Q. I've been using Look pedals with red cleats for approximately three years now, but for nearly all of that time I have been getting some degree of knee pain.
I decided to ditch the clipless pedals and use standard platform pedals along with a pair of leather trainers. I rode the same 20 miles as before but this time no pain. I've since done a few more trips varying from 25 to 50 miles and still no pain.
So my predicament is: do I need a clipless pedal system with lots of float, like Time RXE/RXS or Speedplay? Or do I need a pedal system with no float at all, like Look pedals with black cleats?
Sean McGrath, email
A. The problem you're having stems from either misaligned cleats, or simply that your pedalling action results in a knee movement that causes you pain. Cleats with no float at all (that do not let your foot swivel side to side on the pedal) are now more or less globally frowned upon, because any irregularities in your pedalling action cannot be accomodated by letting your foot rotate slightly. This would seem to be your problem as you are riding with no pain when on regular platform style pedals.
We would suggest going for a pedal with float, such as the ones you mention, or the new range of Shimano SPD SL pedals. The pedals and cleat position aren't the only factors involved though - seat height and angle, and the fore and aft position of your foot upon the pedal all play a part in contributing to causing a problem within your knee. Also, your foot might well need to be angled in your shoe (with an orthotic wedge); it might not be enough to allow a little float, as your foot might well want to be leaning left or right during your pedal stroke.