Getting Cleat Position Right
Cleat position is something we have all tinkered with at some point. When I first had clipless pedals, I accidentally bought cleats with no float!! I had anterior knee pain not long after and was changing the position to try and find a comfortable position. I was 18 and had no idea about anything, but over time found a position that worked. Not long after someone told me about cleats with float…made life a lot easier!!
Today we will look at some simple ways of making sure your cleat is in the right position for you.
Finding the Right Cleat Position
So how do you find the right cleat position? There’s a common ‘rule’ that you should have the ball of your foot over the pedal axle. In my opinion, this will lead to your cleat being too far forward and could result in some discomfort.
This depends a bit on how you measure your cleat fore/aft position. If it is done statically or with low/no load your lower limb kinematics will be different to when you are pushing a moderate or high load. Your kinematics also change over the duration of a ride as you fatigue.
What typically happens under heavier loads and with fatigue is that your ankle tends to go through more range and you go into more dorsiflexion (heel down) at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This means that relative to the pedal axle the ball of your foot is further back.
Simply put, starting with your cleat fore/aft position a little further back is a good idea. There’s no downside; it doesn’t affect your power output or the metabolic cost of cycling and it means as you fatigue or do big efforts the axle will be on the
Alignment along the long axis of the foot is made a lot easier by having a suitable amount of float in your cleats. I think I have a pair with 5 degrees and a pair with 10 degrees, but neither give me any issue.
I think if you are doing it yourself it can be tricky, so be patient and expect to get on and off the bike a lot to tweak things.
Essentially you are looking to see how their feet function on the pedals and make sure that the axial position of the cleat isn’t interfering with the pedalling.
It’s important to get the other elements that affect foot function sorted first (seat position, cleat fore/aft, shoe inserts). Then you can make sure that the axial position doesn’t interfere with the pedalling.
What you don’t want is the float to ‘run out’ forcing undesirable movement, because that movement will have a knock-on effect, which will most likely impact the knee.