Going Clipless To Help Knees?


New Member
Jun 11, 2015
Thanks to the folks in and around this forum I've decided on the following for my 5mi stupid stressful stop and go city + 10mi stressfree no stop trail commute:

Shimano A530 SPD Pedals + Shimano SH-M089 Shoes.

I was going to stick with my Fyxation Platforms with straps - but I'm hoping that going clipless with relieve some of the stress off my knees. My commute used to be just the 5, but now that I've tripled it - I don't so much have pain - but I definitely feel one knee buzzing or tingling just to the side of my kneecap for a up to four or five hours after my ride. I'm hoping clipless + some phys therapy will help my knees. Is this a good assumption?

I was leary about going clipless in the city - but I've been noticing a ton of riders here in Chicago that are clipless...
Thats part of why I like them. It helps with foot stability as well as you can use different power balancing to unload pain spots. Keep in mind your cleats are very adjustable in rotation, side slide, and front-back. All aspects can relieve or exacerbate existing knee issues, so keep trying until you find your sweet spot.
I love clipless, one thing I could see maybe is if you are wearing non cycling shoes with floppy soles you may be causing knee pain by somehow favoring your feet some way ? And you can try cycling shoes first on platforms, you need the shoes for clipless but you can use them on platforms, I did at first. One helpful hint about clipless is if you intend to lean left, turn the wheel right. That will save you from unclipping left and leaning right :).
I was pain free prior to going clipless. Experienced new aches and pains during the first weeks of going clipless.
Both Shimano mtn shoes and Spd pedals. Saddle height played a role as well as cleat placement on the shoe.

The other clipless riders i encountered were most helpful observing and commenting on the " fit, setup " of my pedals. At this point many years later i would never consider not going clipless pedals.
I have one leg that is a bit off from normal, so my pedaling motion is intentionally not straight (figured this out with the help of a PT). Bones are straight, knee is not quite in line with them. I could compensate on platforms without cages or clips, SPDs make this difficult (have to loosen them up enough to create enough float). Speedplay Light Action fix everything for me, letting me point my knee out slightly and adjust my foot to compensate.

I knew the PT my family doctor sent me to was going to be interesting after the therapist asked me to walk across the room so he could see how my knees worked said "Can you do that again? That was... weird." It is working well. Even before the muscle building we did in my hip to help hold the leg outwards a bit started working I was able to increase my weekly distances 30% with less pain almost immediately. 18 months later my distances are up 150%+ per week, now with no pain from riding.

If you have trouble getting your motion *straight* most clipless can help with that. Really depends on what is causing your knee pain. If you're an outlier, like me, where you're causing inflammation by doing things the right way consult a professional.
Speedplay Zeros have a massive range of adjustment, especially if you use the adaptor to use the Look 3 hole mount to 4 hold Speedplay adapter. Not only do you get the very generous range of float but you can also angle the adaptor plate.

One very important note about Speedplay pedals. Always keep the pedal body and cleats clean and lubricated with their ptfe type lubricant. The bearings are also rather ****, so always make sure you have their grease gun on hand otherwise you'll be going through bearings like McD's goes through burgers. Nice system, junk bearings.
I have terrible knee pain when my clips are wrong, but I use speedplay now and the free float has largely solved that problem for me. My other issue is pain along the bottom of my foot associated with shoes that aren't stiff enough, which is what originally led me to cycling shoes.

Honestly, there's nothing more free floating the platform pedals, so if you have knee pain now, clipless pedals aren't likely to be the solution. Try riding without your straps for a week and see if you have pain. If so, work on your saddle position before adding another variable to the mix.
Any time there is pain in the knee joint, I would look at saddle height. Cycling is a low impact sport, which is why I do it over running. Seat too high will make your knees ache for days. A low saddle can cause issues too, but I would make sure you have seat high enough for your height. Speedplay are ok pedals if you ride to ride and don't need to walk. For commuters I recommend a MTB shoe with eggbeaters. There is plenty of foot movement in them and you don't have to walk around on cleats.
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Even on my road bike I use a MTB shoe and pedal....I wanna be able to get off the bike and walk around.....something you can't comfortably do in road shoes. Something to think about.