While cycling cleats are not always necessary, many prefer a cleat system to toe cages, as they increase riding efficiency and stability. However, choosing what cleats will work best can be tricky, as there are so many to pick from.
This article will help you decide between two popular clipless pedal cleats, SPD and Delta. While SPD cleats seem the best overall, I will also dive into detail about which is best for certain situations. Let’s get started.
- SPD cleats are more versatile, easier to use, and work best for mountain biking and spin classes.
- Delta cleats are more durable, have higher power transfer, and are better suited for road biking, professional riding, and Peloton bikes.
- SPD pedals and cleats are best for those with bad knees and are comfortable to walk in.
What’s the Difference Between Spd Cleats and Delta Cleats?
Shimano makes SPD cleats, while Delta cleats belong to the Look Cycle company.
Both are triangular shaped, but the SPD clip tends to be smaller than its competitor.
A main difference between SPD and Delta cleats is that SPD has two bolts while Delta has three. Furthermore, SPD pedals are widely popular, and you can find them on most gym fitness bikes. Many indoor bikes you purchase will also come with these pedals.
On the other hand, most cyclists who use Delta cleats and pedals are either experienced or professional cyclists, as Delta pedals often pair with high-end cycling shoes.
Comparing SPD Cleats with Delta Cleats
If you’re trying to decide between Delta and SPD, reviewing important factors like bike compatibility, ease of use, and power transfer, among other things, will be helpful. In this section, I will compare these two popular cleats in relation to some specific factors.
Both types of cleats are compatible with indoor cycling, as spin bikes are the main type of bike with pedals made for cleats.
When it comes to other bike models, many cyclists consider Delta’s to be the best commuting cleats as they are compatible with road cycling. On the other hand, SPD pedals and cleats are more compatible with mountain bikes.
Whether indoor biking in cycling studios or mountain biking outdoors, you’ll want your cleats to last. Ultimately, delta clips are more durable and should last six months to a few years.
An SPD cleat may only last for a short time simply because many cyclists walk on these cleats as they are more comfortable. Since they are made of metal, your SPD clips might last just as long if you take good care of them and resist walking while wearing them.
Ease of Use
Ease of use for bike cleats refers to how easy it is to clip in and out of your cleats. Many cyclists consider Delta cleats harder to clip in and out of, as there are more cleat holes. On the contrary, SPD cleats are known for their ease of use. Even if you are a beginner, you won’t have trouble clipping in those types of cleats.
Regarding power transfer, the Look Delta cleat is the winner. First, regarding cleat holes, delta cleats have three; for this reason, you get a more secure hold when you strap into the pedal. This helps increase efficiency when pedalling.
The rigid bottom of Delta cleats also helps create optimal power transfer, which is why so many cyclists prefer them for road cycling.
It’s worth mentioning that SPD SL cleats have three holes instead of two, so if you prefer this brand, this product will help increase power transfer.
When shopping for new cleats to go with your cycling shoes, price is something to keep in mind.
Your typical Delta and SPD cleats will have a similar price tag, selling for around $18 to $25. However, SPD SL clips are a bit more expensive, coming in at around $30 to $35.
SPD Cleat Pros and Cons
SPD cycling shoes and clips are much more popular than Delta’s. Shimano cleat systems are found in most spinning bike studios and on some elite mountain bikes.
In this section, I will review some over-arching pros and cons of the SPD pedal system and help you decide if they are right for you.
Comes With Different Numbers of Holes and Floats
If you like Shimano cleats, you’ll be happy to hear that they offer cleats with a different number of holes. Regular SPD clips have two holes, while SPD SL cleats have three.
This is an excellent perk as you can try out the two different styles and decide what you like best instead of being stuck with only one product to choose from.
Another added bonus is that SPD SL clips come in three colors, each representing different degrees of float. There are yellow, red, and blue; the three colors range from zero to six degrees float.
Whether you have joint pain or want the highest amount of power transfer, you’ll be able to find exactly what you need.
If you’re an experienced cyclist, you’ll probably know by now that most cycling shoes are not super comfortable. Due to this reason, you’ll want to ensure your cleats are somewhat comfortable.
Many people prefer SPD cleats as they are small and narrow. Look Delta remains secondary in this area as they are wider.
Since SPD cleats are less bulky, they are often more comfortable and less noticeable. Furthermore, many cyclists prefer SPD recessed cleat shoes for walking.
SPD SL Cleats Fit Some High-end Cycling Shoes
A main benefit of Look Delta cleats is that they tend to fit higher-end cycling shoes, while SPD cycling shoe clips tend to fit lower-quality shoes.
However, you can get the best of both worlds if you prefer the Shimano cycling cleat. SPD SL clips can fit shoes that some Delta clips can, which will be of higher quality. So if you want to get into more professional biking or racing, you can do so with the SPD cleat system.
Won’t Last as Long
One downside of SPD cleats is that they may not last as long as Look Delta cleats. First, since SPD clips are typically paired with lower-quality cycling shoes, that may affect their lifespan. Most importantly, many people walk in their SPD shoes, leading to more wear and tear.
Delta Cleat Pros and Cons
When it comes to Delta vs SPD, there are many pros and cons to consider. This section will explore Delta cleats and help you determine which brand will work better. Let’s dive in.
Offers More Stability
Since most Delta pedal systems are made for three-hole cleats, the pedal itself is wider. This, in turn, offers more stability for the rider, which helps with power transfer. Delta shoes also have a rigid outsole, increasing stability and durability.
Good for Commuting Long Distances
Delta cleat systems have optimal power transfer and are best for road cycling. For this reason, they are great for commuting long distances. The Delta pedal system is the way to go if you want to use a bike strictly for commuting.
Using a Delta clip vs SPD will help decrease the time it takes to get to work and make for a more comfortable and efficient ride.
Does Not Work Well for Recreational Riding
If you like to go on a leisurely ride now and then, try out some mountain trails, or go to a spin class, Delta shoes, and cleats may not be the best option.
As I mentioned above, most spin bikes are compatible with SPD clips. Furthermore, the Shimano pedaling design and clips are more compatible with mountain biking and recreational models. Mountain bikes are best used for leisurely and trail rides.
So if you want to try different types of riding, clipless cycling with Delta products will let you down.
Which Cleat Is Best for Those Who Walk in Their Cycling Shoes?
While it’s not recommended to walk in your cycling shoes, it’s not always avoidable. For instance, perhaps you’re taking a leisurely ride and want to stop for a quick coffee.
Generally, cycling shoes with a recessed cleat area make walking much easier. At this point in time, you can only find recessed SPD cleats. So if you’re planning to walk here and there in cycling shoes, SPDs are your best bet.
SPD or Delta: Which Is Best for Those With Bad Knees?
Ultimately, SPD cleats are best for people with bad knees as they have less cleat float. Cleat float refers to the degree to which the cleat turns outward or inward while clipped into the bike.
Both SPD and Delta cleats have float, but SPD has less float, coming in at around 4.5 degrees. The float on Delta clips can be upwards of 9 degrees.
While the Shimano pedaling design is not as harsh on the knees, consider using an SPD cleat with three holes instead of two. An SPD SL clip will be better than two hole cleat designs as they will help increase power transfer and efficiency, ultimately lowering joint pain.
What Cleat Should Peloton Riders Choose?
You may be surprised to hear that the Peloton bike supports both Delta and SPD shoes. Since Peloton bikes have Look Delta pedals, they are compatible with SPD SL and Look Delta cycling shoes and cleats.
If you want to buy Peloton brand shoes, you can simply attach a three-hole cleat on the bottom of the shoe. But how do you know what cleat to choose?
Many Peloton riders believe that Delta cleats work best as they are more efficient than SPDs. If you plan on only riding your Peloton bike and do not wish to try spin classes at your local gym, Delta shoes and cleats are the better option, as you will get a more efficient workout.
On the other hand, if you want more versatility from your cycling shoe, SPD cleats may be the way to go.
SPD Vs. Delta: Which One Is Best for Most Spin Classes?
As mentioned above, SPD cleats are widely popular due to their adaptability. If you want to start attending spin classes at your local gym, SPD cleats will work for most spin class clipless pedals. The recessed cleat plate will also make walking around before and after the class easier.
To play it safe, you can always call the gym and ask what cycling shoe and cleat brand they recommend.
Furthermore, if you show up to a class and find that your shoes aren’t compatible with the clipless pedals, most spin classes will offer flat pedals and toe cages so that you can wear your regular sneakers in them.
What Cleat Should Beginner Cyclists Choose?
Overall, SPD cleats are the best choice for beginner cyclists. This is because they are comfortable to walk in, easy to clip in and out of and work best for leisurely riding and spin classes.
Even though they are less efficient than Look Delta cleats, their versatility won’t disappoint you.
Delta and SPD cleats both have pros and cons. Ultimately, SPD cleats are best for beginner cyclists or those who like spin classes or mountain biking. Look Delta pedals and cleats are better suited for professional cyclists, those riding road bikes, or a Peloton.
An added tip to those with a Peloton bike is that the Peloton pedals are replaceable. You can swap the Delta pedals with an SPD system if you prefer an SPD clip.
Did you enjoy this article? Leave a comment down below if you did. I would love to hear what bike cleats you prefer and why.