Beginners guide to using clipless pedals
In the days of Merckx, Coppi and Anquetil, straps and toe-clips were common place among the pro-peleton until LOOK, who manufactured ski-boots at the time, decided to introduce the same technology into cycling shoes.
The “clips” were replaced by “cleats” and the new “clipless” pedals were born!
Here's our Top Tips for switching to clipless pedals
1: USE MTB SHOES and MTB/SPD pedals, set them on the loosest settings by adjusting the +/- screws on the pedal and fit your shoes with multi release cleats.
2: PRACTICE with your bike set up on a turbo or if you don’t have one, lean up against a wall or hold on to some one’s shoulder so you can and get used to the motion of unclipping.
Every time you brake unclip the foot that you would usually put on the ground first when you stop, after a while this will become a habit like when you’re in your car and suddenly break your foot automatically moves to the clutch.
Switching to clipless pedals maybe the easiest upgrade you can make to your riding yet a lot of new riders are terrified at the thought of being locked into the pedals. and this confounded with stories about cyclists forgetting to unclip and falling off at traffic lights maybe further be adding to your reluctance to change to clipless. Don’t be scared to make the change,It really is easy and you’ll get used to it no time with a little practice and you'll be so amazed at the difference it'll make to your riding.
There are many types of pedals, shoes brands etc. to choose from but we will keep this guide very simple and look at the two main types of shoes and pedals, Road and MTB.
SPD/SL commonly known as the road shoe. (A+B IN PHOTO)
They have three bolts and cleats that sit on the outside of the shoe.
Road shoes are said to have stiffer soles and therefore offer a better power transfer for optimal performance.
You can only clip in on one side of the pedal so they can be a lot trickier to get used to.
They are extremely difficult to walk in as the smooth sole makes them slippery and with the cleats sitting on the outside of the shoe you end up walking like a duck! The cleats also wear down very quickly if you do walk in them although cleat covers are available.
So if you have to occasionally walk up a hill or are using them to commute to work and have a long walk between your bike shed and your office this is worth bearing in mind.
SPD/MTB (C+D IN PHOTO)
They have two bolt cleats that sit recessed into the sole of the shoe.Many MTB shoes are now identical to their road shoe counter parts in looks and offer the same stiff sole found on road shoes with the only difference being the recessed cleat.
The white shoe on the left is a road shoe and the red one is a MTB shoe.
Standard SPD cleats only release when you twist your foot outwards but shimano also make a multi release SPD cleat which will release in other directions making it easier to unclip especially when you’re feeling a bit apprehensive and get in a bit of a panic when you’re desperately trying to unclip your foot.
The MULTI release cleats are SM-SH56 and can also be identified by the M engraved on it.
Using SPD’s also gives you the advantage of being able to clip into both sides of the pedals (D IN PHOTO ABOVE)
Unlike road shoes you don’t have to faff trying to get your pedal the right way around and if you need an extra bit of reassurance or do a lot of start stopping on your commute you can have pedals with a platform on one side and cleat on the other (PHOTO C ABOVE)
Which gives you the option of only riding with one foot clipped in which can provide an extra bit of confidence.
Finally whatever shoes and pedals you choose when you buy shoes take into consideration that your feet will swell up a bit when you ride in the warmer months and you will need a bit of space in the winter for thicker socks so it's advisable to go up at least one size to avoid foot pain whilst riding.