How To Install SPD Cleats on Bike Shoes?

April 08, 2022 5 min read

Here’s the thing, it is true that SPD cleats are especially popular amongst bike owners – especially bike owners that enjoy touring or who enjoy mountain biking. Why do bikers use SPD’s? Well, the main reason is that the majority of shoes that use SPD cleats are actually made for comfort, and this makes walking around with SPD’s especially easy.

However, you might be wondering how exactly to install your cleats on your bike shoes – and that is why we are here. You will be pleased to know that this is a surprisingly straightforward process – but it is something that you need to execute with accuracy. This is so that the cleats will function properly. 

If you fit the SPD cleats incorrectly, then this can be detrimental to the comfort which these biking shoes will give you. This ultimately defeats the purpose of using SPD cleats. So, read on to find out just how to get that perfect SPD fit. 

How Do You Fit SPD Cleats?

So, this is totally dependent on the kind of bike shoes that you have. For example, if your bike shoes have a two-bolt sole pattern then you will find that these work especially well alongside your SPD cleats. So, installing a cleat on your biking shoe will mean that it can really fit in the soles of the shoes. This will give you the comfort that you require when you hop off your bike and when you need to walk about – very multifunctional!

You might be pleased to learn that the majority of the shoes do have a cover – however you can take them off by unscrewing the screw using a standard screwdriver. When this cover is taken off you can then locate the area where the cleats can be fitted.

Why Do Some Shoes Come With A Cover?

You might be unsure as to why some of these shoes have a cover – this is something that is actually given to you as an option. You will be able to use the shoes without needing to install the SPD cleats. In addition to this, there are also some shoes which are not compatible with SPDs and this is due to the way in which they are made.

Regardless of whether your bike shoes come with a cover, the actual process of installing SPD cleats is not tricky to do. In fact, you just need shoes that are compatible with SPDs, and you also need SPD cleats along with a hex key. You may find that you need some kind of grease, although this is not always essential. 

Will Your SPD Cleats Come With Instructions?

Well, a set of SPD cleats will have everything that you need to be able to install them – they will come with two cleats, along with two washers and also four screws. In fact, it is true that the sliding washer will also ensure that the screws are aligned and this will then enable you to change the cleat positions.

Let’s Get Into The Instructions…

So, now it’s time to find out exactly how to install the SPD cleats onto your very own bike shoes.

    • Step one: grease the screw – you need to make sure that you grease the very end of the screw just to make your life a whole lot easier when you take off the cleats. No – you will not have to remove them any time soon. But, you might have to remove them when they eventually wear out, or you might have to readjust them at a later date. The grease will NOT make either the screw or the cleat loosen.
    • Step two: get the sliding washer right to the oval-shaped groove on your cleat – this is the part which points at the pedal when your cleats are installed on your bike shoes. It is important to remember that the washer is nowhere near as elongated as the groove is. What does this mean? You can slide the cleat in order to tweak the positioning. 
    • Step three: inspect the thread inserts that are at the bottom of your bike shoe – this is so that you can make sure that the plate is lined up correctly. However, if you find that it is not aligned then you can adjust it by taking out the insole of the shoe, and you can tweak the plate’s positioning correctly before you put the insole back in.
    • Step four: put one screw into each hole and line the screw-up – once you have done this you have to screw the cleat into the threaded insert in the bottom of your bike shoe. You just have to line it up and then use the hex key so that you can screw it in. When you are doing this to the cleat you need to adjust it and you also need to inspect its alignment before you tighten it to the shoe. 
  • Step five: tighten the screw – when you are happy with the way that your cleat is positioned, and this is something that you need to be as accurate as possible, then you should tighten the screw. You don’t want to make more work for yourself and tighten the screw too soon only to have to undo this. You need to make sure that everything is tight on each side. 
    • Step six: repeat the whole process on the other shoe – that’s right, you can do all of this again on your other bike shoe. As long as you stick to the previous instructions, you will be able to fit the other SPD cleat to your bike shoes pretty well. 

    SPD Cleats: Myth Busting

    Here’s the thing, we know that some bikers have the belief that screwing their cleats inadequately to their bike shoes will enable easier removal. However, this is a complete myth. Cleats do not work this way.

    In fact, utilizing a cleat that is not tight enough will reduce your chance to really use the maneuverability of your shoe – and in the absolute worst case scenarios, a screw that is loose could even jam your bike pedal.

    Make Sure You Test Your Bike Cleats!

    It is really important that you give your bike cleats a test run, this is just so that you can really ensure that the shoes feel comfortable when they are worn out and about. When you do this, you really need to check the way that the cleat is positioned and also how comfortable it feels. 

    If you find that you aren’t all that comfortable, then you can adjust the cleats accordingly just to ensure that they are absolutely perfect for outdoor use. 

    So, if you are now at a point where you are feeling happy with the comfort and also the position of the cleat then you should use a pen to be able to trace an outline of the position of your cleat. This can really help your future cleat installation process because you may need to replace them at some point. 

    In fact, if you are a user of mountain bike shoes then you can imprint the shape of the older cleat just so that you can install newer cleats much easier in the shoes. It’s all about making your life that bit easier!

    In Conclusion

    Overall, installing SPD cleats can seem intimidating – but as a biker, you really need to learn how to install them on your bike shoes. This is a key skill that has a relatively easy installation process - ultimately this is all about making your biking experience much more comfortable and pleasurable. 

    You need to make sure that you position your SPD cleats correctly, so that they are comfortable on your feet. Remember that the cleats must be situated right at the center of your foot, and this should be to the back – this will give you enough balance and stability, that means your muscles will be able to cope more with biking for longer distances.