A Full Explanation: Do Cleats Make You Faster Cycling?

Do Cleats Make You Faster Cycling

Do cleats make you faster cycling? Are you sure that you know the right answer? Dive into this post to check your knowledge and other useful info.


Apparently, most of us made use of a normal pedal when we started learning cycling. It facilitates beginners as you focus on balance instead of a foothold – as long as you have enough grip for the wheel movement, you can start your journey.

However, you will gradually feel more uncomfortable with this plastic part if you aim for the professional. At this stage, cleats will be your best companion on this road to pursue your passion for the sport.

Yet, is it true that they can offer what you are looking for? Do cleats make you faster cycling? This article answers this question and provides some more useful information. Scroll down!

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Do Cleats Make You Faster Cycling?

My comment for this issue is YES. But how and why? Discover more in the sections below!

What Are Cleats?

Cleats are an integral part of a clip-in system. To be more specific, cyclists attach this unit underneath their shoes and clip it into clipless pedals.

Two different cleats cater to two distinct systems, including ‘three bolt’ and ‘two bolt’. The first one works in road bikes to provide a great stable platform. The manufacturer links it to the shoe with three bolts with a large plastic cleat. Hence, users use a one-sided clamping mechanism to enhance performance.

The other system, on the other hand, uses a smaller metal cleat with two bolts. You can find it attached directly to some soles by a bilateral mechanism. This convenience increases its applicability to off-road biking and commutes.

What Are The Advantages Of Cycling With Cleats?

The best thing about cleats is the solid connection between your foot and the pedal. It is especially effective when the weather is wet. Specifically, you get absolute control over your bike and confidence because your feet never slip.

You can also take advantage of clipless pedals to increase performance. With the flat pedal, push it hard so that the wheel spins continuously.

In contrast, the cleat pulls up to transmit force. The immobilization of the foot saves effort and contributes to comfort during long journeys. I also find it to work most effectively when climbing slopes or through winding tracks that require balance and stability.

Another case is sprinting at more than 80 rpm. Normal pedals raise the level of challenge and lead to danger warnings, while clears and clip-in systems will ensure the best security.

How Can Cleats Make Cyclists Faster?

The manufacturer makes a spring mechanism to interact with the cleats. In detail, the pins on the bottom of the shoe grip the pedal and hold it in place during outdoor activity.

Once set up correctly, you can push down, pull up, or even kick back with the movement of your foot. Ase of operation promotes more force generation. It promotes speed even when you are not trying to do it.

Besides, your feet never leave the predetermined position. It creates an optimum performance, angle, posture, and anything else that affects tempo. Good grip means less braking and stopping time, which contributes to a steady increase in speed.

Do not forget to equip yourself with compatible tools for the best experience. For example, an SPD cleat with Speedplay pedals just creates a hindrance to your ride.

How Can Cleats Make Cyclists Faster

Although it may take some time to get used to the clip-in system,  Do not worry too much! This happens to all newcomers. As an experienced person, I encourage home practice by leaning against the wall with a slow cycle. Heading to the road when you have no idea about clipping in and out is the worst idea.

How Much Faster Is Cycling With Cleats?

As a cleat lover, I experimented with this issue and found a subjective answer. I have realized that clipless pedals really make a difference with flat ones.

However, it only applies to hills, drops, or sprints because your legs become part of the bike. As for running around, I must confess that it is not very optimistic.

How Much Faster Is Cycling With Cleats

Of course, it is just my unprofessional conclusion based on personal experience. But I also tried my best to look for some scientific studies. Luckily, I have got it all. Are you ready for showtime?

The International Journal of Sports Medicine study has shown that no change in mechanical efficiency occurs at the clipless pedal when cycling on flat roads.

The minus point in this statement is the maintenance of the itinerary. In fact, I do not agree with the feasibility of this assumption. Even the daily commute cannot avoid changing terrain or intended speed.

Moving on to a master’s thesis published in 2012, the author noted a significant increase when the group cycled with cleats. Likewise, several studies in 2015 came to the same conclusion that sprinting power increased.

In short, cleats, or clip-in systems, generally push capacity up about 10% more than flat ones for sprints and climbs. On the downside, this excitement lasts for a short period (about 20-30 seconds).

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Cycling With Cleats?

No matter how much I enjoy cycling with cleats, it is careless not to mention both sides of the problem.


  • Speed and power rise

No one can deny this benefit for sprinting and climbing. Surprisingly, you can take advantage of it after the recovery period. It results in increased average speed, especially effective for long trips.

  • Stability control

Cleat unifies the movement of the foot with the pedal, as it allows you to enjoy nature even through uneven terrain.

  • Narrow shape

This construction allows for a lighter pedal that brings cyclists comfort.

  • Technique advance

It is a long-term advantage once you get used to the clip-in pedal. It includes rear-wheel control, wheel lift and slide, or cornering.


  • High cost

Besides spending money on cleats, you also have to be ready for pedals and shoes compatible with this unit.

  • Tricky unclip

Your foot slips into the pedal. The downside of this safety is that it can get clogged when the weather turns bad.

What Are The Difference Between Cleats And Normal Pedals?

Cleats and other pedals in comparison – which one is the best option? Check out the result in this part to see which is your best option!


In general, cleats or any other option is a support base for the foot when cycling. Regardless of the mechanism of action, they convert the force to turn the wheel.

What Are The Difference Between Cleats And Normal Pedals


After many years of cycling, I have experienced all three pedals with completely different designs: clipless, flat (platform), and clip.

Right now, join in my comparison to choose the best fit for your journey!

In terms of mechanism, the first one works inseparably with cleats. If there is a way to describe this system, I call it “clip-in”. Somehow I feel a similarity between it and the clip pedal.

However, this cousin comes up with a cage for your toes. That’s why I consider it “strap-in”. The remainder, on the other hand, is defined as the “step-on”. It means you can put your feet on the base comfortably and go on your own way.

Talking about the benefits of each, we can say that it is an undefeated battle between the cleat and the platform. As noted above, the first gives you effective pedal control, easy transmission, and good grip. While its rivals are ready to serve with greater power, better bearings, and traction.

Unfortunately, the clip system seems to become obsolete and out of the game. If you want to give it a try, keep an eye on its insecurity – It is not an accident that modern cyclists leave it in the past!

Finally, I would like to mention a little about the accessibility of each option. The victory of this round undoubtedly went to the flat pedal with no technical requirements.

IIt took me a short time to make good use of the clip system. Yet, cleats are the hardest game which creates a real challenge for newbies.


What Makes A Cyclist Faster?

An undefeated steed – That’s how I envisioned myself until other cyclists passed me on the road. A sad disillusionment forced me to learn how to increase cycling speed.

Amazingly, quite a few factors influence this, such as bike, terrain, or technique. Of course, you cannot avoid the impact of the first two. Here are the tips for raising your levels:

  • Pedal more enrich your experience
  • Practice going downhill and taking corners quickly
  • Work to reach perfect cadence and aerodynamic
  • Upgrade your bike
  • Riding in a group may give you motivation and performance comparison.

What Makes A Cyclist Faster

Can You Cycle Without Cleats?

Some people find it challenging as they have got used to clipping in and out. Is it necessary for cleats? I have also asked the same question. In fact, you can continue with the traditional options if you feel more comfortable. This does not lead to any trouble or danger at all.

However, the sections above have already shown you the awesome benefits of this unit. If you ask for my own opinion, I would say that it is impossible to leave the house without cleats.

How Long Do Cleats Last?

Any useful item wears out over time; the same goes for cleats. It is important to reinstall the pedal before its structure is damaged.

Some brands have a wear indicator that gives you an accurate warning. Or when you feel sloppy, buy a new one. According to my experience, I recommend you replace it every 3000 to 5000 miles.

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Despite ongoing disputes on cleat’s benefits, I never get on my bike without this unit. Maybe experience with it varies from person to person; it is worth trying at least one time, especially sprinting and climbing.

So, do cleats make you faster cycling? My answer is always yes. But do you know what the best answer is? Buy one and feel it yourself!

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Jame K. Thomas

Jame K. Thomas

Hey guys, I am an avid cyclist who have raced competitively in the amateur ranks until my mid 30s. I love cycling because it offers both physical and mental challenges, as well as the sense of freedom that comes with riding outdoors. I have devoted myself to the communities and shared all that I know about this supper-duper lovely cycling. Hope that my experience in this blog could give you help.

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