I have a problem. It’s one of those problems you self-generate, but once it seeds in the back of your mind, it germinates into something tough to ignore every time you’re reminded of it. It’s not complicated: I’m sick of incompatible, proprietary cleat systems on my bikes.
When I road one bike, choosing a pedal and cleat system was luxuriously about performance, function, style and boredom. I started on SPD clip-ins from my MTB days, then moved to Shimano road cleats very briefly (the system that looks like TIME)… then moved on to Speedplay because of an IT band problem those pedals really help alleviate. Eventually, int he modern period, I started using Look pedals for the road bike, because, well, vy nott. It’s an effing LOOK. I followed suit with the LOOK fixed-gear (the Villain) because it was a pursuit bike type and I might as well use the same road shoes for it. For the other bikes, I’ve had SPD one-sided pedals, so that I could be clipped in, or not, for maximum flexibilities.
But I ran into annoying problems, more of circumstance and planning, admittedly, than technical issues. I’d be at work with one bike, but not have the shoes for it (I often have more than one bike at each location)… or, I’d want to wear certain shoes, but I was planning to ride a bike with the other system that day. Or, I’d leave the effing shoes upstairs, get to the garage, and realize my error… and be late.
So once i started thinking about using ONE system again, I couldn’t let it go. But frankly, I think the basic tried and true SPD is a little bit sub-par compared to some of the other advancements since. I like having multiple clip-in sides. Old MTB type SPD pedals have two sided clip-in, which is pretty good. My Speedplays were two-sided as well. But my half-and-half SPD pedals obviously aren’t. And my Looks aren’t. So I thought, wait one second, those sick Crank brothers Eggbeaters are FOUR-way clip-ins. They use SPD cleats. SOLVED: get eggbeaters on the two Looks, keep the half and half pedals for the casual bikes, done!
Except Crank Brothers, in their infinite maddening wisdom, chose to use an SPD cleat that isn’t an SPD cleat. It just LOOKS like an SPD cleat. They call it ‘SPD-type’. REALLY. It’s half the size of a normal SPD cleat. Well, THAT makes sense.
So those are out. I’m on the verge of just using my half and halfs on all the casual bikes, and using either one-sided road-versions of the Shimano pedal, or using a lightweight 2-sided MTB pedal. I’m annoyed at no functional advantage over my LOOKS with the former (actually, a lot less: heavier, less efficient power transfer) and I fear the functional limitation of the latter (two-sided MTB pedals have a small connection point and no platform, and can be a bear on long rides)… but what I want, ultimately, is to have any shoe fit any bike.
I may pull the trigger and go uniform. But man, I know everyone wants to build a better mousetrap, but I do wish there was more standardization in cleats, letting the pedal design vary. Even Shimano is not immune: beyond their road three-hole cleat which is out of the question, even their traditional two-hole SPD? They tweaked that design as well, and have variants. MEH!