Not All Shimano SPD Pedals Are the Same

Background Reading

Easy Racers Ti-Rush (Recumbent)

Easy Racers Ti-Rush (Recumbent)

For Bike The Drive we decided to take out Easy Racers Ti-Rush bikes. This is a very comfortable ride and that makes great deal of difference if you are trying to ride on Lake Shore Drive pavement whose potholes are sometimes large enough to cause serious injury.

We parked at the UIC Parking Lot at Halsted and Taylor Streets and rode over to the ride start. Things were uneventful. We entered the Museum of Science and Industry turnaround and Connie promptly fell over trying to remove her Sidi shoes from pedals. Later she fell again on Michigan Avenue trying to negotiate the curb. And a final time while riding along Van Buren towards the parking lot that held our vehicle.

But after the ride was over it was clear that something was wrong with Connie’s SPD Pedals. During the ride I thought the remedy was to adjust the tension on the cleats to facilitate easy removal. But both her pedals had come from the factory with ‘zeroadditional tension dialed in. So why was removing the foot from the pedal so difficult?

Shimano Has At Least Two Distinct SPD Designs

Connie's Original SPD Pedal Design

Connie’s Original SPD Pedal Design

The pedals she has always used were a variant of this design (see illustration at right). Shimano sells their pedals with and without large platforms like the one picture. On her Easy Racers Gold Rush Replica her pedals are sans the platform and look elegant and tiny. Pedals like these would be more appropriate for my size 11EE feet.

Connie's Ti-Rush SPD Pedal Design

Connie’s Ti-Rush SPD Pedal Design

But on her Easy Racers Ti-Rush she had installed a slightly different pedal. It was used because it had the finish that most resembled burnish titanium metal.

The pedals picture at the right again have an extraneous platform. Her pair are simple and fit under her shoes without much additional support.


What we learned was that the positioning of the cleats made a difference with her newest pair of Sidi shoes. Many recumbent riders use a ‘trick‘ that requires mounting the cleats for their pedals in the second of the two sets of holes and moving the cleats as far towards the heel of the shoe as possible. In essence they are trying the center pedal just behind the ‘ball of the foot’.

This ‘trick‘ helps reduce the pressure on the Achilles tendon when climbing on a recumbent. But what we learned today was that the cleat on the newer designed pedals has to be further forward to allow the cleat trap mechanism to work freely. It is a subtle thing but makes all the difference when trying to extricate your foot in low speed situations.

So aside from a few bruises we are confident that moving the cleat ‘fixes the problem‘. If you are riding SPDs and having trouble with unclipping you might want to check whether ‘moving the cleat forward‘ towards the toe of the shoe resolves your problems.