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What's the Deal With: Clipless Pedals

What's the Deal With: Clipless Pedals

I love biking because it is a great form of transportation and exercise. In both situations, riding clipless pedals really pays off. The term "clipless pedals" is confusing so it helps to know that as biking evolved, so did pedals. First there were basic pedals (like many of us had on our bikes when we were kids), then came pedals with toe clips (or baskets) to help the foot stay "put" on the pedal, now there are "clipless pedals."

Clipless pedals are a two-part system consisting of shoes that lock into pedals. Cycling shoes have a "cleat" mounted to their sole that literally snaps into a receptacle on the pedal, allowing you to quickly snap into the pedal. To release the connection, you just twist your ankles outward to free your feet. Having your feet attached to pedals takes some getting used to and you might take a few spills before always remembering your feet are clipped into the pedal, but the rewards are large. The primary benefit of using clipless pedals is they aid in efficiently transferring your leg power through pedals, to the gears, and then to your wheels. They help you become one with your machine. Your legs and feet tire less quickly and you can ride like the wind (well hopefully).

The only real downside is cost. Unlike running, which really only requires a good pair of shoes (well, there are the barefoot runners), good biking gear can be costly. Good quality cycling shoes and pedals should last you a long, long time though. Check out Shimano - they make great clipless pedals and cycling shoes for both road bikes and mountain bikes.

If you ride clipless, I'd love to hear how you feel about it. Let me know in the comments section below.

Join The Conversation
Soniye Soniye 9 years
I had SPD's on my commuter bike, so I could adjust the ease with which I could unclick. This was a huge help when I was just starting out. They allow you to use the entire turn of the crank, and pulling up as well as pushing down made my legs really strong. Had only two crashes when I couldn't unclip. I practiced a lot. They are really super.
almblack almblack 9 years
I use clipless pedals on my road bike as well. They do take some getting used to, but they are amazing. They make me feel at one with my bike and greatly improved my triathlon bike times. I will never go back!
Arielrb38 Arielrb38 9 years
I've used clipless pedals for about a year now and I love them! I have cleats that look like sneakers, and if I carry my multi-tool I can even take the clips off the bottom if I will be doing a lot of walking after my ride (I mostly use my bike as transportation). Two thoughts for the urban rider- 1. Keep the clip settings as loose as you can tolerate so that it is very easy to get out of them should something (car, pedestrian, door, dog) jump in front of you unexpectedly. 2. Get REALLY comfortable with your clipless pedals away from traffic before you start riding with them around cars and pedestrians. It's hard enough to avoid getting "doored", or trying to figure out where those unpredictable pedestrians are going to veer next without also trying to remember that you are locked into your bike, and in the case of pedestrians you could really hurt someone else when you fall...
GeikoSera GeikoSera 9 years
Grr, I meant to say "because I couldn't". :P
GeikoSera GeikoSera 9 years
I use clipless pedals on my roadbike, but I have to be careful with them. They can be tricky to get in/out of. I've several "battle scars" on my legs from falling over and cutting myself on my gears because I could clip out. Yeah, I'm a clutz like that.....
joannakm joannakm 9 years
I had to learn how to use clipless pedals for an Ironman 70.3 triathlon I registered for. I was absolutely terrified of using them and convinced I would have a major accident as soon as I put them on! Thankfully they actually were a ton easier than anticipated and I love using them on my bike and in spinning class :)
carli79 carli79 9 years
Thanks for this post! I've been debating whether or not to spend the $100+ on cycling shoes.
nikolem2 nikolem2 9 years
As a Spinning instructor, I use clipless pedals. I think they're a great investment for indoor cyclists as well, if you go to classes often. I don't yet clip in to my regular bike for outdoor riding, but have noticed such a difference between the two that I hope to get clipless pedals for my bike asap. By pulling up on your pedals you can engage your hamstrings and pedal more effeciently than pushing alone, which can also burn out your quads way faster.
Spincyle10 Spincyle10 9 years
I ride in "clipless" pedals and find that it really refines my pedal stroke, and frees me up to do more work using my hamstrings instead of my quadriceps, which is important for muscle balance and knee health. I would highly recommend it - I've been using the same shoes and cleats for nearly 3 years, it's worth the investment.
go4it go4it 9 years
I use clipless pedals on both my Mountain Bike and my Road Bike. i have to say it changed my life when my husband, who is an avid cyclist bought me them for Christmas 5 years ago. I definitely fell like a tree a couple of times before i figured it out, but it makes such a difference. I don't even know how people can ride a bike for fitness without them.
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