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SPD or SPD-SL

RollettRollett Posts: 37
edited July 2016 in Road beginners
So I am ready to go clipless, I have my new Spesh Roubaix SL4 105 Group (2015) and have decided its time to ditch the Shimano Saints MX80 flats I pulled from my last bike. But for the life of me I can't decide on SPD or SPD-SL, I do have a pair of shoes I bought on sale but can still be returned Pearl Izumi RD Elite III (SPD-SL). My main focus is that I would like to do distance riding mostly, but you know once in a while you may want to walk around and take in the sights. I am concerned that if I go SL I will be severely limited, but what about the claim of SL being so much better for distance road biking? I live in Oregon so the weather is always hit and miss but man there are some beautiful road bike paths including the Old Mckenzie Highway, which is only open to cyclist for a portion of the year. If I do decide to go SPD are there a good road style cycling shoes? Further more if I do enter any events it would purely be sportive I am not interested in competition.

Sorry for WoT but looking for any opinions, ready to take the plunge but just not sure where to start.
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  • vpnikolovvpnikolov Posts: 568
    If you are going for long rides, definitely SL.

    For walking you can buy cleat covers:
    Shimano SPD-SL Cleat Covers

    Good luck!
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    I have used SPDs on my road bikes for about 5 years now. Never felt the need to go to SPD-SLs as they are one-sided and more tricky for beginners to get used to. No difference in speed, so can't see anything to be gained from moving to SPD-SLs. Plenty of previous threads on this subject.
  • RollettRollett Posts: 37
    Trust me I have been reading so much previous threads.. so much so that my browser thinks that's all I look at LOL, past 2 weeks have been just constant reading and I am still semi lost. For 32 years of my life I have used platforms with no sort of clip in, so also a little bit nervous about being connected to my bike. On the same note I don't want to own a half dozen different shoes/clipless pedals.
  • lancewlancew Posts: 680
    I have both but with a commute I've stuck with SPD's and the Shimano RT82 touring shoes. Amazing combo, the shoes are stiff enough that I don't miss the bigger platform when I do longer rides and the ability to unclip quickly has saved me on occasion. I am also happy to walk around in them without melting the SL clips as I did once.

    I will be putting on the bigger platforms for some 80 mile and 150 mile rides but anything under that I don't bother.
    Specialized Allez Sport 2013
  • RollettRollett Posts: 37
    @Lancew Yes I was reading and aware of the "Melting" cleats with the SL which is something else I was slightly concerned about due to the tarmac roads here being like sand paper at times, also the requirement when i do my morning rides I need to go thought 5 stops signs before I am on bike paths, all with that fantastic cleat eating pavement.
  • lancewlancew Posts: 680
    If you're worried about stopping lots then I can't recommend that Shimano M520 and RT82 combo enough. I've used the pedals on the MTB and the road bike with a variety of shoes and I'm very impressed. You can dial down the tension in the clips so they're nice and easy as you get used to them and at the stop lights get in so quickly you drop the roadie pedal users (a plus in a London commute). There are rubber guards over the sides of the cleats which mean you can walk around freely at cafe stops etc too.
    Specialized Allez Sport 2013
  • RollettRollett Posts: 37
    Those shoes look really solid, thanks for the information.
  • crankycrankcrankycrank Posts: 1,830
    Rollett wrote:
    My main focus is that I would like to do distance riding mostly, but you know once in a while you may want to walk around and take in the sights. I am concerned that if I go SL I will be severely limited, but what about the claim of SL being so much better for distance road biking?

    SL's are not all that much better for distance and plenty of long distance tourers use SPD's so they certainly work. Dedicated road shoes are generally lighter but many mfrs use the same upper and main sole for both of their road and MTB versions just adding a tread and different mounting holes for the MTB. Road shoes are generally poor for walking any further than a snack or nature break. Well, you can walk in them but it's awkward and wears out your cleats.
  • PituophisPituophis Posts: 1,025
    Shoes and cleats are a very emotive subject amongst road cyclists, and there are strong opinions in both camps.

    I have spd's on both road bikes, and a decent pair of Shimano touring shoes (which look just like "normal" road shoes to the untrained eye. Nothing like those pesky mtb shoes! Sssshhhhhh! :D ) and honestly, they are no different, or inferior to any other types of pedals, in any way. The pedals and cleats last for years with pretty much, no maintenance.
    Having said that, I've yet to do much more than 100 miles on them, so you never know, they may suddenly stop working after that! :shock:
    I've tried other types and makes of pedals, and spd's just work best for me personally. Other opinions are definitely available. :D
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,645
    Another endorsement of the Shimano RT82 touring shoes here. They're what I use with XT SPDS on my winter bike. Excellent combo.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    If it's your first clipless pedals then 100% you should go with SPD. The fact that they are double sided, and easy to clip into *and* you can walk around in them, makes them ideal. If you want to go SPD-SL later on then you can as £17 for a set of M520 pedals and cleats isn't going to break the bank. then you can figure out exactly what sort of riding your doing. The SPD system certainly isn't going to hold you back.

    Indeed SPD should be pretty much the default choice for everyone on most types of bike. You'd have to have a very specific reason to want to use anything else. There are of course many reasons to use the likes of SPD-SL but they are specialised use cases, if your in *any* doubt then always go with the SPD option.

    An aside on the walking issue. SPD-SL you can walk in them, but it's an awkward walk which is going to be sufficient to get you to the loo and to get your coffee but you wouldn't want to go far. Whereas I can and often do walk for miles in my SPD shoes.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Pituophis wrote:
    The pedals and cleats last for years with pretty much, no maintenance.

    Yup. it's been said elsewhere on this forum that after the Third World War is over all that will be left on this planet is cockroaches and M520 pedals :).

    I've had the same pedals on my road bike (M980 SPD) since early 2013 and they show no signs of wear at all I expect to get many years out of them yet. The cleats I last changed a year ago but that was only because I went for a bike fit and the ones I had on were dirty :oops:
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    Rollett wrote:
    So I am ready to go clipless, I have my new Spesh Roubaix SL4 105 Group (2015) and have decided its time to ditch the Shimano Saints MX80 flats I pulled from my last bike. But for the life of me I can't decide on SPD or SPD-SL, I do have a pair of shoes I bought on sale but can still be returned Pearl Izumi RD Elite III (SPD-SL). My main focus is that I would like to do distance riding mostly, but you know once in a while you may want to walk around and take in the sights. I am concerned that if I go SL I will be severely limited, but what about the claim of SL being so much better for distance road biking? I live in Oregon so the weather is always hit and miss but man there are some beautiful road bike paths including the Old Mckenzie Highway, which is only open to cyclist for a portion of the year. If I do decide to go SPD are there a good road style cycling shoes? Further more if I do enter any events it would purely be sportive I am not interested in competition.

    Sorry for WoT but looking for any opinions, ready to take the plunge but just not sure where to start.

    The thing that drives the choice for most people is the greater range of nice shoes available for SPD-SL. If you already have shoes as you state, decide whether they are the shoes for you. If you're totally sold on the shoes, then just get the SPD-SLs.

    As for which is better, they both have pros and cons, but it is nearly impossible to make a completely fair comparison because there aren't too many shoes that take both types of cleat and no one will have done a proper blinded test to remove bias. Most people switch if they have ideas about trying to go fast.
  • RollettRollett Posts: 37
    Thanks so much for all the advice, getting some personal opinions helped me decide to switch to SPD. Also have a friend who has a extra set of shimano XTR race spd pedals I can have.. (birthdays are cool and all)
  • 86inch86inch Posts: 161
    If it's your first clipless pedals then 100% you should go with SPD.

    Sorry, but that's utter tosh....! its irrelevant which pedals you use. It took my 10yr old son 15mins to get used to Look Keo's.

    Pedals are pedals are pedals....

    Fair enough, if you want to walk around alot, use SPDs. If you ride more than walk, choose a road pedal and shoe combination like SPD-SL/Look Keo/Speedplay etc.
  • I never got on with SPD pedals; found the insert and release tension too variable. Instead I went for the Time Atac cleat system and pedals on my commuters and Speedolay on my road bike.

    The latter with the Keep on Kovers are an excellent combination.
  • jjshjjsh Posts: 142
    I think I must be a bit weird. I first went clipless on my first road bike ~ I bought 105 spd-sl's and suitable shoes from the bike shop when I brought the bike as they gave me a good discount and spend a fair amount of time getting my position right on the bike, cleat position right, etc, which was invaluable. I had the usual couple of 'forgetting to clip out' moments, but other than that, felt that I picked it up fairly quickly. In fact, I liked being clipped on so much, I then went out and got spds (yep, M520S!) and a pair of shimano MTB shoes for my hardtail. I found them a total pain to clip IN to compared to the spd-sl's, so much so, that after a few months they came off and went in the parts bin. I gave them another go when I built a winter road bike. Eventually, I got used to them, and only converted the winter bike to spd-sl's because I couldn't find any overshoes that would fit over the mtb shoes. I do have to say that I was getting hot spots with the spd's on my winter bike after 50+ miles, that I don't with spd-sl's and my road shoes, but I think that’s the shoes rather than the pedals, as they are fairly basic shimano MTB shoes, and not really being used for what they are designed for. The time with spd's on my winter bike made me love them a bit more, and all of my MTB's are now using them, and the CX / gravel bike I'm building at the moment will have them, but, and this is why I think I must be a bit odd, I still find them harder to clip IN to than spd-sl's, although clipping out is easy, easy, easy, even when you have lost it and are unintentionally flying though the air, sideways and upside down, on a MTB.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    jjsh wrote:
    I think I must be a bit weird. I first went clipless on my first road bike ~ I bought 105 spd-sl's and suitable shoes from the bike shop when I brought the bike as they gave me a good discount and spend a fair amount of time getting my position right on the bike, cleat position right, etc, which was invaluable. I had the usual couple of 'forgetting to clip out' moments, but other than that, felt that I picked it up fairly quickly. In fact, I liked being clipped on so much, I then went out and got spds (yep, M520S!) and a pair of shimano MTB shoes for my hardtail. I found them a total pain to clip IN to compared to the spd-sl's, so much so, that after a few months they came off and went in the parts bin. I gave them another go when I built a winter road bike. Eventually, I got used to them, and only converted the winter bike to spd-sl's because I couldn't find any overshoes that would fit over the mtb shoes. I do have to say that I was getting hot spots with the spd's on my winter bike after 50+ miles, that I don't with spd-sl's and my road shoes, but I think that’s the shoes rather than the pedals, as they are fairly basic shimano MTB shoes, and not really being used for what they are designed for. The time with spd's on my winter bike made me love them a bit more, and all of my MTB's are now using them, and the CX / gravel bike I'm building at the moment will have them, but, and this is why I think I must be a bit odd, I still find them harder to clip IN to than spd-sl's, although clipping out is easy, easy, easy, even when you have lost it and are unintentionally flying though the air, sideways and upside down, on a MTB.

    I don't think either are hard to clip into. It's just a different action. If you're used to the bigger 'clunk' of clipping into an SPD-SL, then the 'click' of SPD will probably seem weird.
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Very strange, I don't think SPD could be any easier to clip into, just stamp your foot on the pedal the same as your pedalling action and you're in. So much so it's often easy to clip in when you're trying to stay unclipped!
  • markhewitt1978markhewitt1978 Posts: 7,614
    Very strange, I don't think SPD could be any easier to clip into, just stamp your foot on the pedal the same as your pedalling action and you're in. So much so it's often easy to clip in when you're trying to stay unclipped!
  • RollettRollett Posts: 37
    Well I kinda got a best of both worlds.. picked up some pearl izumi that was super comfortable on clearance that accept both types of pedals with a small adapter it came with. Figure this will be a good starting point, plus can borrow some spd-sl pedals when I want from a friend.
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,436
    Rollett wrote:
    Well I kinda got a best of both worlds.. picked up some pearl izumi that was super comfortable on clearance that accept both types of pedals with a small adapter it came with. Figure this will be a good starting point, plus can borrow some spd-sl pedals when I want from a friend.

    Good. If you've nailed the shoe side of the equation, then just use whatever pedals you have for now. Keep in mind that if you do swap the pedal type, you might need to tweak you saddle height because the pedals (+ your adapter) will probably give a different stack height.
  • I use both (sort of), I have SPD on my commuting/winter bike, and Look Delta (I know, they're out of date now but they're colour coded to the bike frame :wink: ) on my best bike. Before I had Looks I had SPD-SLs and I didn't notice any difference. I don't find any difficulties clipping in and out of either, but I do feel more connected with the Looks, and I would say that they are more comfortable on longer rides (though that might be down to the quality of the shoe) so things will stay as they are.

    I use the SPDs on my commuting bike because I can wear a touring shoe which I can actually walk round shops in. I use cleat covers on the Look cleats because they are impossible to walk in - much worse than SPD-SLs - but at least then I can walk reasonably securely and quietly.
  • pedarbypedarby Posts: 28
    I use SPD-SL's on my CAA8 commuter. I'm new to road bikes so don't have anything to compare to but I've been really happy with the pedals so far. The 'clicking in' is very positive and the pedals are weighted so that they automatically hang the right way up to click in. Would definitely recommend although will no doubt try standard SPD's at some point!!
  • Just buy Look. Far better, and just don`t get off and walk.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • I really cannot think of any respect in which Looks are better than either SPD-SL or SPD, and I use them.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    Why limit your choice to just Shimano SPD or SPD-SL pedals? There are loads of two and three bolt designs out there from others like Look, Time, Speedplay, etc which are equally worth considering.
  • I really cannot think of any respect in which Looks are better than either SPD-SL or SPD, and I use them.

    Funny but I can, Everything. SPD are fine for commuting and general faffing about plus MTB, but SPD-SL are dreadful

    On the road, look are far better in all ways.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • I really cannot think of any respect in which Looks are better than either SPD-SL or SPD, and I use them.

    Funny but I can, Everything. SPD are fine for commuting and general faffing about plus MTB, but SPD-SL are dreadful

    On the road, look are far better in all ways.

    They're less durable, the bearings aren't amazing, cleat life isn't very good...
  • In my experience, that`s rubbish.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
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