Pinkbike Poll: How Do You Set Up Your Cleats?

Jul 6, 2021 at 3:38
by Seb Stott  

For clipped-in riders, cleat position is paramount. It's really important to get the side-side position and the angle of the cleat correct to reduce the chances of knee and ankle problems, and make sure you can always clip out. But there's a lot of room to experiment with the fore-aft position of the cleat too, and this has a marked effect on the handling and fit of the bike.

Traditionally, most riders were advised to place the cleat directly under the ball of the foot, or under the third metatarsal bone. But if you look at how downhill, enduro and trail riders, many of them set their cleats towards the back of the slot, if not all the way back. (See video below.)


Personally, I always set mine as far back as they'll go, and I won't ride certain shoes that don't allow me to put the cleats far enough back. I find that cleats too far forward make me to feel less connected to the bike and less in control on technical descents. Setting then further back makes it easier to drop my heals and push into the bike through the pedals. But in the early days of riding clipped-in, I set my cleats much further forward towards the ball of my foot. I suspect that longer front-centers in modern bikes make it possible to set the shoe further forward relative to the pedal axle without the bike feeling too cramped, while steeper seat tube angles make this possible without your feet feeling too far in front of your hips.

According to conventional wisdom, having the pedal axle under the ball of the foot gives the most powerful and efficient pedaling position. But this study suggests fore-aft foot position doesn't affect pedaling efficiency, and personally, I don't notice much difference in perceived pedaling effort either way.

So I want to know, how do you set up your cleats for different riding disciplines? And how has this changed over the years?

How do you set up your cleats for XC riding?



How do you set up your cleats for tail/enduro riding?



How do you set up your cleats for downhill riding?



How has your cleat position changed since you started riding clipped-in?




163 Comments

  • 86 0
 I broke my leg years ago. When I was ready to ride again almost a year later, I couldn't clip in my right (broken) leg to save my life. Turns out my foot isn't where it originally was from the factory due to the injury so now I have to move my cleat inboard as far as itll go
  • 195 1
 Ah yes, the factory.
  • 1 0
 I had my cleat set at a certain angle for 18 years...and then I got knee surgery for a torn meniscus. The doc removed the new one and found an old tear while he was in there and removed it as well. I had to readjust my cleat rotation to get back to where I could ride without pain.
  • 50 0
 @Jaib06: my resale is in the tank from all the mods over the years
  • 13 0
 @Tmackstab: $250 ONO, well loved, good working order. No silly offers, I know what I have.
  • 11 7
 Same here, I gave up messing around with clips, flats are so much better
  • 46 0
 Does your mum appreciate being called "the factory"
  • 44 0
 @hamncheez: I have referred to her as that on a number of occasions...and no
  • 18 5
 Pick your cleat position and be a d*ck about it...

just never gets old.
  • 3 2
 @Jaib06: I've been spending my whole life trying top get back into one. Apparently my guaranty ran off with some guy with a nice bike...
  • 2 0
 Same thing for me, tibial plateau fracture, tibia is now rotated slightly outwards compared to OEM so Need extra angle and inboard. Such is the way of aftermarket spare parts
  • 3 0
 You should contact the manufacturer about a crash replacement.
  • 71 0
 I ride in Crocs.
  • 4 4
 I freaking love crocs. I've had a few casual rides in them and they were pretty good. Other wise flats and 5.10's. Gravel is always clipless on the ball of my feet. I'm still picking the scab off my knee from the last time I rode mtb with clipless, but I'm getting kinda old.
  • 24 0
 Username does not check out.
  • 4 2
 Open toe sandals are even better. Nothing better than toes getting fresh air and exposed them pedal strikes, rocks, trees, etc.
  • 6 0
 Ed Masters has croc steeze…
  • 5 1
 WHAT ARE THOSE??!!!
  • 3 1
 Barefoot and OneUp flats for the win!
  • 3 1
 i am not bsing, i ride in crocs tennis shoes. soles are foam rubber so my pedals are super grippy
  • 1 1
 @Brazinsteel: why ride 510s when Shimano make the mighty 501s!
  • 5 0
 okay, but do you ride clipless crocs or flat crocs?
  • 4 0
 @nullzwo: Flats of course. I'm not a savage.
  • 2 0
 @mior: Crocs does make some decent shoes. Their insoles are very good. I have some Crocs golf shoes that I can walk with all day.
  • 1 0
 In party or race mode?
  • 1 0
 @nullzwo: i run flats
  • 2 0
 @madescape: Party mode all the time.
  • 3 0
 @pakleni: i found chromag daggas grip the flesh better. First two weeks are hell as it takes a minute to develop the calluses
  • 2 0
 Do you have schematics for cleat attachment, just asking for a friend
  • 1 0
 @tylerbernardd: Just use gorilla glue and attach them where they feel really, really good. I mean really good.
  • 58 13
 I don't see the "flats till I die (because I was riding flats)" option
  • 35 0
 "Doesn't apply to me."
  • 13 2
 @GBeard: Where's the fun in that
  • 36 0
 This is something I've wondered for a while - many of the setup guides I've looked at say to run the cleats as far back in your shoe as they go, most of the people who responded here run them as far back as they go… doesn't that suggest that the shoe manufacturers need to put the cleat attachments further back? Maybe we're all wrong instead
  • 8 1
 Further forward is for more roadie/xc focused, as it assists with power transfer and the like, as opposed to a rear mounted Cleat for stability. Those coming from different backgrounds (I. E. Roadies becoming mountain bikers) will probably have a bias towards what they're used to.
That being said, I'm a little surprised shoe manufacturers haven't accounted for this, moving Cleat boxes forward on xc models and furrher back on enduro / dh shoes.
  • 16 0
 All the evidence points to mountain bikers wanting to move them back further then most current shoes allow. Whether we are right about the desire is definitely up for debate. This feels like another situation where the range of options is just copied from road biking with little to no thought of whether that is the right choice for mountain biking.
  • 4 0
 Giro Chamber has a 10mm cleat set back that they advertise. I have them and still run it all the way back.
  • 5 0
 Yep. They need to make the slots further back.
  • 23 0
 We're all looking for the Grim Donut of the shoe world, apparently.
  • 6 2
 @ratedgg13: Forward cleat position doesn't really help with power transfer much for neither road nor mtb. It only helps with sprinting out of the saddle.
  • 4 0
 I've drilled my shoes mounting grooves out to allow for a more rearward position in the past. Finding shoes that allow a rearward position was the #1 thing in my last shoe purchase
  • 2 0
 ok Aristotle Big Grin
  • 3 1
 You want to be able to drop your heels in more aggressive trail riding, but without placing extreme load on your ankles! When the cleats are too forward, road bike style, it puts a heavy load on your ankles when dropping the heels and hitting drops and jumps etc. So yes, the shoe manufacturers need to put them back further. But as some have mentioned, they're starting to do that more now.
  • 1 0
 I took a chisel to cut out some material on my first gen Giro Chambers to get my cleat near my liking
  • 3 1
 @vtracer: And where do you keep your liking?
  • 1 0
 It depends.
I ride my roadbike with mtb spds and my cleats are a little bit more forward from the center. When I was still riding xc, I kept my cleats around center and now for my trail/am/park riding i keep them 1/4 from the full back.
  • 1 0
 @ratedgg13:
this, although im not bothering trying to get on with clipless anymore...
both my 510 and shimanos i slammed the cleats back.. leaving a massive channel up front, an area which cant pick up on any pedal pins... I want clipless with a good load of pins up front (DMR v twins)
  • 2 0
 @ratedgg13: it was a World Cup XC racer who told me to move my cleats as far back as they would go.
  • 1 0
 Is there any brand making shoes with the cleats on the heels yet?
  • 2 0
 As somebody who does bike fits, a BIG reason many people who mountain bike put the cleat farther back because it's more akin to riding a platform where the spindle tends to be in the middle of the foot...i.e. if you ever pay attention to a casual riders, like somebody who only rides hybrids on a paved path, the pedal is closer to the middle of the foot. Put them on a set of clipless pedals for the first time and the pedal is almost unanimously way behind the cleat....they're not used to the spindle being so far forward. Mountain biking is their first foray into "serious" cycling.

Pedal position is highly preferential....but if you're going based on power and efficiency of pedal stroke...the cleat moved towards the toes so that you get more calf engagement is the "correct" cleat position. Hence the reason why more roadies and XC racers have the cleat forward; you get the most leverage and muscle recruitment and a far more efficient pedal stroke. Having it farther back requires less use of the calf and also somewhat protects the Achilles. It also gives a sense of stability since it doesn't feel like your foot will slip off the pedals like it would on a platform at the bottom of a big landing....
  • 1 0
 @rupintart: you do bike fits but you don’t do science. Evidence already pointed out that there is no power advantage in running the axle under your forefoot. Even worse: straight under your heel would be the best power-wise. It would be incomfortable as hell though. No man, the only reason for the forward position is comfort when in a rolled forward position. Like the super low stack road bike position or sprinting with your nose on your front wheel.
  • 1 0
 @Tustinite: I'd love to see where BMX riders run theirs then since they're only about max power transfer out of the saddle.
  • 25 1
 I've converted to eClips, allows me to adjust cleat position on the fly and control clip in clip out with the push of a button. Flats and regular clips are for the peasants. I spit at your survey...
  • 18 1
 Your not a real mountain biker then. eClips should only for people with medical issues and shouldn't be allowed on regular trails...
  • 7 1
 My cleats use GPS to move forward on the climbs, then they drop back when I'm dropping in.
  • 2 1
 @Davec85: Hopefully that is in my next eClips software upgrade.
  • 21 0
 As a curious experiment I tried moving them mid foot after 25+ years of under the ball of my feet. I felt that I lost power when pedaling and got regular cramp in the bottom of my feet. Gone back to what I know, zero issues.

I guess it's also what you are used to.
  • 6 0
 Same, but more like 15 years of experience for me. Back was a neat experiment... 20 hours later I was done with it.
  • 19 0
 To be fair, you cannot make changes like this after 25yrs and expect your body to love them right away.
  • 4 0
 I think gradual changes work better in situations like this. Did for me anyway.
  • 5 1
 @nvranka: I think part of the issue for me is I spend an equal amount of time on road bikes and MTB, I actually tried it for a few months but it was always the 'new' mtb cleat position that felt wrong. Seb makes a good point about steeper seat tubes that might be relevant, my mtbs are not the steepest at 75 so it hits the muscle in a different way to say a 78 seat angle would. That's a topic I would like to look at more.
  • 4 0
 Did the same experiment after ~10 years of forward cleat position. It was fine while pedaling, but became painful on longer descents. The cleat dug into the middle part of my foot, which is not build to handle pressure.
Maybe that position would work better with ultra-stiff soles, but most MTB shoes don't have those.
  • 1 0
 What types of riding do you usually do, XC, Trail, aggressive trail?
  • 4 0
 @mybaben: I like what people call Enduro trails but I'm not riding aggressively. My home trails are on a steep sided valley, lots of trees and roots. Max 900 meter drop. When possible places like the Dolomites or Finale. Mostly on a Nukeproof Mega 275. In years gone by I was racing XC and road.

@Ttimer I tried it with shimano MT7 initially but the sole fell apart from too much hike a bike so got some Sidi SD15, those turned out to have a sole like a wet noodle so tried them with XT trail pedals hoping they gave more support but all the cage did was catch on the sole. Those are now commuting shoes and I'm back using really old Sidi Eagle with Carbon sole. Much prefer the stiffer shoes.
  • 12 0
 I look at the bottom of my flat pedal shoes and realize my foot is definitely farther forward than any shoes with cleats would allow - pedal spindle probably 1 inch or so behind the ball of the foot. But it genuinely feels best that way. I use SPD mtb bike shoes on my road bike and with the cleats slammed all the way back, it doesn't feel quite right. Like my feet are just a bit too far back.
  • 4 1
 Same. Can't go back to clipless now because it feels like I'm pedaling with my toes. Also...what purpose is the calf muscle doing when it's further forward? Seems ineffieicent.
  • 3 0
 @ryan77777: bone stacking is how it was explained to me. Lining up all of your bones for power transfer to work with your muscles rather than against them.
  • 2 0
 @GTscoob: I don't doubt that pedaling is potentially more efficient with the cleats closer the ball of the foot, but I find descending far better with the pedal slightly more centred. You're not using your calves to hold you up and to take impacts - instead using your bigger muscles: quads, hamstrings, glutes, etc.

Flats are great for this because you can shift positions on the fly from pedaling to descending.

But yeah, I still wish there was more rearward adjustability for cleats.
  • 2 0
 @jayacheess: Also your bones are helping to hold you up and take impacts! Cleats too forward put all the stress on the ankle joint and calf muscle, not enough bone support from the lower leg and bigger muscle groups, as you mentioned.
  • 2 0
 @mybaben: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I know when I do squats, I don't usually stand on the balls of my feet. Wink
  • 1 0
 @jayacheess: Ha, exactly! Ouch!
  • 13 0
 @mybaben: Jump from a good height and see how you naturally land on your feet. You likely won't land flat footed. The lower leg/calf is another link in the chain of shock absorbers. Take off on a powerful sprint. You'll be on your toes. Most dynamic movements/sports (not static/planted weight lifting) have you on your toes/ball of your foot. Try riding a hard tail with the cleats both fore and aft and if you pay attention you'll see how much more of the trail you can soak up when you are on your toes. If you are not use to it you'll get sore in your lower legs, but that's because you've been letting those muscles get weak. Long travel reduces the need to use your lower leg shocks but not using them is like wasting travel. Running cleats rearward has its advantages, but also its disadvantages.
  • 1 0
 @MikerJ: I can see this logic, as well. I might try out some different positions.
  • 1 0
 @MikerJ: I agree in general with your points. I don't think it's about taking the calves "out of the picture" totally, it's just more about decreasing the strain and stress to the ankle and calf system. The further back the cleats the less strain you put on the ankle/calf, and that's helpful for avoiding any pulls to the muscles or god forbid, an achilles tear.
  • 1 0
 same! I think it's best when the foot is balanced over the spindle so it's equally likely to go forward as it is backward when bouncing around over tech
  • 17 7
 Flats all day here. Not sure if I can see myself going back to cleats but damn I think I'm in the minority.
  • 8 3
 I rode clipless for 23 years then tried to build some skills up on flats. Lasted half a season before switching back. The next season, I tried again and actually made it the whole year. This year I started on the flats and haven't looked back. Took three seasons and a false start or two, but I'm finally on flats and not looking back.
  • 9 8
 Flats for life!

I started riding in the mid 2000s and was told i NEEDED clips so got them. 4 years ago i decided to give flats a try intending to swap back and forth. Once the flats went on though I never once put clipless pedals back on because why would I?
I find flats are
A) Safer: haven't toppled over clipped in on a tech climb since going to flats
B) Convenient: you can still ride in your sneakers if you show up at the trail head and forgot your riding shoes
C) Funnerer: foot out flat out every turn baby!

Only reason I can see for clips is
D) putting down max power or
E) going as fast as you possibly can in a rock garden without blowing a foot off your pedals.

You need those things for racing and since I'm not not racing, neither hold great sway over me.

Points A+B+C > D+E for me and probably most people who don't race.
  • 3 1
 Who cares. A lot of riders ride clips coz the pros do or coz they come from a roadie background. It doesnt suit a lot of people and it depends on your outlook riding a bike.
For the last 3-4 years I've done 6 months on/off flats/clips at a time.
For mountain bikers the biggest advantage is Clips keep your feet on without technique, they let you keep pedalling up steep tech sections and lifting up obstacles particularly rocky climbs. They also help knowing the bike will just come with you on a high drop off. They (for me ) are biggest advantages.
Flats are free-er, more comfy, let you try sketchy stuff more on a ride and let you move your body weight and feet easier .
As far as efficiency (and Ive commuted on both regularly) I dont notice a big difference other than your feet get less tired on clips and the soles can be a lot stiffer on clip shoes without losing grip.
Cranking up a climb makes no difference.
It actually feels nice sometimes to have a nice wide supportive platform and to be able to move your feet about.
People say zero float with flats but you have infinite placement and re-placement.

Search out a 2017 Dirt article by Steve Jones about the demise of flat pedals in DH World Cups - essentially is is it mainly clipless because everyone else does it, so will I lose out if I dont run them?

Essay over - I cant decide between them and it does my head in. This experience may help some people try things.
  • 2 0
 @freestyIAM: it always comes down to A vs E for me...
  • 3 0
 If you're racing seriously and running flats (and don't have superhuman skills), I don't understand. If you're riding purely for fun and clipping in, I don't understand. I feel so disconnected from the bike and trail clipped in, and my first decade of riding was clipped. Tried flats for skills development and now when clipped in all the slop in shoe-pedal connection really takes away from the experience for me.
  • 13 2
 I ride in flip-flops.
  • 16 1
 I ride in Clip-Flops.
  • 1 0
 @Segu: Ah yes, the Shimano sandals. And of course with the necessary socks.
  • 7 1
 Up until this winter, I rode my cleats quite far forwards under the ball of my foot. However, after experimenting with flats I realized this cleat position was causing a number of problems. When descending I wasn't dropping my heels and was riding 'on my toes'. Without dropping my heels, I was pressing less of my weight into the tires, which meant I had less cornering grip and braking traction. Without dropping my heels and pushing my weight into the pedals, my tire knobs were more likely to be sitting 'on top' of the dirt, rather than being pushed 'into' the dirt, generating grip. A little anecdote on this: watch the recent La Thuile EWS coverage of the race winners, Rude and Pugin, both are seriously aggressive heel droppers.

The other major issue was with my cleats so far forwards, I was overusing my calves and quads, and not properly activating my glutes and hamstrings (2 of the biggest muscle groups in the legs) when pedalling. Combined with a desk job, this was causing a TON of muscle imbalance problems, as I couldn't activate my hip muscles properly. This meant those muscles got tight and seized up. Riding flats or with my cleats further back has helped me address these issues and taught me how to better recruit my hip muscles both in my pedal stroke and when descending (hip hinge body position, when pumping, etc). I think you do lose a bit of 'snap' when sprinting with the cleats further back, but I think the trade off is worth it.

Long story short, cleats slammed back is good, riding flats sometimes is also good.
  • 3 0
 100% this. Less about economy and power output, more about better overall biomechanics and handling.
  • 2 0
 Yep, good take.
  • 6 0
 It does not matter what angle you feet are, gravity pulls on you and your bike exactly the same. Your pedals and tires experience exactly the same amount of force regardless of your foot angle. What makes heels down better is a lower center of gravity and improved balance from better body mechanics.
  • 1 0
 @aelazenby: Yep, agreed, it is definitely a biomechanics thing. I found dropping the heels allowed for a better hip hinge and let me more evenly weight the bike and more effectively press and pump the bike into the ground to generate grip.
  • 5 0
 As far back as they will go, would take more. Give me as MUCH as you can shoe manufacturers!!! Not these tiny little slots in the front. I'll decide where I want them. If your glutes and hips work properly, nothing beats properly driving a pedal from your glutes in the midfoot position for max power.
  • 3 0
 All the way back, inboard and with toes pointed out just a bit. Goal is to be able to unclip even if the toe box of the shoe hit the crank arm. It’s less foot clearance in tight pinches, but I feel like it’sa worthy trade-off.
  • 4 0
 Same here. Cleat all the way inboard (giving wider effective Q factor). Only difference is I positioned my cleats at max angle for most pointed out toes possible. Duck footed and prone to heel rub, yes. But with shimano built in float it was never a problem, even with single release cleat and max clip tension. Make it super easy to clip out.

A little bit dissapointed that the poll only cover fore-aft adjustment. No favorite clip in interface manufacturer? No side-to-side, cleat angle, float, clip tension, cleat shims adjustment questions? Come on PB, mountainbikers are nerds.
  • 3 0
 I have been on clips since the mid 90's, Onza's anyone???
I used to have them up to the front and they have gone back. I tried far back but I kept catching my toes on rocks and roots, I don't even have big feet?? I went back towards the middle, a little further back than middle but with bottom brackets getting lower I just had to many weird crashes if my toes went down and caught something. Stops you dead and bad shoulders make it worse! I have friends with big feet and they never have that problem. I think I just get lazy and or try to lift and pull my heel up instead of my entire foot.
  • 2 0
 I wonder if it is different for people with smaller feet, but for my size 11 feet, it seems getting the cleat closer to the leg is helpful. I push/pull the whole way around the pedal stroke, so if it was closer to the toe, I would be using my calves more to push down and pulling up would be more difficult since my leg would be at more of an angle at the back of the stroke. Cleats all the way back for me, for about the last decade. XC racing and trail riding are mostly what I do, but I love the technical black trails here in Prescott, AZ
  • 5 3
 What happened to the old pinkbike where everyone would ride flats with the same shoes they went to school with that day? When there was no climbing but lots of hucking off ladders? I miss those days. It’s all one big xc-enduro racing thing now Frown
  • 2 0
 I have actually played with cleat placement a lot this season, I find further back I can keep my heels down a little better, little more confident inspiring for myself as well. I am riding lifts only right now and love the secure feeling I have to the pedals. I put some flats on a few weeks ago and found myself some nice paper weights, fun but not for me.
  • 2 0
 I customized a clip shoe and moved it back to center it with my leg bone, maybe just a shade fwd. I did this out of necessity due to loosing the front half of my foot. Weird thing is I run a flat on the right side. I just didn't know where to clip on that side and got used to the flat.. Seems to work since I dont fail on many climbs and do ok on the dh too.
  • 4 0
 I drilled an extra set of holes, because I wanted my cleats to be further back than the shoes allowed.
  • 1 0
 I find the way that doesn't make my knees hurt. It's a very narrow rotational field that allows that.

I also find the way that feels the best when I want to put down as much power as possible, and that's a narrow fore/aft band and it ends up at the back of the ball.

My Sidis don't really allow side to side with ATAC cleats, so that's not an issue.

I've never had an issue getting my heels down. ATACs encourage you to get your heels down since the retaining spring is on the front bar. If your heels aren't down, you'll pop out.
  • 5 0
 Clipped in on clipless pedals LOL Big Grin
  • 1 0
 SPD since 1991, and toe clips before that. Tried flats. Don't like them.

Cleats set so that shoe/ankle can't hit cranks, and as far back as they can go until recently. Shoes now have longer holes set further back, so I find if I put the cleats there they're in the wrong place.
  • 2 0
 I've moved my cleats from closer to the toes back towards the middle more. It has really reduced calf fatigue. I only have two pairs of riding shoes so they are the same for downhill, trail, and XC.
  • 1 0
 That means your calves are too active during pedaling. Quiet them down and try again.
  • 3 0
 I machined the slots on my Shimano shoes so the cleats would go further backwards. Since this isn't an option i chose as far back as they would go.
  • 1 0
 The most interesting thing that I've read about flats and clipless lately, is about how it affects your weighting on the bike.

I've seen it in a few suspension articles and referenced in high end suspension ordering forms. According to that riding flats puts your weight farther back on the bike, as you have to do heels down during the rough bits, so this can make it harder to weight the front correctly at times (and changes the spring rates that work best for the shock, apparently).

This has me thinking a bit, as I do sometimes feel like I have a hard time weighting the front correctly.

Well, that, and a broken toe while wearing my five tens :/.
  • 1 0
 That issue could come from a few different reasons, not just pedal style.
  • 1 0
 I set my cleats different on each foot. The right one are further backwards compared to the left. 3-4mm difference, and they are also mounted different side to side. This feels neutral, and when i tried cLeAtS aLl ThE wAY bACK!!!! It felt like i was tipping forward and pedaled like a blobfish.
  • 1 0
 I think the cleat forward was the old road brigade, theory being engaging the ankle spread the pedal stroke over a larger group of muscles. Thats not too much of a problem when sat down. In MTB we spend so much time stood up and experiencing G-force, we benefit greatly from a more stable foot position. It has nothing to do with bike length and its defiantly easier to drop the heels cleats forward.... Cant reference studies but have heard mid cleat is as good in sat down pedalling also. Cleat forward was bollocks all round...Blame the roadies.
  • 1 0
 I've had to adjust the cleat on my left foot to allow it point straighter, as I've worked on rehab'ing some muscle imbalances. Overdeveloped Vastus Lateralis (outside quad), weak medialis and tight hip flexor meant my foot used to point outward.

Otherwise I run cleat position near back of shoe. I can't remember why now ... maybe it was easier on knees or feet?
  • 1 0
 One thing is that moving your pedal cleats all the way forward or back changes the reach measurement on the bike and can change the top tube length if you move the seat to keep the same pedal position. Can vary the reach and top tube plus or minus about a half an inch.
  • 1 0
 Thank you for this article BP!!

I had no idea people were moving cleats back...? Worth a try! I've been on the ball of the foot since I first tried cleats and thought that was the only answer for cleat placement...

I tried flats when I got a dirt jumper; ripped the shit out of my shins and calves, looked like a mountain lion had at me. (probably should have tried flat sole shoes to go with them. But Fme those threaded pins were sharp!) Went back to clips. (rocked the power grips before that)

Had some less "intense' flat pedals on a hardtail for the kids that I now keep in the truck. Ended up having to use them this spring and was surprised at how good they felt. BUT just don't feel as secure.. and you don't get the spin/upforce you do with cleats.

seems like a 6 of one and half a dozen of the other thing though...?
  • 1 0
 simply foot mechanics, you riding your clips in the position which allows you to drop the heels lowest (for dropping an anchor reason) with a caveat that it is not causing numbness on pedalling bits or when you need 'a platform' for a long time. this is the magic combo.
riding flats is easier to find out what you like and then transfer position to spd and you don't have a dilemma. using both of them depending on the weather. rain and running mud, loads of pedalling and no push-up - spd. fun in the park, peanut butter mud and pushups days - flats
It is a win-win; for pedal days perfect position in clips determined by science gained on push up days on flats Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I haven't bought new shoes in 10 years. But I marked the spindle position where I ride flats, and then transferred it to my clips. I ended up dremmeling the sole and channels back to get it where I wanted. I think shoes have since allowed further adjustment back without the need. But I also haven't ridden clips in a while due to knee injuries. When I did, I loved it feeling like my flats....
  • 1 0
 I have moved mine back a bit over the years but I have been tempted recently to put all my cleats about as far back as they go. Even for the road, just seems like the right spot the more and more I think about it. I have also been using flat pedals more and quite like it since I got some nice sticky shoes and good pedals, but for much of my riding clipless is still the better solution and saves me a lot of money in pedals and shoes as clipless pedals and shoes last much longer.
  • 1 0
 I followed the "under the ball of your foot" advice for years.
When I tried the cleat further back it made a surprising difference. I found it made it easier to pedal of out the saddle. The difference is surprising given the small change.
  • 1 0
 Perhaps I’m in the minority but I’m Finally commuting to clips this year. As far back and in is the only way to go after riding flats for so long more or less middle of the foot. The control over the back of the bike with clips is insane. I was a hater forever but the small corrections are wild and frankly really fun. A month in and liking it so far and having fun - that’s why we all do this right? - will Stick with it except for big jump lines where being clipped in Reece Wilson style seems insane.
  • 1 0
 The more f-up my knees got the further forward my cleats got. Been riding clipless since they were invented, nothing like being really connected to your bike, and if you have your setup right it's still easy enough to get off when you need to
  • 1 0
 I'm old. In the distant past I had to adopt a roadie style (ball of foot on cleat position) to stop my toes from hitting the front wheel, particularly for 29ers. I haven't really experimented, but will now as the longer front centres mean I can. Thanks for the thought provoking article.
  • 1 0
 This pill is written badly IMO, I don’t care where my cleat is on the shoe, I care where it is relative to the ball of my foot.

I run the center of my cleats maybe 1/2 inch behind the ball pivot and roughly in line with my second toe.
  • 1 0
 I have been debating going further back for a while. But being that I haven’t had any issues, and that my knees feel good regardless if riding dh or gravel I have been reluctant to play around.

Other then more perceived stability has anyone come across even some “bro science” proving a benefit?
  • 2 0
 My only bro science is moving the cleat further back has taken a lot away from my calves, I assume this means I'm using my quads more now.
  • 1 0
 Had knee and foot pain for years from riding (with SPD but I tried flats but it wasn’t me and didn’t help)
To fix the pain I went to countless bike fits and physical therapist without any improvements, but in the end a guy who rode flats said “bro slide your cleats back” it worked perfectly- pain gone.
  • 1 0
 TIL that I'm in a minority of riders who have their cleats far forward, which to me makes the cleat right on the ball of my foot. I've tried them farther back, and it just doesn't feel right. I've been riding like this for almost 30 years. Weird.
  • 1 0
 This is all very "Bud light vs Miller Lite". At the end of the day were all out there enjoying what we love.
No one here has talked about seat height relative to the pedals and foot position. I started riding in 1994 with toe clips, which were pretty insane. The foot position with toe clips was spindle at the ball of your foot and toes mashed to the end of the cage. Went to SPD when they came out. I've crashed being unable to get out but that's just the learning curve. REPLACE YOUR CLEATS if you're having engagement problems. I ride XT pedals a 1/2 turn from fully loose and have no problems releasing or staying retained. Thanks to Jeff Kendall Weed for that tip. He did switch to flats recently, for what it's worth.
But back to seat height...I rode across the US in 2008 with my mountain shoes and Shimano 747s. I ride the spindle at the ball of my foot on all bikes. My knees hurt for the first 3 weeks because my seat was not high enough. Through gradual raises of the saddle, I ended up about an inch higher than what I thought I needed. The pain subsided and the riding improved. In the second half of the trip we did 2200 miles in 22 days with zero issues. Today, with dropper posts, I can finally recreate that road bike seat height on the trail. I never have knee pain with this high seat position. My legs are tired from a heavy week of riding and an Enduro race and I can feel soreness in all the major muscle groups - calves, quads, hams, glutes. So if you have knee problems and run cleats forward, try raising your seat height. Moving cleats farther back effectively shortens your leg, which helps get a better biomechanical leg straightness for a lower seat height.
  • 1 0
 I'm having to run mine almost all the way back in the race zone on my crank brothers, I presume because I have longer toes, but any further forward than that I feel like I'm constantly getting pitched over the front of the bike
  • 1 0
 Need another option in the poll. Am I the only one that sets them up in relation to the ball of the food being somewhere over the pedal axle? I used to set mine up with the ball of my foot directly over the axle, but have started moving them to be a little further back behind the ball of the foot. That said, I've been on flats for the last year or so.
  • 4 0
 so where's the poll regarding lateral adjustment based on Q factor?
  • 1 0
 My Giro (Ventana) shoes sucks in that department, slacked the cleats outside but it's still feels too inside! Never known that in 20 years... Very nice shoes otherwise.
  • 3 0
 I've had to break out the Dremel on every shoe I've owned to get the cleats back to where I want.
  • 1 0
 @Dhers90 Agree. While some shoes have improved in the aft-placement of cleats (Shimano, Five Ten, some Scott models, etc), I'd still like to see a little more rearward placement of the channel (especially in Five Ten shoes).
  • 3 3
 Geez, we are all old men. "This way my knees hurt less" "I've been riding in this position for 20 years, and it cramps my foot to change position" "After knee replacement surgery I can't rotate out of clipless as easily" "I'm not gay I was just curious"
  • 1 0
 Do not use cleats die to complexity of set up pedal and sho and restricted ability’s to do the trick;

Flat pedal removes all anal od foot position, it is always comfortable
  • 1 0
 Mid 50s XC rider. I've evolved to all the way back. My calves and Achilles are much happier and it makes set up much easier. I'd rather err by being a few mm too far back than a few mm too far forward.
  • 1 0
 After watching a Dirt video with Fabian Barel we now Dremel the slots longer and move the cleats even further back to mimic flat shoe foot position.
  • 1 0
 there is also the side to side measurement. all the way in, close to the crank arms. or all the way out.... tight pants wide stance.
  • 1 0
 I ride clips still because no one makes a size 16 shoe with a stiff sole and sticky rubber. If someone did, I would get a set for sure.
  • 1 0
 I routed the cleat channel a few inches further back. Then used two wood screws to mount the cleats in at a true mid-foot position.
  • 1 0
 I've moved my cleats once since I started riding clipless and it's a total of one hole further back with the mounting plate still slammed forward
  • 1 0
 What about shims? How many of you have measured leg length and realized that one leg is longer than the other? With clips, it makes a MASSIVE difference.
  • 2 0
 ball of big toe directly on the axle
  • 1 0
 I didn’t know I was supposed to move my cleats backwards. I guess I missed something.
  • 1 0
 Only if you mountain bike! Wink
  • 1 0
 They don't have an option for me. Drill out and move back further so my foot sits in the same location as with flats.
  • 1 0
 Flats. Less knee problems & you can adjust your stance anytime you want.
  • 1 0
 That is a straight up lie! Anyone who says you can adjust your stance any time you want hasn't ridden proper flats. Clips put you in the perfect stance for you everytime. When I ride flats it's 50/50 if my foot is going to land where I want it, if it doesn't I have to lift my foot and try again which doesn't flipping work mid trail haha
  • 1 1
 I wore cleats for the first 15 years of my mtb career until one day I rented a dh bike with flats at a ski area and it changed my whole life
  • 1 0
 I setup my cleats perfect on one side and forever have to mess with the other side
  • 1 0
 people tend to laugh at harder disciplines
  • 11 10
 Remove cleats, throw away, place feet on flat pedals, ride until you drop.
  • 3 3
 Insert 'My Man' meme here.
  • 3 1
 Some serious downvotes here bro, maybe someone will do a collab and produce a MTB crossover dustpan and brush so the dudebros can get the sand out of their manginas.
  • 1 0
 Answered doesn’t apply to me on every question, good survey thou
  • 3 3
 I only ride flats so I guess “doesn’t apply to me” it is.
  • 3 3
 Doesn’t apply to me = flats
  • 1 1
 Flat pedals save my life everyday
  • 1 0
 With Punter’s tool
  • 1 1
 my cleat position is in the bin
  • 3 3
 In the bin
  • 1 1
 Flat Pedals FTW!

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