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How To Use Clipless Pedals
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How to Use Clipless Pedals

Changing to SPD or Clipless Pedals.

Most cyclists start off with flat platform pedals or even toe straps, but there comes a time when you realise the need to change to SPDs, or more commonly known as clipless pedals. This name is a bit of a misnomer as you do actually clip your shoes, via cleats, into the pedal.

Platform pedals are good when you first start cycling, as you can remove your foot from the pedal very easily, which gives a sense of safety to the novice rider.

But the disadvantage is they do reduce the amount of power you can propel through your pedal. Now when you start out this isn’t much of a problem, but soon enough you’ll realise their limitations, and think about upgrading.

Any serious cyclist will want to get clipless pedals as soon as possible. They really are much more comfortable, and essential for performance, and getting your power to the back wheel.

So how do you use Clipless Pedal.

The first time you use clipless pedals will no doubt be rather daunting, as they do take a bit of time to get comfortable with.

You’ll favour one foot to unclip when you stop, so you should practice unclipping that foot repeatedly. If you have an indoor trainer where you bike is stationary, you can use that to start with, as you get use to flicking your heel out. It wont feel natural at first, but stick with it.

What you don’t want is to be nervous when you’re riding, dreading the moment when you know you’ll have stop, and have to try and unclip that damn device stuck to your shoe.

I did fall off a few times when I first got mine, so I know what it’s like. But, like they say, practice makes perfect. I’d suggest doing a few rides on your own, away from traffic, before you go out with the bunch. Maybe in an empty parking lot, or even on a grass field.

I personally think it’s a mistake to go with a cheap brand, rather, spend a bit more on a well known brand which will have a better quality mechanism, which from my experience, will be easier to use.

You will also need compatible shoes, on which to attach your cleats. And again I would go for quality over price. You don’t need to go the whole way and get carbon soles, a mid range shoe with synthetic sole is more than adequate.

Attaching the cleats correctly is very important, as when your shoes are attached to the pedals, your legs are pretty much locked into that one position, (though most cleats have a little bit of float or lateral movement)If you’re unsure, then go and see you local bike shop for advise.

Cleats are generally made of plastic, and repeated use will wear these down.

They will have a wear indicator on them, and it’s important to change your cleats when they are worn. Riding with worn cleats is potentially dangerous as your foot can exit the pedal unexpectedly.

Most pedals have an adjustment you can make to tighten or loosen the release mechanism, and I would suggest starting with a looser setting, especially on your exiting leg at least. As you get better and more comfortable you can always tighten this up.

Another thing to practice is starting from a complete stop. Initially you will look down at your pedal, as you move forward, to get your shoe on the pedal and search for that sweet spot, where the cleat locks in.

Don’t panic if it doesn’t lock in straight away, wiggle your foot around and it will click in.

Eventually you will want to do this without looking down, especially if you’re bunch riding, a smooth take off with a quick lock in is desirable to keep your place in the bunch.

Nothing looks worse than riders wobbling all over the road, as they try in vain to click that cleat in.

Don’t worry you’ll soon get the hang of it, and wonder why you didn’t get clipless pedals sooner.


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