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Are Cleats Necessary with Vector 3 Pedals?

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  • Are Cleats Necessary with Vector 3 Pedals?

    I ride a bicycle as an enjoyable method of getting meaningful exercise I no longer get as a retiree. Every couple of days I ride and my idea of a physically worthwhile and enjoyable ride, at this point in time, is to maintain an average speed of a bit over 10 MPH for about 10 miles. I am currently gradually increasing that distance and probably will settle at 15 mile, 1.5 hour rides. I am certainly not into racing or endurance and have zero desire to get every bit of performance out of myself and the bicycle. That being said, I like my toys and am currently considering buying a pair of Garmin Vector 3s pedals. My reason for buying them is primarily to satisfy the geek part of my personality and see accurate data on the energy I am instantaneously expending and how that integrates into total calories burned over the course of the ride. These will replace the Garmin cadence sensor I now use with my Garmin 820.

    Now my question. I almost pulled the trigger and bought these expensive toys but luckily noticed on YouTube riders using the Vector 3 pedals had orange or black cleats attached to their shoes. Needing to gear up by attaching cleats to my shoes is a bridge too far for my needs which is only to see as accurate energy data as reasonably possible. My idea of preparing for a ride is firmly limited to just getting a cold bottle of water, opening the garage door, mounting the bicycle, and then just start pedaling.

    So, please tell me why the cleats are needed or really not needed. $1K is a lot to spend if the data will not be consequentially more accurate than I see now or the pedals will become uncomfortable to use without cleats.

    How do the cleats mount to ones shoes and are special shoes needed?


  • #2
    In the case of Vector pedals, the cleats are attached to the shoe with three machine screws. Shoes that are intended specifically for cycling usually have stiffer soles than walking or running shoes, and many of these shoes will have steel plates installed in the sole that allow mounting of cleats. Most mountain bike shoes will be compatible in some way with two-bolt MTB cleats. Most road bike shoes will have two, three, four, or five pre-threaded holes to allow mounting of MTB style or different road style cleats. If you Google "cycling shoe cleats" you will find references to most of the different types.

    The Vector pedals are not intrinsically dependent on the use of cleats, but the pedal platform is designed to be used with cleats. You would likely find that the traction you get on the pedals with regular shoes is limited and the small size of the platform causes fatigue of your feet. There are adapters such as these that allow use of regular shoes, and with care you will still get good power measurement.


    • #3
      Thank you very much for taking the time for that helpful response. I did a little more research and saw pictures of “bicycle” shoes and saw the threaded holes for mounting the cleats. I am just not going to buy special shoes so the adapters you suggested might be perfect. For me, riding a bike is all about exercising and burning energy in a pleasant manner. It will be interesting to see how energy expended varies with other non-linear parameters such as wind vs speed etc.


      • #4
        If you're prepared to spend $1000 on Vector pedals, an extra hundred bucks or so for cycling shoes is neither here nor there really. Heart rate has its limitations but will provide sufficient information concerning energy expenditure if that's all you want.
        Last edited by philipshambrook; 09-17-2018, 03:20 AM.


        • #5
          Wearing cycling shoes, for either road biking, MTB or cycle touring, gives me a much more pleasant and safer ride.


          • #6
            Originally posted by t_smit View Post
            There are adapters such as these that allow use of regular shoes, and with care you will still get good power measurement.
            Thanks. I really appreciate the reference to the adapters.

            Please help with the following questions.

            -The link is for an adapter that comes in two sizes, small and large. Is it a good assumption that normal shoe size would determine the size of the adapter? I wear a relatively small shoe, 9 1/2, so would it be best to consider the small adapter? When I ride I wear whatever pair of "running" shoes I happen to be wearing.

            -Does the Garmin Vector 3 have a unique proprietary mount or will any adapter that advertises "Universal Adapter" properly fit the Vector 3?

            Thanks again for all the advice. I am considering a very expensive toy here for very questionable practical value so I want to be at least sure I can successfully and comfortably use it.


            • #7
              The small size would be fine. The Vector cleats use the standard three hole pattern used by most road style cleats.


              • #8
                Have you looked into other power meter choices? Maybe crank based? Or hub based? And do you need the full Vector 3 set? If you just need power readings, maybe the 3S is the way to go, unless you really want the full dynamics package.


                • #9
                  I'm not trying to tell you how to spend your money, but I am another person who thinks that a Vector 3 set is a terrible overkill for what you need, especially that you don't want to use special shoes, which makes me wonder how accurate your readings will be. I bet garmin does not recommend nor support such a solution.

                  Anyway, I think you would be better off with other solutions, both in terms of money and ergonomics. In my opinion for someone who does not train competitively, but just wants to see the numbers, there are two interesting solutions:
                  1. The Powerpod power meter.
                  2. I think I saw a CIQ datafield, that would estimate your cycling power based on some predetermined settings. You might want to have a look at the Connect IQ store.
                  Current: nuvi 255, eTrex 30, Forerunner 310XT, Forerunner 735XT, HRM-Tri, HRM-Swim, SDM4, Virb Elite, tempe
                  Retired: eTrex Legend, Swim


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tmk2 View Post
                    1. The Powerpod power meter.
                    Sorry, I meant the Powertap Powercal power meter:
                    Current: nuvi 255, eTrex 30, Forerunner 310XT, Forerunner 735XT, HRM-Tri, HRM-Swim, SDM4, Virb Elite, tempe
                    Retired: eTrex Legend, Swim


                    • #11
                      Basically there are a lot of options out there, most of them are a better choice than Vector 3 for your particular use case. I would suggest a crank based system or a powertap hub even. That way you can still run your current pedals that you like while still getting a power reading. You won't get good cycling dynamics numbers without being clipped in and the price point is ridiculous for what you want it to do. You can get a good crank arm power meter or hub based power meter for $300 or less and it will give you just as good (or better) readings for what you are looking for.

                      Don't get me wrong, I love my Vector 3's, but I am also doing daily training sessions and racing regularly so I actually use the data to train as hard as possible and to pace for long distance races.