Introduction: Adjusting Bicycle Cleats, One Small Trick For

Picture of Adjusting Bicycle Cleats, One Small Trick For

Hi again fellow instructablenauts,

As you may have guessed from the title, this instructable will not cover the entire process of adjusting the cleats under your bicycle shoes. It merely offers a description of a small trick I used recently to get around the lack of useful scales on the shoes and the cleats.

On the first picture above, you can see what the problem is. In order to maximise pedalling efficiency and minimise the risk for knee problems, the cleats have to be adjusted carefully. For this process to run smoothly, most halfway serious bicycle shoes have some sort of scale underneath. My shoes seem to be at the lower end of that category, only sporting a molded scale, black against black, which disappears completely under the cleat on the sides.

So, only able to judge the longitudinal position with a lot of squinting, and facing the fun of having to guesstimate lateral position and angle of rotation, I figured out a way to visualise changes in the set-up.

The second picture shows what you need. The folding rule can be replaced by some other flat object with parallel sides and suitable width. The supermarket trolley release gizmo, can be replaced by, say, a coin. (Ask grandpa. He was born before cash became obsolete, when coins were still coined.)

Step 1: Mark Longitudinal Position and Angle

Picture of Mark Longitudinal Position and Angle

I cannot really take credit for this trick. I was heavily inspired by "The Gougeon Brothers on Boat Construction" (5th edition, chapter 26: "Interior Construction", page 323).

As you can see, I have placed the tape a short distance away from the cleat, so that the cleat, if need be, can be moved in that direction without upsetting the tape.

The parallel flat object is held against the back of the cleat, and a reference line can be drawn. This line only records the longitudinal position and the angle of the cleat, not the transversal position.

Step 2: Marking the Transversal Position

Picture of Marking the Transversal Position

A coin or a supermarket trolley release gizmo can then be pushed into the corners in the base of the cleat, and we can mark the exact transversal position of the cleat.

You could argue that these marks also document the longitudinal position and the angle, but it is quite hard to judge those quantities, based on the position of two arcs. The straight line is much better suited for that. (The mathematicians out there will just have to swallow their pride this time.)

Step 3: Visualising the Difference

Picture of Visualising the Difference

After the reference marks (here red) have been made, the cleat can be released and adjusted. After tightening the screws again, new marks in a different colour can be added. The displacement and rotation of the cleat are neatly visualised by the two sets of lines.

If the new position still does not feel right, the difference between the two first set of lines and arcs serves as a guide to how large, and in what direction, the next adjusment should be.

Do not forget to take away the tape when you are done. Tape weighs.


seamster (author)2014-09-15

Nice trick! Thanks for sharing this. (Great, clear photos too, btw.)

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