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Currently I have MTB shoes and I am surprised how little freedom they provide for left-right adjustment (shift). So I wonder which cleats -- MTB vs road -- provide more adjustment freedom?

Assuming such question can be answered in general (i.e. without ton of exceptions that brand X provide more than Y).

Update there is more than one way to skin the cat -- by adjustment I meant fixing the cleat on the shoe with screws. Not the adjustment when on the bike and small movements which pedal+cleat allow.

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    Do you mean float - the angle the shoe can move through when locked in, or left right-adjustment of the cleat position on the shoe? The former is a function of pedal model and cleat type (see @Max's answer), the latter a function of shoe brand and model. – Argenti Apparatus May 24 '18 at 18:57
  • @ArgentiApparatus, I realized it could be interpreted two ways when I saw the answer -- I mean shift (not rotation), but in general I am interested if going to race pedals+shoes I would gain more freedom of movement/rotation (so adjustment in general). – greenoldman May 24 '18 at 18:59
  • AFAIK, MTB style 2-hole cleats have some L-R adjustment whereas road 3-hole don't really have any. This can be seen in the pics on the page Max linked to. – Argenti Apparatus May 24 '18 at 19:19
  • @ArgentiApparatus: At least Look, Speedplay Zero and Shimano SPD-SL road bike cleats can all be moved left/right a few mm (the holes and cut-outs for the screws+washers are intentionally oversized to allow movement). Actually the range is pretty similar to Shimano SPD MTB cleats. With all of them I could make my shoes rub against the crank arms. The only cleats I can recall were no left/right adjustment is possible are the Look Quartz for MTBs. – Michael May 24 '18 at 19:42
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    For the most adjust possible, use flat pedals. Add some slip prevention with pins on the pedals. Half cages add some retention with a lot of adjust possible. Add straps to increase retention more. – Criggie May 25 '18 at 3:08
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All brands and type of cleats offer some left/right floating freedom.

Regular Shimano SPD have a lot of freedom.

Shimano and Looks cleats have different cleats to allow different range of left/right floats.

Shimano SPD-SL Pedal Cleats

Red 0° Float
Blue 2° Float (provided with high-end e.g. Dura Ace SPD-SL pedals)
Yellow 6° Float (provided with most Shimano SPD-SL pedals)

Look Pedal Cleats

Black 0° Float
Grey 4.5° Float
Red 9° Float

Have a looksie here for more pedals and cleats info.

  • Isn't it just typical that the colours don't line up between the two standards? Also, off-brand cleats like Wellgo don't conform to these colours either. Red is 6 degrees of Look Keo float there. – Criggie May 24 '18 at 20:53
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An upper limit for the adjustability of mountain-bike cleats is the size of the cutout in the outsole.

Road-bike cleats could theoretically offer more adjustability but I think in practice at least Look Keo, Speedplay Zero and Shimano SPD-SL cleats are all limited to a few millimeters (~±2mm) left/right and a bit more (~±3mm) fore/aft. The holes and cut-outs for the screws+washers are intentionally oversized to allow this movement/adjustability.

With road bike shoes you are basically walking on the cleats. This gets harder when the cleat is moved to the left or right very far. I’ve tried some relatively extreme settings and in my opinion it really doesn’t make much sense to offer more range since you tend to twist your ankles.

If you need more left/right adjustment, at least Speedplay offers replacement pedal axles with different lengths (shorter and longer). Look allows you to use 2mm washers on the pedal thread which move the pedal outside by 2mm.

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