Cleat Placement – A How To

Written by: Aram Bike Fitter at Predator Cycling

We have been getting a lot of questions on cleat placement so we thought it would be a good idea to answer them. It is not as simple as so many people make it out to to be, “Just place the cleat center at the ball of your foot and center line of the shoe”. What is many times overlooked is that everything works together, the way the cleat is put on changes how the rider sits on the saddle which changes how one reaches for the bars. A rider on a bike is a complicated system and the cleat positioning is one of the most complicated components in bicycle fitting. At Predator Cycling, we spend a lot of time trying to get cleats set up right. We use the Bike Fit system of wedges when needed, we watch how the rider pedals, how they move their knees during the pedal stroke and how their heel moves all in relation to the torque curve that is created. The “Predator way of fitting” is to get the rider positioned so that they feel as though they are pushing their body weight down against the pedals. What we are trying to do is get the rider’s legs to line up “foot-knee-hip” all in one straight line. We do not stop there, we also have to look at the torque curve to make sure the rider is putting out power during the entire stroke.

Now back to the cleat placement and some general rules to think about. When the cleat is moved forward more leverage is placed on the pedals, when the cleat is moved back one can obtain more spin. When the cleat is rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise it moves the placement of the heel and the knee. When the cleat is moved toward the bike or away from the bike the angle of the leg relative to the frame now changes. The thing to note is that each person is different so at Predator we use torque curve with the use of lasers and angleometer. There is no simple rule on where to place the cleats. It is best to find an experienced fitter near you and go there with as much information as you can give them. Let them know what is bothering you, and be specific with details! As a fitter myself I know how much it helps to have good information! Have fun riding your bike!!

There are two major controversies that have plagued the bicycle industry. One is to wedge or not to wedge. The second is the forward and back placement of the cleat. At Predator we believe in wedges, that is the perfect way to fit riders. We see many people and many of them have forefoot varus and we use a cleat wedge to fix this. If you don’t the knee moves side to side during the pedaling stroke we can see a lose of power and increase ones chance of injury.

In regards to cleat placement, there are many concepts, such as, slam position where one pushes the cleat as far forward as possible so the axle of the pedal is in front of the ball of the foot. The argument for this is to create more torque and more power by giving one more leverage. Then there is the opposite philosophy that we see used by many track racers where they move the ball in front of the axle of the pedal, this generates less leverage but increases their ability to spin. The slam position’s downfalls are that they create large dead spots in pedaling stroke due to the fact that the heel is traveling a greater distance and it becomes more difficult to create more power throughout the pedaling stroke. We see this position used more by triathletes than anyone else. The forward position as we see used by track cyclists, we see a more efficient pedaling stroke than in the slam position and we find a much higher max rpm but we do see a substantial loss in power output. Once again, at Predator, we try to find the optimal position. We use both these styles of cleat placement to help better one’s particular shortcomings in their stroke, to help them achieve the perfect pedaling stroke.

For Bike Fit or Cleat Placement Contact
Aram @ Predator Cycling

2834 Colorado Ave. Unit 57
Santa Monica, CA 90404
ph: 310.829.6464


  1. jim lazorchak says:

    My petalla on both knees have been bothering me. I have been moving my cleats around to compensate for this. I have worked in a bike shop for over 17 years and the rule of thumb was if you move your cleat forward you put more leverage on your quads. If you move the cleat back more pressure on your knees.

    When I read you article I noticed your reference to wedges. What do wedges do for knee issues if any?