Beginners Guide to Clipping In

Clipless Pedals!

Confused why Clipless Pedals are called “clipless”, when you clip into them? 

Well, here’s why:

In the days of Merckx, Coppi and Anquetil, straps and toe-clips were common amongst the pro-peleton until LOOK, a ski boot manufacturer decided to introduce the same technology into cycling shoes. 

The “clips” were replaced by “cleats” and the new “clipless” pedals were born!

Beginners guide to clipless pedals

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 further adds to their reluctance to change to clipless.

 There are many types of brands and pedals to choose from but we’re keeping this simple and looking at the two main types of shoes and pedals, Road and MTB 

SPD/SL commonly known as the road shoe. (A+B INPHOTO)

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.


These 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 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 ) so 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) so you have the option of only riding with one foot clipped in which can provide an extra bit of confidence. 

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 you will need to go up at least one size.

It’ll take a little practice to get used to but your cycling will be more efficient and no more slipping off the pedals when it’s wet.

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