Bike Fit: How to install your Speedplay cleats

Bike Fit: How to install your Speedplay cleats

Our sport is growing, riders are improving, getting smarter, stronger and faster. One area where everyone can stand to improve is how well their bike fits them, and how their bike is set up. Over the next weeks and months, cyclingnewsasia will run a series of articles to assist our readers on how to fit their bikes, and how to make the cycling experience more effective, balanced, and enjoyable. Todays artilce goes back to basics, and we will explain how to mount your cleats properly to your standard 3 bolt shoes.


This article has been written by Lin Ruobai - a previous bike shop owner, mechanic, and ex-elite level cyclist. He will share with you some of the tips he has picked up over the last 15 years he has spent in the cycling industry.

Mounting your Speedplay cleats
Hello readers! The following article may seem very basic to many people, but it is an area that is very often done incorrectly. If your cleats are affixed wrong it is possible for you to damage your knees and greatly diminish the enjoyment you get out of riding your bike. If they are fit properly you will pedal more efficiently, be more comfortable and go faster!

What you will need

In this 'How to' article we will set Speedplay cleats to a set of Bontragers shoes (standard 3 bolt mounting system). You can use similar steps to set most brands of shoes, but if you want us to do a story on another manufacturer please email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


You will need: your shoes, all mounting hardware, a good quality grease (we tend to use Finishline lubricants), a basic tool set (IKEA has good value average quality products), and a basic rubbery adhesif

Please make sure you have the proper tools for the job. For Speedplay pedals you will need a screwdriver set or a very high quality multi-tool, your shoes, cycling socks, yourself (!) or the rider who will be using the shoes, a small amount of bike grease (I use white lithium), and I use a small amount of rubberized contact adhesive (more on that later!) and a pencil. If you have shoes with a very rounded sole you may need Speedplay 4-F and 4-R shims.

Step one

The principal of specificity. Similar to when you train, when you set up your bike you should ensure you as a person are ready to ride. By this I mean if you are checking your shoes: wear the socks you would ride in. If you are checking your saddle height, make sure you wear the shorts, socks and shoes you would ride in. If you never ride your bike wearing jeans, there is not much point setting your saddle position while wearing them.

Insert your left foot into your shoe. Ensure and secure your foot the same way you would if you were going for a ride.


Insert your foot and ensure it is comfortably placed in your shoe


Ensure your shoe is properly, and firmly secured


Step Two - metatarsal

We need to start by finding your metatarsal bone. This is the best point to start at as it allows you position your cleat in a neutral position. The metatarsal bone can be found on the inside of your foot as the bone just below your toes which (in most cases) sticks out the most.


Once you find the metatarsal button (see above) make a light mark with a pencil


Find this pointy bump on the inside of your foot by feeling along the inside of your foot. It will be obvious as the point which typically sticks out the furthers just below your big toe joint. Once you find it mark the slot lightly with pencil so you can remove the mark later.


Now that you have found and market your position, perform the actions for both shoes. Ensure you double check your mark, and it is very likely the two shoes will be different, everyones feet are slightly different sizes! You can now remove your marked shoes and get ready to mount your cleats.


Step 3 - Prepare the base plate mounting hardware

I have been a Speedplay user for almost 10 years now and I have found their products to be quite durable and lightweight. One item I have found however, is that no matter how I mount the cleats to the base plates, I always lose the top screws. Here are some tips I have found very effective to maintain your cleats and shoes.


Very lightly grease the bolts before you mount your base plates. Note: do not grease the top screws - only the bolts to the mounting plates. This will ensure they don't corrode and bind to your shoes and it will make re-installation easy.


Grease the base plate mounting bolts very lightly to prevent the bolts rusting to your shoes if you ride in a corrosive environment


Take the Speedplay base plate and find the centering line. The centering line shows you where the centre axle of the pedal will fall in relation to your set up.


The Speedplay centering line runs across the baseplate, in between the upper bolt recess and the 2 lowever bolt recesses (see pink lines)


This line needs to line up with the mark you made showing where your metatarsal bone. One easy, but quite rudimentary way of lining these up is by simply using your pencil and running it evenly along the middle line above:


Align the pencil along, and completely paralell to the centreing line then line it up with the metatarsal mark you made on your shoe


Once you have the base plate lined up with your metatarsal you are ready to fix it to the bottom of your shoe with the mounting hardware you have greased. Make sure you don't move the base plate now - maybe have a friend hold it in place for you while you grab a screw driver and mounting bolt? Please note you may need to use alternative snap shims to ensure the cleat follows the base of your shoe closely.


Next, select the black (shorter) cleat mounting screws or the longer (silver) mounting screws depending on your shoe brand (see instructions) DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THESE SCREWS. Speedplay recommends 35 inch pounds so you may need to use a torque wrench.


Black screws on the left and longer, silver screws on the right. The left mounting plate has shims attached for your reference


Repeat this process for both shoes.


Next you will need to find the 'Left spring housing'. This is the yellow part that holds the springs and cleats of the shoe. TIP: I add a tiny dab of contact adhesive to each cleat fastening screw. The adhesive dries into a rubbery compound which neatly holds the screws in place and does not bind. I use Pattex Classic which is temperature resistant and high strength. The result are cleat mounting screws that don't fall out, and are still very easy to remove!


A tiny amount adhesive ensures you won't need to catch a cab home - use very sparingly


Do this for each of the 4 x 11mm cleat fastening screws and fully tighten to 20 inch pounds (no more!) to complete the cleat assembly. Complete this process for both of your shoes for a total of 8 cleat fastening screws.


Ensure you insert and tighter all 4 cleat fastening screws to 20 inch pounds to ensure safe entry and release


You have now completed all steps to ensuring your cleats are properly set up - now go for a ride and see how it feels! What we have outlined above is a starting point - it will not be perfect for all riders but it will suit and assist the majority of riders. In the next few months we will fine tune your position including assisting with your cleat fore/aft position depending on the nature of your riding.


All finished! Now go for a ride, and see how it feels!


Tune in next week when we show you have to properly alight your feet and knees for full efficiency riding. In the following weeks we will also take you through all the steps necessary to properly fit your whole bike!


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