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Leg Length discrepancy: is Speedplay better than SPD-SL?

Old 04-02-22, 07:14 AM
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Leg Length discrepancy: is Speedplay better than SPD-SL?

My left is structurally shorter by about 1.5cm (both femur and tibia) than my right. Right now I am using SPD-SL and have the left cleat shimmed up by about 6mm (using shimano own's cleat shims) to at least compensate for some of the discrepancy. however, what I have felt is that it is more difficult for my shimmed up shoe to clip in. Usually has to press really hard or even stand up in order to get the left side in. I have no idea why, maybe once a cleat is shimmed, the "optimized" geometry that the spd-SL has been shifted and thus leading to a more difficult leverage? I have heard that Speedplay could be better when shimmed up, anyone with LLD can provide testimonies on that?
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Old 09-13-22, 08:45 AM
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I can't say anything regarding Speedplay pedals, sorry but I can say that my hand-fitting of my SPD SL cleats has helped.
I've had this problem for a couple decades; all my life really, but it was addressed for cycling in 2008 when I was in undergrad and began racing on the college team. I spoke to an exercise physiologist who took all the measurements and came to similar conclusions as yours. My left leg is a total of 31mm longer than my right, from the point of pivot in my hip to my ankle. Femur has most of the additional length.
I used the Shimano SPD SL cleat spacers but didn't like them and so I walked down the street to my local neighborhood thrift store and bought a nylon cutting board.
Over the course of a few hours I used a file, a Dremel tool, calipers, and my SPD cleats to get the appropriate stack height, angle and curvature correct. This adapter has lasted through at least four sets of cleats, two racing seasons, and it still looks as ugly as the day it was made.
I agree it is slightly more difficult to clip in and I have dialed the pedal tension all back quite a bit as a result. It's a leverage issue and it got better as I wore in the cleats. I also use the Back when I first made the spacer, I found that I couldn't get out of the pedal when needed and dumped over on my right side when testing out the fit.
I use the yellow cleats with the most float and the neutral pivot point, BTW.
If you can find a professional trainer who deals specifically in custom fits like this that would be your best bet. maybe a team of physical therapist and occupational therapists could also take on the challenge. You could get your bike on a trainer stand, and get your cleat stack height as well as fore/aft position correct. Who knows, even a mix of change in crank length + cleat spacer could take care of it all. On my touring bike, I swapped in a 5mm longer crank on my left side which is my longer leg. After that, I have far less hip rocking due to my right leg extending farther down at the bottom of the stroke when my cranks were both 170mm.
Good luck in getting it addressed.

Last edited by PhilFo; 09-13-22 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 09-13-22, 12:47 PM
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I have spent quite a bit of time building orthotics, and I would definitely consider trying a 5mm shorter crank arm on your left side, with no pedal shims. This is a better solution for a short femur, but in the case of shorter tib-fib, it is worth a try. Very often a lonely left side arm is easy and cheap to find.
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Old 10-09-22, 12:52 PM
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SPD clip in issues are often solved with some spray lube on the pedal and cleat. A couple times per year will do unless you ride/walk in dirt or mud more often. Most SPD compatible pedals have adjustable spring tension as well. SPD cleats are available with various amounts of 'float'. Cleats with more float are usually easier to clip in.

Speedplays. I get owners wanting help with them in all the time on Ragbrai. Walking on gravel of any size pretty much destroys them and they won't clip in. Nothing we can do but recommend SPD pedals for next years ride.
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Old 10-09-22, 01:09 PM
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My right leg is 1.2 cm shorter than my left, thigh and calve +proportionately. I ride with a 6 mm aluminum plate shim under the cleat that extends forward around 2 cm with the forward portion rounded for a smooth transition into the pedal. LOOK Delta compatible. I've never used any other LOOK style system, KEO or SPD-SL but I believe they are similar enough that I am guessing my tapered plate would work just fine. All the filing of material is forward of the cleat and the entire shim is bent to the curvature of the shoe. The bending was not easy!
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