Jezrant wrote:Lots of interesting points, Brucey. Maybe a new thread should be started about how to set up cleats properly since it's a tricky operation and usually entails a certain amount of trial and error to find the optimal position with either SPDs or Look. However, there is a slightly contradictory argument in what you are saying about SPDs. On the one hand, you imply it's easy to set them up wrongly and impossible to correct later because of the teeth, but then you also imply they are better than other systems, if they are set up correctly. How can they be better if so many people set them up incorrectly and then they are almost impossible to fix afterwards? I also have the impression, contrary to your experience, that Look red cleats float more easily than SPDs, and that that float becomes even easier over time as the cleats wear, while SPDs seem to get stickier over time. Interestingly, the physio I know how claims SPDs are bad for the knees advises greasing the cleats each time before going out for a ride to make them float better. Your second point about the less supportive shoes often used with SPDs seems more significant, or at least unquestionably easier to correct, if your theory about the teeth making it almost impossible to reset SPD cleats is right. Anyway, I apologise for this diversion of your very helpful thread.
my view on the SPD system is a simple one; 'if they are set up right, most people find the SPD system works well enough'. Bearing in mind the availability and cost of good quality pedals, shoes, cleats etc. (together with other things like walking) this makes the system a logical choice for very many riders. If they were difficult to get hold of, or double the cost, I do not necessarily think they would be the best choice for so many people. I guess the argument is, in part, the same as that which suggests that using 26" (559) or 700C (622) wheels and tyres is a good idea.
As I have said before: 'Perfect' ? -no. 'Good enough' ? - Yes, for very many people.
As it is, I would nearly always recommend to a leisure rider that they should try SPD pedals as a 'first clipless pedal'. They can be set to release very easily, and in multiple ways. If they don't work out, migrating to another system isn't too difficult, and the extra cost will be minimal. I note with interest that Speedplay pedals (and others which use a large angle twist release) are probably not suitable for first time clipless users, because -although some folk don't realise this and will deny it- the twisting movement required for release is not 'natural' it is 'learned'. You generally learn it on SPDs or Looks, too.
I rode Looks for a couple of years on my race bike and I went back to clips and straps. The cleats (at the time) didn't have enough float for me which gave me severe knee pain. The coating on the pedal body soon wore through; the cleats didn't move freely, and furthermore were wont to make the most annoying squeaking sound with every pedal stroke. A friend of mine fell and broke their ankle (compound fracture, very nasty) because the stupid cleats are no good for walking in. Water got in past the 'seals' on the pedal body; this destroyed the bearings, and the tension adjuster also stripped on the pedals. Very disappointing all round.
I've tried a few different clipless systems for long enough to have a good working understanding of many of their strengths and weaknesses; very many systems are simply unsatisfactory in use, or simply have badly engineered bearings. Very many others are likely to wear out or fail unexpectedly. When this happens very often the pedal binding stops working altogether if it is a single-sided one. In any event the costs or repairing or replacing the parts is often very great, if you can get them at all, that is.
By contrast SPD pedals (and I exclude most SPD clones here) very rarely fail catastrophically. I have never seen a failed (broken) pedal spindle myself, and have only seen a very few instances reported on t'interweb. In relation to the number of the things out there, this is remarkable. If an SPD spring fails (which I have seen once) even on a single-sided pedal there is normally still some function rather than none simply because there are two springs.
For many uses I see little point in anything more elaborate than say PD-M515 or PD-M520 pedals; these pedals function/wear very well, and can be maintained. However in the event of any significant problem, £20 always fixes it; for that you get new pedals and cleats. That is the SPD system's trump card.