that fore- to-aft position. I feel is comfortable for me And then try and actually put the shoe on, and clip into your pedal. If you feel any of that rubber touching that pedal and restricting you from clipping in or clipping out, I would then try fitting the spacer. That’s going to bring your cleat a little bit further away from the shoe and that might help so you don’t touch that shoe on the pedal.

Alternatively, you could just take a bit of a Stanley blade to that rubber and get rid of some of that rubber so you can get in and out nicely. Crank Brothers have this nifty little system with their cleats, so one cleat has a dot on it, the other one doesn’t. If you put the cleat with the dot on your right shoe, you’ll release at 15°. If you put it on your left shoe, it will release at 20°. So you can actually choose when you want your foot to come out of that pedal.

Really nifty little system, I run the dot on my right shoe so I’ve got the earlier release. So once we’ve got our fore-to-aft position, next we’ll look at the side-to- side placement. You might find that that if you have your cleat too far to the outside of your shoe, that’s going to put your foot really close up to the cranks. So especially on your back foot you might find that when you try and clip out you actually push your toe into the crank before you can get out of your pedal. So in that case I would then slide this cleat to the inside of the foot.

That’s going to bring the pedal a bit further away and the crank further away to give you a bit more space. But you might also have to play around with that so that your rubber of the shoe doesn’t touch the pedal before you clip in or clip out. Alternatively, you can actually fit spacers to the pedal to bring that pedal a little bit further away from that crank. So now to set the angle of this cleat in the shoe. You really want that to match your natural stance on the pedal, so nice and square, in line with the length of the shoe, is probably the best place to start.

Try that out, see how that feels. You can also play around with that a little bit, angling that cleat slightly so that it’s already closer to the point of release of the pedal, so you toe it inside like that, even when you’re stood normally, it’s really close to popping out It depends how you like it. Some people don’t like that you might come out of the pedal when you’re not expecting to. Once you found that nice placement of this cleat, make sure you tighten it down nice and tight.

You don’t want these coming loose or a bolt falling out I have seen that happen. What then can happen is that cleat will start spinning in the shoe and you’ll get stuck to that pedal and then you have one of those embarrassing tip-overs where you can’t get out. Now for the pedals You can get different styles of pedals.

Here is a Crank Brothers Mallet DH, you can see there’s a big cage on the outside of it, a downhill pedal. Here is a Crank Brothers Candy. This is more of a cross-country pedal, as you can see it’s much smaller, much lighter.So let’s start with the downhill pedals Obviously, this big cage is going to give you some support.

So you can actually feel that pedal on the bottom of your shoe. So you get a little bit of friction. You’ve also got these little adjustable grub screws, so you can play around with those. You can feel a little bit of the pedal on the bottom of the shoe. Obviously, if you bring them out too much, you’ll get too much friction and that’s going to make it much harder to get in and out of that pedal.

I really like this style of pedal, and it seems to work really nicely with a slightly softer-soled shoe It feels almost like a flat pedal. You can actually feel that pedal in the bottom of your shoe. What you’ll find is with these smaller cross-country pedals, they’re suited much better to these cross-country shoes. They’ll have a much stiffer sole, so you don’t really need the extra support of a big platform pedal, you just got that sole support on your foot.

As you can see with this big downhill- style pedal, the shoe is really touching the pedal, so there’s a lot of feel there in the bottom of your foot Also really good for maybe for not clipped in on a technical section and you still got a big platform to stand on. Compare that to the cross-country-style shoe and pedal, obviously much less platform there. So you’re not going to get that same feeling at the bottom of your foot and it doesn’t matter so much when you’re clipped in, but if for any reason you ride clipped out, it’s not going to help quite so much. So this is the style of pedaling shoe I like.