After much procrastination, I've finally jumped in and bought myself a road bike, under the cycle2work scheme we have here in the UK.

I opted for a Boardman Road Race, as it seems to be the most affordable entry level road racer. Since my commute is 20 miles one way (aiming for twice a week to start with) I've been advised to invest in some SPD-SL pedals.

I've never used a road bike, or SPD-SLs for that matter, however from what I can tell there are two types of cleats, floating (which give a little movement sideways) and fixed (no sideways movement).

For such a commute, which type would be most suited? I'm thinking that floating probably for the extra range of movement which could be more comfortable for a longer commute.

Is there anything in it? Or is it just down to user preference?

p.s. Any reason these pedals/cleats would not be compatible with the above bike? Or are pedals universally OK

  • Beware that there are two distinctly different types of cleats that are commonly (though possibly mistakenly) called "SPD cleats". Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 21:41
  • What do you mean by floating vs fixed cleats? The categories I've seen are SPD and SPD-SL.
    – Mac
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 4:54
  • 1
    Think OP is asking about SPD-SL cleat varieties: red (fixed) vs. yellow (6 degree float)
    – Useless
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 8:47
  • I think an SPD or crank bros pedal would be a better option. Then you can enjoy the gloriousness that is SPD sandals. Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 12:49
  • Note that there are also Blue cleats which allow 2° float, so something in between. They tend to be quite difficult to get hold of though
    – PeteH
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 12:18

3 Answers 3


Fixed position cleats, or 0 degree float cleats, require far greater precision about cleat setup on the shoe. Failure to get the setup right will mean pain, and can mean injury.

That is also true of floating cleats. Most pedals come with cleats that have between 4.5 and 9 degrees of float built in. I don't know of any pedal which has a 0 degree cleat, stock. You would have to buy it separately.

For your purpose, there is no benefit to a fixed position cleat. They are primarily used for track racing and for sprinting specialists in racing.

Given that, floating cleats are most suitable for a commuter's bike.

  • 1
    +1. Using Fixed (red) SPD-SL cleats for daily commuting is a recipe for knee pain.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 16:20

Although you have opted for a 'proper' road bike, you may want to consider the mountain bike style SPDs. Some of the MTB shoes come close to racing shoes in terms of stiffness, and there are certainly a range of good quality pedals on the market. There are disadvantages (the power from your foot is not spread over as large a pedal area) but the advantage is that you can buy shoes (or an additional pair of shoes) with recessed cleats (or a double sided pedal with SPDs one side and a platform the other) enabling you to use the commuting bike to nip into town shopping at lunchtime. Wandering around shops in cleated racing shoes is no fun.


I prefer floating, mostly because they're easier to get in and out of. The extra half second at every traffic light, plus the problem that I'm not really moving or in good control of the bike for that time, means I prefer the easy-in option. If you are used to the low-float cleats then that may not be an issue, but I see very few cyclists in that category on my commute (most are the "faff about while wobbling across the intersection" type).

Almost all pedals have the same thread (some BMX and kids bikes use a visibly smaller thread, I've seen a Shimano one with a huge thread). Note that there's a left hand and a right hand thread. Don't get that wrong or you'll probably need new cranks. So yes, the pedals shown will work. The basic test is: if you can't turn the pedal into the crank with your fingers you've done it wrong. Clean the threads, check the direction, then try again. Only use a tool for the last 1/2 turn of tightening.

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