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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Toronto, Canada

    Smile To cleat or not to cleat?

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    Hi everyone:

    I bought a Specialized Dolce Elite road bike and I am learning to ride it - I have never ridden a bike as an adult - never! I have a coach who is teaching me the basics - I'm talking getting on/getting off (REALLY BASIC).

    Question for you: I do have cleats and & 1-sided clipless pedals. I ride in cleats all the time when I go spinning, but on the bike, whoa! A different thing altogether.

    When you started riding, if you can remember that far back for some of you who are long-time cyclists, did you start with cleats or did you start with running shoes and eventually make your way to cleats?

    On the one hand, running shoes are so much less scary when you're wobbly. On the other hand, I want to be a bona fide road cyclist. I wanna be an expert cyclist!!!

    Your suggestions will be most welcome! Thank you all!
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Central Indiana
    Given where you say you are in terms of riding a bike as an adult, I'd suggest just sticking to regular shoes for the time being...or forever. While many of us use and like clipless pedals, they're not necessary. You absolutely do not have to use them to be a bona fide cyclist.

    For what it's worth, when I first started riding a bike again as an adult in 2006, I started with pedals that had a clip on one side but were flat on the other. They were okay, but more of hindrance in some ways than a help. From there, I used regular clipless pedals; Look Keos to be exact. I like them, but by the time I started using them, I already felt pretty comfortable with road riding. I also started mountain biking for the first time--as an adult and as a child--in 2011. I do not use clipless pedals on my mountain bike and really have no interest in trying. I consider myself as bona fide an mtber as anyone else.

    Do what makes you feel safe and smile when you ride. And remember: It's the bike, not the gear or apparel, that makes you a cyclist.
    Last edited by indysteel; 04-19-2013 at 09:46 AM.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Re: To cleat or not to cleat?

    Indy said it perfectly. Personally I started riding at the age of 42 and used running shoes. I didn't start with the clipless until I had the bike 6 months and was very comfortable on it. The only reason I went clipless was because I wanted to increase my speed and work my hamstrings more. Like Indy, I also use flats on my mtb.
    2012 Jamis Quest Brooks B17 Blue
    2012 Jamis Dakar XC Comp SI Ldy Gel
    2013 Electra Verse

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    It took me a year to go from tennis shoes to clipless. And if you don't want to use them, don't.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva

    Saving for the next one...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Central Indiana
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    Shoes with really good pedals. You might consider getting some hard soled shoes like the kind some mountain bikers who don't clip in use. (Indy?)

    I wouldn't consider cleats on a bike I don't feel confident of controlling.
    I use BMX pedals (BMX pedals have sharp pins that stick out of them) paired with Five Ten mtb shoes that have a sticky sole. I think that set up is overkill on a road bike and I wouldn't go so far as to call Five Ten's "stiff."

    I think Catrin used to use BMX pedals with light hiking shoes on her roadie before she switched to clipless pedals. But even that could be overkill for a beginner. I've never hit my shin on my pedals (knock on wood), but it's easy enough to do, especially if you're a beginner. If I were in the OP's shoes (pun intended), I'd just stik to regular campus pedals for the time being and a comfortable, breathable shoe. Stiffer soles are better for longer rides, but I'm guessing the OP isn't there yet. When and if she gets there and if she's still using a flat pedal, then perhaps she can revisit the issue of footwear.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Denver, CO
    I, too, am a bona fide cyclist who doesn't do clipless at all anymore. I have these on my roadie. They help keep my feet from moving around on the pedals but they're super easy to get a foot down. The pin height is adjustable. My pins are set much lower than what we would typically find on a mountain bike pedal. I also use Five Ten shoes for good contact with the pedals. I agree with Indy that the Five Tens aren't particularly stiff. I also agree that you don't have to use ANY special pedal to be bona fide cyclist
    Pivot Mach 4 / WTB
    Updated Vintage Terry Symmetry / Bontrager InForm RL WSD

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    I only used BMX pedals because I couldn't keep my feet on more traditional platform pedals. I might actually return to them this summer if I start commuting more regularly than last year, but that is beside the point.

    Bonnie - riding is the only thing that makes you a "real"cyclist - what pedals you choose to ride has nothing to do with it Sadly there are those who insist this is the case but it isn't. Ride, do what makes you feel safe, and just keep riding. If you decide at a later time to take on clipless pedals then great, but it isn't something that MUST happen. Your body has enough to learn right now, get the basics of riding into your muscle memory before making that transition.

    Also, regular athletic shoes will likely eventually cause problems because they aren't stiff enough and will collapse around your feet which creates pressure points. When I ride my BMX pedals I typically wear my Keen Commuter sandals - I do NOT like them for clipping in (too soft for that in my opinion) - but they are great for platform pedals. They are nice and stiff without being too stiff to walk in, and they have lots of ventilation Mine look like this, though not exactly, they are close. The brand/type doesn't matter, having a stiffer sole does so take that into consideration. It will matter as you start to ride longer distances, though right now regular athletic shoes are probably fine.

    If you decide to stick with platform pedals for awhile, you might want to consider something like these Lambda Pedals - they provide a nice base for your feet and from what I hear are grippier than some platform pedals. Unlike my BMX pedals they don't have spikes and you won't have to worry about scars from pedal-slap. I would have tried them in the beginning if I had known about them at the time. Examine your options! Personally I never cared for the campus pedal solution - I was never able to keep my feet on the platform side.

    Congratulations on starting the wonderful adventure of cycling and keep us posted!
    Last edited by Catrin; 04-19-2013 at 01:59 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    northern Virginia
    I started with sneakers and regular pedals with my first bike as an adult, which was a mountain bike (which I rode more on pavement than on dirt). When I got my road bike, I think I started with regular pedals but went clipless pretty quickly -- I got the bike in the fall of 2003 and I remember my first clipless ride was on a cool spring day, and I was wearing tights for my first clipless fall (unclipped left and then realized my instinct was to put my right foot down first).

    I used the same mountain bike shoes for both bikes for the first year or so that I had the road bike -- I remember wearing them for the two centuries I did that fall. I also recall the guy at the LBS encouraging me to get real road shoes when I told him I had foot problems on that first century.

    If you're planning to do long rides with the road bike, you'll probably be more comfortable with the stiffer soles that you get with cycling shoes. But I would not switch to clipless pedals unless and until you're very comfortable with the new bike.

    Have fun!!

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    sf bay area
    i am a still somewhat new senior rider. i found it better for me to get used to the bike first. (bought my dolce last august) i am still not riding 100% clipless since i do some runs on MUT trails and i don't want to topple over dodging someone.
    but when i am on the road, i am using the cleats. i started with mountain bike shoes but got hot spots after awhile so they are used on the MUT rides. the firmer shoes are more comfortable for the longer rides. what helped me was to practice same motion of unclipping and stepping off the bike even when riding the platform to develop the muscle memory.
    the most important thing is what works for you and keeps you riding.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southeast Nebraska
    From someone who just crashed re-learning a road bike (not due to pedals just stupidity) take time to learn to ride first. I put plastic BMX pedals on my fat bike which I love as they are large and give tons of leverage for climbing. I'm looking for nicer flatform/bmx pedals for my new cross bike. I liked these xpedo ones and put them on my wish list. Given you have a Dolce which is far sweet and feminine looking than my aggressive cross bike, these may look kind of "off".

    I do have a pair of really nice shoes and clipless pedals that are awesome, but I'm still unstable enough that they are put away. I use a pair of skateboard shoes as they are stiff and flat when I go mountain biking.

    Enjoy the learning process and have fun.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    When I got my roadie, I hadn't really been on a bike since my early 20's, and I was never what you call coordinated. I was somewhat in the same position that you're in now, and I jumped into clipless pedals way too soon. The result was about 6 falls in 30 minutes - not what I'd recommend. I got the pedals with a platform on one side and the clip-in on the other, so I could choose when I was ready. Three months later, I was better able to handle the clipless pedals, and I have been okay ever since.

    I'm with the others - wait.
    "Susie" - 2012 Specialized Ruby Apex, not pink/Selle SMP Lite 209

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Sunny CA
    I have been road cycling around 5 months and only just made the switch to clipless shoes. While it was my first road bike, I felt that I adjusted to it pretty easily and I believe part of that reason is because I wore running shoes instead of going straight to clipless. I knew that I'd be able to put my feet on the ground in an instant if I needed to, and that left me free to concentrate on getting used to the bike first.

    I have the Shimano A530 pedals because at the time, I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being clipped in and it was nice to use the platform side first and not have to get new pedals if I ever decided to switch.

    I actually like the A530s a lot - I got fairly used to being able to switch to the platform side without having to look down (when I was wearing running shoes). For me, I think I was better off having waited until I truly felt comfortable enough on the bike before moving to clipless shoes. Just go at your own pace and wait until you feel like you want to make the switch, if at all.

  13. #13
    Jolt is offline Dodging the potholes...
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Southern Maine
    Another platform pedal user here...I just don't like the idea of being attached to the pedals in a way that will make it hard to do an emergency stop without it turning into a crash. Have thought about putting on a set of mini toe clips, just to prevent inadvertently coming off the pedals on trails or rough roads, but haven't done it yet. My other reason for not going clipless is the need for special shoes that aren't always so good for walking in, as opposed to being able to just go for a ride in regular sneakers/sandals. Why overcomplicate things?
    2011 Surly LHT
    1995 Trek 830

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Another senior biker who does not clip in and I definitely consider myself a "real bicyclist."

    I do have straps on my pedals to help me "pull" on hills, but I keep them really loose so I will never have trouble getting my feet out in an emergency.

    Here is a pic of what I have.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Concord, MA
    I started riding on a mountain bike with slick tires. I very quickly went from sneakers to a pair of mountain bike shoes without the cleats installed. I quickly learned that I needed the stiff sole of a cycling shoe. After awhile, I had the cleats installed, to use in spin class. I am not sure how/why, but I continued to use these shoes with my flat pedals. I guess the recessed cleat didn't interfere. I am pretty sure I didn't have a second pair of shoes. After about a year and a half, I bought a road bike, with spd pedals. I was already used to clipping in and out from spin class, and although I was scared and went slowly (I spent 3 weeks riding on flat streets, with one foot clipped out), I never crashed.
    I guess the message is I took this in stages and I was ready in each stage. Although I was not as much as of a beginner as the OP, I was 47 years old, and I am not particularly coordinated.
    Some people like using Power Straps, which give you the same ability to "pull" as clipless pedals, but are attached to flat pedals. You use the same motion to get out of these straps as getting out of cleats, so it is a good intermediate step for a lot of people. They are more intuitive than the old fashioned cages.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura
    2017 Specialized Ariel Sport



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