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  1. #1
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Do the different types of clip in pedal systems make any difference on a road bike?

    When I boughy my first road bike a year ago, the salesman urged me to go clip ins. Due to my sasquatch feet (14 - 4E) I couldn't find shoes that fit. He luckily had one set of Shimano shoes that he said he special ordered for a secret services agent that never picked them up. He said he would throw them in with the sale of the bike for $50, so I jumped on it since I wasn't sure if I could find my size elsewhere.

    At any rate, they fit me. A bit narrow, but the length was good. But they were apparently MTB shoes with a SPD cleat and hard soles. I've been happily using them for the last year with these pedals:



    I can get in and out of them easily. I don't get an hot spots or weirdness in my feet. My knees don't hurt. Sometimes, I notice my left shoe will creak a little when pedaling if I have my toe turned out, but once I straighten my foot, it stops. I've considered getting a two sided pedal simply because I don't ride my bike without clipping in anymore.

    Since starting to do more group rides, I've noticed I'm the only one on a road bike using this style of clip in. I'm perfectly happy with them, but wondered if I am missing something by not using another style.

    From the little I've read I see there are SPD, SPD-SL, Look and Speedplay systems at least, possible more.

    Being that I've used my current shoes/pedals for a year with no issues, is there any reason to drop a big chunk of change to get into one of the more standard road clip in systems?


    Side Note: The Garmin power meter pedals have made me wonder about switching to a Look style shoe as well.

  2. #2
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    If the SPDs work for you, no reason to switch. A lot of recreational road riders use them.

    A dedicated road shoe/cleat/pedal system might get you a marginally stiffer connection with a bit more contact area between your foot and the pedal.

    If you're not having foot issues, there's no big reason for more contact area though.

    I've had Look in the past and didn't like them because they always seemed to creak and squeak. I changed to SPD-SL and have never had a problem since.

    It shouldn't cost that much to go to dedicated road shoes though. The 105 SPD-SL can be had for around $100 and it will come with cleats.

    You will have to find a 3 hole shoe though if yours only have the 2 hole MTB screws.
    Last edited by andr0id; 10-08-14 at 11:24 AM.

  3. #3
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    I like my two sided SPDs on my road bike. I don't get any squeaks or noises.

    I have Sidi mega wide Dominator mountain shoes. The sole is just stiff enough for no hot spots, but flexible enough to walk on. And I often see old Sidi shoes on other riders. They seem to last a long time. Very comfortable for me, and room for my toes. Pricey, but worth it.

    Some pedals, like Speedplay, allow a lot of float. That helps some riders with knee problems.

    SPD Advantages:
    The fastest clip-in after a stop light of anyone on my group ride. Most of them are looking down to clip in, I just slam it in and go, without looking.

    SPD shoes are better for walking. The metal cleat still grinds a little on ceramic or other hard floors, so be careful on nice floors indoors.


    SPD Disadvantages:
    Some riders get hot spots from the small clip size. But if the soles are stiff enough, this isn't a problem.

    I've clipped out with an out-of-the-saddle, full speed sprint from a standing start. I'm pushing down hard and pulling up with the other foot for three or four pedal strokes. I think I turned my foot just enough to unclip. I didn't crash though, and I still do it without worries.

    I guess, in theory, that very stiff road shoes could be a little more efficient, since they don't flex at all.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 10-08-14 at 11:59 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    Years ago (1993) I rode a lot of miles with my first road bike wearing tennis shoes, I developed hot spots, I then switched to clipless, an SPD double sided clone pedal, and mountian shoes , and I still had hot spots, probably the shoes at that point could not rapidly anyway "cure" the injury.

    Fast forward to this June when I started riding again, I picked up SPD pedals and shoes, and have ridden a lot, and no hot spots, but quite possibly things have evolved a LOT in 2o years, the shoes back then indeed felt like "pedaling on a walnut" with the SPD pedals, it does not feel remotely like that today.

    I may try a stiffer mountain shoe, Lake is said to make mountain shoes which are essentially a super stiff rosad shoe with sole material glued on to bring the soles flush with the cleats.

    I would guess there is some wattage output that when we achieve it (if we even can) that the road shoe would help more and more people perform better and longer, also what we do and have done in our working lives may make a difference too, I spent 40 hours a week on a fiberglass extension ladder for about 6 months and it gave me issues with my feet that took a couple years to totally go away (heel spurs) on their own.

  5. #5
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    power meters:

    There's a lot of new, less expensive power meters waiting for production "soon".
    See DC Rainmaker's power meter review website. For instance: one can be glued on to your cranks at home, and some at the fall bike expo.

    I'd wait until at least late spring 2015 to decide. Some of the new models may not work very well, or might never get into production. But there's at least 5 or 6 manufactures working on them.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 10-08-14 at 11:49 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Not a direct answer, but my experience/preferences.

    I have used clipless since 1989

    First ones i used were Shimano ultegra 6400 (essentially rebadged look afaik)

    these basically worked and I used them (still have them) until about 2012

    I figured it was time for an update and went to speedplay. I didn't like speed play...the big plates on the shoes were trouble some, the idea that you lubricate basically ever ride was a pain, but the bottom line is I didn't find them easier to clip in and out of than the look pedals. (ymmv that could be my quirk)

    So I went to shimano 105 spd-sl I love these easy in out and just feel good.


    On my commuter utility bike i have a set of platform one side/spd the other side pedals.
    These also work great (other than my shoes don't fit that great....some day I will fix that)


    Over all spd is the easiest in out of any pedal i have used and what i recomend to people who are really really really nervous about clipless, usually suggesting a platform/spd mix pedal.

    for the OP no need to upgrade, but with size 14 the driver may be that when you find a road shoe that size it might be a good time to consider going to spd-sl
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  7. #7
    Senior Member WebFootFreak's Avatar
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    I was perfectly happy with my running shoes on flat pedals. Saved me time in T2 by not having to swap shoes for a run. About July, an acquaintance bought a bike that came with a pair of SPD (double sided) pedals, so I ended up with them. I went with a Gavin road shoe that has both the 2- and 3-hold adapters just in case I decided to switch up to something else later on. Long story short, I like being able to clip in without looking and since I have road-style shoes, I've had no problems with hot spots either...

    I'd say if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member mcmoose's Avatar
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    I agree with the others that if your current configuration is working for you, stick with it. Most people who switch from SPD to "true" road shoes do so because the SPDs are giving them discomfort issues (e.g., hot spots) or are convinced that the 2% greater power transfer with a top-end road shoe will make them the amazing cyclist they were always meant to be. If you feel good with your current set up, you are good.
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  9. #9
    The cat says Merry Xmas Pamestique's Avatar
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    Pedals. like saddles, are very personal and what works for me may not be good for you. If you find something that is comfortable and efficient; don't change.

    I've run through a gamut of pedal systems (Speedplay, Look, Shimano, SPD, Candy's etc). I've currently settled on the Time ATAC for road and Time ZControl for the MTBike. I decided I only wanted to use one cleat system as before i used different systems and got confused. Plus nothing worse than grabbing the wrong shoes! I decided to stick with a MTB pedal because I like using MTB style shoes to walk around. I wear Sidi Dominators which have a platform to walk on (but it still looks like a road shoe) as opposed to the Sidi Genus which is slick and flat. The ATAC is a smaller pedal (it looks like the Shimano above) than the ZControl (which is a platform) but still fairly large compared to say Speedplay Zeros (which I wore for years but they severly damaged the ball of my feet). But I like how they work and generally, I don't get "hot spots"...

    Again if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
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  10. #10
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    I've never subscribed to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" hype. Wish I did. It would be a lot cheaper. I just finally bought SPD-SL pedals. I've been on SPD's since 1994 (big break in there of no riding). I had Diadora MTB shoes from that same trip to the LBS in 1994. I have yet to ride on the SPD-SL's yet, but am hoping to in the next few days. And 105's can be had for $72.67 If you spend more than $99, you get free shipping, so I went with the Ultegras for $106 and free shipping.

    I must have shaved almost a whole half pound off my bike! That's sarcasm. OK, it did save a touch of weight, but that's not why I did it. I'm looking forward to riding the new setup and will report back.
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  11. #11
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    I have and ride both SPD and SPD-SL pedals and shoes. I also have an old C&V rig that still uses clips and cleats and have presiously used look as well as SPD-R cleats.

    The SPD-SL cleats are noticably more secure and stable, at least in my experience or perception. But, there's nothing wrong with SPD technology. It works and if you're happy with it, there's no great compelling reason to change. Some of the guys I ride with are extremely strong road riders and still use SPD pedals and MTB shoes for their casual training rides.

    One thing is for sure. It's much easier to walk around in a pair of MTB shoes than slick soled road shoes with a big plastic cleat.

    Can I enquire what shoes did you get last year? Shimano or Sidi in their respective wide variety? Or, did they have something else that worked for you? Both the aforementioned make both a road and mtb shoe up to euro size 52 and in wide as well as normal width.
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  12. #12
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    I agree with the others, if it ain't boke don't fix it.

    Personally I went from hiking shoes to Speedplay. The reason was because of what I read about hot spots and I like to go on long ride. The Speedplays work great for me, but you DO have to pub the cleats often. When it starts to be hard to clip in, about four rides, it is time to lug again.

    i have friends that cycles across the USA with carbon fiber MTB shoes, didn't have hot spot problems.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    From the little I've read I see there are SPD, SPD-SL, Look and Speedplay systems at least, possible more.

    Being that I've used my current shoes/pedals for a year with no issues, is there any reason to drop a big chunk of change to get into one of the more standard road clip in systems?
    I've used both SPD and Look pedals. With a good shoe, I don't think there's much difference between the two systems except for the fact that the Look pedals were more difficult to clip-in and roadie shoes are more difficult to walk in. I now use SPD pedals on all of my bikes.

  14. #14
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Jarrett2, SPDs are fine. No need to switch if you don't want to or need to. I purchased my lady friend a Bianchi Infinito last year and she put on SPD pedals. They work just fine.

    Did someone in your riding group give you a "bad time" or make snide comments about your SPD pedals?

    As far as pedaling efficiency with the different types of pedals . . . unless you are being paid to ride your bike in three-week races throughout Europe, they are all pretty much the same.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    I started off using SPD, migrated to Look, Shimano, Time road pedals, but ultimately what I found really worked for me were Time ROC ATAC S pedals. Been riding them for almost 8 years now and can't see myself riding anything else unless I am forced. I have them on all my bikes, be they road or mountain. However, I will say, shoes on the other hand.....were a much bigger issue. I finally pulled the trigger on some Sidi's about 5 years ago and wow what a difference. I recently had to replace my commuting shoes and went with the Shimano M-162, very stiff sole, but easy to walk in. I rode 76 miles in them a month or so ago on a charity ride, and I did not have any foot issues over that distance.
    Last edited by jaxgtr; 10-08-14 at 10:27 PM.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Jarrett2's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info!

    Quote Originally Posted by volosong View Post
    Did someone in your riding group give you a "bad time" or make snide comments about your SPD pedals?
    Not so much snide, just that our most seasoned group rider said that I'm such a strong rider that I should get real road pedals and shoes.

    Made me go hmm...

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Can I inquire what shoes did you get last year?
    This shoe:

    With these pedals:

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    Not so much snide, just that our most seasoned group rider said that I'm such a strong rider that I should get real road pedals and shoes.
    Sound very snide to me, personally. Just because someone has been seasoned, doesn't make them right. Look to the advice of those that provide uplifting constructive input, not demeaning input like "get REAL road pedals and shoes". While I have road shoes, my wife has MTB shoes, we both ride just fine. I really think everyone here is right one the mark:

    If it is working for you, stick with it!

  18. #18
    Senior Member bbbean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andr0id View Post
    If the SPDs work for you, no reason to switch. A lot of recreational road riders use them.
    This. You'll even see a lot of cat 5 and cat 4 racers riding with lighter SPD setups, and its a natural if your non-road bikes are CX or MTB bikes.

    That said, I switched my road setup from spd to Speedplay mid season this year (being a weight weenie and had an influx of loose cash), and was pleasantly surprised to discover that some of the minor knee problems I was blaming on overtraining, form, and/or fit went away with the increased float I got from the speedplays. I like the feel, too, and they're easier to get in and out of than my spds.

    Unfortunately, there's no good way to try a different cleat system unless you have a friend with the same size feet. But if you're thinking of switching, I can give the speedplays a ringing endorsement.

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    Last edited by bbbean; 10-09-14 at 10:42 AM.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    If your present shoe and pedal combination is not causing pain or other issues I don't see any reason to change. For clydes a quicker route to performance gains is through weight loss. I choose the shoe and pedal combination on my road bike based on needing long ride comfort. I had foot discomfort with flat pedals and running shoes. I had further discomfort with Look KEO pedals. I switched to Speedplay because of the ability to mount farther back on my shoes which eliminated my foot pain. I get all day comfort now.


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  20. #20
    Senior Member adrien's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
    I started off using SPD, migrated to Look, Shimano, Time road pedals, but ultimately what I found really worked for me were Time ROC ATAC S pedals. Been riding them for almost 8 years now and can't see myself riding anything else unless I am forced. I have them on all my bikes, be they road or mountain. However, I will say, shoes on the other hand.....were a much bigger issue. I finally pulled the trigger on some Sidi's about 5 years ago and wow what a difference. I recently had to replace my commuting shoes and went with the Shimano M-162, very stiff sole, but easy to walk in. I rode 76 miles in them a month or so ago on a charity ride, and I did not have any foot issues over that distance.
    I really wanted Sidis to work for me, but they just didn't fit right. hen I found some with a big enough toe and heel box, they felt very open and almost like slippers. An alternate for folks with big feet is Lake. Really nice shoes, tend to fit bigger / wider really well.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Willbird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarleton View Post
    Sound very snide to me, personally. Just because someone has been seasoned, doesn't make them right. Look to the advice of those that provide uplifting constructive input, not demeaning input like "get REAL road pedals and shoes". While I have road shoes, my wife has MTB shoes, we both ride just fine. I really think everyone here is right one the mark:

    If it is working for you, stick with it!
    Some people find it fun to experiment with other peoples lives, and some even get angry when people resist becoming an experiment :-).

    Talking about the "seasoned" individual :-).

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
    Some people find it fun to experiment with other peoples lives, and some even get angry when people resist becoming an experiment :-).

    Talking about the "seasoned" individual :-)
    Too true. Other 'seasoned' individuals get their sense of self and security by how many others adopt
    their ideas. I know this is true because I want you to adopt this idea so I can feel that much smarter (as do I think most folks that reply on forums, whether or not they are willing to admit it )

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarrett2 View Post
    Thanks for all the info!

    Not so much snide, just that our most seasoned group rider said that I'm such a strong rider that I should get real road pedals and shoes.

    Made me go hmm...

    This shoe:

    With these pedals:
    OK, I happen to own both a set of 80 series Shimano Road shoes as well as mtb shoes and a set of older Sidi Genius'es.

    While I generally support the don't fix what isn't broke mentallity, I can report that the soles of my R86 road shoes are noticably stiffer than my pair of M88s. How much faster does that make me? Ans. Probably not much if any. What I do believe it accomplishes is to make the shoes more comfortable and less prone to hot spots on long continuous road rides. To that end, I also use some custom Esole insoles in the road shoes that I don't bother with in my mtb shoes. The Sidis are even stiffer and I believe their newer models are even more so.

    IF one were also a weigth weenie, there is a fair amount to be saved by ditching the rubber sole of the mtb shoes and steel of the more durable mtb pedals for a light composite road sole, plastic cleat and minimal pedal design that doesn't have to survive getting bashed into rocks, stumps, etc.

    Make your descissions according to your needs and desires. Keep in mind that guys like me just love it when regular riders show up at group rides with spd equipped mtb shoes and perhaps even a fender equipped commuting rig and keep up with or even challenge wannabe roadies.

    If you're in this for health, fitness and your own sense of accomplishment and as long as your feet aren't suffering any issues, road shoes aren't going to make much difference to your ride. If fitting in, complying with a group norm and potentially eliminating anything that draws attention to you or leads to comments is important, then there might be a legitmate reason for adopting road shoes and pedals beyond the weight savings and slight increase in sole stiffness.

    Just my .02. YMMV
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  24. #24
    Senior Member delcrossv's Avatar
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    Use what you like, but with osteoarthritis in both knees and a sloppy gait, I needed pedals with a lot of float. Speedplays have been a real godsend for me. More comfortable than platforms.
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  25. #25
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    I switched from bontrager mountain bike shoes with spd to look keo with sidi shoes when I got my new road bike a couple months ago. Having had spd's the switch to look was very easy. I like my current setup but mainly because my feet are narrow and the sidi's fit much better.
    Good luck with your decision.

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