Do Cycling Cleats and Clipping In Make a Difference?

Do Cycling Cleats and Clipping In Make a Difference?

Learn the benefits of using SPD bike cleats to ramp up your indoor cycling game.

Visit any cycling studio, mountain bike trail head or popular road bike destination and you’ll likely hear about the benefits of “clipping in.” Specially designed cycling shoes with cleats attached to the bottom can help boost your power and improve your stability and safety on the bike. By keeping your feet securely in place and connected to the bike's pedals, clipping in will help you ride farther and push harder.   

Sounds great, but what exactly is clipping in and how does it lead to a better workout and better cycling performance?   

Shimano Indoor Cycling SH-RC100 Indoor cycling shoes clipped into a Stages stationary bike

What is Clipping In & How Do Clipless Bike Pedals Work?

Clipping in refers to the connection between your foot and the pedal on your bike. There are three key components to this system that include your cycling shoes, a cleat bolted to the bottom of each shoe, and your bike's pedals. The cleats engage with the pedals to create a secure attachment as you ride, which helps boost power and efficiency. And then, to disengage the cleat from the pedal, simply twist your heel outward and the cleat will release and free your foot. 

How to clip in using bike shoes


Cycling shoes have a stiff sole that features either two or three holes for bolting on your cleats. There are two types of bike cleats to choose from: the SPD cleat design attaches to your shoe using two bolts, while the Delta or SPD-SL cleat uses a 3-bolt system. 

Unlike sneakers, which have a flexible sole designed for running or walking, cycling shoes are stiffer and hold your foot securely in place on the pedal. By reducing foot movement, your pedaling efficiency goes up, meaning more of the energy you put into the pedals directly translates to your power score. 

The Benefits of Clipping In Bike Shoes?

What Are the Benefits of Clipping In Bike Shoes?

Clipping in also provides a more stable and safer pedaling platform. Your foot is securely connected to the pedal so you can both push down and pull up on the pedals more efficiently throughout the full circle of your pedal stroke. And even under the hardest efforts, your foot will stay planted on the pedal so you can give it everything you have without fear of slipping off the pedals mid-sprint. 

To realize the benefits of clipping in and to keep your knees happy, cycling shoes and cleats need to be set up and aligned correctly. Most local bike shops or the cycling instructors at your studio can help install and align your cleats to deliver a powerful, comfortable, and safe pedal stroke.

Don’t be intimidated by the terminology or setup of cycling shoes and cleats. Once you get your hands, or rather, your feet, on these key pieces, you’ll see how easy it is to clip in. With a stiffer shoe design and stable cleat and pedal system, you'll see higher power numbers and feel more confident every time you clip in and ride.

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