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View Poll Results: 2-Bolt or 3-Bolt Cleats for Non-Competitive Road Use?
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Clipless Pedals: 2-Bolt or 3-Bolt?

Old 11-08-20, 06:56 AM
  #1  
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Clipless Pedals: 2-Bolt or 3-Bolt?

I'm currently building an endurance road bike and am considering clipless pedals. Is there any practical disadvantage to going with a 2-bolt cleat instead of a traditional 3-bolt for road use? I suppose it comes down to stiffness vs. walkability of the shoes. I really like that the 2-bolt cleats give you the ability to walk without difficulty (as the cleat is often recessed into the sole of the shoe), but the 3-bolt will be stiffer and more efficient at power transfer.

I'm not a pro, I'm not a racer, but I ride about 300 miles per week and do 2-3 "paceline" group rides per week. I'd like my set-up to be as efficient as it can be while still being practical. The 2-bolt system seems like it would be just fine, but what say you? Thanks in advance for the feedback!
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Old 11-08-20, 08:36 AM
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People I know all use different brands/items and it all seems to work.
I use the Shimano Road and have for 10 or 12 years. I selected this brand and style by walking into a bike store and going "Duh...I need some pedals."
My stoker uses Shimano mountain pedals and they work for her.
Another stoker uses Shimano Road like me, another used Look Keo.
I've used the Shimano mountain pedals on the gravel bike, and the difference is mainly that I have them mounted on different styles/types of shoes. But seems like the road pedals feel a bit more like what they ought to feel like, but that may be because I'm more used to them.
One confusing thing: People call the mountain pedals "SPD" but on the road pedals it actually says "SPD" right on the box, too.
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Old 11-08-20, 08:48 AM
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You can get stiff mountain style shoes that are essentially the same as a road shoe except for the sole. I think most types of long distance riding feature a lot more walking than shorter rides. Shimano sells road SPD.

A few years ago, we stopped by the local pub for a beer after riding 200k. There was a rider there who was wearing road shoes and was waiting for a ride to the next town over. He had fallen on the way to the bathroom and he was pretty sure he had broken his wrist.
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Old 11-08-20, 11:47 AM
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If you are new to cleated shoes, I think that the two sided SPD pedals may be easier to get used to.

That said, I do a lot of bike touring and I prefer pedals that are platform on one side and SPD on the other. That way I can wear regular shoes on one side of the pedal, SPD cleated shoes on the other side. Shimano makes several pedals that meet that criteria, some are much lighter than others.

I have never fallen over because I forgot to uncleat as I rolled to a stop, but have had some close calls. When I first started to use cleats, I tried to remember to remove one foot from the pedal at least 20 feet before where I stopped, got into a habit of doing that, but some panic stops occasionally occur.

Cleats press against your shoe sole, the sole will slowly deform and the cleat will loosen slightly. Thus, re-tighten up your cleats after a few weeks and then every few months for a few years. I use a blue (removable) threadlocker on my cleat bolts too. Cleat bolts can fall out. If one falls out and the other is loose, you might not be able to quickly uncleat yourself.

I carry a spare cleat bolt and spare rack bolt on most of my bikes in an unused threaded fitting somewhere on the bike. On the right side of the bike in the photo (side closer to camera) there is a spare cleat bolt. (A couple washers are under the bolt because it is a counter sunk bolt and it is held in place better with a couple washers than it would be against a flat surface.)



A friend of mine did a multi-week fully supported tour in Asia where they provide all the lodging, haul your luggage, etc. And he lost a cleat bolt, then lost the cleat, I am not sure how much riding he had to do with only one shoe with a cleat.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:18 PM
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I use 2 bolt (SPD MTB) on all mt bikes. I like them due to the cleat being recessed in the sole. It's not only easier to walk but I think safer as the sole hits the ground instead of the cleat. Also with road shoes at a stop it's easy for your foot to slip if you put the cleat down a a slick spot. That is what mad me start using them on all my bikes. I ride a tandem and with a full touring load and the stoker clipped in it can be hard to hold up if your foot slips. Another thing to think about is if you ride a mountain bike you can use all your shoes on any bike.

If you do go with 2 bolt there is a big difference in shoes.I have a pair of flexible shoes I like if I'm riding to a store or someplace close and plan to walk around. If you try to ride a little farther the cleat will push up into your foot. I never wear them for more than about 25 miles. I also have stiff shoes I use on most rides. I've done cross state rides, 24hr rides, long brevets etc. with them and never thought there was any disadvantage from when I used road shoes.
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Old 11-08-20, 09:29 PM
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I'm a two-bolt spd rider myself... never thought about trying the spd-sl or other "road" cleats. I think with the growth of gravel there are a lot better spd options than even a few years ago. I have some pretty nice bontrager mtb shoes that were pricey but they are just as stiff as high end road shoes that bontrager makes. MTB riders put down big power too and steel cleats last forever compared to the plastic spd-sl ones.
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Old 11-09-20, 02:31 AM
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I've only used Shimano SPD PD-6500 pedals since the 1990s. Works fine - still using the same cleats on Sidi shoes (same shoes).





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Old 11-09-20, 07:56 AM
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Thanks to all for the initial round of feedback! So far it's a clean sweep for the 2-bolt system.

I'm currently looking at the Lake MX241 endurance shoes, which use the 2-bolt system (https://lakecycling.com/products/mx-...nt=44283861705). Quite expensive they are! However, based on all of my research the Lake shoes seem to be worth the investment. As for pedals, I'm leaning towards the Crank Brothers Candy (https://www.crankbrothers.com/collec...nt=53958719559), but the Doubleshot looks interesting (https://www.crankbrothers.com/collec...s/doubleshot-3). The Doubleshot pedals are heavy, but the added flexibility of 1/2 flat, 1/2 clip-in might be worth it.
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Old 11-09-20, 01:20 PM
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I have Lake 238s, very similar to what you're considering. They're nice shoes, but their sizing guidance seems to run big, and their sizes also seem to run big: according to their guidance, I should be a size 43, even though I'm usually a 42. I ordered the 43s and immediately exchanged them for 42s. Even those seem a bit large and I'm wondering if 41 or 41.5 might be better for me. Although they do have lugged soles, they're not very walking-friendly. They have a full-length carbon-fiber sole plate. I've got a pair of Pearl Izumi shoes that are quite a bit more walkable, but the flexibility makes them prone to give me hotfoot after about 40 miles.

I'm also using SPDs. For a very long time, I used Bebops, and wish I could still get them. One of the things I especially liked about them was the float: SPDs have 5 (?) and Bebops had 15. The nearest equivalent is Speedplays (which use 4 bolts), and I'm thinking about sucking it up and trying them.
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Old 11-09-20, 01:25 PM
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Endurance, long distance? SPD.....not for the actual riding, but for the time off the bike...like walking and doing stuff.
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Old 11-09-20, 04:00 PM
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I thought I'd posted this previously, but the rust on the intertubes must have eaten those electrons.

Personally, I'm firmly in the two-bolt MTB camp.

The only reason I can think of for going to a three-bolt system is if you want to train with power meter pedals. As @unterhausen mentioned, good MTB shoes have soles just as stiff and efficient as road shoes.
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Old 11-09-20, 05:12 PM
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For randonneuring most people use 2-bolt shoes and pedals because there's a lot of walking around and power output is steady and low. For normal-distance group road rides with more hard efforts almost everyone uses 3-bolt shoes and pedals. I personally use both A-600's and Look Keos depending on the ride. The new Time Cyclo pedals look like an interesting 2-bolt single-sided road pedal to consider if you want to go 2-bolt all the time. Crank Bros would be near the bottom of my list of 2-bolt road pedals.
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Old 11-09-20, 05:44 PM
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I mentioned in post 4 above that I use SPD pedals.

Most of my bikes have a pedal that is platform on one side, SPD on the other, for that I use Shimano A530 or M324 pedals. It is my understanding that the A530 has been replaced with a different model. My rando bike has A530 pedals.

Sometimes I use a two sided SPD pedal (SPD cleats on both sides). I used to use Shimano M520, but I gave those pedals to my niece, I have some older Ritchey V3 or V4 two sided SPD pedals that I believe are out of production that I occasionally use.

The only cleated pedals I have ever used are SPD.

Shoes, I have several Keen cycle sandles, but I believe that Keen no longer makes them. Also have Pearl Izumi and Serfas SPD shoes.
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Old 11-10-20, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
For randonneuring most people use 2-bolt shoes and pedals because there's a lot of walking around and power output is steady and low. For normal-distance group road rides with more hard efforts almost everyone uses 3-bolt shoes and pedals. I personally use both A-600's and Look Keos depending on the ride. The new Time Cyclo pedals look like an interesting 2-bolt single-sided road pedal to consider if you want to go 2-bolt all the time. Crank Bros would be near the bottom of my list of 2-bolt road pedals.
Those Time Cyclo pedals look like an excellent option! And they're not too expensive. Thanks!
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Old 11-10-20, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Those Time Cyclo pedals look like an excellent option! And they're not too expensive. Thanks!
If you go that route please report back how it works out. The Lake MX241s with Time Cyclos looks like a fantastic long-distance setup on paper.
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Old 11-10-20, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
If you go that route please report back how it works out. The Lake MX241s with Time Cyclos looks like a fantastic long-distance setup on paper.
I just got back from an appointment with my bike fitter (who is also building my new endurance bike). He's a Lake dealer so I asked him about the MX241. He said the MX241 shoes are really for people with wide feet and/or bunions. Since I have neither he said the MX238 would likely be a much better choice. Since he has been such an awesome resource I'm going to take his advice and go with the MX238.

As for pedals, I didn't specifically inquire about Time. However, I did ask what he recommends and he likes the Shimano PD-M8120 pedals for endurance use. I will inquire about the Time pedals when we meet next, but I have a feeling I'll end up with the Shimano pedals. Either way it should be a really nice setup that will support my adventures.

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Old 11-10-20, 03:43 PM
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XT pedals cost $120, are designed for off-road, and weigh nearly a pound. What is it that he likes about them other than he probably has them in stock? I can think of a bunch of 2-bolt pedals I'd buy before those. I'm also skeptical of his claim that the MX241's are for wide feet and bunions. Give Lake a call and see what they say. I've heard they have great customer service.
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Old 11-10-20, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
XT pedals cost $120, are designed for off-road, and weigh nearly a pound. What is it that he likes about them other than he probably has them in stock? I can think of a bunch of 2-bolt pedals I'd buy before those. I'm also skeptical of his claim that the MX241's are for wide feet and bunions. Give Lake a call and see what they say. I've heard they have great customer service.
Per your suggestion I called Lake. Their customer service desk was very easy to reach and their feedback was identical to that of my bike fitter. The MX241 is for people with very wide feet, foot deformations and/or bunions. Lake said if I have none of these issues the MX238 is the way to go.

As for the Shimano PD-M8120 pedals, I definitely see your point. They are 430g per pair vs Time Cyclo 6 @ 268g per pair. The Cyclo 10 pedals would bring that weight down to 256g. Nothing wrong with saving a few grams, and I do intend to ask my bike fitter about the Time Cyclo pedals. However, the weight of the Shimano pedals doesn't concern me (as I'm not racing).

Thanks for the feedback and the push-back. I greatly appreciate the assistance!
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Old 11-10-20, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Cycletography View Post
Per your suggestion I called Lake. Their customer service desk was very easy to reach and their feedback was identical to that of my bike fitter. The MX241 is for people with very wide feet, foot deformations and/or bunions. Lake said if I have none of these issues the MX238 is the way to go...
That's great to know. I've been looking at Lakes for my next pair of 2-bolt shoes. Sounds like the MX238 is the way to go for me too.
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Old 11-10-20, 05:16 PM
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You can get SPDs without the surrounding platform, which is redundant in shoes like those Lakes. The 8100 (and 9100) is still a 2-sided pedal; Shimano also makes a couple of single-sided "roadie SPDs", the ES-600 and A600. I've got the A600 on my stationary bike, and apart from wishing it had more float, it is fine. The pedal has a great reputation. I haven't used the ES-600; it lacks the vestigial rear platform of the A600 (saving a whopping 7 grams); from what I've read that makes it hang differently so it's harder to clip into it.
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Old 11-11-20, 12:24 PM
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The a600 is a great pedal, really easy to clip into. The es-600 looks like it's designed to look like an spd-sl pedal. Wellgo makes some magnesium one-sided spd pedals that are pretty good and light.
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Old 11-11-20, 07:16 PM
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I have the ES-600 and never had a problem clipping in. YMMV!
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Old 11-12-20, 11:45 AM
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I have been riding with 2 sided pedals long enough that when someone gave me some of the one sided spd pedals I really don't like them much. With a high performance shoe, a platform offers no extra support.
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Old 12-15-20, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you are new to cleated shoes, I think that the two sided SPD pedals may be easier to get used to.

That said, I do a lot of bike touring and I prefer pedals that are platform on one side and SPD on the other. That way I can wear regular shoes on one side of the pedal, SPD cleated shoes on the other side. Shimano makes several pedals that meet that criteria, some are much lighter than others.

I have never fallen over because I forgot to uncleat as I rolled to a stop, but have had some close calls. When I first started to use cleats, I tried to remember to remove one foot from the pedal at least 20 feet before where I stopped, got into a habit of doing that, but some panic stops occasionally occur.

Cleats press against your shoe sole, the sole will slowly deform and the cleat will loosen slightly. Thus, re-tighten up your cleats after a few weeks and then every few months for a few years. I use a blue (removable) threadlocker on my cleat bolts too. Cleat bolts can fall out. If one falls out and the other is loose, you might not be able to quickly uncleat yourself.

I carry a spare cleat bolt and spare rack bolt on most of my bikes in an unused threaded fitting somewhere on the bike. On the right side of the bike in the photo (side closer to camera) there is a spare cleat bolt. (A couple washers are under the bolt because it is a counter sunk bolt and it is held in place better with a couple washers than it would be against a flat surface.)



A friend of mine did a multi-week fully supported tour in Asia where they provide all the lodging, haul your luggage, etc. And he lost a cleat bolt, then lost the cleat, I am not sure how much riding he had to do with only one shoe with a cleat.
Quite a few years ago, on a ride, one of my road cleat bolts loosened. Luckily, I discovered it before I lost the bolt and tightened it. After that, I always loctite my cleat bolts on road and mtn shoes. In fact, I loctite quite a few bolts on my bikes.
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Old 12-15-20, 07:22 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by yannisg View Post
...In fact, I loctite quite a few bolts on my bikes.
I use loctite (or a competitor product) on all rack bolts, fender bolts, cleat bolts, kickstand bolts. On my Rohloff bike, loctite the oil drain screw too, but that is more out of concern for dissimilar metal corrosion.

And use grease on bolts for water bottle cages, seatposts, stems, just about everything else that is threaded.

A friend of mine did a fully supported trip in Asia, this was pre-covid. I think he used his own bike, but otherwise all lodging and food was provided. Somehow he lost a SPD cleat, although he told me that he used loctite on the bolts.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 12-16-20 at 05:35 AM.
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