One of the best ways to enhance your performance is going to clipless pedals and shoes, but navigating the over-saturated landscape for what you need can be tough. We get daily questions about clipless pedals, from how they will help performance to which ones they need for their specific riding style. With so many different pedal and shoe options, we decided to make a post about the differences and benefits of the options available to riders.  

Terms To Know:

SPD - two hole metal cleat

SPD-SL - three hole plastic cleat

Float - the degree to which the riders foot is allowed to move before the cleat releases from the pedal

Dual Platform - these are SPD pedals that riders can use with SPD shoes or any street shoe of their choice



First, let's look at the benefits and uses of these two distinct styles:


Uses - touring, mountain biking, casual riders

Benefits - less obtrusive cleat, easier to walk in, more comfortable shoe options, larger degree of float, dual platform options available

Downside - small pedaling platform, less power transfer



Uses - road riding, road racing

Benefits - best power transfer, larger platform, better for road climbing and distance, more stiffness

Dowsides - large cleat, difficult to walk in shoes

Now that we have gone over the basic pedal options, let's look at what shoe will serve your riding needs best. There are four main shoe styles that we can discuss here: Road, Touring/Fitness, Triathlon, and Mountain/Off-Road. All these styles have different uses, so finding the ones that fit your riding style will help you obtain optimal comfort and performance.


Uses - Best for road racing, long rides, and situations where riders want to optimize their power transfer and overall control

Compatible Pedal Styles - All road shoes are compatible with SPD-SL, and many have the option to use SPD as well



Uses - These shoes generally feature a little more flex and walkability, and are great for riders looking to utilize the higher performance of clipless pedals without sacrificing the ability to walk around mid ride. These are also a perfect balance of comfort and performance for commuters.

Compatible Pedal Styles - SPD


Uses - These are pretty specialized shoes for triathletes, and are perfect for easy entry and removal. They are also unique in the design, by allowing riders to use with or without socks

Compatible Pedal Styles - SPD-SL


Uses - Mountain and off-road riders are going to benefit from the increased traction and mud-shedding abilities. These shoes are designed to allow users to walk on a variety of surfaces and conditions, while utilizing the amazing benefits of clipless pedals.

Compatible Pedal Styles - SPD