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

Cleat Positioning For Best Power

Notices
Road Cycling ďIt 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.Ē -- Ernest Hemingway

Cleat Positioning For Best Power

Old 08-09-21, 04:07 PM
  #1  
Fastfwd01
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Fastfwd01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 386

Bikes: 2015 Cervelo R5 Dura Ace, 2015 Cannondale Synapse 5 Disc 105, 2006 Cannondale F300

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 6 Posts
Cleat Positioning For Best Power

I just made the transition to road shoes. SPD-SL specifically. I've got the Garmin cleats with 6 degrees of float. I've watched quite a bit of bike fitting on Youtube. I gathered a consensus of opinion that positioning cleats as far back as possible won't create any problems, but they never really said what you can gain from moving them forward a bit. I also caught one suggestion to set cleats to be very slightly pointed to the inside of the center of the toe.

I tried that and it just didn't seem to feel right. I made slight adjustments during my initial ride until it felt like my feet were both pointing straight ahead and my knees felt like there was no strain on them. These road pedals and cleats are far more rigid than my old SPD pedals and cleats. I also made a very slight saddle adjustment to accommodate the stack of the new pedals. I had a little knee pain that was immediately alleviated after that. I was initially just concerned to not have anything setup to create a problem/injury.

I'm now curious if my cleat position is giving me the best power from my legs. It almost feels like having my feet 'straight' for the most part is putting more strain to my inner thighs (hamstrings?) than utilizing what might be the more powerful outer thigh muscles (outer quads)? I'm wondering if having that cleat position pointed slightly to the inside of the center of the toe would increase power and if I might get more use to it with a little time?

On my first ride out with my new Garmin Rally pedals I noticed that I held a 238 watt average power for the first hour of riding before fiddling with the cleat positioning. I'm not sure if everything was calibrated 100% with the Rally pedals. This wasn't an FTP attempt. I had stopped at stop lights, intersections, etc. Just a normal ride. My average power has been fairly significantly less since that first ride. Could just be fatigue too idk. Curious though.

Last edited by Fastfwd01; 08-10-21 at 02:25 AM.
Fastfwd01 is offline  
Old 08-09-21, 06:39 PM
  #2  
Greiselman
longtime noob
 
Greiselman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 139

Bikes: 2018 Trek Domane SL 6 // 1999 Trek 5000 // Burley Encore X

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 45 Post(s)
Liked 60 Times in 26 Posts
Just my opinion but trying to game your cleat position for the "most power" seems misguided. Have a shop help you align the cleats so that everything from your feet to your hips are properly aligned. Gaming a few extra watts isn't worth it when you can't ride for more than an hour without knee pain.
Greiselman is offline  
Likes For Greiselman:
Old 08-09-21, 06:46 PM
  #3  
Fastfwd01
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Fastfwd01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 386

Bikes: 2015 Cervelo R5 Dura Ace, 2015 Cannondale Synapse 5 Disc 105, 2006 Cannondale F300

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by Greiselman View Post
Just my opinion but trying to game your cleat position for the "most power" seems misguided. Have a shop help you align the cleats so that everything from your feet to your hips are properly aligned. Gaming a few extra watts isn't worth it when you can't ride for more than an hour without knee pain.
I'm not really going for trying to exaggerate the cleat position until it creates knee pain. I guess I'm curious if there is an ideal setup that would benefit power output? As I was out on my last ride I started paying a little closer attention to what muscles might be involved with my feet pointed slightly more one direction than the other and it raised a question in my mind if I should try to tweak the setup to lean back a little more like I had it initially setup.

I'm digging into it elsewhere a little further now and I see that it is suggested that your natural foot alignment as you walk is how your cleats should be setup? Maybe there isn't a 'best' setup tweak for power. It seems like this might be another topic that would get a dozen different answers from a dozen different people.
Fastfwd01 is offline  
Old 08-09-21, 07:40 PM
  #4  
Broctoon
Super-duper Genius
 
Broctoon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Muskrat Springs, Utah
Posts: 1,038
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 451 Post(s)
Liked 270 Times in 162 Posts
I’m with Greiselman. Adjust your cleats for comfort. Start with a neutral position, whatever feels natural as soon as you lock into the pedals. If you have some discomfort after a long ride, especially something that doesn’t feel right in your knees, make minor adjustments. It might take some trial and error. The forward-back, side-to-side, and heel in-heel out adjustments might all have some influence. Some people are more sensitive to foot position than others, and it can be really hard to say in any case what will work best.

Get to where you can ride comfortably, and then as you put on lots of miles that number on your power meter will gradually increase.

I really like my Speedplay Zero pedals, because of the generous float they allow. I also have some SPD-SLs with yellow cleats, which give six degrees of float, I think. The Speedplays have much more—something like 25 or 30 degrees. And it’s easily adjustable. So, for example, I can set the heel-in limit to keep my shoe from brushing the chain stay, but allow full heel-out movement. They’re called Zero because there is zero resistance until you reach the float limit, where the pedal will disengage. When setting up my shoes with these cleats, I pay a little attention to the width adjustment, but otherwise I don’t worry about anything. I just ride. My feet can move around quite a lot, yet I’m still securely connected to the bike.

I'm getting ready to buy some PM pedals myself and just deciding which ones. Wahoo, which now owns Speedplay, have some ready for release on the retail market any day now. Because I like that style of pedal so much, I kind of want to hold out for them. However, part of me just wants some Garmins or Faveros, as it seems their electronics are better than what Wahoo is reportedly using.

Last edited by Broctoon; 08-09-21 at 09:56 PM.
Broctoon is offline  
Likes For Broctoon:
Old 08-09-21, 08:58 PM
  #5  
Seattle Forrest
Senior Member
 
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 22,255
Mentioned: 79 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15917 Post(s)
Liked 7,520 Times in 4,193 Posts
There isn't one. At least not for everyone. Cycling is an aerobic sport, you use your heart and lungs to make power, the position of your cleats is about comfort and avoiding repetitive stress.

Seattle Forrest is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 02:41 AM
  #6  
Lazyass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minas Ithil
Posts: 9,248
Mentioned: 63 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2382 Post(s)
Liked 558 Times in 344 Posts
I've never noticed a difference in power with the positioning. Like someone said, comfort is the concern for me. Mine are almost but not quite all the way back. If they're more forward I get hot spots on my toes so bad that if I go on a long ride I can hardly push the pedal down by mile 50.
Lazyass is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 03:02 AM
  #7  
Fastfwd01
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Fastfwd01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 386

Bikes: 2015 Cervelo R5 Dura Ace, 2015 Cannondale Synapse 5 Disc 105, 2006 Cannondale F300

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Liked 8 Times in 6 Posts
I have to agree that I've never been aware that it was something that I was sensitive to while running SPD pedals. The float with them must be far greater than 6 degrees. In retrospect, if I had my cleats setup with them pointed slightly to the inside of the center of the toe initially then that was making my toes point out and putting more load on my inner thighs (hamstrings maybe?) vs my outer quads. Since I didn't really like that setup very much maybe I can try leaning it the opposite way a tiny bit and see if that suits me better anyway. It may not impact power one iota. I know I didn't really like my toes pointed outward though.

I've just been tuning in much closer to bike fitment issues and it made me question it. Thought I would throw it out there and see if there was any feedback that might confirm it.
Fastfwd01 is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 05:44 AM
  #8  
datlas 
Beyond Bogus
 
datlas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Malvern, PA (20 miles West of Philly)
Posts: 36,351

Bikes: 1986 Alpine (steel road bike), 2009 Ti Habenero, 2013 Specialized Roubaix

Mentioned: 508 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16172 Post(s)
Liked 3,896 Times in 1,932 Posts
Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
There isn't one. At least not for everyone. Cycling is an aerobic sport, you use your heart and lungs to make power, the position of your cleats is about comfort and avoiding repetitive stress.

Agree. I have not seen any good study on this, and I do suspect cleat position has more to do with comfort/stability. Personally, I am old school and just aim to keep the ball of the foot over the pedal spindle, but YMMV.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28 View Post
Addiction is all about class.
datlas is online now  
Old 08-10-21, 08:36 AM
  #9  
ThermionicScott 
working on my sandal tan
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 21,201

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers), All-City Space Horse (hers)

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3227 Post(s)
Liked 1,367 Times in 922 Posts
Originally Posted by datlas View Post
Agree. I have not seen any good study on this, and I do suspect cleat position has more to do with comfort/stability. Personally, I am old school and just aim to keep the ball of the foot over the pedal spindle, but YMMV.
I suspect that the ideal cleat position might even change as muscles fatigue or discomfort starts to develop. Point in favor of Seattle Forrest 's flat pedals -- people riding those can just shift their feet around without even thinking about it.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 09:04 AM
  #10  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,905
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1761 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 839 Times in 519 Posts
Cleats further forward uses lower leg muscles more, and favors sprint-type accelerations.

Further back uses those muscles less so favors endurance.

Using cleats to point the feet where they don't want to go is only likely to do damage, IMO.
woodcraft is offline  
Likes For woodcraft:
Old 08-10-21, 09:21 AM
  #11  
Bah Humbug
serious cyclist
 
Bah Humbug's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Austin
Posts: 17,468

Bikes: S1, R2, P2

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6902 Post(s)
Liked 2,163 Times in 1,155 Posts
Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
Cleats further forward uses lower leg muscles more, and favors sprint-type accelerations.

Further back uses those muscles less so favors endurance.

Using cleats to point the feet where they don't want to go is only likely to do damage, IMO.
Thatís always been my question for the people who want zero-float cleats. If your feet are not perfectly straight while pedaling, isnít it better to have float than torque your joints? And if you are in perfect alignment, why does having float that is never used detrimental? Iím willing to accept that there might be something I havenít thought of that makes it make sense, but no one has ever explained it to me.
Bah Humbug is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 09:23 AM
  #12  
datlas 
Beyond Bogus
 
datlas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Malvern, PA (20 miles West of Philly)
Posts: 36,351

Bikes: 1986 Alpine (steel road bike), 2009 Ti Habenero, 2013 Specialized Roubaix

Mentioned: 508 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16172 Post(s)
Liked 3,896 Times in 1,932 Posts
Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Thatís always been my question for the people who want zero-float cleats. If your feet are not perfectly straight while pedaling, isnít it better to have float than torque your joints? And if you are in perfect alignment, why does having float that is never used detrimental? Iím willing to accept that there might be something I havenít thought of that makes it make sense, but no one has ever explained it to me.
I have the same question. I always use cleats with some float and prefer it that way. I expect some cyclists just like the fixed position better, personal preference.
__________________
Originally Posted by rjones28 View Post
Addiction is all about class.
datlas is online now  
Old 08-10-21, 09:28 AM
  #13  
WhyFi
Senior Member
 
WhyFi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: TC, MN
Posts: 36,386

Bikes: R3 Disc, Haanjo

Mentioned: 347 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18177 Post(s)
Liked 6,754 Times in 3,448 Posts
Originally Posted by Broctoon View Post
Iím with Greiselman. Adjust your cleats for comfort. Start with a neutral position, whatever feels natural as soon as you lock into the pedals. If you have some discomfort after a long ride, especially something that doesnít feel right in your knees, make minor adjustments. It might take some trial and error. The forward-back, side-to-side, and heel in-heel out adjustments might all have some influence. Some people are more sensitive to foot position than others, and it can be really hard to say in any case what will work best.

Get to where you can ride comfortably, and then as you put on lots of miles that number on your power meter will gradually increase.

I really like my Speedplay Zero pedals, because of the generous float they allow. I also have some SPD-SLs with yellow cleats, which give six degrees of float, I think. The Speedplays have much moreósomething like 25 or 30 degrees. And itís easily adjustable. So, for example, I can set the heel-in limit to keep my shoe from brushing the chain stay, but allow full heel-out movement. Theyíre called Zero because there is zero resistance until you reach the float limit, where the pedal will disengage. When setting up my shoes with these cleats, I pay a little attention to the width adjustment, but otherwise I donít worry about anything. I just ride. My feet can move around quite a lot, yet Iím still securely connected to the bike.

I'm getting ready to buy some PM pedals myself and just deciding which ones. Wahoo, which now owns Speedplay, have some ready for release on the retail market any day now. Because I like that style of pedal so much, I kind of want to hold out for them. However, part of me just wants some Garmins or Faveros, as it seems their electronics are better than what Wahoo is reportedly using.
If you like Speedplay but don't want Speedplay PMs, why not just get a crankset-based power meter and keep your preferred pedals?
WhyFi is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 09:42 AM
  #14  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,905
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1761 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 839 Times in 519 Posts
Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Thatís always been my question for the people who want zero-float cleats. If your feet are not perfectly straight while pedaling, isnít it better to have float than torque your joints? And if you are in perfect alignment, why does having float that is never used detrimental? Iím willing to accept that there might be something I havenít thought of that makes it make sense, but no one has ever explained it to me.

I think it's a lot what one is used to. The float can feel sloppy.

An analogy might be: if you put your feet on the pedals the same way every time, it shouldn't matter if your shoes are a size or two too big.
woodcraft is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 09:47 AM
  #15  
Broctoon
Super-duper Genius
 
Broctoon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Muskrat Springs, Utah
Posts: 1,038
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 451 Post(s)
Liked 270 Times in 162 Posts
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
If you like Speedplay but don't want Speedplay PMs, why not just get a crankset-based power meter and keep your preferred pedals?
That's another possibility I've considered. Still trying to decide.

For me, the biggest benefit of a pedal-based PM is the ability to easily move them between two or more bikes. This is actually pretty important to me.
Broctoon is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 09:55 AM
  #16  
Broctoon
Super-duper Genius
 
Broctoon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Muskrat Springs, Utah
Posts: 1,038
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 451 Post(s)
Liked 270 Times in 162 Posts
Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
That’s always been my question for the people who want zero-float cleats. If your feet are not perfectly straight while pedaling, isn’t it better to have float than torque your joints? And if you are in perfect alignment, why does having float that is never used detrimental? I’m willing to accept that there might be something I haven’t thought of that makes it make sense, but no one has ever explained it to me.
I've always viewed zero float cleats as pro equipment, or at least for the Cat 1 guys, who really know what they want and how to get it. These guys have everything about their bike fit dialed right in. They are very fit and (physically) flexible. They have the resources to get the specific shoes, pedals, and everything else exactly as they need.

If you're still experimenting a little and not the most fit guy or gal you know, having a little float makes it less critical to get everything else right. Going even further, Speedplay Zero cleats (that's zero resistance, not zero float) give even more "slop" or room for error.

It's kind of like a one piece handlebar and stem, or an integrated seat mast. If you're sure of what you want, there are benefits to these. I, on the other hand, am always fine tuning many points of adjustment on my bike, so I can't commit to something that permanent or expensive to change.

Last edited by Broctoon; 08-10-21 at 11:06 AM.
Broctoon is offline  
Old 08-10-21, 10:44 AM
  #17  
Seattle Forrest
Senior Member
 
Seattle Forrest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 22,255
Mentioned: 79 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15917 Post(s)
Liked 7,520 Times in 4,193 Posts
Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I suspect that the ideal cleat position might even change as muscles fatigue or discomfort starts to develop. Point in favor of Seattle Forrest 's flat pedals -- people riding those can just shift their feet around without even thinking about it.
The reason for flat pedals is my cat likes static electricity and Vectors are mostly plastic.
Seattle Forrest is offline  
Likes For Seattle Forrest:
Old 08-10-21, 10:49 AM
  #18  
Voodoo76
Blast from the Past
 
Voodoo76's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Schertz TX
Posts: 3,193

Bikes: Felt FR1, Ridley Excal, CAAD10, CAAD12, Felt DA, Dolan

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 215 Post(s)
Liked 43 Times in 36 Posts
A great starting point if you want to develop a good cleat position over time.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...leat-position/

I've worked with one of his fitters in Austin in the past. Their methodology on shoes is very effective. I've ended up slightly aft of Steve's "Method 2" position as my riding has shifted more to TT type efforts. But it's a great starting point. I would also recommend float if for no other reason than margin of error for overuse injuries.
Voodoo76 is offline  
Likes For Voodoo76:
Old 08-10-21, 11:26 AM
  #19  
PeteHski
Senior Member
 
PeteHski's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 2,165
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1073 Post(s)
Liked 1,125 Times in 712 Posts
Originally Posted by Fastfwd01 View Post
I also caught one suggestion to set cleats to be very slightly pointed to the inside of the center of the toe.
I'm not quite sure what that actually means, but it doesn't sound like good advice.

The best starting point for your feet in terms of toe-in/out is to sit on the edge of a table/stool and let your legs hang down naturally. Note how your feet are pointing (Are they straight, pointed in, or pointed out like a duck?). Basically you want to replicate your natural foot angle on your pedals as that will put the least strain on your knees. If you are a "duck" then you may also need to move the cleats laterally on the shoe (or use pedal spacers) to get enough heel clearance to your crank arms. Floating cleats are good as they give you some room for error.

As for fore-aft cleat position, I always slam mine to the maximum rearward position for endurance. Moving the cleats forward utilises your calf muscles more and gives you more leverage on the pedals, but this can also lead to more fatigue. You also need to adjust saddle height slightly if you move your cleats fore-aft i.e. lower saddle with cleats further back and vice-versa.
PeteHski is offline  
Likes For PeteHski:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.