How To Clip Into - And Release From - Shimano Bike Pedals

Shimano SPD-style road pedals, whether they are the high-end Dura-Ace model or the bargain-priced 540, all work relatively the same. Using a three-point cleat that attaches to the shoe, the rider is able to clip into the pedal and as a result more efficiently transfer the power of her legs to the crankarms of the bike. For the new rider, however, clipping in and out of the pedals can be a nerve-wracking experience. It doesn’t have to be. Learn the basics and you’ll be able to clip in—and unclip—with ease.

Start by securing the cleat to your shoe. The best position is centered under the ball of your foot, with the point of the triangular cleat facing forward. Once in position, tighten the three mounting bolts with a 4mm Allen key.

To engage the cleat into the pedal, move your foot forward and down at about a 45-degree angle to the pedal, so that the front of the cleat slips under the lip at the front of the pedal. Practice somewhere safe before you attempt it on the street. Use a stationary trainer, or friend, to help you stabilize the bike.

With the front tab of the cleat hooked under the pedal lip, step down onto the pedal to snap the rear edge of the cleat into the pedal. The pedal uses spring tension, so you should hear an audible click.

To unclip your shoe from the pedal, pivot your heel sideways and away from the bike. Practice is a must. With one foot securely on the ground, try engaging and releasing the opposite foot several times to get the hang of it. It’s a simple move, but one that you want to have down pat before heading into the street.

When you’re ready to ride, clip one foot into a pedal, and push forward to start the bike rolling. When you’re stable and moving forward, repeat the process with the opposite foot.


Approaching that first stop sign? Clip one foot out in advance, and be ready to place it down on the ground to steady yourself. Be wary of shifting your weight in the direction of the secured foot. If you do, you’re liable to discover you can’t release fast enough, and will topple to the ground. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s happened to the best of us!