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Can someone please explain the benefits of clipless pedals to me?

So as many of you know, I recently bought a new bike. It has Shimano M505 pedals, which have a (clipped in) platform on one side and a clippy thingy on the other side. I am thinking about buying new pedals (platforms with cages and straps) or just buying shoes. What would I gain from buying shoes and going full clipless. Pros? Cons? Adjusting period? Any and all opinions are welcome. (thing to consider. I use this bike for COMMUTING, but will probably be racing with it soon as well)

2012-07-16 17:01:40

With Clipless you can pull up when climbing. I find this very helpful on a single speed and evn moreso on fixed. I think on a regular geared bike, even one for commuting, it helps with climbing hills and pedaling in a circle rather than a box, if you know what I mean. I recently rode with toestraps/cages in a fixie around town and I did not like it. Better than platforms, but there is a difference. But after riding Clipless around here, not riding Clipless is more unpleasant in my opinion. They do make regular looking shoes that are spds

2012-07-16 17:20:50

I switched to clipless last year and dont know how I rode without them now. I have to climb a big hill to get home from pretty much anywhere, and having the ability to capitalize on the full spinning motion made the climb much much easier. Even on flat ground, you'll have faster acceleration and again, riding will seem like it takes less effort once you get used to the motion.

Adjusting period didnt take long at all. Just make sure you have the clamps pretty loose your first ride, and then you can add tension as needed. I used to fall over all the time on my mountain bike because I had those things waaay too tight.

Only big con is having to worry about your shoes. I commute, and sometimes it is a pain to be stuck in cycling shoes when you are out and about. But they do make different types of shoes, and im sure some are more comfortable / more attractive than the ones I have.

2012-07-16 17:38:11

I find the biggest advantage while commuting is that when you are stopped you don't have to fiddle with the toe clip and strap when you start again. You just jam your foot down into the pedal and it clicks in. It makes things much easier.

There's a good guide to cleat-compatible shoes that don't look too bad at

2012-07-16 17:59:32

The shoes Chrome makes look pretty good.

I don't ride clipless. It's just one less thing to maintain. But if you're gonna race, you can't do without it.

2012-07-16 18:01:54

I can offer the perspective of the diametric opposite approach. I will never own clipless, will never even try clipless, for a couple of reasons. First, I had a meniscus tear on my left knee, so any sort of unusual stress such as 0 mph fall-overs when clipped in would likely cause me major injury.

Second, the clips on the bottom of the shoes will absolutely result in stress of the marital type. My wife does not want me walking in street shoes at all indoors, and if there's a clip mount on the shoes that I do sometimes have to cross a room in, I'd be thrown out of the house.

So I use plain old platforms, and plain old street shoes. By "ankling" -- tipping one's foot fore and aft with each pedal stroke to achieve some sort of power over more than 180 degrees of stroke -- I get around pretty well.

2012-07-16 18:02:09

Scratch what I wrote, the Chrome shoes get terrible reviews. Still I know there's good walking-around shoes out there.

2012-07-16 18:08:09

my commuter has toe clips, and my road bike has spds. i can't stand plain old flat pedals, because i find my feet move around too much and i expend too much mental energy trying to keep them in the best place. this is not a problem with either my clipless pedals or my toe clips.

as to the difference between the two, the best for me is that for clipless, once i'm clipped in, i just don't think about it. my feet move and the pedals move with them, and that's that. in the toe clips, there's still a lot more floating around, and it can be annoying (e.g. when your shoe is squeakily rubbing on the crank arm). people will tell you all about the amazing benefits in efficiency by using clipless pedals. i'm sure there's some, but for commuting, i don't care. pulling up on the steep does make a difference, but so does appropriate gearing. the stiff sole that comes on most cycling shoes spreads the force of pedaling out around the whole sole better than sneakers (or flipflops, which is what i commute in, heh). so, for me, the benefits of clipless are mental ease and comfort on the bike.

that said, i pretty much never commute in clipless pedals any more. the main reason is the shoes suck to walk in after a while. multiply this by a few more if you get road cleats instead of mountain style shoes. if you plan on changing shoes at your destination anyway, and you don't have to carry an extra pair around, this probably won't be an issue.

i don't remember having an adjustment period at all. i had been riding in toe clips for a few years before i bought my first clipless pedals, and i found it way easier to emergency-unclip from the clipless than the toe clips, where my foot would sort of snag on the strap.

i guess my advice would be: if money is no concern, buy them both and try them and see what you like. if it is, pick one and expect to be happy with your choice until you can afford try both. i'm sure either would work out well.

edited to add: i apologize for my verbosity!

2012-07-16 18:09:57

I second what Ken said if you are going to race use clipless pedals. Road shoes/ pedals have way better power transfer than mountain pedals. Mountain pedals work just fine though and you can walk around.

I used to commute using clipless pedals and I just trashed shoes/ cleats fast so I commute on flat pedals. I always race using clipless pedals.

2012-07-16 18:10:33

To counter Stu a little (with zero evidence!), I think that being properly clipped in would actually be better for your knees since your foot and leg would be held in their proper alignment. With platform pedals, and straps to a lesser degree, your foot position can vary as you pedal and you can get into bad habits like ankling. Of course all of this assumes that your pedal and shoe setup is “correct” which is probably a big assumption.

2012-07-16 18:12:35

Yeah ankling is supposed to be bad for you knees.

2012-07-16 18:17:38

ankling is primarily bad for your achilles tendons. here's what sheldon brown has to say, with a link to jobst brandt's take on the topic. however, some people do it naturally, and it works for them. i would suggest pedaling however feels most natural.

2012-07-16 18:30:46

The main reason I dont' use clipless is that I believe that in a accident I might have better things to do with a quarter second than fuss with fancy shoes and cleats.

That safety thing is very important to me.

I'm not sure mine ever were adjusted well. But then, I'm not sure they weren't either.

Sometimes I had to struggle to get my feet out of them - and it felt like I could easily injure a knee with that. That might be bad adjustment, but there was no intuitive way to make it better.

I did the famous horizontal track stand once. Don't care to repeat that, ever.

I had a vague suspicion clipless weren't good for my knees when I used them. I'm kinda duckfooted. Some power straps I bought, that some people really like, are unusable for me.

I bought clip in shoes that supposedly were good for walking, but on any concrete, the metal grinded a bit. Enough to grate on my nerves. probably enough to ruin wood floors.

The shoes weren't comfortable enough that I would want to walk 2 or 3 miles in them. I could have done it, but they weren't comfortable. The combination of that and the grind made it a no brainer: I dont' want those shoes on my feet.

I rarely change clothes to ride my bike and would hate to have a 90 second shoe change added to the already too-long ritual of unlocking the bike and stashing my backpack in a pannier.

When you go to the store do you change shoes while shopping?

There are some solutions to shoe changing I would consider - like I had pedals had cleat holders on one side and platforms on the other side of the pedals.

But overall the little bit of speed the clipless give hasn't held an attraction for me that would begin to counterbalance the issues with them.

I was with one one with tubeless tires and clipless that had a flat a mile from home - that was a huge issue. It's been a while since a bike broke down on me, but with regular cleated shoes, the inability to walk where I need to go makes them something I don't want.

2012-07-16 18:44:12

No issues with clipless, I use them 100% of the time on road, I am mixed on mountain. I have Crank Brothers Mallets on my road bike and use mountain shoes with a carbon fiber sole. Not ideal for road but I am not racing and prefer the mountain shoes so I can walk into work without tearing up the cleats. I also retain the ability to ride the bike in normal shoes but there is enough of a drop in power that I never do that. On a mountain bike it depends on what I am doing, sometimes I wear normal shoes.

I had knee issues and very few worries any more. Most of this went away with a switch to a minimalist shoe for regular wear though and has nothing to do with cycling. Cycling has not made it worse though.

For most people here I suspect a mountain shoe and pedal combo would do the trick.

2012-07-16 18:54:59

I would go one further and say that if you're going to race, SPDs are dangerous. It's much easier to pull out of them while sprinting, which can result in a crash (both for you and others around you). I used SPDs for a few races when I was a rookie. From experience, I'd say don't do it. It's much harder to accidentally pull out of a good road pedal.

2012-07-16 19:12:16

It's much harder to accidentally pull out of a good road pedal.

I guess this is the reason it's better for say commuters to use them. Because you want it to be easy to pull your foot out.

2012-07-16 19:32:30

I thought about mentioning the pulling out part. Definitely true that pulling out is a problem with SPD's. The only time I've had trouble pulling out with Time ATAC mountain pedals was when my cleats were noticably worn out.

I've never pulled out with Speed Play Zero road pedals.

I've never had a problem unclipping when being involved in accidents. I didn't have to think about it was just seperated from the bike by the time the dust settled.

2012-07-16 19:47:50

I'm not very experienced with clipless pedals (as in, I just got them a week ago), but I already love them.

I really don't like riding without foot retention (which I realized within just a few weeks after I started to commute by bike), and up until I got a new bike last week I always rode with BMX pedals with Holdfast-esque straps.

Eventually I started getting irritated with those because they didn't hold my foot very tightly (at least when they were adjusted so that I wasn't losing circulation in my toes), I was always fiddling to get the strap adjustment right with different shoes, they didn't feel that reliable when I was standing and stuff like that, etc. That setup was still perfect for certain things like needing to ride with giant winter boots, and I'll leave those pedals on that hybrid which will now be my winter bike.

So clipless seemed like the obvious next step with the new bike, and I am SO pleased. At my experience level, it would be silly for me to claim that I'm really any faster with them or anything like that, but I do just feel more confident riding more "aggressively" (spinning fast, standing, sprinting, etc.) and knowing that my feet are solidly attached and won't slide around. And they are a lot easier to use than I thought they would be — easier than my strap thingies. I have PD-A530 pedals, which are dual-sided like yours, but I don't think I'm going to end up using the platform side much at all.

I do need to go get properly fitted with them, because I can't get the cleat adjustment quite right, but my feet are just super-weird. Even with that, I still love them. And I actually had been having some funny stuff with my knee and ankle for a long time, and I was worried that clipless would make it worse until I got fitted, but my knee and ankle have actually suddenly felt fine all week (even though I've been riding more than usual). I suspect the clipless setup prevents some kind of bad lateral movement that I was doing before.

2012-07-16 19:57:55

Until Mick's post, I'd thought it was one of those "if you don't love them, you likely don't have them or haven't adjusted to them yet" kind of things. For that reason alone I've decided to be content with the power/effort I exert for each pedal stroke with regular old fashioned pedals. But I'm a curmudgeon and dislike upgrades ;)

Racing aside, for longer commutes, I could see the benefit being worth the attempt to find some comfortable enough to use on a regular basis. If your commute is only a mile or three, especially if it's got lots of stops, it might not be worth it. Racing is different altogether.

Personally, I'm pretty confident I'm never going to even try clipless. I tried pedals with toe cages, and have nothing polite to say about the concept or at least the implementation I was subjected to. Also I fundamentally don't like "special shoes" - I've worked too hard to create a small, generic, yet widely practical wardrobe to start filling it with fancy implements again. If my favorite loafers or tennies came with little brackety things for clipless, I'd consider it (after my current pair wore out).

But if you're not anti-special, and want more power than you're getting out of your stroke, and willing to get properly fitted, they seem like a really good idea to try.

2012-07-16 20:21:41

I've never had a problem unclipping when being involved in accidents. I didn't have to think about it was just seperated from the bike by the time the dust settled.

this has been my experience as well. i remember riding on a dirt road a few years ago, and going faster than i should down a hill, with a huge crown in the road and a bit of a ditch on the side. well, i was fighting with the traction, trying to get back up to the top of the crown, but it kept pushing me back to the ditch. eventually, i couldn't fight it any more and ended up falling off the side. i was wearing clipless pedals, and i somehow managed to end up running next to my bike, holding the stem. i never even thought about unclipping. wish i had that on video.

2012-07-16 20:23:59

When I took my asphalt bellyflop on Friday, I was glad as hell I wasn't attached to the bike. My relative lack of injury I think is due in large part to instinct. As 100% of my cycling is simple transportation, like Mick I try to keep the transitions from commuting to being there, and back, quick and simple.

2012-07-16 20:48:42

@jonawebb, good road pedals are also easier to reliably unclip from, when you want to, than most mountain bike pedals.

2012-07-16 20:49:13

I have mtb shoes and pedals and I have only ripped out with my left foot twice in over probably 10-20k miles, both times fixed going about 4mph up hills, so it was easy to put my foot down. I tightened the pedal and it is fine now. I am surprised that it hasn't happened before this year, as I keep them way loose.

I put platforms on my mt bikes. I cannot clip out wrh my left foot worth shit.

2012-07-16 21:56:46

I like double sided platforms like you have for commuting, you can clip in when you want to and ride in whatever shoes when you need to. Most importantly in traffic you can get in a few good cranks before worrying about clipping in.

You prob would not want to race with them though, they have less clearance in turns and you could ground a pedal. That would be bad. They may not be permitted anyway.

2012-07-16 22:12:24

@jonawebb accidently pulling out and unclipping are two different things. :) I have no problem with Speed Play Zero -- no accidental pulls out and very easy to unclip.

@tetris_draftsman +1

2012-07-16 22:12:45

@Heffner WTH MTB pedals have you been using? My experience with them has not been that bad. That said, I've only used two ever, Onza and Time ATAC. I'd ride the ATAC on the road in a heartbeat if they didn't have lateral float.

One advantage I'm not seeing listed here is simply having a stiffer shoe. As someone who started on flat pedals, when to tennis shoes and cages (horrible, would never ride cages again) and then proper road shoes and pedals the increased stiffness is dramatic. Much easier on the feet if nothing else.

As to being stuck in your pedals I've never seen anyone stuck in the pedals in a road crash besides tipping over. I have seen a million low speed crashes on MTBs where people end up stuck in them. Releasing or not releasing is largely a trivial issue anyways, you're not going to unclip and walk way from any sort of road crash. Why people get stuck in low speed crashes I have no idea, but it is HILARIOUS.

2012-07-16 22:18:41

Oh, yeah, forgot, don't bother messing around with clips and straps, they are annoying and not very effective.

+1 on the stiffer shoe thing, the shoes make all the difference.

2012-07-16 23:29:23

Oh and guys: the pedals (m505s) are a mtb pedal (I guess) but they came stock on my Diamondback Podium 2 (road bike). The cranks and BB are the proper legnth/heights for racing, so no issues there. If not SPD, what is the BEST clipleas system for relatively cheap (including shoes)? I am only 15 and have been using my own money to buy parts and accessories. I don't really have a lot of cash to buy the ULTIMATE BEST pedal system, but if SPD has issues (you all said on climbs, sprints?) than I would want the SAFEST and MOST RELAIBLE alternative budget system.

2012-07-17 00:25:54

And the platform on my pedals can be removed, so both sides are clipless pedal thingies. Hope that helps

2012-07-17 00:27:30

Chucks + toe cages and straps = pain. Would not enjoy doing again. The lack of a stiff sole is very noticeable. Also there is a difference between the soles on my SPD keenes and my lake mtb spds (the keenes being the casual looking shoe with a less stiff sole).

2012-07-17 00:33:08

I LOVE my Crank Brothers pedals. Wouldnt use anything else for commuting/sport riding. I use Speedplays on my triathlon bike and while they are nice, they require a lot of practice to get a fluid in/out motion memorized. I think I'll probably go with a Look pedal for my new road bike though.

2012-07-17 01:33:27

@boostuv Hm, I don't see big differences in getting out of Zero, or Shimano, or Look.

Getting in is different but it's a matter of habit, IMHO.

2012-07-17 01:49:23

@boosuv, you might as well use them for Tri's too then. Plenty of guys are on the road with those pedals.

@W Roger You can probably find old Looks for cheap. They're great and you can still get the cleats. You can also find old Atac pedals for $20 pretty regularly. That's a walkable/recessed cleat and they'd be fine for road racing.

2012-07-17 02:02:29

W Roger, what's your budget here? As with all things in life, there's a point of diminishing returns. For pedals, I'd put it around $50. For shoes, around $150.

Also, post up your size and see if you can pull from anyone's parts bin here.

I ride road pedals when I can. Having the larger contact surface has really made a difference for me (although I've never ridden a REALLY stiff MTB shoe either). I just keep a pair of shoes at my destination (i.e. work) and I get the best of both worlds.

brian j: Grant Petersen is a quack, he hasn't been relevant for 20 years now. :) I can certainly feel the difference of being clipped in and not, my burning hamstrings are a pretty good judge of that. I don't see how he can also say, "flat pedals are better because it distributes the pressure over a larger area", yet also says the stiffness of the shoe doesn't matter. If the shoe has good stiffness, then the pressure is distributed over the entire footbed rather than just on the pedals...

2012-07-17 02:45:47

I much prefer the dual-sided entry on the Speedplays as clipping in quickly is a must in triathlons and I'm not quite to the stage of leaving my shoes attached to the pedals and super-manning myself onto the bike.

2012-07-17 03:07:18

Rice Rocket, I wear a size 11, and literally the cheapest good thing. In the last 3 weeks I've bought a whole new bike, helmet, shorts, glasses, gloves, cap, locks, pump, etc. I do not have much left to spend. I have spent what I earned at my job since February. I for me to start to race it will be another $75. So something good and cheap. Reasonably cheap. Like around $100 for everything new or used.

2012-07-17 03:16:35

Can't help you with shoes but I've got a set of worn out crank brothers candy pedals you can have. The bearing on the drive side pedal needs to be replaced but they still work, just have this squeak at the top of the stroke. I dont have cleats so you're on your own there, but they're like $15-20 at Performance.

2012-07-17 03:19:02

I usually ride clipless, but I agree wholeheartedly with edmonds about dual sided pedals. Being *able* to clip in is good, being *required* to is not so good - especially when commuting with traffic. I'm still not convinced that its the best idea for commuting, and you can and probably will fall over at 0 mph - but it is nice not to have to worry about your foot slipping especially when it's wet. I'm certainly not convinced there's any performance advantage - and neither is any of the research I've seen on the topic.

I wear my DZR SPD shoes all day every day, they're really comfortable... although I usually wear a cheap pair of shimano MTB shoes for longer rides.

2012-07-17 03:25:07

FWIW, my Lake mtb shoes were bought in 2006 for $40 and are still in excellent condition.

2012-07-17 03:41:39

Boostuv, how could I pick them up?

2012-07-17 03:43:34

Where do you live? You gonna be at the next Team Decaf ride?

2012-07-17 03:45:58

Point breeze, and no. Meeting with some people from team Citius at the Wash Blvd Velo

2012-07-17 04:14:18

I'm thinking about joining

2012-07-17 04:14:51

When are you meeting with them? I'll be down there tomorrow to watch the races.

2012-07-17 04:18:49

5. For the races lol

2012-07-17 04:20:41

If you plan on sticking around I'll be there about 7:15-7:30.

2012-07-17 04:41:06

Sounds like a plan

2012-07-17 05:02:14

@rice rocket: I was merely presenting a differing opinion. I raced for a few years, and I had Speedplays. And I have Crank Brothers Candy's on my singlespeed (though I am considering platforms on there).

I think, too, Petersen isn't advocating that racers and go-fast riders dump their Looks for a pair of platforms and a pair of Vans. I agree with his general principle: there's no good reason why the average weekend cyclist should feel compelled to use a pedal system just because the folks in lycra use it.

2012-07-17 10:53:07

I've been thinking about buying clipless shoes and pedals for about three years now, but have yet to decide on a style and my usual pair of "cycling" shoes are almost little more than a more durable pair of socks now. You can see my socks through the shoes in a lot of places

I cycle up big hills and even did the half dirty dozen in platforms, much to the dismay of other participants. (It would have been nice to use some other parts of my leg muscles though) I get along fine with platforms

I've also had a couple of falls where I think getting caught up in cleats would have been more detrimental. Specifically, a couple in ice where the bike went down, but I was able to kind of skid on past with my two feet down

2012-07-17 11:59:18

On ice or bad surfaces I unclip, another advantage of mountain pedals on a road bike.

2012-07-17 12:05:27

FYI the bearings/bushings on are critical to the pedal platform. When they wear out the pedal body comes off the spindle. Easy fix but critical.

2012-07-17 13:24:32

What I've found is that the efficiency of clipless pedals makes a fair difference on longer rides. The low weight of full-on racing shoes and light pedals seem to allow me to hold a higher RPM for a longer period. Chris and others who have commented above understand this better than I do, but I believe that up to a point higher RPMs put more of the workload on the lungs, and less on the leg muscles, allowing you to conserve energy over the course of a longer ride. Also, when you are completely bonked out, having your feet clipped in is one less thing to have to think about (until you have to stop!).

Also, this is more relevant to mountain biking, but in that context clipless pedals will allow a little more control over the bike for bunny-hopping, getting over logs, pulling up on the pedals in a rock garden, etc. The same is true on a road bike if you are into bunny-hopping curbs, utility hole covers, drain grates, etc.

2012-07-17 13:57:19

ooo... I almost forgot the other thing platforms have that I've never seen clipless do - I've got dynamo light-up thingies in my pedals that flash when I ride. That way I can never forget my lights (or batteries).

If you could get clipless shoes with super sensitive dynamo lights (like the little kids wear, that flash in the heels) it would be the same thing (your toes would need white, then the sides yellow, to be as flashy as my pedals).

But I don't think any of that is relevant for your needs. It's just sparkly.

2012-07-17 14:54:39

@ejwme: I'm picturing a "collabo" between LA Gear and Retrofitz. Only halfway kidding when I say this would be awesome. Sparkly is relevant to my needs.

2012-07-17 15:44:43

VFF clipless...

2012-07-17 16:11:34

pearmask, thank you. Purple metallic light up hi-tops. Want.

Ok, retrofitz has me more than a little curious.

2012-07-17 19:27:57

Clipless pedals are really good at breaking your ankles. That said, 'pedaling' without them can hardly be called pedaling.

2012-07-18 00:57:45

The other opinion...

I use straps, Roger and I talked about them on the Team Decaf Ride last Tuesday. I like them because:

They are tight, there's no play between my foot and the pedal surface. None.

I pedal by pulling up often, and my foot stays on the pedal surface.

For me, they're simple to get in and out of.

I can control the tightness: A slight turn of the foot actually makes them tighter or looser. And I pull my foot out during times when I want too. It's actually safer IMO.

2012-07-18 03:11:11

@TheLivingTed Could you elaborated a little bit on breaking ankles?

2012-07-18 03:33:22

Did this thread just take a turn toward mafia interrogation methods?

2012-07-18 11:58:04


How quickly can you get out of the straps?

2012-07-18 12:07:25


Quick. I can't see why people think they're tougher than clips.

I use Power Grips. They cost something like $8 - 4 years ago.

2012-07-18 12:10:19

I have not tried those ones but I have used crappy ones that came with cheap pedals. Problem with me was there is no removal to the side and there is only one way out. With my Crank Brothers cleats, the only ones I have used, I can get out with a twist inside or outside. With straps I got caught up a few times on removal and fell over with the bike more often than when learning how to use cleats.

Now having used a carbon fiber sole shoe I am not sure I will go back at all, ever.

2012-07-18 13:05:55

@AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe I am using clipless pedals for about 10 years now. Never had a problem with ankles. Similarly people who I know using clipless pedals both for riding and competing never had problems with ankles. A lot of broken collar bones, hips, knees, hands, but no ankles. So I am interested to learn what happened.

2012-07-18 14:58:10

Ted had an unfortunate fall in Frick that made the evening news. I'm sure he's poking a littly fun at himself.

2012-07-18 15:10:40

When I wrecked last week, it happened fast enough that I dont really remember what all went down reaction wise... but I didnt break any ankles, and all my bumps, bruises, cuts, etc were on my hands and elbows.

I dont remember if I had managed to unclip from my pedals as I was falling, or if I was still attached to my bike after hitting the road.

I was, however, still glad to have my clipless pedals in working order when I had to bike the rest of the way home.

2012-07-18 16:19:44

That being said.. I have had a number of falls on my mountain bike that were 100% due to my clipless pedals. Ha. I love them on the road bike, and they have been very useful on the mountain bike.. but I just dont have enough mountain biking experience to be good at falling yet.

2012-07-18 16:21:09

@Mikhail - I wasn't being critical of your question. Just making a joke. "Breaking ankles" seems to be a thing gangsters in movies do. It struck me (and apparently ONLY me) as funny, the thought of a couple of gangsters clipping some poor shmuck into some clipless pedals and twisting the bike somehow to break his ankles because he owed money or something.

2012-07-18 16:32:14

I wouldn't say funny ha-ha, but it's definitely funny in a twisted, strained way.

2012-07-18 18:36:45

I just switched to clipless this weekend. After a few rides, I am totally in love with it. Starting out it seemed a lot harder getting in than getting out, but I'm also rocking borrowed shoes for the time being and the cleat position is slightly off. But if any of you are on the fence, definitely give it a whirl.

2012-07-29 15:56:02

Once all this accident/insurance junk gets settled, I'm putting LOOK Keo pedals on

2012-07-29 17:51:03

Finally put LOOK pedals on... and broke my face about 300 times. This is WAAAY harder than I thought.

2012-10-06 20:48:39

You'll get it! Admittedly I've only had SPDs, but I think this still applies: until you feel more confident, I definitely suggest loosening the spring tension alllll the way if you haven't already done that, especially on the foot that you normally put down when you stop. And try to make a habit of twisting your foot out while you are braking, before you stop — a long time before you stop, if necessary, until you get used to it. Before too long, it will become habit (so much that you may find yourself reflexively twisting your foot whenever you stop even when you are riding with platform pedals... or maybe I'm weird and that only happens to me). I am the most uncoordinated person of all time, and I eventually got it, so I'm sure you'll get it figured out and love it :)

2012-10-06 20:55:53

Don't ask me, I ride decade old platforms with some adidias soccer shoes.

2012-10-06 21:26:39

Tried it and I have to say that I'm lukewarm about clip less. I ended up changing out the pedals to the hybrid version (platform on one side and SPD on the other). I liked clip less on the C&O Canal Towpath because they kept my feet on the pedals and in position over all the bumps. In town when I'm stopping at every intersection I use the platform side and I'm much happier with this arrangement.

2012-10-06 23:18:18

+1 pearmask's advice. I always put my right foot down when I stop, so I have that clip spring a little looser than the left. Hang in there, it should become second nature in no time.

2012-10-06 23:59:36

I would say use the wall. :) 10-20 minutes on each side -- just put your bike along the wall, climb on it. Clip pedal between bike and wall and forget about it. Use your shoulder to keep your position, apply breaks. Now use your other foot to clip in and out those 10-20 minutes in different positions. First your are going to look at the pedal but around 5-7 minutes you should be able to do it without looking down in 30-40% of tries. It looks boring but it put into your subconscious pretty fast. Then turn your bike around and do the same with other foot. You will find that one foot works better (the leading one) but training for both feet will let you to avoid a lot falls later.

2012-10-08 18:49:45

I always put my right foot down when I stop, so I have that clip spring a little looser than the left. Hang in there, it should become second nature in no time.

I had this discussion with a friend of mine once; since you're usually riding in the right-most position on the road, habitually unclipping your left would be wiser. If you're falling and unclipping to brace your fall, you'd want your foot-to-unclip to be on the side where traffic would most likely be (your left). If you topple over right, the chance of getting clipped (no pun intended) by a car is not nearly as great.

Some food for thought. I'm still a right-unclipper, I haven't tried to break the habit yet.

2012-10-08 20:33:42

Well, that's good for me, I guess. I'm a left unclipper and sort of suck at unclipping my right (although I have only fumbled awkwardly and haven't actually fallen from that... yet). Maybe I should spend some time with Mikhail's wall thing on that side (which is good advice — that's how I practiced clipping in and out when I first got clipless — just don't try to track stand on your hardwood floor like I did, haha).

Just because I'm curious, I keep wondering whether there's any connection between handedness and what foot people prefer to unclip. I'm right-handed but unclip left.

2012-10-08 20:46:41

I posed this question last year and I don't think there was by people's responses. Some people always unclip with their right foot, as I do, so that they are leaning toward the curb and away from traffic when they stop. If you can't get your foot out of the pedal, then you're going down out of the line of traffic. You can even put a foot down on a nearby curb. I never unclip with my left foot. It is probably a good idea to be able to unclip with either foot, but I find that if I also lean to the right in anticipation of unclipping on that side, there isn't an issue. I also only unclip early if I am riding in a group and can't anticipate the actions and when the person in front of me will stop. Otherwise, I now unclip right before I put my foot down because it has become so routine.

2012-10-08 21:23:30

pearmask, I think you nailed it before. Once you mentioned it, I noticed that as I approach a stop I rotate one or both feet out of the clips without taking my feet off the pedals, without even thinking about it. I find I do the same thing when approaching peds or even iffy traffic situations. I unclip while still pedaling more than I realized.

Also I think I have gotten used to unclipping the right because I can stay on the seat and put that foot on the curb and be one second more ready to go again.

2012-10-08 21:24:59

Some people believe the dominant hand side isn't always dominant foot side.

Roughly half of left-handers are "crosswired" and an equal number (meaning a very much smaller proportion) of right-handers are.

2012-10-08 21:27:38

what edmonds and stefb said. i think if i had to pick a side, i would guess that right-unclipping is safer. however, i doubt there is any difference in practice.

i started right-unclipping because of my desire to remain in the saddle when i could put my foot down on a curb. nowadays, i pretty much always make sure i am nowhere near a curb when i stop. i still unclip with the right first, but i also have taken to unclipping both feet if i am going to be stopped at a light. i think not doing so aggravated some injuries i had in my legs.

2012-10-08 21:54:14

Well, I am right handed, but I am left footed for one things and right footed for another (low start 100 meter -- LF, high jump -- LF, long jump -- both, soccer ball kick -- RF). :) I guess it depends on your training.

In terms of uncliping -- I prefer left foot. I faced situations when I uncliped and someone approaching from behind on right side and to avoid putting my sprockets over someone quick release i have to turn front wheel left making my bike to tip right. to avoid fall and/or panic attack I trained myself to unlcip right foot almost subconsciously. It just taking right foot of a regular pedal -- just start your movement from hill.

2012-10-08 21:59:54

@pearmask There's a reasonable correlation between handed-ness and footed-ness. However, when teaching cyclocross clinics (which involves a lot of putting your foot down) I finally had to move away from saying "whatever hand you are" to "do what you do at a traffic light" because I'd say maybe 1 in 7 people were right handed but left footed.

2012-10-08 22:02:59

Interesting. Lots of my family is left-handed, but I'm right-handed, but then I'm left-eye-dominant and no idea what-footed except that I do unclip left. Brains & bodies are fascinating.

2012-10-08 22:25:11

I am left handed but I use my right foot for a lot of things. However, I have had to use my right hand for lots of things in the OR depending on what side of the table I am on and what we are doing. When I am reaching for a water bottle while riding, I use my right hand (probably cause my only brake is on my left hand side).

I have actually had to switch to platforms on my cross country bike cause I fail at unclipping with my left foot quickly. So that kinda sucks for climbing on a single speed. Another thing keeping me from trying cross (besides needing a new bike and finding the time) is that I would have to carry with my left arm/shoulder, as my right has chronic tendinitis. Also I tend to get chain dirt that doesn't come out in the wash on te left side of shirts if I don't walk around to the left of my bike and carry with a sore shoulder on the right. .

2012-10-08 23:11:09

I am right handed by left footed. I also learned in film school that I favor my left eye, which is ever more rare than being left handed.

2012-10-09 03:12:06

Right handed, left eye dominant, and I place my left foot down first. Partially because it was natural and partially because I like to have my left leg towards vehicles and free.

2012-10-09 04:24:24

I always put my left foot down at lights so I've been trying unclipping left first. It's just tough to remember to flick out my ankle and disengage.

2012-10-09 10:00:26

Especially in group rides, I have made it a habit of unclipping both feet and I try to do it pretty early. I did it when I first started so I didn't forget and wipe out my riding companions (how to make your group rides smaller or get uninvited! :). Now I just prefer them both unclipped when I stop, even if I never take one side or the other off of the pedal - it's easy enough to snap it back in while I am waiting.

2012-10-09 11:47:57

Speaking of group rides, it is painful to watch some people clip back in. I suggest double sided pedals to make it easier ad quicker to start out from a light.

2012-10-09 14:37:39

^agree. I switched from Shimano Ultegras to Speedplay for that reason. Having to flip the pedal with the toe is a pain.

2012-10-09 14:55:48

I follow what you're saying, rice rocket. The times I have fallen over it was almost always because I successfully unclipped on my normal side but leaned on the wrong side and was unsuccessful at unclipping quickly on the wrong side.

2012-10-09 15:01:02

@dmtroyer This was a reason I exercised both feet and recommend it to others. :) Just last month it saved me 3 times.

2012-10-10 14:47:00

Shimano has a new beginner friendly clipless pedal called Click'r. I might sound like a shill, but this looks like a great idea to me. And Shimano knows clipless pedals better than anyone.

Cheesy video here:

2012-10-10 16:31:09

i don't have cool clippy pedals, so my recourse is to jsut say "CLIP!" when i put my feet on the pedals. :(

2012-10-10 17:04:06



2012-10-10 18:09:41

Shimano has a new beginner friendly clipless pedal called Click'r. I might sound like a shill, but this looks like a great idea to me. And Shimano knows clipless pedals better than anyone.

Looks like their trail pedals, though cheaper I guess.

2012-10-10 18:31:11

Done it all, both ways/all ways. Personal results: Clipless pedals are easier to ride while inebriated; Platform pedals provide the most grip for an ordinary shoe; Clipless pedals do allow you to "lift" with your back leg, but that only is a benefit when off-road riding or climbing hills in too high a gear.

Edit for clarification: easier, that is, than clips and straps (on a fixed gear bike)

2012-10-10 21:42:05

New q: I just bought some used sidi's. They have yellow spd-sl cleats on them. Can I use them with my look 396 pedals fine or no? Just wondering because I don't want to have to buy cleats right away.

2012-10-14 00:24:48

Nope. Cleats are specific to the pedals.

2012-10-14 00:39:46

Your pedals should have come with cleats.

2012-10-14 01:55:01

Look 396 are obviously not current pedals and thus used.. But yes, new pedals have clears with them.

2012-10-14 03:15:45
I would have a bicycle  too with pedals Shimano M505, but still they did not suit me. I just go to work on a bicycle and the distance is quite long. Their legs got tired quickly, now things are much better.
2017-07-13 06:37:41
I don't understated you
2017-07-31 09:10:49
This thread is very long and I don't want to read every bit but I did want to share my personal experience with clipless pedals as I think it may help others. Sorry if this has already been posted. I only use road clipless for pure road racing/riding and nice summer commutes on the trails. For regular commuting and all types of off-road riding, I use shimano SPD mtb pedals/cleats. I have zero issue ever getting out of the mtb pedals because I use the shimano SH-56 cleats which are the multi-way release cleats. This will release with both the in and out foot motions but also if you pull your foot back and out which for me turns out to be the same as my natural instinct for taking my foot off the pedal. I never use the standard shimano SH-51 cleats which are what normally come with the pedals and most people use. I share this because I went to a pgh bike shop when I first started riding clipless and the shop guy told me that SH-56 cleats were only for people who were "severely uncoordinated". I'm not, so I went with SH-51. I crashed many painful times. I stopped using clipless and went back to flats. Months later, I decided to give SH-56 cleats a go despite all of the internet experts who said don't do it and the bike shop guy. These cleats were a total game-changer for me as the release mechanism matches my natural instinct. Thousands and thousands of miles later, I'm still using them. Some people mention unwanted releases happening with these cleats but that has only been my experience when mountain biking on rough terrain with the pedals set to a very low tension. Once I got more experienced, I upped the tension and haven't had that happen since. While riding flats has benefits too, particularly for commuting and bike touring, I have no intention of ever going back. If you want to give clipless a try, start with the SH-56 cleats for the shimano mtb pedals with the spring tension way down.
2017-08-01 11:45:34
I've gone the other way -- went from multiway release to the 51s.  On the 51s I do have to "think" more about when I'm releasing and have had a couple near misses.  the nice thing about the 51s is that the fit overall is tighter -- no movement of my feet within the pedals.  The downside, of course, is the crash factor.  :) However, like you, I was using the 56s for years and years and years, logged 10s of thousands of miles on them.  I think that the benefits of clipless pedals, no matter which system or release system you use, outweighs the risks.
2017-08-01 12:28:06
I've been using Power Grips ( ) on standard pedals for commuting and touring for the past 10 years. I've found them provide similar benefits as clipless pedal systems - stable pedaling motions in all weather, with the added benefit of being able to do off-bike activities easily. I used them for my GAP / C&O trip this past two years. I'm especially thankful to the Power Grips for allowing me to wear boots on my trip this year. Due to the Paw Paw Tunnel closure, I have to push my bike up a steep 1-mile detour (see picture below), and I imagine it would be much more difficult wearing clipless pedal shoes. It was also very muddy on C&O on July 6th. I was able to keep my feet clean and dry with my boots and gaitors system.

Figure 1. Near the top of Paw Paw Tunnel detour

Figure 2. C&O Mile 0 marker in the middle of muddy water

2017-08-01 15:36:34
from what I can tell doesn't seem like there's a "smoking gun" study out there but it seems that flats and clipless pedals are the same efficiency or perhaps flats are a bit more efficient as you can lose energy by pulling up on the pedals (because I guess the next downstroke in that leg isn't as efficient). That being said, we do a lot of things in life that don't make 100% sense, so the bottom line should be: To each her/his own.  :)
2017-08-02 18:14:02
We need a pretty strict definition of efficiency. Without it all those experiments are useless.
2017-08-02 21:33:08