I’ve always run SPD cleats for the walkability but was wondering if it was worth getting road shoes/cleats for my road bike. I’d keep using SPD for my gravel bike.
I’ve read a bunch on the differences between the cleats including pros/cons. The pros that keep coming up are reduced hotspots on long rides, decent float, and a bigger surface area for better power transfer. I like long rides so these seem positive of course.
Is it worth trying road cleats? Is there a big adjustment period coming from SPD? Any input is much appreciated!!
I was SPD only for a while and recently added road shoes and cleats for pure road riding. I do notice better power transfer/feel in sprints, as well as preferring the feeling that I’m more locked in (always worried about popping a foot in a sprint with SPDs).
For long rides or really anything other than hard efforts I don’t really notice the difference, except the SPDs would sometimes get squeaky when wet depending on the shoe/pedal combo. I like that my road shoes never squeak.
No real adjustment period in my experience. A bit harder to clip in and out with road shoes but ease of clipping in/out is not something I need on road rides.
I have been getting hotspots even after a bike fit. This was been happening after 40 or so miles and I’ve had to stop, take off the shoes for a minute and put them back on. I don’t know if this is a cleat or footbed issue (fitter advised I use Body Geometry footbeds).
So many things bike related are “it depends” in my experience!! Figured I’d see if other folks are in the same boat about swapping between cleats.
Modern high end cycling shoes are infinitely stiff. It doesn’t make much of a difference.
Road shoes might have a vent on the sole, a flat spot on the back of cleat for better FEELING power transfer, and will fit winter booties better. They are also f-Ing stupid. The cleats (aside from speed play) have zero engagement feeling, you can’t walk in them, they don’t transfer power any differently, they’re not very adjustable, and the larger cleat doesn’t add any value. Most of the info out there is BS (power transfer).
The biggest problem with SPDs is they rely on the pontoon lugs for stability to the L/R of the cleat and “power transfer”. As the lugs wear or if they pedal/lug interface isn’t perfect, you’ll feel the play. You also can’t put rain/winter booties on as easy.
The problem with SPDs right now are lack of options. They’re all Shimano copies with respect to mechanism. Free float is lacking here. Go road if you find a system that works for you.
Been doing this for years - the only thing I’d caution on is fit & setup. If you have a good fitter they might be able to get the cleats in good spots so the bikes don’t feel wildly different when you get on them.
That said - I do this for cycling rules and fashion - not function.
Between 2006 and 2013 I used SPD’s, I used them with larger caged touring pedals and stiffer soled BG MTB sports and never suffered from hot spots or felt less confident sprinting (if anything the opposite but I was younger then). Being a victim of fashion however, I gave in eventually in and went to SPD-SLs
My gosh, whatever it takes to alleviate hot spot problems…I say give it a try.
@FrankTuna I use mtb/2 bolt/spd cleats on all my bikes. Road, gravel, ultra, commuter, time trial. I always said no pedal makes any measurable difference ever and still stand by that…but I will admit there are some super small aero differences between pedals & Jason did eventually convince me there are some pedals that are some milliwatts better than others.
HOWEVER I had never experienced hot spots like you are suffering from until a 2020 race. In that race I got a ‘hot spot’ on my left foot at about hour 15 (I think). Oh, lord, was that uncomfortable! It legit felt like my foot was on fire. At about hour 19 (I think) that feeling started to subside & to this day I have never been able to feel that part of my foot again.
That gave me a whole new perspective when listening to people complain about hot spots! Hot spots can really be torturous and if you don’t fix the problem it can become a permanent injury. So, I don’t think switching cleat/pedal types is likely to help but you should try it.
I used Keo’s and SLs for years. I will say you will definitely feel “more connected” in these than in SPD. After years, I developed knee pain and switched to Speedplay and they are more forgiving with tons of float, but produce more hotspots on long rides and some people say they feel like walking on ice (slippery). The “newer” Aero/Walkable Speedplay cleats are also great. I recently made the switch to all SPD because 90% of my rides are indoors, mtb, or gravel and that lets me reduce my shoe count and makes travel easier, especially when you have flipper feet that fill an entire small suitcase.
I do notice the difference on road rides and on the trainer because I had more float on the speedplay. I haven’t done any 100 mile rides since, so can’t comment on hotspots.
I run SPDs on MTBs as well as the dedicated trainer bike. SPD-SL on the road bikes.
SPD-SL feels a bit more secure, but SPD feels fine too with MTB shoes. Unlike road shoes, where only the cleat is in contact with the pedals, MTB shoes have contact points at the cleat as well as the sides of the shoe. The grip is even more pronounced if you run “trail” or DH pedals with bigger cages. My highest 1-3 second power numbers are consistently recorded on the MTB, so it’s clear that the SPDs are sufficiently secure.
I don’t know if SPDs will fix your hotspots. They might. IME it’s more about shoe fit and making sure they aren’t too tight. I had horrible hotspots with Specialized shoes. They just didn’t fit my oddly shaped feet (paddles). Tried many things, including insoles, Speedplays, pedal extenders, cleat shims, etc. Finally bought Sidis and the problem went away. Now I own 6 pairs.
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