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Clip-less pedals -- 6 degree or zero float

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Clip-less pedals -- 6 degree or zero float

Old 07-22-19, 02:36 PM
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Raptor1956
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Clip-less pedals -- 6 degree or zero float

What are the relative advantages of using cleats with 6 degrees of float versus 0 degrees of float? Presumably if you mount the cleats to your shoes properly they will be where you want them so in what situations are 6 degree float cleats better? What about clipping in and out -- is one easier/faster that the other and why?

I'm getting back into cycling after more than 4 years do to a bad crash and boy am I out of shape. Additionally, the Shimano SPD-SL Ultegra PD-6620 pedals have some fairly worn 6 degree cleats on my shoes and I'm still struggling a bit clipping in with my left shoe. I'm not sure if wear is the issue or if the injury 4 years ago is playing with my head but it can sometimes take me 10 seconds or more to clip in. I guess the though is that a degree cleat would be more forgiving, but I'm now wondering if 0 degrees might not in fact be easier to clip in and quicker to clip out.

So, what's the word on this...


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Old 07-22-19, 04:51 PM
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If you happily used 6 degree before and your current cleats are worn, I would first try new 6 degree cleats.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:08 PM
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Float or non-float is an issue usually decided by ergonomics. Any good pedal cleat system should not be hard to get in and out of. Float or no changes the required motion a little, but that is quickly learned.

Many (most?) cyclists find fewer injuries and chronic issues using pedals with float but not all. My knees do far better with no-float and cleats where I can crank in toe-in beyond what my feet do naturally. So two of my three pedal/cleat systems are no-float and the third is SPD simply because that make such good cleat/shoe combo for gravel riding. To keep my knees happy, I have a lot of toe-in cranked in and the release set at close to max (and they are my hardest pedals to get in and out of by a lot. Skill isn't required but a lot of force is.)

Now clipless pedals need to be maintained. For most, an occasional oiling goes a long ways. Also cleats wear and need to be replaced.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:20 PM
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Vote Float

With Look no float I find clipping out harder - I always called them track cleats (for track events), assumed use was for very high rpm and 'rip the cranks off' acceleration.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Vote Float

With Look no float I find clipping out harder - I always called them track cleats (for track events), assumed use was for very high rpm and 'rip the cranks off' acceleration.
Or your knees don't like float. I ride the black cleats. Lance Armstrong did too. Shimano finally made a no-float capable pedal so he would use their product.
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Old 07-22-19, 06:04 PM
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Probably up to your knees. I used to ride no float (Looks) but started having knee pain after several years. Moved to float (Speedplays) and no pain since.
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Old 07-22-19, 09:10 PM
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OK, looks like I need to order some new cleats, I'll go with 6 degree for now. I suspect most of my issue is being off the bike for so long and a bit of fear of falling from the previous crash which almost broke my hip. Being in my early 60's makes that kind of fall a crapload riskier...


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Old 07-22-19, 11:31 PM
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Zero float cleats demand perfect alignment to minimize the risk of joint pain. And they have drawbacks. Lance Armstrong accidentally unclipped a couple of times in races with aggressive acceleration out of the saddle. I'd bet most users of zero float cleats were track racers, not road racers.

The 9 degree float of my old school Look Delta orange (red?) cleats took some getting used to. At first it felt like ice skating while bicycling. Now I don't even notice it. While it takes more heel pivot to unclip, the clipping/unclipping action is smooth and positive, with audible and palpable click. The downside is the old Look Delta style cleats wear down from walking, or simply putting a foot down for traffic stops. I need to replace mine after about 18 months -- the left is noticeably more worn than the right since I dab my left foot down for stops.

Apparently Look Delta is the pedal/cleat of choice for Peloton so it's still in demand. If you read enough reviews it appears many Peloton consumers have never ridden road bikes with clipless systems so common complaints describe float or lack of float as a manufacturing defect rather than a choice that needs experience to master. I suspect many of the broken cleats shown on Amazon reviews come from Peloton users who repeatedly yank their shoes out of the pedals without pivoting the foot to unclip.

The Shimano SPD-SL is very similar to the Look cleats, but a little more refined for walking. It has rubbery pads on the wear points to minimize wearing down the business end of the cleats. There's a little less float so I needed to make several small adjustments to minimize knee strain. Clipping and unclipping feels mushy and imprecise compared with Look Delta. That's due in part to the softer, rubbery walking pads. It's a tradeoff. Folks who don't use the older Look Delta cleats probably wouldn't even notice the difference in clipping/unclipping feel, since it's pretty minor.

Look or Shimano, the float sure helps reduce knee pain for me, especially from standing to pedal. As my legs tire I can shift position very slightly to minimize fatigue and pain. Works even better than platforms, since the grippy platforms I use on my hybrid makes it difficult to shift foot angle while standing to pedal. I'd need to sit for a moment to unweight the pedals so I can shift foot position. Less grippy platforms would minimize that problem, but might be too slippery for riding in wet conditions.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:09 AM
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I'd been using the yellow Shimano SPD-SL cleats on my road bike. When I bought an indoor trainer to use with Zwift, I also bought a pair of the blue (less float) cleats, put them on my backup shoes and starting using those on the trainer. I couldn't really tell much difference, which I figured meant I could use the lower float cleats.

Not long after that I bought a new road bike and for the first time ever got a professional fitting, the Retul version. I wore the shoes with the blue cleats. The fitter moved my cleats back all the way in the shoes and told me it was marginal but based on my natural pedaling stroke I was better off with some lateral float. Turns out the blue have heel up/down float but not lateral float. I took his advice - went back to the yellow higher float cleats on the road bike.

But, I stuck with the blue cleats on the indoor trainer, just to see if I could really tell a difference - I can't. But, very rarely do rides longer than 1.5 hours on the indoor trainer, never standing in the pedals much, don't unclip/clip-in often, etc. So, not an apples to apples comparison.

My bottom line is erring on the side of safety to my joints, but that is because I'm a 62 year old touring/recreational/fitness rider and not a racer.
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Old 07-23-19, 04:20 AM
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Interesting. Thank you
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Old 07-23-19, 04:50 AM
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Knee pain. If you use the 0 degree float, have them adjusted correctly and have a straight pedal stroke, then you will be fine. Myself, I find the 6 degree ones to be more forgiving.
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Old 07-23-19, 07:50 AM
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6 degree for me. It's what the 5800 pedals came with, so figured may as well start there and see...and they work well, so why mess with it? Probably better for my knees to have a little give, I'd bet under a slow motion camera my feet pivot slightly throughout my pedal stroke.
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Old 07-23-19, 02:58 PM
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From my experience I think the pedal brand will show the most difference.

Zero float on look keo less feels way stiffer than shimano .

I like zero float because I feel like my foot wiggles too much .
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Old 07-24-19, 10:35 AM
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I ride Look Delta, with red cleats - I buy the aftermarket cleats, not the genuine Look cleats, as I find the Look bimaterial cleats have a tendency to creak.

I had a set of black cleats delivered a year ago, and used them rather than go to the trouble of returning them. As a set of cleats usually lasts me less than 6 weeks I thought I had nothing to lose in trying them.

I found the set up for the black cleats had to be spot on and took a couple of test rides to get right. Even a slight misalignment felt wrong, and one cleat needed readjustment after a few weeks, probably because I always unclip and put a foot down on the same side.

With no play my feet felt more secure; possibly this meant a better power transfer but I couldn't really discern a difference. There was no obvious difference in unclipping, or clipping in either.

Price wise and in terms of how long the cleats lasted there's no difference again.

To sum up, for a normal cyclist who wants convenience cleats with float are a far better option. 0 cleats might give a small gain, but at the expense of more time setting up.
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Old 07-24-19, 10:57 AM
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On my road bike, I've run Look Keo cleats with 9* of float. These have been fine but am thinking of transitioning to their 4.5* grey cleat. On my spin class shoes, I run 4* Shimano SPD float and this works very well. I doubt that I would ever run 0* float on a road bike... my knees would be compromised. YMMV.
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Old 07-25-19, 08:57 AM
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I run Look 4.5*, 0 degree isn't good on my knees.
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Old 07-25-19, 09:13 AM
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Blue SPD-SL on the road bike. +/- 1 degree of float. Interesting review when they came out. It discusses red, yellow and blue.

https://biketestreviews.com/shimano-...-spd-sl-cleat/
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Old 07-25-19, 10:06 AM
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Crank Bros. have switchable 3*/6* cleats that I am looking into for my Eggbeaters. Have 6* currently and finding the clip out is a bit of a reach. No problems clipping in.
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