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Modifying SPD-SL Cleats - Cutting off sides?

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Modifying SPD-SL Cleats - Cutting off sides?

Old 03-06-17, 07:36 PM
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Notcarproof
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Modifying SPD-SL Cleats - Cutting off sides?

I have a pretty specific question about SPD-SL cleats and Iíll explain why, but to put the question upfront-- Do the yellow tabs that form the bottom two points of the triangle on the cleats (sorry, can't post photo) serve a purpose besides giving you an extra point of contact with the ground when youíre walking (off the bike)? Iím wondering if I cut them off, would it have any negative effect that Iím missing?

Basically, I was broad-sided by a car that blew a stop sign. I ended up with a couple fractures and some ACL damage on my leg that the doctors say came from a twisting motion. No cuts/scratches on that side, so it never touched the ground/car. I suspect my foot got hung up in the pedal while I was busy eating it, because I didnít really see it coming and went down hard. The outer point of that cleat was broken off where it looks like it got hooked/pulled off with quite a bit of force.

Maybe it wouldnít have made any difference, but Iím curious if hacking off those back points would let my foot rotate out a little easier in the event of another surprise attack. It certainly doesnít seem like Iíd need those side ďbarriersĒ to keep my foot from rotating during regular riding, but they do create one more point that can get snagged while youíre rolling around on the ground. Maybe itís half-baked, but just a thought. Anyone knowledgeable on the subject? I guess the other option is switching to multi-release pedals, but that means getting new gear..
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Old 03-06-17, 07:58 PM
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Those outer points don't really engage with the pedal at all. Cutting them off shouldn't do much, but it's also not going to help you release either. The pedal doesn't have anything for them to catch on.
The main thing hacking them off will do is dramatically increase the cleat wear, since you'd be walking directly on the interface part.
Looking at my shoes, that outer part sticks out well beyond the sole of my shoes, so it's likely to caught or smashed in any sort of serious impact.
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Old 03-06-17, 09:36 PM
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JohnJ80
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Originally Posted by Notcarproof
I have a pretty specific question about SPD-SL cleats and I’ll explain why, but to put the question upfront-- Do the yellow tabs that form the bottom two points of the triangle on the cleats (sorry, can't post photo) serve a purpose besides giving you an extra point of contact with the ground when you’re walking (off the bike)? I’m wondering if I cut them off, would it have any negative effect that I’m missing?

Basically, I was broad-sided by a car that blew a stop sign. I ended up with a couple fractures and some ACL damage on my leg that the doctors say came from a twisting motion. No cuts/scratches on that side, so it never touched the ground/car. I suspect my foot got hung up in the pedal while I was busy eating it, because I didn’t really see it coming and went down hard. The outer point of that cleat was broken off where it looks like it got hooked/pulled off with quite a bit of force.

Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference, but I’m curious if hacking off those back points would let my foot rotate out a little easier in the event of another surprise attack. It certainly doesn’t seem like I’d need those side “barriers” to keep my foot from rotating during regular riding, but they do create one more point that can get snagged while you’re rolling around on the ground. Maybe it’s half-baked, but just a thought. Anyone knowledgeable on the subject? I guess the other option is switching to multi-release pedals, but that means getting new gear..
There's a mechanism of injury with alpine ski bindings that is probably similar called the "phantom foot injury" that is behind a lot of ACL tears. But what happens on the binding level is that the point of rotation starts to move aft from the toe of the binding towards the heel. When that happens, the only way you are coming out of the binding is if the screws are torn from the skis since heel bindings have no lateral release typically only at the toe (like a pedal). That never happens because your ACL goes first an isn't as tough as the screws. My bet is that is exactly what happened to you - the car came at you and prevented your pedal from releasing in the manner in which it was supposed to because it placed all the force on an axis on the pedal that would not rotate. You, in your fall, rotated around the pedal instead of your foot around the spindle. If you were to push straight at the outside of the foot from the outside with no twisting, that pedal would never release, If your weight were thrown backwards in the fall while that force was pressing at the foot, and if the wheel was planted, as you body moved aft and laterally, all the force would go to your knee and the pedal would not release (it's designed not to, in fact). Changing the cleat isn't going to change that, you'd need a pedal that was designed differently but no one is going to design a pedal that is designed to release when struck by a car from the side.

Also, I'd guess that messing with the cleat is more likely to cause some other problem or instability in the cleat that would lead to some other unintended consequence. It's not that complex of a mechanism but because of the litigious nature of bicycle equipment injuries, I'm betting that the pedal engineering team spent a lot of time an energy making sure that the pedal was designed correctly based on problems they had seen in their research. I'd be cautious about messing with that.

Having had a torn ACL from the days before they could repair them without an 8 month stint on crutches, I feel your pain. The coulda/shoulda/woulda feelings that go with that are about as tough as the rehab. Good luck to you.

J.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 03-06-17 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 03-06-17, 10:43 PM
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Do you have the release tension set as low as it will go? You can set it loose enough to the point where it will almost release when you don't want it to.

Let's be positive and think the likelihood of getting struck in the same manner again is very very remote... But if you set the release tension really low, it may release your foot more easily.
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Old 03-06-17, 11:55 PM
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I had the little yellow tab portion break off my right SPD-SL a few days ago. I was going to limp home, but decided instead to see how it worked since I don't get much riding time lately. I have since done two rides without any problem. Only thing is, make sure you don't cut into the mounting structure.
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Old 03-07-17, 08:30 AM
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Cutting off the corner tab means you will be more likely to damage the interface which will make more likely that you will have issues releasing. I wouldn't do it.
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Old 03-07-17, 08:08 PM
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All true.. probably wouldn't want to be walking on the engagement surface. Random thoughts of a couch-ridden person and I didn't have my shoes/bike here to look at... Here's to not taking another car though. I had the clamps pretty loose on the cleat, but had just put new cleats on, so it may have been more snug than it was previously.

Not sure, but it does seem like the multi-release may be better for an unexpected wipeout, car or no. I'm sure that's been covered previously on these forums though. Never had an issue with the SL ones, but a good wreck gets me thinking.
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Old 03-07-17, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Notcarproof
All true.. probably wouldn't want to be walking on the engagement surface. Random thoughts of a couch-ridden person and I didn't have my shoes/bike here to look at... Here's to not taking another car though. I had the clamps pretty loose on the cleat, but had just put new cleats on, so it may have been more snug than it was previously.

Not sure, but it does seem like the multi-release may be better for an unexpected wipeout, car or no. I'm sure that's been covered previously on these forums though. Never had an issue with the SL ones, but a good wreck gets me thinking.
On any cleat, there are going to be sectors from which it will be impossible to get the cleat to release from an applied force (if they didn't work this way, the cleat would be pretty much useless or even dangerous).

I would have to guess that getting an ACL injury on a bike is probably one of the lowest probability injuries of all. I would think you are far more likely to sustain upper body injuries - collarbone, wrists, arms, shoulders and head. Following that, I would think impact injuries of the lower extremities would be more likely - broken bones/hip etc... rather than an ACL injury. I'm not sure I'd spend time worrying about it.


J.
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Old 03-07-17, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Notcarproof
Not sure, but it does seem like the multi-release may be better for an unexpected wipeout, car or no. I'm sure that's been covered previously on these forums though. Never had an issue with the SL ones, but a good wreck gets me thinking.
Sort of. I have multi-release on my MTB shoes, for precisely that reason. If anything happens, I want to pop-out instantly.

The main downside is that pulling up on the pedals also tends to make you pop out. Usually with really bad results, since your leg is suddenly flying. Mainly an issue if you suddenly want to sprint to make a light or something. I've never had that happen with SPD-SL.

Just something to think about, depending on your riding style. If you like get a good jump and hard sprints, multi-release may cause more issues than potentially solves.
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Old 03-07-17, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Notcarproof
..... I was broad-sided by a car that blew a stop sign. I ended up with a couple fractures and some ACL damage on my leg that the doctors say came from a twisting motion. No cuts/scratches on that side, so it never touched the ground/car. I suspect my foot got hung up in the pedal .....
After I had a accident... I think I more-or-less did the same thing. Basically... an accident report. What happen, what could have been done to mitigate or eliminate the risk of.. or damage from such an accident. Then adopt new procedures or acquire/use new equipment. I like the way you think!

One popular suggestion will be defensive driving/cycling. Keep your head in the ride, be ever aware. Don't let the cars hit you in the first place. That is my favorite... and also the hardest to accomplish.

You'll also get a lot advocates for bright reflective clothing and blinky lights.
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