Bicycles

Cleat Key is made to put cyclists' feet at the right angle

Cleat Key is made to put cycli...
The Cleat Key sells for approximately US$69, and is aimed mainly at use with road bike cleats
The Cleat Key sells for approximately US$69, and is aimed mainly at use with road bike cleats
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A diagram showing how the Cleat Key is swivelled to position the cleat – the actual device has numerical angle markings on its heel end
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A diagram showing how the Cleat Key is swivelled to position the cleat – the actual device has numerical angle markings on its heel end
The Cleat Key sells for approximately US$69, and is aimed mainly at use with road bike cleats
2/2
The Cleat Key sells for approximately US$69, and is aimed mainly at use with road bike cleats

When using clipless bicycle pedals, proper adjustment of the shoe cleats is crucial not just to optimum performance, but also to the avoidance of injuries. A new device known as the Cleat Key is designed to make sure they're at the right rotational angle.

Created by Canadian cyclist/mechanical engineer Antony Pringle, the Cleat Key is made of aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum alloy and PMMA OM92 clear acrylic.

It's compatible with Look Keo and Shimano SPD-SL road cleats, and with road shoes that have a three-hole cleat bolt pattern. Potential buyers should note that the device does not work with Time, Speedplay or Crankbrothers cleats, or with Shimano SPD mountain bike cleats.

Utilizing a protocol provided by the Hong Kong-based Cleat Key company, the user starts by determining the fore/aft positioning of each cleat on its respective shoe – very generally speaking, it should be set so that the pedal axle passes through the middle of the ball of the foot. The cleats are then placed accordingly, but left loose so their rotational angle can still be adjusted.

Next, the user performs an exercise in which they softly jump and land with their sock feet on either side of a straight line drawn on the floor. By measuring the angle of each foot relative to the line (the "toe out" angle), then dividing that number by three, they get the rotational angle at which each cleat should be set.

A diagram showing how the Cleat Key is swivelled to position the cleat – the actual device has numerical angle markings on its heel end
A diagram showing how the Cleat Key is swivelled to position the cleat – the actual device has numerical angle markings on its heel end

The Cleat Key's spring-loaded holder is subsequently placed around the cleat, then the whole rig is rotated until a numerical angle marking on its rear end aligns with a dot that was previously drawn on the shoe to indicate the middle of the heel – if the desired rotational angle is 4 degrees, for instance, the Cleat Key is turned until its 4º mark aligns with the dot on the shoe.

The cleat is then simply tightened down, and riding can commence.

Pringle has turned to Kickstarter to finance production of the Cleat Key, where a pledge of HK$539 (about US$69) will get you one – when and if it reaches production, that is. Backers should note that an existing but differently designed tool, the $29.95 Ergon TP1, can likewise be used to determine and set cleat angle.

More details on how the Cleat Key works can be found in the video below.

HOW TO: set up your road bike cleats

Sources: Kickstarter, Cleat Key

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