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Clipless pedals - what does 'float' do?

DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
edited September 2009 in Commuting chat
I have Shimano SPD-sl pedals. They come with two types of cleats, a red one and a yellow one. I have no clue what either does but I'm told one has 'float' and this is easier on the knees.

Can someone explain the term 'float' what it is, does, it's benefits, who would need it? In both great detail and simplified terms so that I can better understand this please?

Thanks.
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  • Float gives you the ability to turn your foot in the cleat without unclipping. It's measured in degrees from central.

    It can be very handy if you have any kind of knee problem, or if you prefer a slightly toe-out or toe-in foot position.

    I like it, which is why I have speedplays.

    This is the extent of my knowledge about float!

    EDIT: Ooooh wait, there's one other fact - some pedals allow float but are sprung to central - they pull your foot back to the central position. Others have what may or may not be called 'free' float - it's not sprung. Speedplays have the latter.
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  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Float = wiggle room :)
    4537512329_a78cc710e6_o.gif4537512331_ec1ef42fea_o.gif
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    LiT is about right, the float allows sideays rotation of your foot without unclipping.

    I've tried both yellow and red cleats on SPD SL's and would definately stick to the yellows. I barely noticed it until I'd changed, but the extra float in the yellow cleats does make a difference, having your foot fixed in one position with no rotation (red cleats) felt very odd to me. When you think about it the leg has a lot of very complex joints, so allowing for a bit of sideways movement during the pedal rotation makes sense. My LBS told me the red cleats would give me more power when I got them, but in reality they made no discernible difference other than feeling slightly odd and uncomfortable.
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  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    Lit and Rich are talking angular float. Some pedal systems also have lateral float, which allows the cleat to move sideways along the pedal axis: a variable Q-factor, if you will
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  • JonGinge wrote:
    Lit and Rich are talking angular float. Some pedal systems also have lateral float, which allows the cleat to move sideways along the pedal axis: a variable Q-factor, if you will

    Unless you leave the screws loose on your cleats, thats a misuse of the term "float", I'd say.

    (On the part of manufacturers, JG has correctly used the incorrectly used terminology)
  • Its one of the reasons I run with Time ATACs is the float they give, my right knee is a wee bit sensitive (happens to the best of us).

    Interesting to read the above as I was thinking of getting a new set of road specific pedals and shoes for the road bike. This is as much to remove the need to constantly change pedals with my mtb, as well as for something a bit stiffer. Worried though about the float thing. Any recommendations?
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    Its one of the reasons I run with Time ATACs is the float they give, my right knee is a wee bit sensitive (happens to the best of us).

    Interesting to read the above as I was thinking of getting a new set of road specific pedals and shoes for the road bike. This is as much to remove the need to constantly change pedals with my mtb, as well as for something a bit stiffer. Worried though about the float thing. Any recommendations?

    Try the Time road pedals, they have angular and lateral float, which should be extremely kind to your knee :lol: I'll be getting a set when I'm back on the bike
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • Rich158 wrote:
    Try the Time road pedals, they have angular and lateral float, which should be extremely kind to your knee :lol: I'll be getting a set when I'm back on the bike

    Thanks for the advice, will have a peruse. Of course, I have to get some pimpy shiny road shoes as well :-)

    Good to hear you're on the mend Rich
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    Rich158 wrote:
    Try the Time road pedals, they have angular and lateral float, which should be extremely kind to your knee :lol: I'll be getting a set when I'm back on the bike

    Thanks for the advice, will have a peruse. Of course, I have to get some pimpy shiny road shoes as well :-)

    Good to hear you're on the mend Rich

    Cheers dude, looking to get back on the fixie to commute in the next couple of weeks thank god. Not being able to ride is seriously sending me nuts. I still think being on the MTB is at least a month off though :cry:
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
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