Ride, Wrench, Swap, Race
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Northern California
Bikes: Cheltenham-Pederson racer, Boulder F/S Paris-Roubaix, Varsity racer, '52 Christophe, '62 Continental, '92 Merckx, '75 Limongi, '76 Presto, '72 Gitane SC, '71 Schwinn SS, etc.
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The cleats may get better or worse with break-in, but the rider will learn to apply the needed abrupt force to disengage reliably.
Over time, the slick plastic cleat surface will accumulate embedded grit, so release force may increase.
Dura-Ace is targeted at serious athletes. Ultegra is typically more friendly on all fronts for lightweights like myself.
I encountered the same problem with Dura-Ace's first 7410 SPD road pedals. Forcing the screws may cause them to come completely out, as has happened to me on other pedals.
I think that an adjustment to the angle of the cleat on the shoe is the best way to make releasing easier.
Adjust the cleat angle so that the foot doesn't have to twist so far to disengage, and the muscles will have a much easier time generating the needed force. You can later adjust the tension tighter if unintended release threatens.
I used to find myself physically unable to twist out from my pedals after a hard, wet off-road race where the cleats got sticky and my strength was gone. Re-angling my cleats a little solved the problem for the most part, as the ease of release is very sensitive to the required twist angle.