Cleat Covers ------- LOOK System ------- SPD System ------- SPD-SL System ------- Track System
Cleats vary in design depending on the pedal, but the majority fasten to the sole of the shoe in the same way. Look's original three-point fastening system is the most common fixing pattern for road pedals. Mountain bike SPD pedals use a two-bolt fastening pattern.
The cleat fastening is designed in such a way that it allows for a degree of adjustment. This enables you to find the optimum and most natural position in which to clip yourself to the pedal.
Most pedals have a degree of float to allow your feet to move laterally as you pedal, to prevent damaging your knees. Float is measured in degrees and is the amount by which the foot can move before releasing from the pedal.
This is measured from the middle of the pedal axle to the sole of the shoe. The lower the stack height the better, because it places your foot closest to the axle's centre for the best possible efficiency. You may need to adjust your saddle height if swapping between pedals with different stack heights.
Most pedals enable you to adjust the release tension of the mechanism. If you're a beginner, start off with a low tension for easier release. This will also make it easier to engage the pedal.