Author Topic: SPD -> SPD-SL  (Read 2274 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
SPD -> SPD-SL
« on: January 12, 2019, 01:41:28 pm »

My physio has suggested that my knee pain is coming about from the amount of float I have on my SPD's, coupled with the small contact area, and that for the amount of riding I'm doing, I'd benefit from moving to road clipless.

Before I hit buy on some PD R550, and a rather expensive pair of Gærne shoes (the only comfortable ones in the shop), is there anything I should be aware of?

What's the best way of working out the correct clear position? Is it something I can extrapolate from my existing SPD shoes/cleat setup?

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 02:00:37 pm »
Carbon soled shoes would be a good move, to spread the load. Cleat position is personal. Generally you can extrapolate from your SPD cleat position, although personally I tend to run my cleats further back from the “ball of foot over axle” position. It really isn’t any harder to get the cleat position / rotation correct with road clipless than with SPD.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2019, 02:13:30 pm »
I VERY much doubt that a "small contact area" could produce knee pain  :hand:


(I'm also VERY sceptical about the bigger road pedals helping with foot pain - assuming one has a stiff sole such as modern carbon-thingies - but public opinion is less clear-cut on that one ... )
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 02:22:55 pm »
it would be worth asking your physio what their logic is, exactly.

  IME knee pain is most often caused by too little float and/or bad cleat positioning. Various combinations of SPD cleat and SPD pedal will give different amounts of float. You may be 'a foot twister' (and need a lot of float) or not. You may have had the cleats set imperfectly regardless.


Similarly IME the 'small contact area' becomes problematic in two main ways;

1) if your shoes are no good and cause increased loading through the shoe sole
2) if the cleat is positioned wrongly (in a lateral sense) and causes your foot to tilt.

on the latter point it is very common on SPDs that the cleat is set too far inboard (to allow the shoe/foot to clear the crank) and this causes the foot to tilt outwards (and this can cause all kinds of pain to manifest itself if you ride far enough).  If you have obvious rub marks outboard of the cleat area (but not so much inboard) this is most likely the case, and the setup then becomes unusually sensitive to minor variations in how the shoe sole bears against the rest of the pedal. Note that some pedal systems with small bindings (eg speedplay) have a choice of spindle length and the shortest of these corresponds with the standard setting for SPD pedals. IIRC this is to have the cleat centreline ~55mm from the crank  (more exactly the shoulder on the pedal spindle). Plenty of SPD users would benefit from longer spindles. 

I don't have wide feet and even so I struggle to get an SPD cleat centred under my foot; to test this I ride for a bit on a set of SPDs that are so worn (worn by someone else) that they don't support the foot if it tilts outboard. With this setup I immediately notice a lateral movement of the cleat that is as small as 2mm. Since pedals can be spaced out (using washers) by about 2mm this is an easy route for giving you more  adjustment if this is necessary.

SPD-SLs have a wider cleat and it is less important if it is exactly centred (laterally) beneath the foot. However there are only three choices for float (none, 2 degrees or 6 degrees),  and setup is just as important as with regular SPDs. Three-bolt cleats very soon wear and if they wear unevenly the foot can also tilt when it is in the pedal. I have seen folk fall over on slippy surfaces when wearing three-bolt cleats and injure themselves. The worst injury caused by walking on three bolt cleats I have seen was a (properly) broken leg.

So I would probably do a bit more research and a bit more experimentation before jumping ship and buying new shoes and new pedals; you are potentially just dialling in a load more variables into a problem that you didn't understand properly to start with.

BTW you can modify SPD cleats to give more or less float without great difficulty; this may allow you to find out what suits you in this regard.

Also note that there is a problem with SPDs; making very small changes in the angle of the cleat is difficult; the cleat tends to settle back into its previous position. To try different angles, it is often easiest if you alter the longitudinal position of the cleat when you change the angle too.

cheers

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2019, 07:55:35 pm »
One thing to reiterate is that SPD-SL cleats are a wear item and you will likely end up replacing them more often than anything else on the bike - if your experience is anything like mine was, it'll be a *lot* more often. They're not cheap either, especially if you end up paying RRP!

Other types of cleats last much better - I've heard Speedplays are the best road style cleat in this regard.

(or stick to SPDs)

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2019, 10:25:29 pm »
It sounds unlikely based on what you say.  I'd agree with the comments above, in particular Matt's scepticism and Brucey's extremely detailed answer. 

It is unlikely you will be able to solve a problem like knee pain just by buying a different piece of kit.  It's much more likely that you will fix it by making a subtle adjustment.  I'd suggest going to a bike fitter and getting a cleat fit before buying new stuff. 

You may decide to change to a different pedal system at some point but plenty of people ride TCR with SPDs.  FWIW I did in 2016 (although I don't currently use them).


Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2019, 10:34:19 pm »
What does the physio think that these issues with your pedal system are actually doing to your knee(s)? Do you have some specific muscle imbalance caused by using the outer muscles over your inner ones or something?
As the others have said, the usual suspects for knee issues cause by pedal systems are:
  • Incorrect cleat position
  • Too little float
  • Unsupportive or otherwise problematic shoes.

While there has been much debate, I don't think anyone has demonstrated any actual benefit in road pedals vs MTB ones. Also, road pedals mean that any walking you do requires a very strange gait, and wears out your cleats in no time.

If you do decide to buy the road setup stuff, I'd be very wary of trying to extrapolate the cleat position - not only are they really difficult to compare, but it might be that's what's causing the problem in the first place! Either way, Frank's suggestion of a proper bike fit is probably worth it...

zigzag

  • unfuckwithable
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2019, 10:43:10 pm »
i'm fairly fortunate in this regard as i can ride any system (road/mtb/flat) without incurring any ache or pain anywhere. purely by preference and feel i'd always go for spd-sl with zero float cleats, provided i will not need to be walking on mud, wet sand, snow etc.
all other systems are a compromise for riding/pedaling a bike, but excel (how much - depending on scenarios and circumstances) when off the bike.

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2019, 02:29:50 am »
It appears to be a minefield subject and here is my can of gasoline to throw fire on the confusion of your resolution. ;)

I have, until recently, used SPD-SL extensively including on long distance/ultra rides. I am lucky enough to have found comfortable shoes and there is enough options with cleat movement to work through pretty much all of knee pain issues to date. My personal situation is that I came to cycling as a middle aged ex rugby player/ distance runner who is tending towards clydesdale and had consequently put a fair amount of mileage on cartilage etc. (Several clean ups but no major surgeries)
I managed to ride comfortably (in the cleat/knee department at least) through one and a half TCR's (comfortable being a relative term in those situations of course)  In fact, on previous shorter tests I had binned thoughts of using MTB type cleats ultras due to discomfort from both shoe and cleat after many hours in the saddle and found the road cleats better.
I did get knee pain when racing though, but have concluded that it is from pushing a big gear/mashing with a lot of force. (I use a 53/11 when racing)
I recently experimented with flat pedals for non racing rides, and quite frankly its been a revelation. I had initially tried them after having issues with mounting/dismounting when fatigued on a loaded bike in hilly terrain. I had assumed that they would feel "floppy" and my feet would be uncomfortable after longer day rides. But thus far its been amazing. Sure the power transfer is diminished, but comfort wise, and hopping off the bike is s easy.  I just don't seem to notice knee/tendon issues at all. Aces.
I haven't put any back to back super long rides in, which could of course throw up issues, and I do appreciate that it is a very subjective topic. Different strokes for different folks etc.
I hope you get to the bottom of your issues, you are riding TCR this year right?
All the gear and no idea.Three dimensionally dyslexic.

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2019, 03:41:49 am »
If you want float, Look have more than SPD-SL I think?  Speedplay certainly do.  Beware too much float though: I went through a similar process and after years decided that too much float on my Looks was encouraging me to ride in a bad position and exacerbating the problem.  I quite like Time now: allows for if you need it but provides some gentle encouragement to keep your feet pointing forwards.

Listen to your physio over and above a bunch of randommers on the internet though! the

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2019, 04:28:17 am »
Try with ball of foot just fractionally forward of axle, with cleats set fairly wide on pedals and straight, and then see which way your feet want to float when you ride. The adjust accordingly. Pedal with decent cadence, not pedal mashing.

I use VP cleats rather than Shimano. They are easier to replace as they split in two making it easier to refit in same position. Also really cheap from PX. As said above all wide cleats are a bit slippery when walking (Look are the worst!) especially as they wear. Spd SL tend to have rubber feet which helps. I don't find it a problem....just be aware.

https://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/PEVPARCSL/vp-arc-sl-shimano-spd-sl-compatible-road-cleats-with-exact-replacement

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2019, 11:07:39 am »
As an aside, I ride Look on the road. They’re certainly not a compromise option, especially if you use the ones without the anti-slip/squeak rubber inserts. As to off the bike wear, I carry and use (and always have) cleat covers.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2019, 01:02:58 pm »
some additional comments;

clipless pedals vary in how they transition from 'float' to 'release'.  When pedalling normally there isn't much difference in the feel provided your feet are within the 'float' range. However under some circumstances such as riding out of the saddle and/or sprinting, you may find yourself starting to bang into the 'release' part of the movement.    Having been brought up on clips and straps I'd say that for short intense efforts of this type nothing beats the feel of clips and (freshly tightened) straps, even if you are happy running all day with the straps set fairly loose otherwise.  [Not everyone feels the same but I can't be alone in feeling this way because early clipless systems often didn't have float at all and/or they had release tension that the rider could vary using a little lever or something.]   Second best for this would be a three-bolt cleat with a fairly abrupt transition, but if the tension is set so that you feel '100% secure' then the force required to release is usually unacceptably high the rest of the time.

 By contrast I don't feel as secure when sprinting hard using SPDs; the transition into the release is 'soft' and furthermore the width of the pedal usually doesn't offer enough support when you are pushing at all kinds of crazy angles.  This makes me think that I wouldn't get on at all well with pedals that release with angle only.

However most riders don't ever sprint that hard or do so optionally/sufficiently infrequently that it isn't a major consideration; there are higher priorities.  If riding any distance, I'd always put correct cleat setting/float provision first, before any other considerations.

 After many years I worked out that I needed float in the my right foot, not so much my left. I ended up filing new cleats (for clips and straps) so that the slot was an hourglass shape in the right cleat. This gave me enough float even with brand new cleats; before I worked this out, I was only happy on slightly worn cleats. 

For touring it is a toss-up for me between SPDs and clips and straps, even now.  For touring with clips and straps I use twin straps (with the second strap set through the holes in the back of the pedal cage) and shoes which don't have a cleat but do have ridges/wide grooves in the sole which engage slightly with the pedal cage.   This arrangement means I can ride all day with the straps fairly loose in perfect comfort. If I want to get a real shift on I tighten the straps. The rearmost strap goes around a narrower part of the foot and it soon become impossible to pull your foot out accidentally, cleat or no. 'Big deal' I hear you say; a good clipless system will work as well surely?  It might, but there isn't one which will also let you move your foot back and forth in the  pedal; this means that you can choose your pedal action to suit the circumstances; when climbing I quite often slide my foot back in the pedal and use a more exaggerated ankling motion than normal for a while; this gives my main leg muscles a bit of a rest, which is very welcome on a climb that is an hour long or more. I wouldn't choose pedal all day like this, but it is good to have a choice. [I suspect that many flat pedal users do this too, without even knowing BTW]. With standard cleats or any clipless system the longitudinal cleat position is more of a compromise.

cheers

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2019, 03:01:26 pm »
Are your current spd cleats on a shoe with deep treads ( mountain bike) or a smooth bottom? If the latter, are you using stabilisers ( things that bolt between your sole and the cleat). These are very important if you are using road-type flat sole shoes, otherwise your foot can rock on the pedal, and this can easily cause knee issues.

https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Shimano-SH40-SPD-Cleat-Stabilizing-Adapter_31373.htm?sku=71486&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=google_shopping&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIid7QqIPr3wIVbpPtCh32xgUfEAQYAyABEgJPd_D_BwE

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2019, 05:48:09 pm »
. Sure the power transfer is diminished,

That's not what people who have analysed it, such as Andrew Coggan, say. There are good reasons to use clipless systems but better power transfer is not one of them!

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
    • Didcot Audaxes
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2019, 06:18:52 pm »
. Sure the power transfer is diminished,

That's not what people who have analysed it, such as Andrew Coggan, say. There are good reasons to use couples systems but better power transfer is not one of them!
[I assume the above refers to SPD compared to SPD-SL and similar?!]

Frank, do you have a source for that? I'd be really interested to see an actual study; certainly I have never found evidence that power transfer IS less with SPD!

(and that's despite thousands of people simply stating that it is so, with the same certainty that the earth is round)
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2019, 06:35:13 pm »
I think that comment above was made in relation to flat pedals vs clipless/clipped, not SPD vs SPD-SL

You can pedal all day (in a 'steady state' if you like)  on flat pedals and it will make stuff-all difference. But if you are concentrating more on getting a move on, (or 'less on the steadyness, more on getting into a state' as one wag put it) then you are better of with some kind of retention.

My carrier bike has flats on, and my hack bike has SPD/flats on, and on the latter I sometimes I don't bother to clip in with both feet eg if I am approaching a red light. However if I forget, and the lights change, I pull my feet straight off the pedals. Clearly when I'm clipped in (or think I am)  I pull up more than I imagine, even under non-demanding conditions.

For 11/10ths efforts, you just need to be clipped in, period.

cheers

bludger

  • Randonneur and bargain hunter
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2019, 08:59:03 pm »
I recently sorted out some knee pain on my own, which had only come about since getting a new bike in November. To begin with I suspected the cleat position, but since I'd had the same cleats for ages before the new bike I knew this was baloney.

Basically I'd been running too long a stem, which had made me pitch my weight on my knees in an odd way. took a week off the bike, fitted a short and flipped stem, pain's a goner.
YACF touring/audax bargain basement:
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Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2019, 09:51:22 pm »

That's not what people who have analysed it, such as Andrew Coggan, say. There are good reasons to use couples systems but better power transfer is not one of them!
[I assume the above refers to SPD compared to SPD-SL and similar?!]

Frank, do you have a source for that? I'd be really interested to see an actual study; certainly I have never found evidence that power transfer IS less with SPD!

(and that's despite thousands of people simply stating that it is so, with the same certainty that the earth is round)

Brucey is right, it is for flat pedals vs clipless in general.  I expect it is even less likely that there would be a measureable difference between different types of clipless systems (if someone asserts that there is, ask them where the energy is going)

Andrew Coggan did the original work.  I can't find links to his presentation but here are a couple of references:
http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/64627-aero-data-on-brakes/&do=findComment&comment=1000212
https://www.bikejames.com/strength/why-pedaling-efficiency-has-nothing-to-do-with-your-pedals/
https://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/Anybody_here_cycle_in_straps_vs._clip_in_P5429441/

GCN did something on it more recently:
https://www.velonews.com/2014/10/training/video-gcn-investigates-real-difference-clipless-flat-pedals_351535
It's a video but the punchline is 'Flat pedals seem to be a tiny bit more efficient than your clipless ones...'

Clipless (or clips and straps) are definitely needed for road racing.  Any situation where your foot is likely to come off the pedal, such as sprinting, or making an attack involving changing gear under load, they reduce the risk of a costly mistake.  But for steady state efforts, even at high power, that doesn't apply.  It's a question of what your knees, ankles, feet, cope best with, and what you find most pleasing to use. 

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2019, 10:10:21 pm »
Brucey is right, it is for flat pedals vs clipless in general.  I expect it is even less likely that there would be a measureable difference between different types of clipless systems (if someone asserts that there is, ask them where the energy is going)

Andrew Coggan did the original work.  I can't find links to his presentation but here are a couple of references:
http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/64627-aero-data-on-brakes/&do=findComment&comment=1000212
https://www.bikejames.com/strength/why-pedaling-efficiency-has-nothing-to-do-with-your-pedals/
https://forum.slowtwitch.com/forum/Slowtwitch_Forums_C1/Triathlon_Forum_F1/Anybody_here_cycle_in_straps_vs._clip_in_P5429441/

GCN did something on it more recently:
https://www.velonews.com/2014/10/training/video-gcn-investigates-real-difference-clipless-flat-pedals_351535
It's a video but the punchline is 'Flat pedals seem to be a tiny bit more efficient than your clipless ones...'

Clipless (or clips and straps) are definitely needed for road racing.  Any situation where your foot is likely to come off the pedal, such as sprinting, or making an attack involving changing gear under load, they reduce the risk of a costly mistake.  But for steady state efforts, even at high power, that doesn't apply.  It's a question of what your knees, ankles, feet, cope best with, and what you find most pleasing to use.

I take it this is talking about bunched racing? The sort of racing I'm doing is unlikely to have any attacking, bursting, sprinting (except maybe from a dog)?

I've been riding on flats for the last few months as my SPD shoes just aren't comfortable for more than a couple of hours at a time (ah the lessons you only learn expensively, and after a long period...). I started with SPD rather than SPD-SL, as the shoes tend to allow easier walking, and when I started out, I was walking a lot of hills. Now I'm getting fitter, I'm walking fewer hills.

It sounds unlikely based on what you say.  I'd agree with the comments above, in particular Matt's scepticism and Brucey's extremely detailed answer. 

It is unlikely you will be able to solve a problem like knee pain just by buying a different piece of kit.  It's much more likely that you will fix it by making a subtle adjustment.  I'd suggest going to a bike fitter and getting a cleat fit before buying new stuff. 

You may decide to change to a different pedal system at some point but plenty of people ride TCR with SPDs.  FWIW I did in 2016 (although I don't currently use them).

I had a bike fit and cleat fit, for my SPD's, in September 2017, 13000km ago. But if I swap from SPD to SPD-SL, then I'm not sure how that transfers. That said, I've been struggling to get on with the SPD's I have. Whether that is the shoes, or the pedals, or the combination, I'm not sure. Physio who's a triathlete suggests that not being clipped in a lot, and the amount of float on the SPD's is at the very least not helping my knees.

Even if I stick with SPD, rather than SPD-SL, I'm gonna need new shoes, but if I'm going to get new shoes anyway, why not swap to SPD-SL?

I'm not certain my reasoning here is strong for any one setup. I could just get a better set of totally flat pedals, and not worry about being clipped in.

Current setup is Specialized Rime Expert MTB shoes, Specialized blue insoles, and Shimano M-324 pedals, Or the other side of the pedals, and my normal walking shoes.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2019, 10:21:30 pm »
I started with SPD rather than SPD-SL, as the shoes tend to allow easier walking, and when I started out, I was walking a lot of hills. Now I'm getting fitter, I'm walking fewer hills.

Possibly the problem is your shoes rather than your cleats? My walkable touring shoes put pressure in all sorts of funny places my road shoes don't.

Quote
Even if I stick with SPD, rather than SPD-SL, I'm gonna need new shoes, but if I'm going to get new shoes anyway, why not swap to SPD-SL?

So my post above about the endless ongoing expense...

Also they clog with mud and won't clip in (requiring much scraping) at the slightest opportunity. I hope you don't do much sneaking behind bushes for a wee...

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2019, 10:40:36 pm »
I started with SPD rather than SPD-SL, as the shoes tend to allow easier walking, and when I started out, I was walking a lot of hills. Now I'm getting fitter, I'm walking fewer hills.

Possibly the problem is your shoes rather than your cleats? My walkable touring shoes put pressure in all sorts of funny places my road shoes don't.

So if I'm replacing the shoes anyway, why not replace the pedals at the same time?

Quote

Quote
Even if I stick with SPD, rather than SPD-SL, I'm gonna need new shoes, but if I'm going to get new shoes anyway, why not swap to SPD-SL?

So my post above about the endless ongoing expense...

Also they clog with mud and won't clip in (requiring much scraping) at the slightest opportunity. I hope you don't do much sneaking behind bushes for a wee...

Wait, which ones clog with mud?

As for nipping behind a bush to pee, in .nl? Not really, as the other side of the bush just means you're visible to different group of people, as you can see for quite a distance in the polder landscape.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2019, 11:14:56 pm »
[So if I'm replacing the shoes anyway, why not replace the pedals at the same time?

Because SPD-SLs have a lot of downsides vs SPDs.

Quote
Wait, which ones clog with mud?

The slot along the rear edge of SPD-SL cleats is a mud and stone trap.

Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2019, 01:07:40 am »
Quote from: quixoticgeek
…..Whether that is the shoes, or the pedals, or the combination, I'm not sure. Physio who's a triathlete suggests that not being clipped in a lot, and the amount of float on the SPD's is at the very least not helping my knees.....

I'm still curious as to what is meant by this; too much, too little, transition into release is wrong...  what???? :o.

  If you don't know find out. Get a second opinion. Understand what exactly is painful and understand the mechanism this is thought to be the cause of this knee pain.

 Knee pain is a serious business and (apparently randomly) buying different pedals and shoes without understanding the true nature of your problem is unlikely to fix it except by accident. A large number of fellow cyclists I have known have had battles with knee pain and in order of causation it has been

1) cleats set wrongly

2) cleats without enough float

3) saddle set too low

4) saddle set too high or other fault in riding position

The third of these above is a tricky one; in its most common form  it only starts to manifest itself as you start to do lots of miles.  As I understand it the vastus medialis is liable to end up underdeveloped if you ride with the saddle too low (it sees most action as the leg come close to being straight), and this tends to pull the kneecap to the outside, and wears the cartilage away. Very painful, and it can ultimately result in you not being able to ride a bike any more.

cheers

Karla

  • car(e) free
    • Lost Byway - around the world by bike
Re: SPD -> SPD-SL
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2019, 01:54:56 am »
Get the road pedals, it will wind up the crusty touring crowd if nothing else  :demon: