Cleats are small metal objects that attach to the bottom of compatible shoes and allow you to affix them to your clipless pedals.
Pedals come packages with matched cleats, which will fit any MTB-specific shoe. We’re demonstrating the fitting procedure with Shimano SPDs.
Mountain bike cleats are not compatible with road shoes, however.
Also read: How to fit cleats to road bike shoes
What you need
- Hex keys
- Grease or thread lock
- Clipless compatible shoes
- Cleats (usually included with pedals)
- A pen and some tape
What to do
Video: How to fit MTB cleats
Fit your cleats
Before fitting the cleat to the shoe, you need to work out where the ball of your foot is. If you put the shoe on, and stick some tape on the side, you can locate it and make a mark without ruining your new shoes.
Before fitting the cleat, put some grease or thread lock (preferably) onto the thread of the cleat bolt to stop it seizing in place. Loosely fit the cleats to the shoes – position the cleat so it’s under the ball of your foot according to the mark you made.
The angle of the cleat should match the natural standing position of your foot – to get an idea of this, stand naturally and assume a riding position – if your feet point out you should set the cleat position to match. You don’t need to be too extreme with the angle so if you’re unsure, set them straight and you can tweak them later.
Tighten the bolts one by one – when the first starts to feel tight, stop turning it and tighten the other. You will need to tighten as a pair – so alternate between bolts until they are firm.
Put on the shoes and swing a leg over the bike and clip your foot into the pedal. While leaning against a wall or solid object, clip the other foot into the pedal. Give the cranks a few backwards turns to check the cleat position is still comfortable and that your shoes aren’t rubbing the frame or cranks – if so you’ll need to repeat the previous step and readjust accordingly.
Before you take the bike for a ride, practise clipping in and out of the pedals. Twisting your heel out is the best way to release them.
If you need to fit the pedals too, have a look at our workshop.