Cyclists frequently find themselves bewildered by cleat positioning; in fact, many who seek a bike fit with me tend to place their cleats haphazardly. In this blog, I’ll delve into the three key directions in which a cleat can be adjusted, elucidating the importance of each adjustment and offering guidance on achieving the optimal setup. To begin, it’s crucial to recall a well-known principle in strength and conditioning, often overlooked in cycling: joint position dictates muscle activation.

Fore-Aft Position

The initial adjustment concerns the fore-aft positioning. A cleat can be shifted forward or backward under the shoe, aiming to stabilize the foot for efficient leg push. Incorrect positioning, either too forward or backward, can lead to issues. If placed too far forward, cyclists may overuse their calf muscles to stabilize the ankle, neglecting the activation of the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) and relying excessively on their quads. Conversely, positioning cleats too far back restricts the full potential use of the calves when standing on the pedals. It’s preferable to opt for the second scenario when uncertain. Road pedals feature a small notch on each side to mark the cleat’s center, while for mountain bike cleats, the middle of the cleat serves as the reference line. Locating the head of the first metatarsal by feeling through the shoe and marking the center of the ball behind the big toe is crucial. Positioning the cleat 10 to 15 mm behind this point, while maintaining a leveled cleat mounting place and heel, aids in finding the ideal balance point. Adjustments should also consider foot size, with smaller feet requiring placement toward the smaller values on the scale and vice versa for larger feet. Extreme cases may necessitate further adjustments for those with exceptionally large feet or an unstable ankle joint.

Medial-Lateral Position

The second adjustment focuses on the lateral positioning, allowing cyclists to optimize alignment of the hip, knee, and foot for perfect muscle activation. Pelvic width determines the preferred distance between the two feet, with wider hips requiring a greater separation. Conversely, narrower cyclists benefit from closer foot placement. Cleats offer the flexibility to move inward and outward by a few millimeters. The objective is to align the foot directly under the cyclist’s knee and hip when viewed from the front. Different pedal spindle lengths cater to cyclists with specific needs, with Speedplay and Shimano offering longer options for their respective road pedal models.

Rotational Position

The final adjustment addresses rotation, aiming to enable cyclists to maintain a natural foot position and prevent unnecessary stress on the knee joints. For Speedplay cleats, this adjustment involves two lateral screws, allowing customization of angular freedom and its location. Other systems will require the rotation of the cleat itself. The desired position involves slightly outward toes and inward heels, crucial for activating hip stabilizer muscles like the gluteus medius. Experimenting with activities such as squats or cycling-specific deadlifts with varied foot rotations provides a better understanding of this perspective.

While cleat adjustments may seem intricate initially, I trust that this information equips you with a deeper understanding of their significance. Optimizing cleat position not only minimizes stress on the body and maximizes performance but ultimately enhances your overall cycling experience. Remember, if your feet feel unstable on the bike, consider evaluating not only your cleat position but also your overall bike and body positioning with a professional. Ride with the flow!

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One Response

  1. Hâte de refaire la posturale de suivi le 20 juin .
    Changement de chaussures donc et de pédales aussi .
    tu me diras ce qu’il faut emmener en mail et surtout je vais grimper les cols le 6 juillet la période d’adaptation en fin de prépa sera t’elle suffisante ? Et n’est elle pas trop dangereuse pour bien monter mes cols ?

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About the Author

Joffrey Degueurce

Joffrey Degueurce

JD. French road and track cyclist for EuroCyclingTrips - CMI Pro Cycling and Giant Dijon Track Team. Bike fitter. Vegan athlete.

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