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2-Hole vs. 3-Hole Cleats

2-Hole vs. 3-Hole Cleats

Bike Shoe Styles

Although you can ride a bike with any shoe, if you are a regular biker, you may want to consider getting a pair of biking shoes. Biking shoes are built with stiffer soles to give bikers efficient energy transfer while pedaling.

Biking shoes are usually paired with a compatible pedal for holding your feet securely on the bike. You can decide on the best biking shoe for you according to the type of riding you do, whether it is trail mountain biking, road cycling or other types of biking.

Differences Between 2-hole and 3-hole Cleats

2-hole Cleat

2-hole cleat shoes have two holes that are drilled into the soles of shoes that can pair with cleats and pedals from manufacturers Shimano SPD, Time, or Crankbrothers. You will find some 2-hole cleat shoes are also compatible with a 3-hole cleat system. However, it is still advisable to match your 2-hole cleat shoe with a compatible pedal.

3-hole Cleat

3-hole cleat shoes usually have three holes that are drilled into the sole of shoes that can pair with pedals from manufacturers like Time, Look, and Shimano (SPD-SL). 3-hole cleat systems give bikers stability and energy transfer while biking.

  • Which Shoes Are Designed For 2-hole Cleats?

2-hole cleat shoes are commonly found in mountain biking and casual shoes.

  • Which Shoes Are Designed For 3-hole Cleats?

3-hole cleat shoes are commonly found in road biking shoes.

Here is a video showing whether you should get shoes designed for 2-hole or 3-hole cleats (Credits to REI):

Can you Put SPD Cleats on SPD SL Shoes?

Yes, you can use Shimano SPD-SL shoes with SPD cleats and also SPD-SL cleats. However, SPD has two same length slots that are side by side in the sole of the shoe while SPD-SL shoes have a short and long slot beside each other.

Although you can use them together, it will not be convenient to walk safely in SPD shoes. MTB cleats are usually exposed in a road shoe, and it will wear out easily. Once the MTB cleat wears out, it will cause the cleats not to fit snugly or you may even have trouble clipping in. You may try using adapter systems with protection for MTB cleats for road shoes.

Read more about this topic in our article here!

What Type of Biking Shoes Should You Get?

If you are a road biker that cares about the performance of your bike, you can choose the stiffest soles and the lightest shoes. You will find materials like carbon fiber that reduce weight and increase sole rigidity to get faster performance, but these shoes are usually more expensive.

If you spend time getting on and off the bike frequently, for example in bike touring or commuting, you can choose two-cleat mountain bike shoes or flat shoes to make walking around easier.

Choosing a Shoe that Fits

Buying a comfortable shoe is important, and it is best if you try on different pairs of biking shoes before you buy them. You should also try to wear thin socks that you normally wear on the bike to check if it is comfortable. Some of the things to look out for before you get a shoe are listed below.

  • Check if the shoes have enough room that will allow your toes to wiggle slightly.
  • Ensure that your heel is not sliding up and down
  • Make sure the arch can be snug and supported.

Note: When you are trying on new bike shoes when you walk, you may feel some slippage in your heel. This is caused by the stiffness of soles that are built for supporting feet in a stable position while you cycle around.

However, if you feel that the slippage is caused by a poor fit, try out a smaller size shoe or different shoe model.