Shimano SPD-SL road pedals and cleats are a popular choice among professional and amateur cyclists thanks to their stable platform, easy operation, and long-lasting performance. The wide, low-profile cleats distribute force evenly and allow for easy walkability without needing to carry special cleat covers for your mid-ride coffee stop.
There are three different models of Shimano SPD-SL cleats to choose from that are designated by three colors: yellow, red, and blue. The key differentiator between the three Shimano cleat options is the amount of float each allows. Float refers to the back-and-forth movement of the foot while you are clipped in and is essentially how much you can point your toes left or right while your shoe is attached to your pedal.
Yellow SPD-SL Cleats – 6 Degrees of Float
Yellow SPD-SL cleats are perhaps the most popular among casual fitness cyclists but are used by a wide range of athletes. They're characterized by a six-degree float range (three degrees in each direction), which allows for free movement and low joint stress. The float’s pivot point is in the center of the cleat, allowing the toes to point in a wide range of angles. This large float range also provides more room for error when setting up your cleats. If you're new to cycling, experience knee pain, lack flexibility, or simply don’t know where to start, Shimano’s yellow cleats are your best bet.
Red SPD-SL Cleats – 0 Degrees of Float
Red SPD-SL cleats have no float and are 100% fixed in position. This makes them great for sprinters, professional athletes, or people who value the most efficient power transfer possible and are not prone to knee pain. Note that red SPD-SL cleats require that you know your optimal cleat position precisely, and you are comfortable adjusting your cleats into that perfect position.
Blue SPD-SL Cleats – 2 Degrees of Float
Blue SPD-SL cleats are Shimano’s newest cleat option and they exist as a middle-ground between yellow and red. Blue cleats have two degrees of float (one degree in each direction), allowing for a small range of movement while still delivering a high amount of pedaling efficiency. The float pivot point is at the front of the cleat, which eliminates lateral sliding movement while allowing a small amount of angle change from the pivot point back towards the heel.