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March 05, 2008



SARA! Congrats on joining the clipless crowd. You will love them some day, though that day is not likely to be today. Getting started, set the adjust to full loose. This makes it easier to get out while you get used to them. Never, never wait until you come to a full stop to "click out." Just as you are coming to a stop (1-2MPH) click out with the foot you are going to put on the ground (it's natural). Use imagination what happens when you click out the other foot instead.

The Shimano pedals in the picture are a good selection for beginners as they are reliable and easy to get into (& out of). I have them on 2 mtn bikes. Care & cleaning of these pedals and cleats is minimal, but other styles require more.

Welcome aboard!


Getting moving is always a challenge too. It's easy to clip one pedal in while standing, but what about two? It's a bit rough on the balance at first. Once you get good at it, it's a piece of cake though.

What I used to do was clip one pedal in and then start pedaling (or pushing the road with the free leg) and get some speed before I tried to get the other foot in. It's not always easy to find the clip, especially with a smaller SPD clip. Pedals such as Looks, or any other pedals of the same style, are sometimes easier because the surface of the pedal and clip are bigger.

The comment above is absolutely right. Keep 'em loose to start and never slow down to a stop without clipping your dominant foot out. It's essential.

You'll see an amazing difference. It's not even comparable to normal pedals.

Good luck!


Sara - shocked and appalled is an understatement!! Can I still respect a cycling journalist who has never ridden with clipless pedals!? What has happened to style in cycling? I'm just kidding Sara so please don't send susie b and Cat after me :)

First of all, everyone who has made the transition from toe clips to clipless pedals has experienced those moments of total embarrassment falling over at a stop sign. After some use you will laugh at yourself for the 'worry' the new experience caused!

If your clipless pedals have a tension adjustment - loosen it up so your shoes 'release' with little pressure. Those sudden stops or moments of wobbling or lack of balance will initially make those times of releasing your shoe much better on yourself. I use Egg Beaters pedals (typically for mountain bikes) on my road bike as they are designed so you can clip in no matter what the pedal position is - no need to 'flip' the pedal around to clip in. I switched to Egg Beaters as I do lots of urban riding with many, many stop signs and stop lights - and crazy drivers, so the need to clip in or clip out happens quite often during my ride.

Paul gave good advice - it will be frustrating at first but with frequent riding the whole process becomes second nature. Go to a large parking lot and ride around and practice stopping and starting. Clipping in from a stop with cars 'watching' can be equally frustrating but it is part of the learning curve.

Enjoy the feel of clipless pedals!


I equate clipless pedals to learning to drive a stick shift's only difficult at the starts and stops...once you are moving it quickly becomes a non issue (I recently taught a guy at work how to drive a stick...I thought EVERYBODY knew how, but I was wrong...and when we go on our England trips they usually give us sticks for our rentals). I learned clipless on the Mt bike...(there's good and bad with learning on the Mt bike)...the good is there were no witnesses for MY inevitable moment (the one that WILL happen in the learning stage, before you have developed the instinctive "heel kick" motion that unclips you)... and as you come to a stop, try as you might...the pedal will just NOT release by pulling your foot straight back like with toe you get a serious panic moment…as you fall to the ground still clipped in (seemingly in slow motion...for all to see and chuckle over if you are out in public). Quite humiliating I might add. Here’s the downside to learning on a Mt bike: thankfully no-one around to see my moment of panic....HOWEVER, instead of falling over just 90 degrees, I fell off the trail on the downhill side...which turns into a tumbleweed fling thru the fun stuff...but there is another tiny tidbit of good news here: you automatically come unclipped during the tumble so you aren't actually attached to the bike as you fall. Yes, I did get a bit chewed up by rocks & branches & stuff...(and then had to climb back up to the trail dragging my bike). But the learning curve is fairly QUICK (especially after an event like I just described)...and before you know wouldn't even THINK of riding w/ toe clips EVER AGAIN! It would be like having a TV with NO REMOTE CONTROL! Or going back to rotary dial phones, with an actual WIRE ATTACHED to the wall! Or going back to skis with RUNAWAY STRAPS, no brakes! (I fondly recall the days of my high-speed windmill crashes, skis still lovingly attached to me by the stupid they are a whirling mass of heavy long sticks with extremely sharp edges doing all kinds of damage to me and my clothes). No, clipless is the only way to go. End of story. Practice with them, get used to them, embrace them, love them. You will.


CHECHU!!!!!!! takes stage two in Murcia in a photofinish sprint against Valverde and others!!!

He's riding like a young man again here in his retirement year. Go Chechu! (4th win for Astana so far this year.)


Copy & paste this link for a picture of Chechu crossing the line for the victory!


One of the best things about clipless is how much safer they are. Your feet can no longer come off the pedal by accident! I finally succumbed to the flu raging the country and am home with my six year old as school was canceled due to the ice storm. It is hard to entertain a child when you have the flu! Will I ever feel good again? One positive is the weight loss since it was that time of the year again to drop a few kilos for race season. I would have rather done it through training! Allez Chechu!


Congratulations Sara!!! I suspect T and I are the only platform dodos left in the bunch. Wait, didn't T go out and get clipless? *sigh* guess it's just me then...

I'm worried about you Philip. ;-) You serious riders lean toward the eating disorder end of the spectrum. Reminds me of the joke, "the bad news is you have cancer, the good news is you'll fit in your size 6 again!"


Joe-bee-boy, if you want the frisky school marm and the naughty secretary to keep you after school, we will happily comply! (now don't be yellin' at me ms susie, you know I'm just being frisky and havin' fun)


Yay Sara! I like Matt's stick shift analogy -- it's only a little tricky at starts and stops. You'll forget to click out once or twice at a stop and keel over with embarrassing results, but before long it's just part of what you do.


OK, Sara, you're leaving me in the dust. I am still riding with toe clips and straps. I get to feel superior to those with naked platforms, but everyone tells me it's time to go clipless. They say, "yes, you'll fall a couple of times." Whoo-hoo, where do I sign up?

If they're clipless, why do we call it "clipping in"?

We had a 70-degree day on Monday and damn, there I was back at work 35 miles from my bike. To make things worse, at about 4pm a cyclist rode right past my window. I wanted to jump out and ask him where he was going, and where to ride around my new office. We do have a really nice fitness center, so I settled for a run after work. Outside in shorts!


Barbara, I think you mentioned Delaware before. My wife was offered a job at Christiana last year. Anyway, there is great mountain biking at Fair Hill. It's in Maryland near the Delaware line just off of 95. Here's a link.


Fritz? RU new? Welcome!

I have been distracted by the usual and sundry life issues so I'll admit I've not been reading as carefully in recent weeks as in the past, so I might have missed you...I followed your link, and found your bike chain/seat theft deterrent idea ingenious. Did you think it up?


Barbara, I think the actual term is "Clicking in"...referring to the audible 'click' you get when the cleats engage... (tho many people probably actually still do call it 'clipping in, which just makes it even more clipping in is left over from toe-clip days). But thats picking nits...clipping,'s all good! Sara, if you have a Mt bike you can 'borrow' for a day, then put your new pedals on that and ride around on some grass...starting and stopping over and over...that will get you over the immediate 'fear factor' hurdle on a much softer landing pad.


Okay, best of luck to Sara!! I will remind you all that I have NOT been successful in "clipping in". No, Cat, I'm still using platform pedals. Maybe in 8-10yrs.....


I can't stress enough how important it is to unclip (or unclick) one foot before coming to a stop. Because otherwise, you end up falling over. Luckily, in my case it was into shrubbery, but unluckily it was in front of a group of young men who were highly amused.

Especially as lying there in the prickly plant, I still couldn't get my feet out!

Good luck Sara!


OH Cat, never fear, I'm also still using "naked platforms" (thanks Barbara ;) too!

My husband, however, is going to purchase a new Trek road bike this spring (he's been saving up gift certificates to the local bike shop from all holidays) and is currently looking at the dizzying variety of shoes available. I'm not sure if I'll ever be brave enough to go that way -- at least not as long as I'm towing the Beastly Burley!

I've enjoyed all of the stories and look forward to hearing yours, Sara. Good luck!


.........and nakigirl -- I'm absolutely GREEN with envy over your weather!


Oddly enough, a couple of days ago I was wishing it was cold so I could light the fire and snuggle in an armchair with a good book.

This seems to be the best summer for ages - I don't remember one as hot and dry as this. We are on water restrictions and we barely have any grass left on the lawn, so my kids are playing cricket in a dustbowl. (Do you guys know what cricket is?)

Good weather for cycling too :-)


I, too, still ride with toe clips or no clips at all depending on the bike & the ride. I just am coordination challenged enough to seriously fear what I'd do to myself with clipless pedals. I managed to break my foot with the clips, I'm sure I could manage worse in my struggles to click out the correct foot in time.

But go for it Sara, the world belongs to the brave!!

trust but verify

what he said: like a stick shift.

Just be prepared for embarrasment.

You want embarrasment? I'm at last year's Floyd camp, and we're approaching a light that starts turning. Some people accelerate through, and I, fool that I am, hesitate and think maybe I should stop, but then everybody else is going, but i've slowed down and I'm on the edge of the road going slow and I don't clip out, and roll off the side of the road and down the embankment.

With people going "are you ok?" as they ride by.


Fortunately, I'd already billed myself as the comic relief.

The good news is that when you do a clipless fallover, it is always at low velocity, and you can roll over like a turtle.

Finally, they are "clipless" because you don't have "toe clips" In ye olden dayes, cycling shoes had cleats that slotted into the edge of your metal rat-trap pedals, and you tightened the straps on the toe clips so you could not get your foot out without releasing the strap. So if you didn't remember to loosen the strap as you came to a stop, you had no chance to try the quick-unclip-and-put-foot-down. It was get good at track stands, or over you go.



Glad to see all the non-clickers coming out of the closet!

Sara, my LBS guy who is trying to get me into clipless told me the best way to get used to the clicking in/out is to do it on a trainer. His idea is that you get the pedals for Christmas and then ride them on the trainer and by spring, you're an old pro. Of course, you don't fall over on the trainer if you stop with both feet clicked in.

I got toe clips in 1977 when I got my first road bike (a Nishiki that I just traded in 3 years ago!) and I was told to tighten down the straps, but I never did and I never do. Which obviously limits their effectiveness.


Naki, isn't cricket that game that's even more boring than baseball??!!! ;)

Sara, I saw your boy Blake on AI tonight--he was rockin'!!


Nakigrl, we all saw "Lagaan", as well as many Merchant and Ivory movies...

We aren't all heathens here in the US of A.


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