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A couple of weeks ago I had a crash that resulted in a broken ankle and quite a bit of soft tissue damage. I hit a large, immovable object. I was clipped in at the time of the crash with Shimano SPD-SL yellow (6-degree float). There was very little time between the realization of an imminent crash and the impact to disengage.

I'm far enough along in my recovery to begin planning to resume riding.

Would switching to Shimano SPD-SL red (0-degree float) decrease the amount of time required to unclip?

The answer to Clipless Pedals - Float doesn't address the speed of twisting to disenage.

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    I may or may not attempt to answer the question, but regardless: be aware that if you go to the red or blue (1-deg float cleats), you'll need to rotate the cleats if your neutral foot positions are slightly rotated. I switched from a different floating cleat to blue SPD-SLs, and I mounted my cleats pointing straight ahead. I didn't realize that my toes tend to point out slightly, and I felt it immediately.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jul 9, 2020 at 18:07
  • Maybe you could rotate your existing cleats so that they are closer to the disengagement angle?
    – Michael
    Jul 9, 2020 at 19:36

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Although it would make unclipping faster, there are a few other things you can tweak to get the same effect without changing cleats.

  • Maybe you need to reduce your clip tension so it takes less force to unclip.
  • Practice the instinctive clip-in/out. You really don't want to have to consciously think about "I need to unclip NOW". Rotating your feet outwards needs to be subconsciously linked to your "danger is imminent" response. Riding MTB with clip pedals is a good way to learn this habit.

Changing to a more restrictive cleat will require you to be much more precise with your cleat setup as the comment says, for fear of knee injury or even worse, reduced power. You might also not like the lack of float compared to the yellow cleats. On the contrary, you may realize you actually prefer less float, making it overall a win-win situation.

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  • On the other hand, painstakingly adjusted 0° float clips also need very little sideways movement to unclip.
    – Carel
    Jul 9, 2020 at 20:34
  • @Carel They might require little movement, but high release tension means you still have to put a lot of effort (and therefore thought) into unclipping.
    – MaplePanda
    Jul 9, 2020 at 21:26
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    The release force isn't dictated by the cleat but by the pedal. On a given pedal any cleat requires the same effort. The float just changes the amount you'll have to twist your leg before the cleat snaps out.
    – Carel
    Jul 10, 2020 at 7:03
  • @MaplePanda I've been riding clipless for about six years. The clip tension is reasonable. I've always ridden with the default yellow cleats. I'd like to think that unclipping is automatic at this point. In this crash, I had to stay clipped to bunny hop a curb to avoid a parked trailer with sharp edges. I had, maybe, one second between the hop and the final impact to unclip. It's been a while since I've had a bike fitting, another fitting with attention to clip position would be a good plan.
    – Mike Chess
    Jul 11, 2020 at 16:01
  • @Mike Chess For a crash that fast and scary, I’m not sure what you really could have done better. I agree, your clip in/out technique is probably near perfect after six years. I think you could just chalk it up to unluckiness that your pedals didn’t release during the actual crash at this point.
    – MaplePanda
    Jul 11, 2020 at 20:10

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