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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Quincy, MA
    Posts
    119

    Big benefits of going clipless?

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    I just read through a bunch of threads about going clipless after a long chat with my LBS owner about putting them on my bike while its in the shop being tuned up this week. I trained and rode my first century in the summer of 2008 all in my running sneakers with cages on my pedals. I didn't ride last summer but I'm back on my bike now and excited for it. I don't have huge problems with my sneakers other than the awkwardness of the size and the cages fitting around the sneakers and some pain in my feet at the end of a 15+ mile ride.

    But of course I know that if I keep riding this is something I'm going to want to do. But I'm s-c-a-r-e-d ... I've only fallen once on my bike and after reading everyone's posts - I'm intimidated. I can't imagine being totally clipped in. I also have a bum ankle and I'm worried I won't be able to act quickly enough to get it out of the clip. And I have to clip my strong/good leg in first because I don't have the power in my bad leg to push off.

    So ... the benefits of spending the money and the dealing with the danger? Power, speed (I'm SLOW), comfort? And anyone out there learn it quick and not wipe out? Is that possible?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    682
    I can't help you since I ride with toe clips (what I want to know is why are they toe clips when you don't clip in, but clipless pedals require you to clip in? Is this kind of like you drive on the parkway but park in the driveway?) but I found that wearing real cycling shoes with my toe clips makes life a lot easier--they fit better and the firm sole is more comfortable over the long haul.

    My next bike - should I ever have enough money for one! - will probably involve clipless pedals. I'm curious about them, and figure enough people who are more uncoordinated than I am manage them just fine, so I should be fine too. I don't see any point in switching the pedals on my current bike, though, so my curiosity will have to wait. I suspect that they don't make that much of a difference, particularly for someone not interested in winning races.

    Sarah

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Quincy, MA
    Posts
    119
    I tired to do the same thing - use bike shoes with the toe cages but I couldn't ride with them - I have the fabric cages and the shoes would fall through the cage out the other side - I couldn't ride with them at all.

    Yea - I'm also wondering if its really all that worth it?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    399
    I tried clipless -absolutely hated it - and went back to toe cages.

    I figure that I am a 55 year old purely recreational rider that does a century ride once a season. All my other rides are 50 miles or under.

    I bike in my wonderfully comfortable sneakers and I am as happy as a clam.

    I ride 3 to 4 times a week and never have pain in my feet.

    As the saying goes, "To each her own."

    Lynette

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    1,372
    Clipless help power transfer (you can pedal in a circle and they keep your feet on the pedal). The keep your feet from slipping off, and they can increase control of the bike (your feet can help control the bike along with your hands).
    Once you switch to them and get comfortable in them they can be safer than not having them- I hate my feet slipping off my pedals, for example.
    They aren't dangerous once you get used to them, it becomes second nature to twist your foot.
    They aren't for everyone nor are they for every bike, and there is nothing wrong with not having them.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    501
    I can't go riding without clipless pedals. The thought of those cages makes me cringe, and the thought of my feet slipping on rattrap pedals is even worse.

    Yes it is something that needs to be 'learned' and there is a fear factor at first. Once I got over how it works (on a trainer for a week) I went out on rides on quiet streets with lots of stop signs so I could practice unclipping as I slow down. Been clipless since the early LOOK pedals and Keywins and now ride SPD and Speedplays. Even the commuter has XTR pedals.

    Frankly, I find it easier to just push my foot down and 'click' instead of having to flip over the pedal and shove my foot in. Twist heal out and 'click' I am free instead of having to yank my foot out at a light and crap it's stuck reach down and loosen the buckle woops. Ok, ride the rat-trap side and the darn cage can catch on stuff. Where is this easier? I don't think about it, just click click. Toe clips are too much work for me.

    For non 'racer' types, there are shoes that look kinda like sneakers, but with stiffer soles which make for more comfort, and SPD compatibility. That would be my suggestion. You can clip out and walk around, shop, whatever. If doing more fast riding, racing style shoes can be had with even stiffer soles and lighter weight but it's a bear to walk with the clips sticking out the bottom of the shoe. So be realistic as to what your needs are, but even with toe clips-I recommend cycling shoes. It will cut down or eliminate the pain you can get in the soles as it provides support as you apply pressure on the down-stroke.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    The Mountains
    Posts
    92
    Frankly, I find it easier to just push my foot down and 'click' instead of having to flip over the pedal and shove my foot in. Twist heal out and 'click' I am free instead of having to yank my foot out at a light and crap it's stuck reach down and loosen the buckle woops. Ok, ride the rat-trap side and the darn cage can catch on stuff. Where is this easier? I don't think about it, just click click. Toe clips are too much work for me.
    I second this. I have cages on my communter and clipless on my mtb, and wish I had clipless on both. For the reord, if I can learn to mtn bike in clipless pedals without killing myself, you'll be just fine. Go for it.
    "I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood." Susan B Anthony

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Greeley, CO
    Posts
    54
    Quote Originally Posted by TsPoet View Post
    Clipless help power transfer (you can pedal in a circle and they keep your feet on the pedal). The keep your feet from slipping off, and they can increase control of the bike (your feet can help control the bike along with your hands).
    Once you switch to them and get comfortable in them they can be safer than not having them- I hate my feet slipping off my pedals, for example.
    They aren't dangerous once you get used to them, it becomes second nature to twist your foot.
    They aren't for everyone nor are they for every bike, and there is nothing wrong with not having them.
    Exactly. I have absolutely no coordination, but once I got my clipless, my balance & power increased 80%. It sounds dumb, but I never thought of how being attached to the bike could make my balance and steering more efficient. So far, no falls *knock on wood*.
    ~ Tanis

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    589
    For the ankle issue:

    Do your research and get a good set of pedals and shoes that can be tension adjusted to allow you to (once you are used to them) get in and out quickly and easily. Shimano pedals have a tension adjust, but many people also recommend Speedplay pedals for people with knee and other lower leg issues. Your should should be able to help you with this.

    Then just practice practice practice. I started indoors, in a door frame, while watching TV. In, out, in, out, in, out. I've had a whopping 2 or 3 clipless related falls, all on the mountain bike, and most involving mud/rocks in the locking mechanism.

    I don't see them as dangerous. At worst you are going to fall over at 1 mph and skin your elbow. Maybe stay on low traffic roads until you are confident with them, simply to avoid laying down in front of a car (which would likely be stopped anyway, but sometimes it's hard to unclip once you are down). But really, the mechanisms, especially when set on low tension, are very good at releasing at any "panic" type movement.

    A good set of pedals and shoes will vastly improve your foot comfort on longer rides, and have the added benefits of at least slightly better efficiency, so well worth the investment and learning curve.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    848
    You don't have to go clipless. Just because 'everyone" else is doing it doesn't mean you have to.

    Ok.. that said, I do have to say that once I went clipless I wasn't going back. actually I didn't really like the cages and felt they were their own safety issues since I thought I couldn't get out in time if I needed to.

    I noticed better power transfer and a sense of being more part of the bike. Made hills a bit easier.

    Also, I used to ski a lot so for me the whole clipless thing was easy since it just reminded me of ski bindings which if I'm remembering correctly is their origin. I think Look developed the first clipless pedals.

    ah.. and btw, I *think* they're called clipless because you lose the toe clips or cages.
    Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    IMO (being old enough to have ridden with both) I think clipless is MUCH safer than toe clips - for the simple reason that you can get your feet out without using your hands. I think the choice should be between clipless and platform pedals - not between toe clips and clipless.

    If your main concern is your foot pain, you can get MTB shoes that will work with platform pedals. The soles aren't as stiff as road soles, but they're way stiffer than "sneakers."

    I guess my main concern would be how much ROM you have in your bad ankle, knee and hip. If they're hypomobile, you may have difficulty getting out of any pedal that holds your foot, clipped or clipless. OTOH, if they're hypermobile and weak, then maybe you're in extra danger of your foot slipping off, and it's best to use a retention system. Is it possible to ask your PT about this?
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Suburban MA and Western ME
    Posts
    1,815
    Agree with what most have said here. When I learned on clipless (many, many moons ago), I was one of those people that never had a "clipless pedal fall". This may be you, as well! Do go with a dual-sided pedal. Everyone is different, but I have been using the SPDs for years - they are reliable (I know I am getting out of them when I need to) and easy to use.

    FWIW, I broke my ankle last year. As soon as I was back on my bike, I was back to clipless pedals and didn't have any issues.

    Don't be afraid!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Quincy, MA
    Posts
    119
    You guys ROCK! Thank you so much!

    I think it helps to hear your experiences and why its so much better. Also helps to hear that I shouldn't bow down to the pressure of what everyone else is doing.

    My ROM in my ankle is horrible up and down - I am negative with dorsi flexion - but I can move it side to side without too much trouble.

    I've never had the problem of sliding off my pedals with the toe cages. I wear my running sneakers and its never happened. I also don't tighten the straps when I ride - my right foot is a bit tighter than my left - but the left cage is VERY lose so I can easily pull in and out - yet when I'm climbing a hill standing or just riding they never slip and I don't feel unstable at all. The biggest problem I have is the pain in my feet at the end of a ride. And, as I mentioned, I've tried wearing bike shoes with the cages and it just didn't work - I think because my left foot points down when I ride - meaning I can't keep it flat because I lack the dorsi flexion - I always point it down. So with bike shoes in the cage that was a problem.

    I would love more power and be able to up my speed a bit. So I think its something I would like to do. I'm just being a big scaredy cat. I've seen a new to clipless fall into a car once because she couldn't clip out fast enough at a stop and it terrified me. So I think I'm letting that experience get to me.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    50
    I also wanted to try clipless, but was scared. So, I got a set of Shimano pedals that had clips on one side and a full flat pedal on the other side. The flat side also has nice grips on them.

    I practiced in the park on the grass first. My biggest fear was other people... the stupid drivers who underestimate how fast I'm going and cut me off; the stupid pedestrians who look for cars but not bikes to cross the street. So, I was scared of needing to stop fast and not be able to get out of the clips.

    I did go clipless a few times, but I'm sort of sad to say that I never did get over my fears. The good news is that having the dual kind of pedal gave me the option, and I don't feel like it's a wasted investment. One day I might be confident enough in my cycling that I will try the clipless again, but for now I'm happy on the flat side.

    I will say that the biggest downside is that my proper bike shoes (I have 2 sets) both bounce off the flat side quite a bit. So, I end up just wearing my running shoes that have a softer sole which grips the pedal better.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    943
    I started out pretty much day one with clipless and have only had one stall and fall. I love my speedplays and have no trouble popping them out. I would suggest practicing on a trainer or while stopped.

    Also you can adjust many pedals to be more loose and therefore easier to get out of until you get the hang of it.

    The pedal stroke is tons more efficient and allows you to utilize the entire circle unlike toe cages.

    Best of luck to you!

 

 

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