5-hole Outsoles: Everything You Want to Know

5-hole Outsoles: Everything You Want to Know

What are they?

Shoes with 5-hole outsoles are cycling shoes compatible with both SPD / 2-hole and SPD-SL / 3-hole clip-in pedal systems. Most cycling shoes are compatible with either SPD / 2-hole or SPD-SL / 3-hole cleats and pedals. However, shoes with 5-hole outsoles are compatible with both types. 

Clip-in pedals are traditionally known as clipless pedals. Clip-in pedals are used with cycling shoes that have cleats attached to their soles. You clip the cleat into the pedal so that your shoe is connected to the pedal while you’re pedaling. The SPD / 2-hole cleat attaches to your shoe using two bolts while the SPD-SL / 3-hole cleat uses three bolts.

What are their benefits?

Shoes with 5-hole outsoles are an excellent option for anyone unsure of what types of cleats they will be using or if you want the flexibility to use different types of cleats and pedals in the future.

You’ll instantly notice the benefits of clipping into your pedals. You’ll likely be able to pedal with a higher cadence, improved power transfer, and better efficiency. By securely connecting your foot in the correct position on the pedal, you will have increased stability and be able to pedal harder and faster without fear of your foot slipping off the pedal.

Clipping in can also change your pedal stroke and the muscles used. The secure connection allows you to push down and pull up on throughout your pedal stroke, engaging both your quads and your hamstrings.

How do you use them?

If you are new to clipping into your pedals - SPD / 2-hole or SPD-SL / 3-hole - you may want to arrive to class a little early so you aren’t doing it under pressure. Your instructor will also be very happy to help you out. Once you have the hang of it, it will be second nature.

To clip into SPD / 2-hole clip-in pedals, start by flipping the pedal over to the clip-in compatible side (if they have a flat pedal or cages on the other side). Position your foot so that the cleat lines up with the clip on the pedal and push down and slightly forward. You will hear a satisfying click as your foot secures into place.

With SPD-SL / 3-hole clip-in pedals you can only clip in on one side of the pedal. Rather than needing to flip over the pedal, you can trust your clip-in target to always be in the same position - pointing upwards. Place the front of the cleat into the catch point at the top of the pedal and then push down and slightly forward until you hear the click.

To release your foot from either pedal, turn your heel away from your bike to disengage.