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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18

    Smile To cleat or not to cleat?

    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
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    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 10:46 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
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,301

    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
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    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.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    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
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    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
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    575
    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
    LORI
    Pivot Mach 4 / WTB
    Updated Vintage Terry Symmetry / Bontrager InForm RL WSD

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,889
    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 02:59 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Toronto, ON
    Posts
    45

    To cleat or not to cleat?

    When I got my first fancy bike for my largely imaginary triathlon competitions I got clipless pedals on it for the first time. It never occurred to me not too. All the cool kids did it. It was scary. I road it on the grass at my local park. I fell over trying to climb an awkward hill through cowgates (slowing slowing slowing stop tip). No serious damage but I realized I didn't ride the fancy bike enough to get used to the clipless pedals, they freaked me out. Since the bike was too good to bum around town on and was reserved for "serious" (hah!) training. I went out and bought a cheap set and installed them on my commuter. I road with them every day to and from work. At first I would start unclipping a half a block to a block before I thought I might have to come to a stop. Gradually the distance got shorter and shorter. Eventually it became second nature. The moral of the story is you will get used to them and the more you use them the easier it will be.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    18
    That's good to know, MelC. I definitely want to be one of the cool kids! But unlike you I don't commute by bike and my one bike is also reserved for serious (double hah!) rides on long country roads, which I hope I'll find one day, and by that time, I'll be a good enough rider to be not freaked out at being clipped in. I'll save my cleats for spinning class and hope that by (September?) I'll be ready for them on my real bike!
    2012 Specialized Dolce Elite
    Giant Cyclotron Mag II Trainer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    Quote Originally Posted by BonnieS View Post
    That's good to know, MelC. I definitely want to be one of the cool kids! But unlike you I don't commute by bike and my one bike is also reserved for serious (double hah!) rides on long country roads, which I hope I'll find one day, and by that time, I'll be a good enough rider to be not freaked out at being clipped in. I'll save my cleats for spinning class and hope that by (September?) I'll be ready for them on my real bike!
    Since you use cleats for spinning class, pay attention to which foot you instinctively clip out first. And on your real bike, pay attention to which foot you instinctively put down first when you come to a stop. I would think it's the same foot in each situation. When you do try clipless on your real bike, you'll want to always unclip that foot first.

    - 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
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