Cleat Position on New Shoes

Looking for some help here:

After years of discomfort, I switched out my 3yr old Sidi MTB shoes for a new pair of Shimano XC901s. Even after a marathon stage race, my feet felt great - whereas normally I’m in pain 2hours into a 4 hour ride. So I took the plunge and bought some Shimano RC901s to replace my Sidi road shoes.

My new shoes are supposed to come in a couple of days, but I’ve already got new cleats ready for them. The problem is that my bike fitter changed my MTB shoe cleats (because I also was getting my new MTB fit) and I won’t have that luxury for my new road shoes (I could - but not for the next 3 weeks at least because of work).

So, I was hoping that maybe some of you could point me in the right direction on how to do this change. The shoes are pretty different, but I’m at least in the position where I don’t need to remove the cleats off the old shoes, so I can used them as a guide. Any tips, tricks or tutorials you guys would recommend consulting?

Thanks for any help - last time I put on a new pair of cleats on shoes when getting rid of my Speedplays resulted in a sore knee and a trip to the bike fitter, so I’m hoping to re-avoid this experience.

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If your aim is to get a close approximation matching the old shoes/cleats, here are the primary adjustments that should get you a decent starting point:

  1. Cleat Fore/Aft:

    • Put on the old shoes, and mark the knuckle where you big toe joins the foot (1st metatarsal) and the knuckle where your pinky toe joins the foot (5th metatarsal).
    • Remove your shoe and identify the relative location of the cleat fore-aft with respect to these to landmarks.
    • Look to approximate this fore-aft position by making the same marks on the new shoes, and placing the cleat in the same relative location.
  2. Cleat Rotation:

    • Looking at the bottom of the old shoe, identify the cleat direction (pointy front and rounded back) with respect to the main shoe shape. There may be a twist to one direction or the other, or the shoe might point “straight” matching the shoe.
    • The precise direction should me matched between the old and new shoes.
  3. Cleat Stance Width:

    • Looking at the bottom of the old shoe, identify the left/right position of the cleat.
    • Match this left/right position.

:point_up: What he said

I’ve noticed my fitter uses some sort of cleat position from Ergon I think.

This a worthwhile thing to get? I know we only put cleats on every so often, but it’s also something to not get wrong…

Depends on the cost. Most people need cleats close. But perfect isn’t necessary.

If you search, there are some simple hacks for transferring cleat positions with cardboard and such.

I trust my eyes and make adjustments after a test on the bike. Different shoes may lead to slight changes in position anyway.

I just switched pedal systems from Shimano SPD-SL to a Look Keo type cleat.

It’s the first time I’ve changed to a different cleat design. I took time to make some reference marks on the sole of the shoes and where the bones in my feet are and thought I’d done a pretty decent job. However, after a couple of initial test spins I knew something wasn’t right and I could feel tension in my knees.

To cut a long story short, I went to a fitter and had him do it properly. Now I have a good reference for the new cleats and can change them myself in future. I believe it’s money well spent in the long run.

FWIW - Bike Fit Adviser on YT has some good informational videos. Here’s one that covers quick & dirty cleat setup. Granted, it demonstrates SPD clips but I think the same principles apply. He’s got other good stuff on his page as well.

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Thanks for all the replies. I’m also the guy that tries to set it up myself and does it incorrectly enough I end up with something wrong.

I went ahead and ordered that Ergon thing. I figured for $25, it could definitely be worthwhile. I’ll post after I use it :slight_smile:



I seem to have a problem with my cleat position but I can’t find the answer my side heal keeps rubbing on my crank arm

Any thoughts or tips

Please feel feee to give any advice


  1. Your first picture shows what I assume is the inside of the LEFT shoe.

  2. Your second picture shows the RIGHT shoe cleat.

Is my understanding of the pics above correct?

  • If so, are you having the same problem with both shoes?

  • If not, we need a picture of the cleat position on the LEFT shoe (same as the first heal rub picture) to assess its position better.

Your cleats are positioned angled out and/or too far forward (on the shoe).

You can try to either move the cleat backwards behind of the ball of the foot (to move the shoe forward relative to the chainstay) or you can try to change the angle of the cleat so you are pedaling with your ankles more outward.

Both can have an effect on your knees, if I I was in your position, I’d try to move the cleat backwards first and then play with the angle. If/when you move the cleat backwards, you may need to lower your saddle as well.

Thanks guys I will try the changes and report back

I’ve got a similar problem: My right foot is somewhat splayed out if I stand in a neutral position (left foot points straight). With my road pedals/shoes/cleats, this isn’t a huge problem, but on my CX and mtb where I am using shimano mtb pedals my right heel hits the chainstay, probably similar to what is happening to you. At one point I tried angling my cleats to keep that foot straight, but I started getting knee pain, so I’ve gone back to letting that heel go inward. With the more consistent movement and less float of a road pedal it’s fine there, but on the MTB pedals…I use chain stay protection! Just my N=1

For people with moderate to significant toe out position, it is common to need to slide the cleat as narrow as possible (which places the foot wide) to clear cranks and chainstays.

If that isn’t enough clearance, you can look at adding pedal washers between the spindle and crank. Keep the appropriate amount of thread engagement, which means about 2 washers max for most pedals.

Hi all

Thanks for the info I have found after yesterday ride my foot only rubs when I am out of the saddle climbing and on the easier hills and flats I don’t have the rub issue. I wonder if I am doing while rocking and rolling up the 25% hills ?

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I don’t rub, but my heel does jut in when I get out of the saddle as well. Seated, like you, it’s relatively in line.

From what I understand, this is pretty normal and has to do with the biomechanical differences between seating and standing. Have you tried to adjust anything to deal with the rubbing problem yet?

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