Which Cleats Do I need for Peloton? Look Delta or SPD!

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The begging question is: “Do I need cleats for peloton?”

 Cleats are a means of attaching your shoe to the pedals of a bike. There are many cleat manufacturers, each with different aesthetics. However, they all fall under one of the following 4 general configurations: look-delta, SPD, SPD SL and Speedplay. ( Speedplay is rare). This topic spurs confusion among most people. Let’s clear everything.

Peloton is arguably the best spin bike on the market. While the Peloton experience is largely based on tech, it’s hardware is just as impressive. In this article, we’ll discuss one of the most important parts of a spin bike, the pedals. More specifically, cleats.

Which cleats Do I need for peloton? Look delta or SPD!

  • What are the differences between them? 
  • What are the benefits of using cleats in general?
  • What are the different types of Pedals for spinner bikes?
  • How do you switch pedals on Peloton?
  • Who should use which type of cleat?
  • What are the advantages of each type of cleat?
  • What are the disadvantages of each type of cleat?
  • Do SPD cleats work on Peloton?
  • Can I put LOOK Delta cleats on Shimano shoes?
  • Can you use Shimano cleats on LOOK pedals?
  • Are there look delta cleats for Peloton?
  • Are there Shimano spd cleats for Peloton?
  • What is a cleat adapter?

We will carefully answer these questions in the subsequent sections of this document. Welcome!

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Contents

Do I need Cleats for Peloton? Look Delta or SPD!

From the factory, The Peloton bike uses Look delta cleats. These are the best for spin bikes. You can also use other types of cleats like the SPD, SPD SL and Speedplay by swapping the Look pedal with the pedal of your choosing.

Benefits of using cleats when biking

  • Cleats create a secure connection between your feet and the bike making it easier to pedal.
  • They promote stability by ensuring your feet do not shift from the original position. In many ways, the position of your feet affects the weight distribution, thus stability on a bike. 
  • You can perform more stunts like bunny hopping.( who wouldn’t want to) 
  • They improve contact with the terrain thus affording you more control over the bike.
  • You can accelerate faster as you can now pull on the upstroke as the other foot pushes on the downstroke. This would be impossible on a flat pedal.

Before discussing cleats, it’s important to understand pedals first. They dictate the type of cleat you can use on your bike.

PEDALS

Types of bike pedals

There are two major types of pedals in general:

1. Clip-in(clipless) Pedals

Candy Clip-In Bike Pedals - Mountain Bike Bicycle Pedals, Premium Bearings, 4-Sided Entry, Customizable Float and Release, Integrated Traction Pad

These are pedals that have a slot for accommodating cleats. A cleat is a piece of metal or plastic that is attached on the sole of a biking shoe using a bolt mechanism. Clipless pedals are mostly used for both road and track biking. This is because they have a high power transfer ratio.

By fixing a rider’s foot in position on the pedal, energy is expended during both upstroke and downstroke cycles. This means more momentum and riding efficiency. 

So why are they called clipless when in fact you clip into them? Well, until the early 80s, bikes only had toe clips and straps as a means of securing a rider’s shoe.

In 1984, LOOK, the ski bindings company, introduced cleats for riders. This technology was borrowed from ski-boarding. Cleats became a revolutionary piece of athletic equipment in both form and utility, With time, cleats dominated over toe clips. Hence the name clipless.

Based on the type of cleat it accommodates, there are two types of clipless pedals:

  • 2-bolt clipless pedals

These are pedals meant for housing cleats that use 2 bolts to attach to a shoe. They are usually smaller and lighter. Although they are mainly used in road biking, 2-bolt pedals can also be found in indoor spin bikes like…Below is an image of a 2-bolt clipless pedal:

  • 3-bolt clipless pedals

These are pedals meant for accommodating cleats that use 3 bolts to attach to a riders’ shoe. They are larger and heavier. They are the most common type of pedal in spin bikes like Peloton. Below is an image of a 2-bolt clipless pedal:

2. Flat Pedals

RaceFace Chester Pedal Black, One Size

These are pedals that do not require cleats to attach to a rider’s shoe. These are the most common type of pedals in the majority of ordinary bikes. Flat pedals are easy to use. Just step on and go. They are used for freeriding, dirt jumping, and BMX.

CLEATS

As already pointed out, cleats are a metal/plastic pedal accessories that help to lock a rider’s foot on the pedal. The following are some important terms used in discussing cleats:

Notable terms on cleats

Your experience riding with cleats is determined by the following factors:

1. Float

This is the measure of how much allowance your foot has to from move side-to-side when hooked on a cleat.  It’s the principal determining factor for knee comfort while riding. 

A good cleat should allow your knees to adjust as you pedal. This goes a long way in averting instances of a knee injury and quad twisting. 

Float is normally given in degrees of freedom. This is the angle within which your feet can move sideways from the center/mean position. Most manufacturers color-code their cleats based on the level of float allowed. 

2. Plantarflexion

This is the process of pushing down on the pedal with the forefoot during a downstroke with cleats on. By so doing, riders can make a rounder pedaling action. This in turn produces greater power for the better part of the pedaling cycle.

3. Heel drop

This is the tendency of the heels to drop below the normal, mean position of the foot during a downstroke. This is usually the exact opposite of what is expected. Ideally, your heels should remain relatively flat to activate the calf muscles. This would produce more riding power. 

However, this is rarely the case and for any of the following reasons:

  • Some people may find pedaling easier with the heel drop. The resistance on the pedals decreases when the rear angle of the foot is dropped.
  • Failure to generate enough downwards force for foot plantarflexion to occur.
  • When the saddle sits too low, the rider may be forced to drop their heel in an attempt to find the proper leg extension. 

4. Neutral position

This is the position of your foot on the pedal that feels the most natural. It’s the perfect spot for great power efficiency with minimal risk of a knee injury. This serves as the first demarcation of the position of a cleat as previously discussed. 

This may mean your feet are perfectly pointing forwards or on either side. For people recovering from injury, the neutral position may not be similar for both feet. You may need a couple rides to effectively dial into the right neutral position. 

5. Release tension

This is the measure of how easy a cleat would come off when a rider flexes their foot. Most pedals include a dedicated screw( or an Allen key bolt)  to adjust this factor. Beginners should start with the lowest tension setting then adjust upwards with experience. 

3 Common Types of Cleats used on Spin bikes

1. Look delta cleats

BV Bike Cleats Compatible with Look Delta (9 Degree Float) - Indoor Cycling & Road Bike Bicycle Cleat Set

These are cleats that use 3 bolts to attach to a shoe. They are made of plastic and have a wide foot base. Look pedals can only accommodate cleats on one side-so you need to master the art of precisely rotating your pedals before taking off.

Meant for: road cyclists, indoor spin bikes

No meant for: mountain bikers 

Types of Look delta cleats

1. Black Look delta cleats

CyclingDeal Bike Cleats Compatible with Look Delta - Indoor Cycling & Road Bike Bicycle Cleat Set - Fully Identical or Compatible with Peloton Spin Bikes Pedals and Shoes (0 Degree Float) Fixed

These have 0 degrees of float. Your feet are fixed in position. Black look cleats are meant for experienced athletes who already know their best neutral position. They are not meant for people who are susceptible to any kind of leg injury. 

2. Grey Look delta cleats

Gio Bike Cleats Compatible with Look Keo Gray 4.5 Degree Float

These have 4.5 degrees of float. They allow for a slight 2.25-degree movement on either side of the pedal. You get decent power efficiency and riding comfort. They are meant for intermediate athletes who want a taste of speed and comfort. They are not meant for pro athletes due to their slightly lower power transfer.

3. Red Look delta cleats

Look Delta System Red Cleats 9 Degree Float

 These have 9 degrees of float. You can move your feet 4.5 degrees on either side of the pedal. Red look delta cleats prioritize knee comfort over cycling efficiency.  They are meant for beginner riders who are just getting started with cleats. They are not meant for pro athletes.

Advantages of look delta cleats

  • They are lightweight 
  • Easy to put on and off 
  • Common in most spin bikes 
  • Have a high power efficiency 
  • They offer a wider riding base 

Disadvantages of look delta cleats

  • They are difficult to walk on

Do look delta cleats work on Peloton?

Yes. The Peloton bike comes with a look delta-compatible pedal.

2. Shimano SPD cleats

SHIMANO SH51 SPD Cleat Set

These are small metal cleats with two points of attachment to the shoe. They were first introduced by Look, the french athletics company, in 1990. They fit snuggly into a recess made in SPD-compatible shoes. 

This makes them much easier to walk with. That’s why it has become a standard for mountain bikers who tend to stop more frequently. Due to their size, it may be a little hard to clip the on/off.

Overall, they are robust and long-lasting. They are also easy and inexpensive to replace. 

Meant for: mountain biking 

Not meant for: indoor cycling, road use

Advantages of SPD cleats

  • Durable 
  • Lightweight
  • Cheap to replace 
  • Easy to walk with 

They are double-sided- they can slot into either side of the pedal

Shed off mud easily. Thanks to their open design that leaves a gap to accommodate mud and dirt. This makes them excellent for off-road use. 

Disadvantages of SPD cleats

  • They are difficult to put on and off. 
  • They have a relatively narrower cycling base.

Do Shimano SPD cleats work on Peloton?

No. The Peloton bike features a Look delta-compatible pedal. To use an SPD cleat, you need to switch from the stock Peloton pedals to SPD-compatible pedals.

Shimano SPD SL Cleats

SHIMANO SM-SH12 SPD-SL Cleats

Shimano pedaling dynamics Super-light (SPD SL) cleats are a close doppelganger to the Look Delta cleats. They have three bolt holes in common. Note that, while they may appear the same, look delta and SPD SL cleats are not cross-compatible. 

SPD SL cleats are larger than their SPD counterparts. This makes them much easier to clip in and out. They are larger, protruding, and made of plastic. Unless it’s a quick mid-coffee ride, it’s a terrible idea to walk in them.

Meant for: road cycling 

Not meant for: mountain biking, long-distance riding

Types of SPD SL Cleats

1. Red SPD SL Cleats

 

SHIMANO SPD-SL Cleat Set One Color, SM-SH10/Fixed

These have 0 degrees of float. Meaning that your feet will be completely locked in place. They are meant for pro athletes and sprinters. To use the red SPD SL cleats, you must know your neutral position. 

Red cleats bias maximum power transfer over knee comfort and injury. 

2. Blue SPD SL Cleats

SHIMANO Road Cleats SPD-sl Sh-12 Float Bike Bicycle Parts Cycle Accessory

These have 2 degrees of float. Meaning you can move your feet 1 degree on either side. Blue SPD SL cleats are the mid-ground between red and yellow SPD SL cleats. They allow for a small degree of movement while still maximizing pedal efficiency.

3. Yellow SPD SL Cleats

SHIMANO Cleats SPD-SL SM-SH10/SM-SH12 (Design: SM-SH11)

These have 6 degrees of float. Meaning you can move your feet 3 degrees on either side. Yellow SPD SL cleats bias knee comfort over pedaling efficiency. 

Advantages of SPD SL cleats

  • Comfortable to the quad muscles and knees 
  • They offer a stable platform 
  • Efficient power transfer 
  • Easy to clip on and off 
  • Super lightweight 

Disadvantages of SPD SL cleats

Difficult to walk in for any considerable distance. Their size is to blame for this. SPD-SL compatible shoes do not have a recess, like the one in SPD-compatible shoes, making SPD-SL conspicuous. 

  • Wear off quickly as they are mostly made of plastic 
  • They are single-sided- they can only slot into one specific side of the pedal.

Do Shimano SPD SL cleats work on Peloton?

No. The Peloton bike is stock fitted with Look pedals. These are only compatible with look-delta cleats. That said, Peloton, like any other spin bike, allows you to customize pedals. 

Therefore, to use SPD SL-compatible shoes, simply swap the original Peloton pedal with an SPD SL pedal. 

How to Install Cleats on your Shoe Step by Step

Step 1: put on your typical sports socks then wear a cycling shoe. 

Step 2: locate the ball of your foot-A bony knuckle that protrudes from the side of your toe.

Step 3: using a clear marker, draw a line on the center of the ball straight down towards the sole.

Step 4: Remove your now partially marked shoes and extend the line until its visible on the bottom of the sole (with the shoe turned over) -for this, use a straight edge against the mark.

Step 5: Fit cleat, loosely.

Step 6: identify a mark of the position of the center axle on the cleat. This mark is provided in most cleats sold today. It may come in the form of a notch or line. Align this mark with the one on your shoes.

Step 7: move the cleats side-to-side to influence how close your foot stands near the centerline. For instance, to ride with your knees closer together, position the cleat outwards and backward. On the contrary, position the cleats inwards and forward to ride with your knees apart. 

Step 8: once you have found the right position, fasten the bolts to a tight fit. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs )

#What is a Cleat adapter?

This is an accessory that allows cross-compatibility between differently-styled cycling shoes and cleats. For instance, this Wellgo Cycling Shimano SPD Shoes Adapter Cleats allows you to use SPD pedals with any type of cycling shoes. 

#How do you switch pedals on Peloton?

The Peloton bike uses the standard 9/16” pedal coupling thread. As such, most pedals( look, SPD, SPD SL, and Speedplay) can be fitted on the peloton bike. Have a look at the step-by-step video guide on how to install new pedals on the Peloton bike above.

#Can you use Look delta cleats on Shimano shoes?

No. Shimano shoes are only compatible with SPD/ SPD SL cleats.

#Can you use Shimano Cleats on Look pedals?

No. Shimano cleats are not compatible with look pedals. 

#Which cleats Do I need for peloton? Look delta or SPD!

This boils down to a question of personal preference. However, look delta cleats have better adjustability, comfort, riding efficiency, and ease of putting them on and off. 

SPD cleats can be ideal if you wish to use the same shoe on both your mountain bike and Peloton. 

Bottom Line

While the Peloton bike rocks a look delta pedal, any other type of pedal can be installed as a replacement. SPD and SPD SL are great pedals in their own rights. However, whenever convenient, look delta cleats are the best for spin bikes. 

They combine the best of knee comfort and cycling efficiency into a form factor large enough to provide a stable and wide pedalling platform!

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