Cleats? Are they all created equal?


New Member
Jan 14, 2015
ello! I have what should be an easy question. I have an old bike and I want to get started riding again. 1990 Diamond Back Centurion TG Road Bike. I have the Time Sport clipless pedals, but I can't find my riding shoes - which, or course, have the cleats attached to them. I know I need to purchase new road shoes with 3 holes to attach to the shoe, but I have no idea which cleats I need and/or where to get them. Are they all the same cleats for road bikes? Thank you for any help!
Almost all cleats are specific to the pedal. Once up on a time there were several manufacturers who sold pedals which were supposed to be cleat compatible with the Shimao SPD pedals but not all compatible pedals were in fact compatible.

That said, your pedal is from Time and the only replacement cleat will be made by Time. In fact your pedal is one of the early designs from Time and has two parts to the cleat. Here's a picture of another version of the pedal you have with the cleat attached to a shoe adapter:

The adapter was to use the Time pedals with a non-Time 3-hole shoe. Time shoes tend to be more expensive and can be difficult to find. I rode on Time pedals for many years - they're great but like all pedals they have some pro's and some con's.

A few options:
1. Get new pedals which will allow use of any shoes.
2. Find some new Time cleats - but this may be difficult. Ebay is often a good source for "vintage" parts.
3. Buy some Time shoes compatible with the original pedals.
4. Buy some 3-hole shoes and a Time adapter plate.

Should you decide to go with new pedals, unless you're competing, you might want to consider mountain bike pedals and shoes. The primary advantage is one can walk in mountain bike shoes. Should you also have a mountain bike, then having one set of shoes for both bikes is another plus - just make sure to buy the same type of pedal on both bikes.

Note that when purchasing shoes, the inexpensive shoes will have a softer more flexible sole. This is great for walking but will be less efficient and comfortable on longer rides. If you're planning 40+ mile rides, make sure the sole is stiff as a board so foot will have a wide platform to push against.

Hope this helps,
Greg - Thanks so much for the info! I like your idea using the same shoes for both my road bike and mountain bike. What would you recommend as far as pedals / shoe combo for both off and road biking?

Are there "better" pedals or perhaps some that you would NOT recommend?
Originally Posted by WaterGirlAZ
Are there "better" pedals or perhaps some that you would NOT recommend?

Maybe you wanna try some MTB cleats / shoes... (Metallic - recessed in the sole - they look more durable).

Not that I have anything against tossing 20 euro every few months for Shimano road cleats but... Oh wait! I do!
(Unless you "fly" to and from the bike and have some solid arguments about road cleat performance.
I'm a big fan of the Crank Brother Egg Beaters, but this is because:
1. Release seemed natural so I didn't "go down with the ship" as often when mountain biking.
2. Easy to service.

1. Really small cleat so one needs a good stiff shoe to avoid hot spots on long rides. (I do a lot of 50 to 100 mile rides)
2. Need to be serviced and rebuilt much more often than other pedals.
3. Get lots of strange looks when at the start of a race... Not many people race criteriums in mountain pedals, but they work just fine for me. :)

Before settling on the Egg Beater and Candy pedals from Crank Brothers I tried most of the major brands (Shimano, Speedplay Frogs, Time ATAC). The primary criteria for my decision were how well they floated (rotation), and how they released. After picking Egg Beaters I equipped the family fleet. But this was at least 15 years ago and my criteria were extremely subjective.

Lots of people like Shimano pedals and they models with and without platforms:

Platforms will be a bit heavier but will make starting easier, give a larger platform to help avoid hot spots and allow riding without being clipped in.

Speedplay offers the ultimate in friction free "float". While I like this on a road bike I didn't like the feel on a mountain bike.

For MTB shoes, I've had great luck with Sidi, Northwave, Carnac and Specialized. All have models with stiff soles. There seem to be plenty of closeouts for women's shoes. If you shop now you should be able to find some deals at your Local Bike Shop (LBS) on last year's shoes. If you get the shoes and pedals at a LBS they should mount the cleat and adjust for free - or minimal charge.
Originally Posted by WaterGirlAZ
Greg - Thanks so much for the info! I like your idea using the same shoes for both my road bike and mountain bike. What would you recommend as far as pedals / shoe combo for both off and road biking?

Are there "better" pedals or perhaps some that you would NOT recommend?
I use Crank Brothers.
I got started on CB on my MTB, lured into it by their excellent self-clearing ability.
Quite important for a year-round rider.
At some temperatures, shimano-style pedals will fill up with snow packing into ice after only a few dabs of the foot.
And you have to break out the multi-tool to find something pointy to dig the ice out.
'Course, the low weight of the Egg Beater model attracted too.
First rides, the CB EB felt wobbly sideways due to the minimal support surface. But I soon got used to that.
Then I started bike commuting, and set the commuter up with CB pedals too.
Didn't want to need multiple shoes and couldn't be bothered with switching cleats.
I wanted a bit of platform to be able to put some power down w/o the foot slipping off to get out of intersections and suchlike even if not clipped in.
First I used Smarties, which I absolutely killed within a year. Then Candies. The Candies didn't last any longer but were rebuildable, as opposed to the Smarties.

Now, I do a decent mileage.
And there are undoubtedly people that are lighter than me.
And I used to be a bit of a masher.
But my CB pedals needs a rebuild every 6 months.
And a lube inbetween.
I believe that more recent versions of CB use a thicker spindle, which allows for a bigger glide bearing.
These might do better, particularly for someone who do fewer miles and don't pedal as hard.
But if I had those, I guess I'd still need to top up the lube every now and then.
Still if I'd know THEN what I know NOW, I'd have gone for Time (mtb) pedals instead.
My brother have those, and they just seem to last and last. He was quite intrigued about the need for relubes and rebuilds.
Also, the CB pedals can be quite harsh on the soles. It is strongly recommended that you use the CB protective plates(shields) between sole and cleat.
Although, since the mechanism of the Time pedals is so similar I'd guess they'd need it too.
For shoes I've used Gaerne, Sidi, Specialized, Shimano and Lake.
Favourites in fit are the Specialized, they've got the widest toebox.
Favourites as a piece of sports equipment are the Sidis.
The treaded patches on my model are owner replaceable at a tolerable cost. Means they can be made soft and grippy.
Quite useful when riding rocky sections.
The Specialized, with regular sole design, are much harder and have noticeably poorer grip. If they weren't, the shoe would wear out unacceptably fast.
Shimano were my first winter shoe. Sized to allow socks, fit is hard to judge.
I'm not that sold on Velcro fasteners, as they can wear out. But these lasted well enough.
Recently, they seem to have started to deform, but that might be b/c I've run them through the washing machine.
I've never been particularly troubled by walking in stiff soled shoes.
It might not be comfortable, but it doesn't hurt.
Riding in a shoe that's too soft though, that does get outright unpleasant fairly fast.
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I am not an expert in all the various clipless pedals by any means, but I felt I got lucky on my first try, though I did do a lot of reading about them. I came off of over 35 years of using nothing but clip and strap road pedals. I like clip and straps because you can use either a road shoe and a special cleat, now sold only by Yellow Jersey, or you could use a tennis shoe if you just want to ride casually. Also clip and straps and the cleats never wear out except for the occasional strap replacement. So I was a bit reluctant when I first decided to go with clipless, and after much reading, and needing a pedal and a shoe that would allow me to walk around if I wanted to while on a bike ride I opted for Speedplay Frogs on my road bike. I discovered that getting into the pedal was very similar to clip and strap so there was no learning curve there, and getting out was also very easy, end result was that I have yet to fall over while trying to get in or out. Also I discovered that the Speedplay system is very mechanically sound with no springs or moving parts to break, dirt can't foul up the pedal or shoe cleat, so Speedplay appeals to my keep it simple, stupid principle of design. The Speedplay system even has a simple grease port that you can use a special grease gun to lubricate the bearings without any need to take apart the pedal, and they're rebuildable from the all the bearings to the bowties to the spindles to even the pedal body, should any of that ever be needed, and you can even buy other spindles to lengthen or shorten the distance from the crank arm which I haven't had to do.

The only odd thing was that the Frog has full float which feels like your foot is squirming on the pedal, but after about 2 months of riding that sensation goes away. Going with a Frog pedal sort of limited my shoe choices, although for MTB shoes it doesn't, but for road bike shoes you choices are limited but the ones that are compatible with SPD are very high quality shoes, but for me I'm happy with the MTB shoes because I do tend to ride to other towns or lakes etc and like to walk around a bit when I get there. The downfall to most clipless pedals is that they won't last as long as clip and strap pedal, and neither will the cleats.

So for me the Speedplay Frogs was an immediate success and have no desire to find a different type of pedal.