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Best cleats for bike pedals and cycling shoes

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If you start taking your cycling seriously, one of the first things you might look to upgrade is your choice of footwear and pedals. Being 'clipped in' is a great way to increase your pedaling efficiency on the bike, and, despite the first ride being a nerve-wracking experience, they're easy to get used to. 

Clipping in requires special clipless pedals, as well as cycling-specific shoes. Affixed to the sole of your shoes will be cleats, and it's these that clip into the pedal and hold your feet steady on the pedals. 

Eventually, these cleats wear down - be that through use or misuse - and will need to be replaced. If replacing the cleats on your cycling shoes, it's important to get ones that are compatible with your pedals. 

Beyond compatibility, the next decision to make is float. Float is the term used to describe how much movement your ankle will have when clipped in. The greater the range of motion, the more float. It's typically measured in degrees and ranges from zero to around 10 degrees.   

We run through the most popular types below. 

Shimano road

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SHIMANO Cleats SPD-SL SM-SH10/SM-SH12

Shimano-compatible road bike cleats

If you use any of Shimano's road bike pedals, then you need a Shimano-compatible three-bolt cleat such as these. 

There are varying budget alternatives, but when it comes to riding on the road, safety must remain paramount. The last thing you want to happen is a failure that causes a crash. For this reason, we recommend buying Shimano's own-brand SPD-SL road cleats. 

They come in three colors (red, yellow, or blue) which indicate the level of float: zero, two and six degrees respectively. They also come with the required fixing hardware. 

Shimano MTB

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SHIMANO SH-51 SPD Cleat Set

Genuine Shimano replacement MTB cleats

If you're using Shimano MTB pedals, then you'll need two-bolt cleats like these. 

When it comes to replacing your cleats, there are two avenues you can go down. You can pick the budget option and risk receiving a product that won't last as long, or you can invest a little more and know that the product's performance and longevity will serve you well. 

The Shimano SH-51 cleats take the latter approach. These cleats offer four degrees of float and they come with the fixing bolts needed. 

Look road

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BV Bike Cleats Compatible with Look Delta (9 Degree Float)

Budget-friendly and compatible with Look pedals

The biggest competition to Shimano in the pedal game comes from the inventors of the clipless pedals, Look. However, while functionally similar, you cannot use a Look cleat with a Shimano pedal, or vice versa. 

Once again, our recommendation is to choose a genuine Look product rather than an untested replica, as product longevity and performance is typically greater. 

This option from Look offers nine degrees of float and all the required fixing hardware.