Know your cleats – Single or Multi-release

If you have decided to ride with clipless pedals, sooner or later you’re going to want a second pair of cycling shoes & cleats.

However, not all cleats are the same and there’s a good chance your pedals will support more than one model of cleat, particularly those of you using MTB (SPD) cleats. Confusingly, to the untrained eye, both models may even look identical, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying the wrong ones.

Here’s a prime example. I recently bought a new set of boots because I was forever needing to dry my sole pair on the radiator after my evening commute. So, off I went to buy a pair of boots and some cleats.

Checking the compatibility list for my Shimano PD-M520 pedals I noticed that it supported both SM-SH51 and SM-SH56 cleats. So, without checking what I already had on my shoes back at the office, I picked up a pair of SM-SH56 and thought nothing of it.

As it turns out, some cleats are “single-release” and others are “multi-release”. Single-release cleats require a sideways turn of the ankle to unclip and multi-release will also unclip in other directions, including up apparently. I had picked up a pair of multi-release cleats without realising (in my defence, they’re not labelled that way!) and I spent longer than I’d care to admit trying to work out why they were not staying in the pedals like they were supposed to…

A lesson learned, there.

PS, I have a pair of Shimano SM-SH56 cleats for sale…

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