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  3. What is the Difference Between SPD and SPD SL | SPD vs SPD SL

What is the Difference Between SPD and SPD SL? -SPD and SPD-SL are two designs for clipless cycling pedals and shoes. The two designs are not interchangeable. The SPD design utilizes a small cleat fastened with two screws to the bottom of the bike shoe. SPD is found used on Road and Mountain Bikes. SPD-SL uses a very large cleat that is fastened with three screws in a triangular fashion. SPD-SL is used 100% on road bikes. SPD-SL shoes are difficult to walk in where SPD shoes can be like any other bike shoe and walking is not an issue

SPD is also called “Two Screw” while SPD-SL is called “Three screw” – Both named for how many screws attach the cleat the the respective shoe.


SPD SPD-SL Difference

SPD and SPD-SL Cleats Installed on Bike Shoes


Additionally the pedals also look substantially different with a distinct functional difference. SPD pedal almost always allow pedal entry from either side of the pedal. This makes getting locked in quick and easy.

Shimano XTR SPD Pedal

Shimano XTR 980 SPD Pedal

The SPD-SL pedal has a top and bottom with entry only available from the top.  This takes a little practice to get used too as the pedals balance is such that it is almost always upside down and requires a 180 degree flip while inserting your foot.

Shimano 105 Road Pedal SPD-SL

Shimano 105 PD-5700 Road Pedals SPD-SL