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  • Cycling cleats: how to set up cleats on cycling shoes

    Shoes are 1 of the 3 contact points between the athlete and the bike and cycling cleats create a firm connection between the shoes and the pedals. This is where the power is transmitted, so proper set up is decisive for both performance and comfort.

    The position of the cleat is key; it defines how the foot stands on the pedals, and this results in how the knee and hip react above it. This is the reason why every serious bike fitting begins with the adjustment of the cleats.

    But, how should one set up cleats for cycling shoes? The first step is to choose the right cycling shoes and pedals.

    Mario Kummer

    how to set up cycling cleats - shoes

    The right cycling shoes

    It is crucial to get suitable and well-fitting shoes, you will be riding long distances with them and need to be transferring your power optimally without losses and, of course, you want comfort.


    The length, width, adjustment system, insole and support of the shoes play a major role in this.


    Personally, with the UNIQUE cycling shoes from Q36.5, I have found an optimal shoe that meets all these requirements.


    The right pedals

    A suitable pedal is part of the equation.


    There are different pedals with different functions; with almost all of them you can choose between a fixed position and one with a little freedom of movement for the foot.


    Each pedal requires its own sole plate. I always recommend one with a little play, this allows the foot some movement.

    How to set up cleats on cycling shoes

    Here are my tips on how to set up cleats for cycling shoes.

    The cleat should be positioned so that the ball line of the foot is on the pedal axis. To do this, I mark the position of the big toe and small toe joint on the shoe. I make the lateral alignment on the pedal axis dependent on the width of the pelvis. When assembling most cleats, there is still a little leeway to increase or decrease the Q-factor.

    Depending on your anatomy, you can position your feet to be parallel or slightly open on the pedals. For most pedal systems there are templates for the adjustments, these are very helpful for the precise alignment of the sole plates.

    In the end, the athlete must have a steady and straight leg and must feel comfortable with every pedal turn without having the feeling that he needs to correct his foot placement.

    Step by Step guide

    • Step 1: Feel for the reference points; big toe joint and small toe joint on the foot.
    • Step 2: Use a marker (tape) to define the position of the reference points on the shoe.
    • Step 3: Assemble the sole plates.
    • Step 4: Align the position of the sole plates so that the pedal axis lies between the two reference points.
    • Step 5: The longitudinal alignment of the shoes to the pedal axis should correspond to the natural position of the feet.
    • Step 6: The best way to test the correct position of the sole plates is to test it on the bike. Adjustments can then be made accordingly.