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Old 06-18-2009, 01:02 PM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is offline
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Question Tips on going clipless... ICQ

Well, the writing is on the wall, and I've got to face it, I'm going to have to go clipless...

As a large cyclist, falling scares me... A LOT!!! But, I need to be able to do this in time for Cycle Oregon, without injury.

So, what suggestions do you have for making the transition as painlessly as possible?

Many Thanks!
Riding my bike is MY pursuit of Happiness!!!

Last edited by K'Tesh; 06-18-2009 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:16 PM
t27 t27 is offline
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Default Mistery of life

Why do clipless pedals have clips?

I like using mountain bike style clipless pedals (Crank Brothers) and shoes on my road bike. I like the choice of more walkable shoes sold for mountain bikes and the clips are generally easier to get in and out. The float, typical with mountain pedals, can make alignment less critical and save the joints. Adjust them loose so getting in and out is easier.
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Old 06-18-2009, 01:32 PM
brock brock is offline
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First, I'd look for an SPD or mountain bike type of clipless pedal. They'll be easier to get in and out of, and will allow many shoes choices from hardsole to casual to sandal that will allow you to move around comfortably off the bike than road shoes/pedals would.

Second, you will most likely fall a few times before you get used to it. By far the most common is when you successfully unclip the foot you intend to put down at an intersection, then fall the other way. But you never know, you might just have the coordination it takes already - you've been riding for a while and just being comfortable on the bike in terms of balance and such will go a long way.

Like many bike maneuvers, practice is probably best in a park on some soft grass. If you do fall, resist the urge to stick your arm out and let your hip and shoulder take the impact.

Some tips:

- Mountain bike pedals or the cleats themselves usually have some sort of adjustable tension. Set this as low as possible at first.

- This will look silly, but for practice go clipless with the foot you put down, and a regular shoe on the other pedal that is not clipped in.

- Unclip your foot down side while you are still slowing, 5mph or so. After a while, you won't need to do this.

- Make sure you are not overgeared when you stop, if you have to push to big a gear while trying to get your foot clipped you could go down, or have the pedal not engage and your foot slip off (ouch, shins).

- Practice unclipping quickly and smoothly with both feet while not moving (on a trainer or holding a railing).

You will get it pretty fast I bet. The only times I tumble these days because of a botched unclip is on the fat tires, and that's because I stink when the terrain gets technical. Just be glad it's not the mid eighties - I seemed to fall once every few weeks with road cleats and clipped pedals. I can't imagine having to reach down to loosen a strap at every stop light anymore!
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Old 06-18-2009, 02:02 PM
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zpl zpl is offline
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I also know that Shimano mountain SPD cleats come in two variations - one of which allows you to unclip using more types of foot rotation. You could use those cleats if you find them more reassuring.

I love clipless pedals, and I'm sure once you get over the initial learning curve you'll wish you had tried them sooner given all the riding you do.

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Old 06-18-2009, 05:09 PM
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the Wumpus the Wumpus is offline
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I've got spd pedals I'm not using any more, if that's what you're looking for...

I rode around with them for a couple years. Now I'm on pinned bmx platforms. Foot support's better, no changing in and out of special shoes, and I can't pull on the pedals. (that's a good thing, pulling pedals is bad for my knees) Other than the pulling, foot retention is just as good as clipless!

But if ya just gotta go clipless, I'd recommend spd to start with. You can get shoes (even sandals!) with recessed cleats so you can walk like regular folk.
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Old 06-19-2009, 07:42 AM
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Haven_kd7yct Haven_kd7yct is offline
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You definitely want to look into some sort of mountain-shoe as opposed to a road-shoe. I love mine, got 'em at REI for a good price on sale. Comfortable, and I can hike-a-bike if I need to (aka walking up the hill-- there's no shame in walking).

One of my bikes has dual-sided pedals so I was able to work up to full clipless. That helped my confidence a lot when I was just beginning to figure it out.

Lots of good advice has been passed on in this thread-- Practice makes perfect! Plan ahead for your stops and clip out early. Float is good.
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Old 06-19-2009, 08:13 AM
roberte roberte is offline
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A few advantages of clipless are:
getting the stiffer sole which spreads out pressure on bottom of foot
better integration with bike / smoother and faster pedal stroke
pulling up, esp on standing during climbing

So, be careful in shoe selection. If you're spending 80-90% of your time on the bike, the walkability is not so important. Esp if that results in more difficult release. Covers are available for non-recessed cleats and are handy for the restroom ect. stops.

Spin is good, esp on long days and multiple days (and multiple long days...)

If it helps in getting up the hills,.....

I'm a SpeedPlay user. Big platform coupled with a stiff sole (mid-level Sidi) makes a comfortable combo for long multi-day riding.

Easy click in which is more important than getting out. Really, you don't want to be fumbling around looking at your feet in the middle of an intersection or the middle of a climb after stopping to take pictures.

Easy release - you will feel it 'bump up' at the point before release. Easy to get your foot there as you're coming to a stop. Easy to do a quick full twist in an emergency.

Grass works, but isn't really that much softer (and if it were, it would be pretty tough going). I'd opt for a few sessions on a trainer. Or at least somebody holding the bike seat and straddling the rear wheel while you practice the clipping in and out routine.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:08 AM
Spectre Spectre is offline
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I really like the speedplay Frogs because they give your foot so much freedom on the pedal (float) and keep my knees happy. I found them to be much easier to get in and out of compared to the SPDs and they are a much more simple set up.

I fell a few times learning, they all involved not thinking about clipping out early enough at stops. I once fell in the pearl district at a stop sign. I felt like a beetle stuck on its back, the bike was still stuck to me and I couldn’t get the pedals to unclip, real classy!

Good luck!
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:43 AM
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wsbob wsbob is offline
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I've been trying to decide to break loose with cash to buy a new pair of cycling shoes that are spd compatible...got the pedals already...somewhat amazingly, it's been working out to just use my old running shoes with them.

I put a lot of miles on an old pair of Look clipless pedals...an early model. They weren't perfect, but they worked. I never had a problem getting out of them; just turn your heel outward a little....easy. I thought regular cleated shoes with toe-clips was far more of a hassle.

As I decide which shoes to get, for the riding I do, I think I'm leaning towards road shoes, despite the annoyance of the projecting cleat. It's nice to be able to get off the bike and walk around like a normal person...(ka-boom !)...that's been one of the luxuries of the running shoes.

After getting back in shape somewhat, I now notice that with just the running shoes, I'm not able to take advantage of all the energy and renewed conditioning I have. Toe-clips-clipless, as others commenting have pointed out, allow the rider to apply power to the pedals over a greater number of degrees in a revolution of the pedals. Right now, I'm noticing it mostly in climbing. Watching the pros ride, they clearly are getting the advantage from clipless, whether they're on climbing, on the flats, or downhill. Powering through the spin.

Road shoe designs try to be as light and stiff as possible. Keeping revolving weight down can be advantageous. If extra weight isn't needed, get rid of it. The extra weight of a lugged sole is worth it to off-roaders. Casual shoes have extra weight in wallking soles...who needs that when on the bike?
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:36 AM
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lynnef lynnef is offline
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For Cycle Oregon, you'll want more of the MTB shoe style. You'll ride by areas where you'd like to get off and explore a bit, or walk around at rest stops, and road shoes just don't support that kind of activity well.

+1 on the Speedplay Frog pedals.

I practiced in a doorway for awhile, then graduated to the driveway, then around the neighborhood. Only 2 falls (Arte-Johnson-style) in the 6 years I've been riding with clipless pedals.
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