Yesterday I Made a Dumb Bike Pedal Mistake (but fixed it)

from Rookie’s keyboard

Hello, friends

Unfortunately, I have to report a mistake that I made yesterday due to the lack of knowledge. 

Accidentally (although they say there is no such thing as a coincidence), I went into a new bike shop in town and saw that they had MTB Crank Brothers pedal on clearance and I got them even though I rarely use my SPD shoes anyway.

It was a quick purchase and when I got back home I realized that the Shimano cleats of my shoes are incompatible with Crank Brothers pedals. 

However, I found a workaround – I simply unmounted the original SPD cleats and mounted the cleats that came with the new pedals. 

I am sharing this because other may found themselves in the spot. 

And later that night, I did a bit of research on the topic and decided to prepare an article illustrating the discrepencies.

Shape and Dimensions

Shimano’s SPD cleats and Crank Brothers’ cleats have a totally different design.

Shimano’s cleats are longer and have a pointy, wide end. The ends on CB’ cleats are of similar width. (image below).

A Shimano SPD cleat

A Crank Brothers cleat

The Body’s Material

SPD cleats are steel whereas Cranks Brothers’ cleats are made of brass.

Brass is a notably softer material and wears down faster. But in this case, it’s strategically chosen to protect the pedal from damage. It helps if you think of the cleat as a consumable.

Of course, the cleats’ material doesn’t influence their compatibility. The shape is the problem.


“Cleat float” is the side-to-side movement of the shoe/cleat after clipping in. 

The float option allows a more natural joint moving pattern when pedaling.

SPD pedals offer 0, 2, and 6 degrees of float whereas Cranks Brothers cleats come with 0 and 6-degree variants. It’s good enough for me, though.

“SPD Compatible” 

One can make the wrong conclusion that a product labeled as “SPD compatible” can operate with SPD cleats. This isn’t always the case.

“SPD compatible” means that the pedal supports shoes on which you can install SPD cleats.

In short, an“SPD compatible pedal” is a model relying on cleats that can be mounted on shoes that can take SPD cleats.

CB cleats are also SPD compatible (at least mine) They attach to the shoes via a two-bolt system. Therefore, they can be mounted to any cycling shoe that uses a two-bolt mount including Shimano’s SPD models.

A Note On Eggbeaters

Eggbeaters are high-end Crank Brothers pedals. They aren’t compatible with SPD cleats and rely on CB’s proprietary pair of cleats. 

Some Downside of CB Pedals

Crank Brothers pedals don’t seem to have an option for increasing the tension on the cleat. 

However, it’s possible to make clipping-in easier or harder by adding cleat shims.

The cleat shims are installed between the cleat and the sole. Extra cleat shims decrease the friction between the shoes and the pedal and make clipping in and out of the pedals easier.

Fewer or no shims increase the friction between the shoes and the pedal and make clipping in and out of the pedals more difficult.

The Dots

The dots on Crank Brothers’ cleats are there to indicate the pedal’s degree of release or how much the rider has to turn their foot around to unclip.

If the cleat with dots is installed on the right foot, then the release happens at 15 degrees.

If the cleat with dots is placed on the left foot, the release increases to 20 degrees.

Note: The dots are present only on older pedals like mine.

I hope this short post was helpful, friends. Overall, I like my new pedals and was only mildly annoyed that I had to replace the cleat on my shoes. 

But it’s all good.

Until next time, 

– Rookie






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