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Look Style Pedal System Explained

Definition: Look Style Cleat/Pedal System

Biking is a gear-heavy sport, all the way down to the shoes. Cyclists, depending on the type of biking they do, have different preferences for the type of cleat and pedal system they use. Whether mountain biking or road biking, clipless pedals make the experience better. The jargon is odd too, since you "clip in," or rather snap the cleat into the pedal. Riding "clipped in" makes you more efficient since your foot is essentially attached to the pedal. We're talking more direct power transfer from foot to pedal to gears to wheels.

In the 1980s, the French company Look created a "step in" pedal, borrowing technology used for ski bindings, to replace the clumsy toe cages on pedals, often referred to as clips (hence the term "clipless pedals" when riding with a cleat/pedal system). A large triangular piece of plastic, the cleat, is screwed into the bottom of a stiff-soled cycling shoe. The cleat locks into a triangular shaped pedal and to disengage the cleat from the pedal, you twist your heel outward. The cleat is large and protrudes from the bottom of the shoe making it difficult to walk, but the large cleat means you have more contact with the pedal. The large platform is more comfortable on the foot and makes "dancing on the pedals" (my fave expression for riding while standing) more stable. Plus the broader connection to the pedal, through the larger cleat and stiffer shoe, means less energy is wasted bending the shoe with your pedal stroke. All that power goes directly toward moving the crank to move the bike.

Read up on SPD cleats, designed for mountain biking here.

Join The Conversation
michlny michlny 7 years
Thanks Sundown...I was hoping to find something compatible with my Spin studio and my gym...I will check with both. I've been renting a pair from Sidi that I really like but can't figure out the style name...
Sundown321 Sundown321 7 years
michlny, your best bet would be to talk to your spin instructor. Not all clipless pedals or shoes are the same. Before you spend the time or money on shoes for a class. Find out what you need to look for. Unfortunately, not all shoes and pedals work together.
michlny michlny 7 years
I am so confused. Need to buy spin shoes and apparently I need the LOOK Delta??? Would love a FIT handy chart comparing/contrasting.........
Sundown321 Sundown321 7 years
I have been road biking for a few years and have never ridden without clipless pedals. Here are a few tips... If you're going to be walking around in your shoes a lot, look into mountain biking clipless shoes. They use the same pedals but offer more support around the clip part of the shoe. Also, when you're stopped on a bike, unclip both shoes... if you are not good at standing on one foot without a bike, it won't be much easier with one! Lastly, if you think you are going to fall, RELEASE YOUR SHOES!! if your feet are not attached to the bike you will have more control when you fall and will not go where ever the bike takes you!
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