Am I correct is saying that for all major pedal systems (SPD, SPD-SL, Look, Speedplay, CB Eggbeaters) that if a pedal has more float, then it will take more rotation to release your foot from the pedal?

My particular interest in this question stems from ACL issues where rotation is not ideal.

Anyone have any info on the Speedplay Light Action pedals? The claim to have 15 degrees of float and yet require less twisting to release.

  • Beyond the "float" angle -- the point where you begin to feel tension -- there is a further amount of rotation required to release. I don't know if this differs much between pedals, though, or if anyone has measured it. Commented May 14, 2012 at 15:04
  • Agree with DanielRHicks, and if the mentioned pedal has 15 degree of float, for sure it will NOT release within this angle range. I guess what they claim is that the pedal requires less FORCE to be released, which I'm not sure is so desireable (unintentional releases might occur, I think) Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:03
  • Additionally, there is always the possibility (which I consider everytime a new cleat or a new shoe is acquired) to rotate the cleat so that its front tip points a bit more towards the inside (big-toe side). This, plus assuming the natural foot position is not parallel, and using the smallest spring tension that works, allows a comfortable floating action without demanding too much force or rotation upon release. Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:06

4 Answers 4


There is no quick fix pedal for knee issues. Speedplay's non-centering wide float allows the least amount of outside force working on your knee while clipped in but requires more rotation and some force to exit the pedal regardless.

An ACL issue may be more harmed by the extra rotation and the angle at which release force is required, than it is helped by the non centering, wide float. I've listed several pedals and the float options and release tensions below. (Feel free to add others, if anybody has details. I will as I find them.)

"Float" is defined as the degree of movement offered by the cleat within the pedal before release begins. This can be highly important to prevent damage to knees, as most peoples' legs do not remain in a single plane as they pedal.


Keo Easy/Max/Carbon System: Offers Zero(black cleat), 4.5 degree(grey cleat), and nine degree(red cleat) float, adjustable only by cleat replacement. No release tension adjustment.

Keo Blade system: Offers Zero(black cleat), 4.5 degree(grey cleat), and nine degree(red cleat) float, adjustable only by cleat replacement. Release tension is either 12Nm or 16Nm. Stock is 12Nm, and adjustment requires changing the carbon leaf spring in the pedal. (Specific tools required.)

Look Delta: Offers Zero(black cleat) and nine degree(red cleat) float, adjustable only by cleat replacement. Pedal design obsoleted but still common on older bikes.


Shimano SPD-SL (Current Shimano road pedals): Offered in Yellow/Black 6 degree float or red/black zero float. All SPD-SL pedals from Tiagra level to Dura Ace offer adjustable release tension, from 1Nm to between 12Nm and 16Nm depending on pedal component level.


Speedplay pedals are unique in that they do not rely on spring tension for cleat retention in the pedal. There is a spring, but is only active during pedal entry and release. This means there is no "centering" action on the pedal. This is the reason that they are often offered to, and can have some benefit for persons with knee trouble. They do require more rotation to reach the point of engaging the release spring, and the release requires some force.

Zero: Float adjustable on cleat from zero to fifteen degrees. Release tension approximately 8Nm.

Light Action: Fifteen degrees non-centering float. No adjustment possible. Release tension approximately 6Nm.

X-Series: Fifteen degrees non-centering float. No adjustment possible. Release tension approximately 10Nm. Obsolete, replaced by light action pedal. Cleats still available.

I hope this is helpful.


I run Speedplay Zeros and the amount of float is adjustable up to 15 degrees, or no float as well. The amount of force to twist out of them is hard to describe, but you do need to twist with some force from your leg to get out. You are not able to click out until you rotate to the end of the float. For me on my adjustable Zero's I like the float and must rotate to 12-15 degrees before I feel the resistance and must apply more force to unclick.

On my recommendation, a couple riding buddies new to clipless pedals got the Light Action and they say they are easy to get in and out of. They only have 15 degrees of float, they are not adjustable like the Zero's.

I do like having the float so my foot can rotate some and not be locked into one position, forcing my knee to track the same motion for every pedal stroke, with the float, I am able to rotate a bit and even the slight angle difference can relieve some pain. I've had ITB issues, but not anything as bad as an ACL tear.

You could probably take your bike into a local bike shop to try out a couple pedals on your bike on a stationary trainer in the store.

  • The "no float" setting seems so risky! Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:07
  • It is. Pretty much only useful for track racers, and then the cleat adjustment needs to be perfect.
    – zenbike
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 14:03

I'm using Time ATACs on my fixie; there is enough float (they offer 2 float settings using the same cleat) so that my busted right knee doesn't hurt, releases very quickly and easily (as long as the correct technique is used), yet doesn't release at all when I have to pull up hard on the pedals to slow down/stop. I'm far from an expert on the matter, but I would recommend these over the Shimano SPDs I used to have on my MTB.


Not sure how bad your ACL issues are...I've got a rebuilt ACL and a friend of mine has a torn ACL that he has yet to get repaired. Both of us run either Look style or Shimano SPD-SL style pedals/cleats with no issues clipping or unclipping.

Almost all clipless pedals will have some amount of float. Some aren't adjustable, so the amount is limited to the pedal and/or cleat combination you employ.

I've heard that people with knee issues tend to run speedplays due to the extra amount of give they provide.

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