To float or not to float, that is the cleat question!

cojones Posts: 131
edited July 2011 in Road beginners

I understand the difference between yellow and red SPD-SL cleats (float and no float respectively), but what are the advantages of each. Why would you choose one over the other?



  • danowat
    danowat Posts: 2,877
    Lack of float can lead to knee problems.
  • anto164
    anto164 Posts: 3,500
    Red have no float therefore will feel more secure, but it's much harder to set up the cleats.

    I'd stay with the yellow cleats. Easier to set up, and are going to be kinder to the knees.
  • LazyLoki
    LazyLoki Posts: 127
    The red ones are totally fixed so provide better power transfer to the cranks but unless you have someone to set your shoes/pedals up for you or you really know what you're doing then I'd probably just stick with the floating cleats
  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    If you look at video footage of someone pedalling using cleats with float you will notice that a lot of folks slightly rotate their knees on the up/down motion. If the float is fixed then the same people will have their knees absorbing this natural tendancy, leading to some issues.

    Personally, I find too much float causes knee problems (because the knee is allowed to rotate too much) and no float causes issues (because the knee cannot rotate at all). Hence, for me the 5% that SPDs like M540/M520 offer is a good compromise.
  • cojones
    cojones Posts: 131
    Thanks for the replies. Now, to add to the discussion...I have a spinal cord injury meaning I have little to no feeling in my legs and have no nerve supply to my calf muscles. This means that 1. I need cleats to stop my feet slipping off the pedals and 2. my heels always point toward the floor all the way round the crank revolution (as I cannot push down with my toes/front of my foot).

    I thought red cleats would give me more power transfer, with potential knee problems aside, what other potential disadvantages and advantages would they give me?

    Any thoughts? I'm not anticipating that there are numerous consultant neurosurgeons and osteopaths out there so I'm not after anything medically profound!


  • danowat
    danowat Posts: 2,877
    I would say that in that case, cleat positioning/bike fit would be vital, rather than the amount of float, the amount of extra power transfer from fixed cleats to floating cleats would be (IMO) negligable.

    Might be wise to seek out the advice of a bike fit specialist, or someone with a bit more knowledge of fitting to someone with your issues.
  • bill57
    bill57 Posts: 454
    I have always used Look Delta (pre-Keo) black cleats (no float) with no problems whatever. Maybe I'm just lucky. I always wear the same pair of shoes, I have a friend with six or seven pairs which he swaps around - how can you guarantee consistent positioning? (He does use floating cleats though.)

    I agree with Danowat, in your situation I would consider professional advice/fitting. for both the maximum efficiency in your cycling and to minimize any risk of aggravation to your injury.
  • oldwelshman
    oldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    Interesting, both my kness are fooked and I find it better to use no float cleats and suffer less.
    Guess its a personal thingbut I did try float cleats and found it to easy to rotate and this is actually worse for medial cartlidge problems imo.
  • crankycrank
    crankycrank Posts: 1,830
    IMO cojones should see a medical sports specialist as you could possibly do some permanent damage to yourself. If you don't have feeling in parts of your legs you may not be aware of damage being done by not enough or too much float. Another option is to use standard, non-clipess pedals and notice if your feet need to rotate through the pedal stroke to determine what would work in a clipless. Also don't be afraid to try something unusual such as riding with the pedal axle under the arch of your foot rather than near the ball of the foot. You'll need to lower the saddle a bit for this. Hope you find a solution.
  • Heavenfire
    Heavenfire Posts: 50
    You can get more float than Shimano's yellow, but I (with squeaky knees) find them fine.