How to Fit Cleats on Clipless Pedals

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Fit Cleats on Clipless Pedals
Cleats and pedals fit together to make you ride better. (enduro mtb image by David Bautista from

Clipless pedals are special bicycle pedals that allow you to join your shoe to the pedal via small jaws. The jaws clip to a special metal cleat that attaches to the bottom of a special shoe. There are several different pedal-to-cleat interfacing systems. You must have the proper cleat for a given pedal. Usually the matchup is done when you purchase your shoes or bike. But if you're adding new shoes or new pedals, you need to know which ones fit.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Hex wrench (Allen wrench)

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  1. 1

    Check the configuration of your cleat. If the cleat is round, your pedal should have a round hole in it approximately the same size as the cleat. If the cleat is a rectangular bar, your pedal should have a rectangular slot in it. The most common of all cleats looks like an arrowhead. Your pedal should have small jaws that look like a bear trap.

  2. 2

    Install the proper cleat on your shoes. Put your shoes on and get on your bike. Lean to one side on one leg and balance the bike. Put your other foot on the pedal.

  3. 3

    Rub your foot around on the pedal. You should feel metal-to-metal contact. There will be one spot that feels like the pedal settles into a small divot. It should be directly in the centre of the ball of your foot. When you feel the divot, push down hard. You should hear the pedal click as the cleat engages the pedal. If you don't hear the click, keep rubbing your foot around on the top of the pedal and pushing down until you hear it.

  4. 4

    Twist your foot sideways and jerk up on it to get it out of the pedal. If it won't release, twist harder back and forth until it clicks and releases your foot. If it takes more than one twist sideways, your jaws are too tight.

  5. 5

    Crouch down and look at the pedal. On the back of the pedal there is a small 2mm hex setscrew. Using a 2mm hex wrench, turn the setscrew one full turn counterclockwise. Get on the bike. Click your shoe in and out of the pedal. If it still resists releasing the shoe, give the setscrew on more turn and test again until the shoe releases with one flick of your ankle. Do this to both pedals.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep your pedals and shoes as clean as possible. Sand or debris can prevent your clipless pedals from working properly.
  • Don't ride in traffic until you have practised fitting and releasing your shoes into and out of your pedals.

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