Shimano developed the SPD clipless system. In fact, SPD stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamic. Other companies have since come out with compatible products.

SPD shoes and pedals

Using clipless pedals is a good idea when riding a tadpole trike if for no other reason than to prevent injury from “leg suck“. For those who don’t know about leg suck it is the term used to describe what can happen when your foot slips off of the pedal and onto the ground below. Upon making contact with the ground below as you are travelling along you can literally run over yourself with the crucifix of the trike. That can not only be very painful, but it can cause serious injury. It is not something you want to experience. I saw it happen to a friend as I was riding with him at the time.  I was slightly behind him and on his right side so I saw it quite well. It was not a pretty sight to see happen. He was fortunate that he didn’t get hurt any more than he did.  He was quite sore for a few days as he was recovering from it. And it definitely got his attention and now he won’t ride without the SPD shoes.

leg suck illustration

Pardon my stick man drawing. I couldn’t get anybody to volunteer to illustrate this so I had to draw this. I can’t say as I blame them. I could not begin to draw how horrific this is and what the contortion of the foot and leg is actually like during this. I am sure it isn’t nearly as effective as a picture of someone really experiencing it.

Much has already been written about the use of SPD shoes and pedals. I have past articles on this blog about them. The most recent one is HERE. What I want to get into here is how to properly set up the cleat position on the shoes and adjust the pedals for the cleats. Again, there is already much available online about this so I am not going to try to duplicate it here. Instead I will simply provide links to articles and embed videos about the subject. What I do want to emphasize here is that the cleats need to positioned so that your feet are in their “natural position”. We are all different. What is the correct position for you probably wouldn’t be right for someone else and visa versa. These articles and videos do a good job of explaining it all. To start things off HERE is an excellent article.

Shimano spd cleats

The cleats can be moved about forward to backward, side to side and rotated slightly in either direction.

shoe cleat placement with arrows

As can be seen in the picture below there are two sets of holes to choose from … one set is behind the other set.

SPD cleat on shoe

SPD cleat hardware

Shimano SPD cleat nut plate

SPD cleat positioning

NOTE: If you deal with “hot spots” or other foot pain from riding your trike and you use SPD shoes with the cleats position at the ball of your foot you may benefit from using shoes with the cleat positioned in the arch of your foot. This something that is usually either a do it yourself project or there is a fellow triker who offers this service. Here is his contact information:

William (Bill) Barrere:
Email: wbarrere@gmail.com
Tel: 786-307-5986
He has a Facebook group page entitled RECUMBENT ONE.

Having the SPD cleats properly adjusted will help us to …


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Author: Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, truthtoponder and stevesmixedbag) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at tadpolerider2 at gmail dot com (@gmail.com)


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