Whether you’re a complete newcomer or an old veteran, investing in some clipless pedal and mountain shoes and cleats is a great way to increase your efficiency and comfort. Similar in function to a ski binding, bike cleats snap into spring-loaded pedals, creating a solid connection between a rider and their bike.
Finding the best position for your cleats can be tricky, but don’t dismay: the benefits are worth it. Properly installed, you’ll be able to pedal more easily and for longer stretches. Most mountain cleats and shoes use a two hole pattern.
1. Make sure your cleats and shoes are compatible by lining up their respective holes.
2. Start by placing tape on the edges of your shoes. Mark the center of the ball of your foot: this is usually where it’s widest, and where it would bend when walking. With your shoes marked, it’s time to align the cleats.
3. Your cleats have markings to indicate their midpoints. Lining these up properly will put the ball of your foot over your axle when you clip in.
4. Lightly grease the cleat bolts, insert the washers with the beveled side up, and tighten firmly.
Go for a test ride, looking out for hot spots and discomfort. Make small adjustments as needed until your pedaling stroke feels natural and balanced. With the proper shoe/pedal setup, you’ll be prepared to enjoy every ride to the fullest.