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Are cycling cleats totally necessary? No – but they are great at helping improve your cycling skills and your feet health. The right pair of cleats or cycling shoes can improve your cycling ability dramatically, and while you do not have to spend a ton of cash on one pair, you do need to know how they are supposed to fit. The wrong fit can cause you slippage and a lot of foot pain. Below are tips to help you get the best shoe and cleat fit for your feet.

Fit Your Foot

A cycling shoe should fit to your foot – and a big snuggly, unlike a sneaker. It should be snug in the heel, with evened pressure on the instep. You should not be pressed against the end.  You should have a little toe room at the end of a well fit cycling shoe and the shoe should hold your forefoot stable without pinching or restricting. You should not have large areas of gaping or folds in the material in a well fit cycling shoe. The ball of your foot should lie at the widest portion of the shoe to allow for proper cleat positioning within the shoe’s adjustment range in a well fit cycling shoe.

Ten Steps To Properly Fitted Cleats

  • Start with cleats removed from the shoe.
  • In your normal cycling socks, put your shoe on, and tighten as normal.
  • Sit down, but with both feet on the ground.
  • Feel, by pressing with your thumb or finger, along the inside edge of the shoe to locate the ball of your foot. This should be fairly easy to locate, as it is the bony knuckle protruding sideways at the bottom of your big toe.
  • Mark the side of the shoe at the center point of the ball as accurately as possible. Get someone else to help find it if necessary.
  • Do the same for the other foot.
  • Take the shoes off, and place them on a flat, level surface.
  • Hold a straight edge against the mark on the shoe, and transfer the line straight down to the same point on the sole.
  • Turn the shoe over and make sure that your mark is visible on the sole.
  • Fit cleat, loosely, aligning your mark with the point on the cleat where the center of the pedal axle will be, once you are clipped in. Most cleats provide a marker on the side, by way of a notch or line to indicate the center of the pedal axle, so it is just a case of lining up your mark with theirs.

Get Fitted By The Pros

If you cannot get a good fit yourself – and many of us cannot – visit your local cycle shop or contact your local cycling club to learn of the best source for cleat or shoe fittings. Going it alone is good for some, but for others it can be reassuring to be checked by a pro.