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I have an older pair of road shoes that appear to support both two-hole and three-hole cleat systems.

I've attached a two-hole Shimano mountain bike cleat to them and gone for a very short ride to find the bottom of the shoe is taking a fair bit of damage (perhaps I didn't fasten the cleats firm enough?).

Are these shoes simply not designed for these cleats? Or, should I just tighten them right up and expect a little bit of damage to the shoe?

The shoe is a Specializer Sport.

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    It’s normal for the cleat to bite into the shoe. I’d be more concerned about how you are going to walk or push off. – Michael Oct 14 '20 at 12:49
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Yes, this shoe also accepts the MTB-style two bolt cleats.

Three-bolt and two-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road and mountain pedals.

(from https://www.specialized.com/jp/en/sport-road-shoes/p/117510?color=&searchText=61217-3238)

They will accept Shimano SPD, Crankbrothers and other MTB cleats. However, the sole will get deformed or damaged. With some cleats this is expected and even true MTB soles will get signs of use of these cleats. I am not completely sure about SPD, but for Crankbrothers the sole is in a direct contact with the pedal so the pedal directly pushes into the sole and it will certainly make some imprints during the use.

There are sole protectors available by Crankbrothers. I have no idea whether they also work for SPD or whether Shimano also sells some, but some vendors (like Ryder) make SPD-compatible cleats that include sole protectors in the package.

  • The Speedplay ones fit between Speedplay cleat and their specific 4-bolt soles. – ojs Oct 14 '20 at 13:23
  • OK, it was just a bonus remark anyway. – Vladimir F Oct 14 '20 at 13:43
  • @VladimirF CB has an even better product for this situation: crankbrothers.com/products/3-hole-cleat This issue isn't the cleat damaging the sole, but direct damage to the cleat (that's more true with CB cleats than SPD cleats) – Paul H Oct 14 '20 at 14:43
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    I'm lost in your pronouns. The adaptor I posted does indeed protect the cleats as the side protrude away from the sole just slightly below the cleat while providing ample clearance for the pedal itself to engage with the cleat. – Paul H Oct 14 '20 at 15:01
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    Yes. But walking is inevitable and the rubber will definitely make it safer and perhaps mitigate the ire of some shop owners when the OP stops in for a snack – Paul H Oct 14 '20 at 16:55
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That's what soles look after installing SPD cleats. The serrated part of the cleat bites into the sole and makes permanent marks. It is the same with shoes intended for use with SPD cleats.

That being said, the two holes in these shoes are intended for very old SPD road pedals that came with special cleats that had side pontoons so that the shoe would be barely walkable and extend the contact surface between shoe and pedal outside the cleat. They have been superseded with different road cleat systems and SPD shoes where cleat is recessed into the sole. There is an adapter, SM-SH40, that goes between the sole and SPD cleat and adds both protection between the sole and cleat and side pontoons that make the shoe a bit more walkable.

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    What makes you say they're for SPD-R? presumably not the 4-hole pattern as that's common on shoes meant only for SPDs and badged mountain/touring – Chris H Oct 14 '20 at 11:47
  • Stuff like this being sold as SPD-R: picclick.com/… - but in that case it's apparently SPD sold as SPD-R. I'm editing the answer. – ojs Oct 14 '20 at 12:01
  • I certainly wouldn't fancy walking even a very short distance in them with metal cleats. I've got some quite new shoes that take both sorts of cleat, with the SPDs as exposed as you'd expect for road cleats, and they've got little plastic bits at the sides to provide a tiny bit of grip. I still don't get on with them, so apart from a test ride they've only been used on the track – Chris H Oct 14 '20 at 12:18
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    I remember that Shimano put SPD holes on their road shoes long after they discontinued the side pontoons and moved to SPD-R and SPD-SL. I can't imagine how the same shoe could have both usable SPD sole for the bare cleat and room for installing 3-bolt cleat. – ojs Oct 14 '20 at 12:28
  • My Muddyfox ones (discontinued) are equally bad for walking in with SPDs or Looks. The biggest issue I had is that I tend to take a few pedal strokes before clipping in (commuting habit - get some speed up pulling out at a junction before fiddling about in front of an accelerating car) and the hard plastic sole just slides sideways off the pedal. – Chris H Oct 14 '20 at 12:42

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