I purchased my 1st road bike earlier this month & am ready to move onto the clipless pedals. The bike shop owner suggested I purchase Speedplay b/c of the float range & I have a bad knee from a prior injury.
My Tri Coach doesn't like Speedplays BECAUSE of the float! She says my foot will be all over the place & make biking difficult for me.She suggests Shimano or LOOK.
Any other first-timers out there care to share their experiences?
I switched from the Look style to Speedplay in January of this year. I have had ACL recontruction on my left knee, so when I got my new bike I figured I would try out the Speedplays. I am not new to cycling...but I did find that the Speedplays allowed me to clip in and out much more quickly than my Looks. In terms of float- there is more float on the Speedplays...which is great if you have had knee problems. Your knees will not be pulled out of alignment. On the other side of the coin, your coach might be concerned that when you get out of the saddle on a climb, you may feel like you are on "ice". I asked a few people about that before I switched, and they said it is easy to quickly get used to it, and to be aware of proper mechanics. I might have noticed the new feeling for one ride, but then I felt in complete control thereafter. With any pedal system, there will be a learning curve. If you have never used clipless pedals, you will want to start on the trainer, then move up to the grass, then to your regular rides. Maybe check out the return policy with your local bike shop or see if they have any demos they can set-up on a trainer in the store for you. Good luck!
I really love the Look Keo pedals. While the pedal itself does not provide float adjustment, the cleat that you choose to go into the pedal will change the float amount. You can choose a cleat that has the following float amounts: 0 degrees, 4.5 degrees, and 9 degrees. I personally use the 4.5 degree cleats with the Look Keo Classic pedal.
Another issue at work with pedal selection is the placement of the cleat on the bottom of the shoe. One way to reduce stress on the knees is to have the cleat as close to the middle of your foot as possible. There is much research and expert opinion on this topic at cyclingnews.com that is found in the technology and fitness sections. The fitness section can be found in the left hand column, and the tech section is at the top left of the page.
There are many experiments being done with shoes that involve placing the cleat under the arch of the foot as opposed to the ball of the foot. Doing so reduces stress on the joints and provides more efficiency throughout the entire pedal stroke. However, arch cleat placement is still experimental and very few manufacturers produce shoes to support the idea. With that said, the Look cleats can be placed closer to the arch of the foot than the Speedplay cleat can. Speedplay has developed an extension that goes between the cleat and the shoe to help correct this problem, but that is just another part that will wear out and have to be replaced along with the cleats. For this reason, the Look Keo wins in my book.
To summarize, Look Keo pedals do have a float option based on the cleat selection and they already sit further back on the shoe than Speedplay pedals do (and you don't have to buy anything extra). Both pedal brands are used extensively around the world. You will find both brands in the Pro Peloton and on recreational and amateur racing bikes.
Any good local bike shop should allow you to try them out before you make a decision. In the end, it comes down to the pedal that makes you the most comfortable. Part of your comfort comes from your ability to easily clip in/out and do so quickly and safely. Make sure that you feel confident with this process, as well as with your medical requirements when choosing your pedal. Good luck in your search!!
I have a question for Elaine__B, or anyone else who has experience in this matter. I am relatively new to cycling and all the talk about clipless pedals has me wondering. I am in my second year of cycling, my first I went without clipless pedals. Now toward the end of my second season with clipless pedals(Shimano), I am experiencing problems with my left LCL. I am assuming incorrect placement of the cleat will produce unwanted stress on that ligament as well as the whole knee structure. My question is concerning cleat placement and float. Should the toe be pointing in or out, or should it be relatively straight(pointing forward), and could this be a possible culprit? I only experience pain when cycling, not running.
this is a very complicated question to answer, despite seeming straight-forward. you are correct in that misplaced cleats will cause unwanted stress on the entire knee structure. in fact, it can cause problems in your legs, hips, back, shoulders, and neck if the cleats are really misplaced. for an easy answer, your feet should be in a similar position while you are clipped in as they are when you dangle your legs over a ledge (like a boat dock or a counter that you sit on). so, if you sit on the kitchen counter and just relax your legs completely, your feet will hang a certain way. this is the position towards which your feet should point while you are clipped in to the bike.
however, this angle can be extreme for some people. people who have an extreme angle should place their cleats so that their toes point toward the same direction, but reduce the angle so that the feet can run more parallel to the bike. this will place the legs in a familiar position, but will also provide more efficiency and cause less stress on other joints (like the ankle). also, there are a few companies that make shims that are designed to go between the cleat and the pedal. these shims can help simulate the extreme angle for your feet and allow you to use a cleat setup that is more parallel to the bike.
float is an issue that many people have varied opinions on. when float is used in the pedal/cleat system, your body becomes less efficient on the bike. your body must use more stabilizer muscles in the legs and torso to keep your feet, legs, and bicycle stable than it would if there was no float. however, not having any float is more likely to cause injury as the knee structure cannot move while leaning into a turn, putting in very hard efforts, etc... thus, i use a small degree of float (4.5 degrees with look keo) that will allow for movement in the knee but is still stable enough to maximize my efficiency.
ultimately, you should seek a good fitting by the local bike shop. this fitting should include your cleat placement and check for other problems in your pedal stroke. there are many issues that i have not mentioned to this point, including leg length discrepancy, riding style, frame angles, etc... if you cannot solve your problems with a basic good fitting from a bike shop, you should have some of the aforementioned issues looked into.
leg length discrepancy is the biggest, as nobody's leg bones are equal in length for each leg. some people are just barely different, so a standard fitting works for them, but other people have drastic differences. this difference can cause some people to drop their hip on the short side when they pedal. this causes knee, hip, back, and neck problems. the hip drop issue can also arise due to a drastic difference in strength from one leg to another.
riding style also helps to determine cleat placement with regards to where on the foot the cleat is placed. sprinters can obtain greater power output to the pedals by having the cleat under the balls of the feet. however, it is more efficient overall to place the cleat closer to the arch because most of a cyclists time is spent spinning, not sprinting. if you are riding a time trial/triathlon bike, you may want to use a cleat position that is closer to the arch of the foot. time trial/triathlon frame geometry places more emphasis on using the hamstrings and thus, greater pressure on the tendons, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the knee structure. so, to help reduce overall stress on the joints, you may wish to use a cleat position that is closer to the arch of the foot.
if you choose to make any changes to your setup, make sure that you do them in small increments. changes that you make in one piece of your setup may require that you change something else in your setup in order to keep the same relative position on the bike. for instance, moving the cleats forward or backward should mean that your saddle height or saddle fore/aft position will change. so, be careful and make sure that you use a marker or tape to mark the previous positions of things before you move them. however, the best thing you can do is get a fitting with a good bike fit specialist. they should take all of these things (and more) into account when fitting your bike to you.
Hi <((===<, you hit the nail on the head with regards to the stress on your knee. If the float is set to such a degree that your legs cannot go through the natural rotational patter, your knee will be pulled a little and stressed. I would consult with your local bike shop to see if they can get you on a trainer and take a look at your movement pattern and make the adjustments. The reason I mention the bike shop as a good resource...I have friends in San Diego (where I live) that work in bike shops here. The training they go through to properly fit someone on a bike is just incredible. They even measure your power output at different positions to get you in the optimal position. Fit costs can run pretty high ($150 range), but maybe your bike shop would give you a reduced rate if you just wanted them to look at your cleat positioning and not your aero position, seat height, etc.
Great thanks to Elaine__B, and aireyb123 for the great feedback. I think I will start with my cleat placement and position. I noticed they were set up for a toe in position, my feet dangle outward when I hang them over the counter. I suppose this has taken its toll on my knee after riding like this for some time no?? Would 1 ride with an incorrect set up effect a rider, or would it take a while you think?
Congratulations on your progress!! Moving in to clipless pedals will bring about a whole new experience and make you a better cyclist (IMO).
I have used Shimano SPD's; Shimano SPDR's and Looks. My favorite by far is the Look pedals. I like the stability that they provide out of the saddle; and they are very easy to get clipped into. Clipping out is about the same as the SPDR's but a takes a bit more pull than the SPD's. I know very few people who use Speedplays.
I don't know anything about how any of these pedals effect the knee area. Good luck in your selection!
In April I switched out my current clip-ins on my road bike for Speedplays. This was one of the best decisions I have made in terms of improving my cycling. The float allows for increased comfort on longer rides. I would surmise that beginner riders would appreciate the increased simplicity of clipping in and out of the pedals. Depending on what you are looking to utilize your bike for in the coming months, races/fun rides/tri's I would recommend checking out these new pedals. Also, many fitness centers in my area (including the one I am employed at) are making the necessary adjustments on their spin bikes to accomodate participants clipping-in during class. Something worthy of checking into, as winter months can make it difficult to get out and ride.
Best of Luck!!
i'm glad that some of this is helpful to you. it is possible that your cleat placement has caused the stress in your knee. also, depending on the severity of the incorrect setup, it is possible that a rider could detect a problem after one ride. however, most fit issues will only show themselves after a few rides with a slow developing, nagging pain or discomfort.
a final word of caution as you start to change things: change only one thing at a time, and make sure that the changes are relatively small. if you change too much at one time and you are still uncomfortable or more uncomfortable than you were before, you may not know what is really causing the problem. also, make sure that the changes are small enough that your body can easily adapt. for instance, if you turn your cleats so that your toes now point out too much, you might be at a greater risk of injury simply b/c your body won't be use to the position. so, as you seek to modify your position, make minor adjustments, and tweak them until you feel the most comfortable.
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