Last Sunday, I put Look Keo clipless pedal cleats on two new pairs of shoes and it only took 20 minutes. That’s kind of amazing, because typically there’s lots of measuring and fine-tuning to get the cleats directly under the balls of the feet. Then you test ride, fine-tune, and pedal some more to find the optimum angle for the cleats, which can all add up to a lot of time.
Fact is, I had been procrastinating on setting up these new shoes because I knew it was going to take a long time. I have had two knee surgeries, so I have to be very fussy with the cleats. And I always worry with new shoes that I’m going to get it wrong and reinjure my bum knee.
This issue also means that my right cleat is in a different place than my left so I can’t match the positions, a shortcut that makes cleat installation faster. Usually, after installation, I also need to try out the new cleats on several rides, avoiding any major climbs and stopping to micro adjust them until they finally feel right. So new shoes can mean a few days of experimentation for me — down time that I don’t like.
Tip: If you’d like to learn more about proper cleat adjustment, there’s a how-to on the subject on my website here.
Ergon’s TP1 tool to the rescue
To try to make it easier for this cleat installation, I decided to get help and purchased a new tool I just heard about, Ergon’s $25.95 TP1 Pedal Cleat Tool for Keo cleats. There’s one for Shimano SPD-SL, SPD and Crank Brothers cleats, too.
The TP1 comes with nice, complete instructions, but once you see the tool, you may not need them. It’s so obvious how it works that you might wonder, like I did, why nobody made a tool like this a long time ago.
Note that I was matching the cleat position on my old road shoes to my new shoes. So I had my old pair as a reference. And this makes using this tool even easier.
Tip: Once you know your cleat position is perfect, be sure to outline it on the soles of your shoes with indelible ink (something like a Sharpie marker) or paint. That way, when you wear the cleats out, it’s quick and easy to replace them.
Like tracing paper for cleats
All you do to use Ergon’s tool is mount the cleats to your new shoes just tight enough so they will still move if you force them. If you’re copying your old shoes, you place them on the tool. There’s a left and right side, and the cleats fit tightly into pockets made for them in the tool. The surface of the tool has a grid on it like graph paper so you can clearly see where the cleat is in relation to the ball of the foot and also see the angle of your old shoes.
By comparing your old shoes with your new ones, you can simply move the new shoes to match the old ones, reach beneath the tool to access and tighten the cleats, and in only a few minutes, hop on your bike and ride. If it helps, you could trace a line around your old shoes to make it even easier to line up the new shoes.
Setting up new shoes without your old shoes for reference
If you don’t have old shoes to copy the cleat position from, Ergon’s tool is still very helpful. The instructions explain how to find the ball of your foot, and there are stickers to put on your shoes to mark it. This lets you get the fore/aft cleat position correct.
You can then use the tool to place both shoes at the same angle in relation to the centerline. Then you just check the position on your bicycle and fine-tune it as needed, using the toolto make sure you change the right and left shoe equally. Or using it to compare, if one cleat needs to be set differently.
Thank you, Ergon, for making cleat installation so much easier!
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.