Summary of binding pedal cleat types and their respective characteristics

Posted at: May 16, 2022

Cleats are the parts that connect binding pedals to shoes. Cleats are only one part, but each manufacturer has its own characteristics and differences. They are actually important parts that are linked to usability and their merits and demerits.

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Types of Shimano Binding Cleats

Shimano is the standard when it comes to road bike and MTB binding pedals. Shimano has two binding systems, SPD-SL and SPD, each with different compatible cleats.


SPD-SL cleats for road bikes are triangular in shape and bolted to the shoe at three points. The biggest advantage is that the large size of the cleat allows for a wider tread surface and a stronger adherence to the pedal, thus transmitting power more firmly.

Shimano pedals that are compatible with SPD-SL cleats generally have a stronger adherence than other binding pedals, depending on the product, and the clip-in is harder for that reason. Once you get used to them, you should have no problem with them, but at first you may feel fidgety on stop-and-go or impatient when you can’t remove your shoes.

Also, since the SPD-SL’s cleats are made of plastic, there is a risk of slipping on some surfaces when walking. They also wear out relatively quickly, not only when walking, but also when just touching the ground at traffic lights.


SPD cleats are small metal parts that can be integrated into the outsole of the shoe, making it easier to walk. This is an advantage.

Clip-ins are light on clips unless you use a very rigid setting, but because the cleats themselves are small, you may have a little trouble finding the cleat-catching surface on the pedal at first.

Also, due to the narrow sticking surface, they do not transmit power as well as the SPD-SL.

Cleat Standard Features Weight Materials Ease of Catching Ease of Walking
SPD-SL Easy to use power with a wide adhering surface Lightweight Plastic
SPD Easy to walk on due to embedding in the sole Lightweight Metal

When choosing between Shimano from cleats, you should pay attention to the following points.

  1. weak power transmission, but long life and easy walking SPD
  2. strong power transmission but short life SPD-SL

Types of LOOK Binding Cleats

LOOK, the founder of binding pedals, uses plastic cleats called “KEO cleats” in all current models. KEO cleats are similar in shape to Shimano’s SPD-SL cleats, but they are not interchangeable at all.

LOOK’s cleats have been called “slippery and scary to walk on,” but KEO cleats have a “grip cleat” with an additional rubber surface, which improves walking performance.

As for the catch of the cleat, LOOK bindings have a well-balanced finish that is “not too light and not too hard,” and many people say that “even beginners can easily take them on and off.

Cleat Standard Features Weight Materials Ease of Catching Ease of Walking
KEO Grip Cleats Easy to use power with a wide adhering surface Lightweight Plastic & Rubber
KEO Cleats Slippery type without rubber Light Plastic x
Delta cleats Slippery type without rubber Light Plastic x

Types of TIME Binding Cleats

TIME is well known for its lightweight cleat catch and a system that reduces the burden on the knee.

The specially shaped cleats give the rider freedom of foot movement when pedaling, and provide a light and smooth clip-in that is unthinkable with binding pedals from other companies.

On the other hand, TIME’s cleats are made of plastic and have very low durability performance, and their high price has led some to call them “pedals with high operational costs.

Cleat Standard Features Weight Materials Ease of Catching Ease of Walking
iClic clip-in is light and smooth slightly heavy plastic

Types of Wahoo SPEEDPLAY Binding Cleats

SPEEDPLAY cleats used to be available with bare metal plates, but all current models have rubberized cleats.

Originally made of metal, SPEEDPLAY cleats have a long lifespan, but the rubber provides better protection for the metal inside the cleat. On the other hand, the cleats themselves are heavier, which may be a disadvantage.

Cleat Standard Features Weight Materials Ease of Catching Ease of Walking
SPEEDPLAY cleats Easy to walk on Heavy Metal & Rubber x

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