Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Breaking in SPD-SL pedals

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Breaking in SPD-SL pedals

Old 05-03-17, 07:54 PM
  #1  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Breaking in SPD-SL pedals

I recently picked up a good few year old Kona Jake the Snake at the local swap and have turned it into a road bike. For pedals, I decided to go with SPD-SL (Ultegra), instead of SPD, which are on my old road bike. Today was my first day with the pedals (and Shimano RP3 shoes), and boy was I in for a surprise. So hard were they to get out of, I ended up riding the neighborhood with one bike shoe at a time, tension adjusted to the lowest, just repeatedly clipping in and out. Still, after an hour with each foot, it was taking a concerted effort and lots of concentration, and sometimes that wasn't enough short of repeated tries. Pretty scary to think of riding both both at the same time in this state. Is there any way to speed up the process? Thanks,
highstream is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:07 PM
  #2  
hueyhoolihan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Above ground, Walnut Creek, Ca
Posts: 6,689

Bikes: 8 ss bikes, 1 5-speed touring bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 86 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
go back to the SPD's? i did... actually eggbeaters.
hueyhoolihan is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:15 PM
  #3  
lyrictenor1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 514

Bikes: 2016 Fuji SL

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 68 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by highstream View Post
I recently picked up a good few year old Kona Jake the Snake at the local swap and have turned it into a road bike. For pedals, I decided to go with SPD-SL (Ultegra), instead of SPD, which are on my old road bike. Today was my first day with the pedals (and Shimano RP3 shoes), and boy was I in for a surprise. So hard were they to get out of, I ended up riding the neighborhood with one bike shoe at a time, tension adjusted to the lowest, just repeatedly clipping in and out. Still, after an hour with each foot, it was taking a concerted effort and lots of concentration, and sometimes that wasn't enough short of repeated tries. Pretty scary to think of riding both both at the same time in this state. Is there any way to speed up the process? Thanks,
Were the pedals and cleats new or used? They really shouldn't have that much tension, especially with the tension set to the lowest.
lyrictenor1 is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:19 PM
  #4  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Eggbeaters are what came with, but they didn't look like as good platform for road bike shoes. I ride in the northern Rockies, where climbing is part of the show. I also have trouble with shoe fit, as discussed on another thread, so it's either the RP3's or my old (heavier) Pearl Izumi SPD's make things a lot easier (http://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycli...l#post19537002).
highstream is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:19 PM
  #5  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by lyrictenor1 View Post
Were the pedals and cleats new or used? They really shouldn't have that much tension, especially with the tension set to the lowest.
Both new.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:20 PM
  #6  
StanSeven
Administrator
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Delaware shore
Posts: 13,041

Bikes: Cervelo C5, Guru Photon, Waterford, Specialized CX

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 570 Post(s)
Liked 23 Times in 21 Posts
+1. Something is possibly wrong with the pedal tension.

If you are using new cleats, they are a little tight at first but they shouldn't be like you're experiencing

Edit: make sure the indicator is showing min. That should be at the top of the slot
StanSeven is online now  
Old 05-03-17, 08:25 PM
  #7  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
+1. Something is possibly wrong with the pedal tension.

If you are using new cleats, they are a little tight at first but they shouldn't be like you're experiencing

Edit: make sure the indicator is showing min. That should be at the top of the slot
Not sure what you mean by showing minimum, but both are at the top of the slot with just red showing, and I can't turn the screw (counterclockwise) any further. A tech at the bike shop saw the screw out all the way too, but said they take awhile to break in (didn't buy from them).
highstream is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 08:37 PM
  #8  
adamhenry
MUP World Champ
 
adamhenry's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Oceanside, CA
Posts: 369

Bikes: '17 Defy Adv 2, Electra Verse 21D

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You could try a light coating of grease on the cleats until they loosen up a bit.
adamhenry is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 09:11 PM
  #9  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
There's a video I just found:

Maybe I wasn't dropping my heel, but trying to free from the forefoot. Will try again tomorrow.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-03-17, 09:58 PM
  #10  
f4rrest 
Farmer tan
 
f4rrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Burbank, CA
Posts: 7,936

Bikes: Allez, SuperSix Evo

Mentioned: 38 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2837 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
I've never had this problem with SPD-SL.

Are you doing it right?
f4rrest is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 08:03 AM
  #11  
hsuehhwa 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Huntington Harbor, CA
Posts: 394
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 110 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by highstream View Post
I recently picked up a good few year old Kona Jake the Snake at the local swap and have turned it into a road bike. For pedals, I decided to go with SPD-SL (Ultegra), instead of SPD, which are on my old road bike. Today was my first day with the pedals (and Shimano RP3 shoes), and boy was I in for a surprise. So hard were they to get out of, I ended up riding the neighborhood with one bike shoe at a time, tension adjusted to the lowest, just repeatedly clipping in and out. Still, after an hour with each foot, it was taking a concerted effort and lots of concentration, and sometimes that wasn't enough short of repeated tries. Pretty scary to think of riding both both at the same time in this state. Is there any way to speed up the process? Thanks,
It takes time to break in the new cleats too. I've had >20k miles using SPD-SL. I still wouldn't just install a pair of new cleats and go out for a long ride. Since usually I clip out with my left foot, the cleat on my right has much less wear. I just change one new cleat at a time: move the right cleat (which has already broken in) to my left, and install the new cleat on my right.


The position of the cleats matter too. If they're all the way down toward the center of your feet (which many think is better for your knees), you would have much less momentum to clip out. Just move it up 1 cm or 2 cm.


Don't give up. It will be a lot better after a few days.
hsuehhwa is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 08:16 AM
  #12  
mcours2006
Senior Member
 
mcours2006's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Posts: 5,672

Bikes: Giant Rapid, Bianchi Advantage, Specialized Roubaix, 1985 Gardin Quatro, Norco Threshold, Raleigh Serengheti MTB

Mentioned: 42 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1714 Post(s)
Liked 27 Times in 17 Posts
I own quite few pairs of Shimano SPD-SL pedals and never have any problems with unclipping. Some set on minimum tension, so moderate. Perhaps some oil/grease might resolve the problem.
mcours2006 is online now  
Old 05-04-17, 08:44 AM
  #13  
KevinF
Keep on climbing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Marlborough, Massachusetts
Posts: 2,178

Bikes: 2004 Calfee Tetra Pro

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have one set of DuraAce SPD-SL pedals and a set of 105-style SPD-SL pedals. The 105's are definitely a little harder to get in / out of than the DuraAce pedals (same shoes), but it's not "impossible" to the point that the OP is talking about here. Both pedals are set to moderate tension. The DuraAce pedals have a LOT more miles than the 105 pedals.

I switch out cleats periodically and I just "go"; doesn't seem to require much, if any, "break in" time.

I concur with the other suggestions of putting a little dab of grease on the pedals and trying again.
KevinF is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 02:58 PM
  #14  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Today I put a little Park Tool (pedal thread) grease on the back inside of the pedals and the back of the cleats, and worked on twisting off with my heel in a heel down position. I also tried the cleats in a couple of different fore-aft positions. Working with one bike shoe on at a time, occasionally it unclipped right away with some effort, but most of the time it took more of a 2-3 count and sometimes a good 10-15 seconds and multiple tries before it came free. Disappointing. On the possibility that it's a defective, I've contacted JensonUSA (their warranty dept currently takes emails only; something about the noise of construction). So I'll see. Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.

Update: Jenson says if I can clip in and out, it's not likely a defective, just "not as easy as expected." I can send them in, but... Not sure what to do.

Last edited by highstream; 05-04-17 at 03:44 PM.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 03:51 PM
  #15  
hueyhoolihan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Above ground, Walnut Creek, Ca
Posts: 6,689

Bikes: 8 ss bikes, 1 5-speed touring bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 86 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
i'd send them back. IMO, that response from Jenson was calculated, knowingly or unknowingly to enhance the likelyhood that you will just put up with them the way they are.
hueyhoolihan is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 04:39 PM
  #16  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I wouldn't be surprised if you're right about that. Not dealing with returns except via warranty is one way of keeping prices lower. The bike needs a little work, so I took it all, including the shoes, down to the local Kona dealer to play with. Should know more tomorrow or Saturday.

Last edited by highstream; 05-04-17 at 04:57 PM.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 05:22 PM
  #17  
hueyhoolihan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Above ground, Walnut Creek, Ca
Posts: 6,689

Bikes: 8 ss bikes, 1 5-speed touring bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 86 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
nice that you have an LBS that takes an interest in a customer that bought the item in question from a competitor. you are lucky.

i wouldn't have the balls to do that, figure i would have a better than even chance of getting slapped in the face with a pair of damp cycling shorts or something. kudos.
hueyhoolihan is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 05:33 PM
  #18  
dksix
Senior Member
 
dksix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: North East Tennessee
Posts: 1,620

Bikes: Basso Luguna, Fuji Nevada

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4259 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
What color are the cleats? I'm wondering if you have some with the max float and are requiring a lot more twist than you're used to.
dksix is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 05:40 PM
  #19  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As the only Kona dealer in a small northern Rockies town with lots of general bike competition and business still between seasons, they are happy to help someone who will likely come to them first for at least some kinds of service and parts, as I did after picking up the bike at the swap. They've now gotten some $$ on a couple of service visits, and they know I would have purchased Schwalbe tubeless tires through them, but due to U.S. stocking issues they couldn't get them in a reasonable amount of time. The irony here is that about ten years ago with my Schwinn cross bike (the original from around 1990), they replaced the bottom bracket when that turned out not to be the problem at all, which led me not to go back again until now with the Jake. Different and seemingly more skilled personnel now, it seems so far.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 05:48 PM
  #20  
highstream
Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by dksix View Post
What color are the cleats? I'm wondering if you have some with the max float and are requiring a lot more twist than you're used to.
Yellow/black. They are the ones that came with the Ultegra PD-6800, SM-SH11 I assume. The Shimano site says the RP3 shoes are best matched with the PD-R550 pedals, but would that really make a difference? I assume that's more targeted marketing.

Btw, I notice some used Dura Ace pedals advertised with 9/16" thread. I take it that's not standard?

Last edited by highstream; 05-04-17 at 05:52 PM.
highstream is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 06:08 PM
  #21  
dksix
Senior Member
 
dksix's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: North East Tennessee
Posts: 1,620

Bikes: Basso Luguna, Fuji Nevada

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4259 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by highstream View Post
Yellow/black. They are the ones that came with the Ultegra PD-6800, SM-SH11 I assume. The Shimano site says the RP3 shoes are best matched with the PD-R550 pedals, but would that really make a difference? I assume that's more targeted marketing.

Btw, I notice some used Dura Ace pedals advertised with 9/16" thread. I take it that's not standard?
Yellow are the 6 degree float, blue is 2 degree and red is fix IIRC (someone correct that if I've gotten it wrong). I haven't had any problems getting loose from the pedals with my red cleats.

9/16" is normal spindle diameter for 3 pc cranks, 1 peice have 1/2 threads (once again going off memory).
dksix is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 06:18 PM
  #22  
jch3n
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: PNW
Posts: 123
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
How much do you weigh? According to some people, the minimum release tension of SPD-SL pedals might still be too much for lighter folks. It's all a matter of relative perception I guess.

From Steve Hogg: https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...hich-are-best/

6. Different degrees of ease of entry and exit. As a general rule I won’t use Shimano Spd SL’s (which are a well made pedal) for women under 65kg or men under 60kg because the minimum release tension is too high for many of them and can cause knee niggles and occasionally injuries from repeatedly disengaging foot from pedal for those who are susceptible.
jch3n is offline  
Old 05-04-17, 07:55 PM
  #23  
Masque 
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Willamette Valley
Posts: 335

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix, 2011 and 2017

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 165 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Can confirm new 6800 pedals are tragically, hilariously stiff when new.

Can confirm also the potential for tibiofibular hypomobility resulting from excessive high-tension unclipping, which is awful awful awful.

Recommend counterstrain after using new pedals. Also breaking in with older cleats.

Not sure why these even have a tension adjustment. They go from "good God, are you kidding" all the way up to "officer, he was so frustrated he threw his bike on the tracks, and the impact of the train destroyed everything save these pedals, still clipped to his shoes" tension.
Masque is offline  
Old 05-05-17, 02:33 PM
  #24  
jmess
Senior Member
 
jmess's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: PDX
Posts: 314
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Agree about 6800s being too stiff. I have had DuraAce pedals on all my bikes and never had any problems. Got some 6800s for a new comfort bike and found the spring tension is too tight even on full loose. I am thinking Shimano installs a different spring in the 6800s.

Originally Posted by Masque View Post
Can confirm new 6800 pedals are tragically, hilariously stiff when new.

Can confirm also the potential for tibiofibular hypomobility resulting from excessive high-tension unclipping, which is awful awful awful.

Recommend counterstrain after using new pedals. Also breaking in with older cleats.

Not sure why these even have a tension adjustment. They go from "good God, are you kidding" all the way up to "officer, he was so frustrated he threw his bike on the tracks, and the impact of the train destroyed everything save these pedals, still clipped to his shoes" tension.
jmess is offline  
Old 05-08-17, 07:15 AM
  #25  
memebag
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 1,603

Bikes: 2017 Cannondale CAAD12 105, 2014 Giant Escape City

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 820 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by highstream View Post
Maybe I wasn't dropping my heel, but trying to free from the forefoot. Will try again tomorrow.
I don't understand how dropping or raising your heel would make a difference. The pedal pivots freely on that axis. Unclipping is about yaw, not pitch.
memebag is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.