Shimano SH56 vs. SH51: The Battle of Cleats

Ah, the thrilling world of mountain biking! If you’ve ever hit the trails, you know the importance of that magical connection between your feet and the bike pedals. And when it comes to Shimano cleats, there’s a fierce rivalry between two popular models: the SH56 and the SH51. It’s like a showdown between a multi-release maverick and a reliable steady-Eddy. Let’s jump into the saddle and explore the perplexing world of cleats!

What are Cleats Anyway?

Before we dive into the comparison, let’s get our feet on solid ground and understand what cleats are. Imagine this: you’ve got your spiffy mountain bike and those specialized bike shoes on your feet. Cleats are those tiny metal or plastic attachments you screw onto the bottom of your shoes. They then clip into the pedals, creating a bond so strong it’s like peanut butter and jelly – inseparable!

Shimano SH56 vs. SH51

The SH56 – The “Multi-Release” Maverick

Let’s meet the SH56, the daredevil of the Shimano cleat family. These bad boys come with a unique “multi-release” superpower. With the SH56, you can unclip your shoes from the pedals with a simple twist of the foot in almost any direction. It’s like having a superhero power, ready to escape any sticky situation when you feel like you’re about to take a tumble.

My Personal Experience with the SH56

Picture me, a rookie mountain biker, hitting the trails with the SH56 cleats. I felt like a ninja, twisting my feet left and right to release from the pedals effortlessly. It was exhilarating and gave me a sense of freedom, like I was one with my bike. But, here’s the catch – sometimes, when I didn’t want to unclip, like when I was powering through rough terrain, the SH56 could be a little too loosey-goosey. My feet would unexpectedly pop out, and I’d be left looking like a clumsy cartoon character mid-air.

The SH51 – The Reliable Steady-Eddy

Now, say hello to the SH51, the seasoned veteran of the Shimano cleat family. These babies are like your trusty best friend – always there when you need ’em. Unlike the SH56, the SH51 cleats have a “single-release” design. It means you can only unclip by twisting your foot in one specific direction – usually, it’s a simple heel-out motion. No fancy tricks here, but sometimes, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

My Anecdote with the SH51

So, there I was again, hitting the trails – but this time, with the SH51 cleats. I must say, they made me feel like I was wearing Velcro shoes, super secure and snug. When I needed to unclip, it was straightforward and predictable, which is comforting when you’re pushing your limits. But – yeah, there’s a “but” – on occasion, I found myself wishing I had the SH56’s multi-release magic, especially in those moments when I needed to bail out quickly.

Comparing the SH56 and SH51

Alright, now comes the head-scratcher – which one is better? Well, it all depends on you and your riding style, my fellow thrill-seeker. Let’s break it down:

SH56 if You’re a Daredevil

If you love living life on the edge, trying out crazy stunts, and need that added freedom to escape the pedals easily, the SH56 is calling your name. They’re excellent for beginners too, as they provide a little more room for error. It’s like having a safety net while you test your biking limits.

SH51 if You’re a Steady Rider

On the flip side, if you’re more of a steady rider, and you value that consistent and secure connection to the pedals, the SH51 is your go-to. They’re popular among seasoned riders who appreciate simplicity and reliability. It’s like having a trusty sidekick that never lets you down.

The Perplexing Choice – Combining Cleats

You know what’s the cool part? You don’t have to choose just one! Some riders decide to mix things up and use different cleats on each foot – one SH56 and one SH51 – combining the best of both worlds. It’s like creating your custom cocktail of cleat goodness. My buddy Pete tried it, and guess what? It worked for him! He said he felt like a biking genius, releasing one foot easily when needed and staying rock-solid on the other when the going got tough. It’s like having secret superpowers, tailored to his specific needs.

Practice Makes Perfect – Avoiding Busted Knees and Ankle Twisters

Now, hold your horses there, speedy rider! Before you go wild with your new cleats, remember that there might be a learning curve. Unclipping from clipless pedals can be a bit tricky at first, and you might end up with a few bruised egos – and knees. Trust me; I speak from experience. So, my advice? Practice in a safe, open space before you hit the trails. Get used to the feel of the cleats and practice unclipping repeatedly until it becomes second nature. It’s like learning to ride a bike all over again, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Shimano SH56 vs. SH51


In the end, the Shimano SH56 and SH51 cleats each have their strengths and quirks, but it all comes down to your personal preferences and riding style. Do you crave that multi-release magic and extra wiggle room with the SH56, or are you all about the steady and reliable connection of the SH51? Whichever cleats you choose, remember that it’s all about the journey, the exhilarating rides, and the moments that make your heart race. So, get out there, hit the trails, and enjoy the ride, my fellow mountain biking enthusiasts!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Fun-stions)

Q1: Can I use SH56 cleats on road bike pedals?
A: Technically, you can, but it’s not the best idea. SH56 cleats are designed for mountain bike pedals, and they might not provide the same efficiency on road pedals.

Q2: Are SH56 cleats compatible with all mountain bike pedals?
A: Mostly yes, but it’s always a good idea to check the compatibility with your specific pedal model.

Q3: Can I use SH51 cleats with road bike pedals?
A: While it’s technically possible, SH51 cleats are optimized for mountain bike pedals, and you might not get the best performance on road pedals.

Q4: Do SH51 cleats work with all Shimano pedals?
A: SH51 cleats are generally compatible with a wide range of Shimano pedals, but it’s essential to verify compatibility with your specific pedal model.

Q5: How long does it take to get used to clipless pedals and cleats?
A: The learning curve varies from rider to rider, but with practice, most people get the hang of it within a few rides. It’s all about finding that sweet spot of comfort and confidence.

Q6: Can I switch between SH56 and SH51 cleats easily?
A: Absolutely! Both cleats use the same two-bolt system, making it a breeze to switch between the SH56 and SH51 models.

Q7: Are there other cleat options besides SH56 and SH51?
A: Yes, there are other cleat options available from Shimano and other brands, each with unique features catering to different riding styles and preferences.

Q8: Do I need to adjust my pedals when switching cleats?
A: In most cases, you won’t need to make significant adjustments to your pedals when switching between SH56 and SH51 cleats. However, some minor tweaks might be necessary for optimal performance.

Q9: How often should I replace my cleats?
A: Cleat lifespan varies depending on usage, terrain, and maintenance. As a general rule, consider replacing cleats every 1,500 to 3,000 miles (2,400 to 4,800 kilometers) or when you notice significant wear and tear.

Q10: Can I use SH56 or SH51 cleats for indoor cycling?
A: Yes, you can use either SH56 or SH51 cleats for indoor cycling with compatible pedals. Just make sure to check the indoor cycling studio’s pedal system before you hop on the bike.

Additional Tips and Recommendations

Remember, no matter which cleats you choose, it’s essential to keep them clean and well-maintained. Regularly inspect the cleats and pedals for any signs of wear or damage. Lubricate the pedal engagement system if necessary, and always carry a small multitool with you for on-the-trail adjustments.

In the end, the right cleats for you will enhance your mountain biking experience, allowing you to take on those trails with confidence and style. So, clip in, gear up, and pedal away to new adventures!🚴‍♂️👟

  1. Shimano Official Website – Cleats Section This link will take readers directly to the official Shimano website’s cleats section. Here, they can explore more details about the SH56 and SH51 cleats, including technical specifications, compatibility, and other available options.
  2. MTB Project – Mountain Biking Trails and Community  This link leads to MTB Project, an online platform for mountain biking enthusiasts. Users can find trail information, reviews, and community discussions related to various biking topics, including discussions about cleats and pedal systems.

Watch this one,

Video Credits – SickBiker


You May Also Like

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top