7

I went to a different gym this week for a spin class and the instructor could not clip into her bike (newbie cleat user, she said). All of the participants wearing cleats had Shimano SPDs (or same-design knockoffs). She bought SPD-compatible cleats, too, according to her receipt, but simply could not clip into the pedals. I looked: they were not upside down or backwards... but the shape was new to me (and to other old-timers wearing cleats).

Mine, labeled SH-71 (and another pair labeled SH-98) have a "beak" at the front. It's pointed and has a bevel that allows easy insertion into the pedal. Hers were completely flat (no bevel) and the nose was rounded instead of pointed -- apparently Shimano's SM-SH56 and/or SM-SH51 design.

I had no problem clipping into one of the pedals, so it wasn't a matter of high tension. I couldn't clip her shoe in even when on the floor looking at the alignment from the side.

So my question is, did Shimano redesign the pedal/cleat system within the 7 or 8 years since I last bought SPD cleats? Or is it possible that she just got a bum pair of cleats (from Amazon)? Could the pedals be an old design and not forward-compatible with the rounded nose on the cleats? I sent her to an LBS to have someone look at them, but I'm still curious.

11
  • 2
    Didn't happen to grab a photo of the odd cleats perchance ?
    – Criggie
    Feb 1, 2023 at 22:00
  • 1
    What were her shoes like? And what were the pedals like? Many shoes clash with pedals that also have a cage or platform - this might include the spin bike pedals that are SPD one side and toeclips the other.
    – Chris H
    Feb 2, 2023 at 10:51
  • 1
    @CHris H: She actually somehow managed to find road shoes that would take two-hole cleats, so the metal cleat was hanging naked on the sole of the shoe. No obstructions to prevent mating. Plus, I was able to clip in, so nothing on the pedal was obstructing (like the straps from the clip side)
    – scmrak
    Feb 2, 2023 at 20:27
  • 2
    @Michael: SH71 was a pontoon-style cleat for Shimano road pedals that used the SPD convention. That was before Shimano switched their road pedals to the SPD-SL design similar to Look Delta and Keo. We old-timers used cleats with rubber or nylon pontoons for balance and traction while wearing road shoes with hard, flat soles.
    – scmrak
    Feb 2, 2023 at 20:53
  • 2
    @ChrisH: I have a pair that takes both 2- and 3-hole cleats, too; they're Nike Poggios that I've owned for 15 years, give or take -- right now they're mounted with a pair of SH-71s with pontoons. My newer road shoes are set up for 3-hole only (Mavic with Look Delta, Giro with SPD-SL).
    – scmrak
    Feb 4, 2023 at 11:25

3 Answers 3

13

The SH71 was designed primarily to work with road versions of SPD pedals (7410 and 6500 models). SH51 and SH56 are the standard mountain bike SPD cleats and would work with all other SPD pedals. This page has a chart that lays out more compatibility: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/shimano.html

1
  • Another big thing about SH71 is that it's designed for road shoes (still 2-bolt). Unfortunately that table misses many pedal models, and not just new ones
    – Chris H
    Feb 2, 2023 at 11:02
2

SH51 and its clones are the most common and popular cleats for spin classes and for SPD pedals in general. Some people prefer the multi-release SH56, which is compatible with all the same pedals.

The first thing to do is check that the pedal spring tension is set to an acceptable level and then check that nothing has obvious damage. If it still doesn't work, issues of this sort almost always result from a particular shoe, pedal, and cleat combination encountering issues with the sole contacting the pedal on either side of the cleat area before the cleat can engage properly. There are various shims out there that exist to correct this; I've always used extra Crank Bros ones every time the situation arises.

1
  • As mentioned, I clipped in myself to test a pedal and did not feel that the tension was abnormally high. Either way, she should still have been able to to clip in unless the tension was set at "elephant." As for your thoughts about obstructions, she married the cleats to flat-soled road shoes (don't ask me why...) so they were all alone on the bottom and there wasn't anything in the way. There wasn't anything in the way on the pedal, either. She allowed as to having had a great deal of trouble clipping in the one other time she used the cleats, probably a clue.
    – scmrak
    Feb 2, 2023 at 21:12
2

Finally reconnected with the instructor after three weeks. According to her, she visited our LBS where she was told that the cleats she'd gotten online for $8.00 were "crap" and sold a new pair of OEM Shimano SH-51s. Except for having problems due to not torquing the bolts down tight enough, she reported that everything was fine.

The moral of the story? When the description for an item at Amazon includes every possible keyword related to your search plus some that aren't related, you should probably choose another brand.

Thanks to all for your suggestions/input.

2
  • I've also heard it said that "Amazon is not a bike shop" they're a box-mover.
    – Criggie
    Feb 19, 2023 at 20:22
  • There are various sellers at Amazon, similar to Aliexpress and Ebay. Some of them have good bicycle stuff. But I once bought decent CB-style cleats at one of these, then tried similar ones (photo exactly same) and they were all the right ones (or left ones? I am not sure) despite having the dot on half of them. Feb 19, 2023 at 21:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.