it can be quite a daunting experience the day you move away from the flat pedal world and move to your first set of clipless or clip-in pedals. You’ll have heard many horror stories of people falling over at lights, using bushes as crash mats amongst other crazy options. So we’ve compiled a small list to help you smoothly through your first ride in the Clipless world.
Pay attention to the angle of your feet.
This is a very important one when you first move to clipless pedals. Everyones feet & legs behave in a very different way when cycling. A bike fit is a great way to assess how you’re moving no matter what the discipline, & we definitely recommend going through this process.
If you were a runner, you’d find shoes that help support your weaknesses & feet. This would in turn help you running without the risk of injury. Phil Burt, the British Cycling & Team Sky bike fitter, explained to us how cycling is no different. Except a bike is a symmetrical object that doesn’t move. If you try to “correct” the way your body moves on a bike, this will in turn cause you later issues. Whether this is hip, knee, ankle, it’ll all come out somewhere!
Flat pedals are a great way to see how your body naturally rides a bike, and you can transfer this into the clipless system. If you require a lot of float (movement through the ankle), something like Speedplay would be a great choice for you.
When you come to a swift stop, an unexpected junction or otherwise, it’s very easy to panic. When you panic you’ll try to twist your foot out suddenly & often find it gets stuck, you tense up & begin to topple.
In these situations it’s best to stay relaxed, you’ll find if you’re relaxed you’ll have loads of time. If your foot is sticking try the other foot. By relaxing you’ll give yourself a lot of time to react in these situations & find yourself less likely to be face up on the ground with a very red face! This leads us nicely on to our next point.
3. Unclip before you stop.
Giving yourself plenty of time to unclip before you stop is a great way to help yourself relax and get out of the pedals. If you try & unclip suddenly the moment you stop, it can be quite tricky.
We’ve seen even the most advanced riders get stuck in their cleats by trying to do everything just a bit too hastily. If you know there’s a junction coming up it can be a good idea to get your foot out with plenty of time, so you just have to put it on the ground. This will leave you with no problems.
You will only need to unclip one foot, & you can still rest it on the pedals/pedal even though you’re unclipped. It’s much easier to hold your balance when your bike is moving, more speed = more balance. Science. So if you can unclip on the go, you’ll save yourself the troubles.
4. Think about moving before clipping in.
his is a great tip for when you come to start again. Not all cleats are double sided like the Speedplay range. The Shimano road cleats only have one side to clip in, amongst many others. Therefore trying to get yourself moving before you clip in can be a great tip.
If you just rest your foot on the top of the pedal, make sure it’s secure enough for you to push away, you can get moving before you need to clip in. This will make the process much smoother & stop any angry car drives beeping & booping behind you. You’re not in the wrong holding them up, but we all know what it’s like out there at rush hour!
If you’re on a hill you can push off, rest your leg on top of the pedal & use the clipped in leg a couple of times to get going. It’s quite a strange movement and takes some getting used to, but you’ll have much more luck clipping in on the go.
5. Don’t expect instant super speed.
You’ll have swapped to clipless pedals for a much smoother action, a wider range of input from your legs & just because they seem to be what everyone uses! Well it’s true, you can increase your power output by up to 20% with clipless pedals. But it won’t happen overnight.
It will take a bit of time for you and your body to adjust to the pedals, but they will both make you faster and more secure on the bike. So bare with it and take the time to adjust. If you’re not feeling very confident it can be a great exercise to practice clipping & unclipping at home leaning on a wall/fence.
If you follow these simple steps we’re sure you’ll be absolutely find out on the trails or roads. They’re not as daunting as you think when you first get them, and the adjustment is quite quick.