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Thread: pedal options

  1. #1
    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    pedal options

    OK, guys, what would you do:

    I've documented my love/hate relationship with my road bike, and what I think it comes down to is my lack of love for my clipless pedals, which are the Shimano R540 model.

    Here's what bugs me: I can generally get clipped and unclipped OK, but when I feel like I'm in a bit of a tight spot in terms of traffic, etc., I never can get clipped in very well - could be anxiety from the traffic situation causing me to have trouble clipping in. Like the other day, I had to try to pull out on a busy road and get clipped in at the same time, and it was like trying to juggle 10 balls and a chainsaw.

    But I kinda like the power advantage of being clipped in. So here's what I think are my options:

    1. Ditch the R540s and get a set of Shimano PD-M324s.

    I think these would be good because I could clip in on one side, and if I'm in a pressure situation, I could temporarily switch over to the platforms long enough to get out of trouble and get clipped back in again. I'd have to buy some different shoes, but hey.

    2. Ditch that whole rig and try out Power Grips. I dunno how well these work. Anybody here using these?

    Thanks for the consideration.

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    What you want is a mountain bike pedal and a mountain bike shoe. I would suggest a set of $35 Shimano M520 pedals and the shoe of your choice.

    In my 20-year cycling career, I've used quite a few pedals: cheap platforms, expensive platforms, traditional clips & straps, PowerGrips, high-end Look road pedals (similar to your R540), Crank Brothers Eggbeaters, Crank Brothers Candy, and a number of others. For me, Shimano's two-sided SPD mountain bike pedals combined with a mountain bike shoe work the best. I use this combination on all my bikes!

    There are two key reasons for this: 1) the pedal is two-sided, so you never have to align the pedal before you can clip in and, 2) even if you miss clipping-in the pedal is large enough and the shoe has enough tread that you can still pedal very effectively. It doesn't hurt that these pedals are durable, easy to clip-in, have adjustable release tension, and are dirt cheap.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Zoxe's Avatar
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    I have a set of the M324's on my hybrid. I also run mountain bike pedals on my road bike so I can use the same shoes for both bikes.

    You can adjust the M324s to clip in/out pretty easily (i.e. adjust tension). I've yanked my foot out in a panic (surprise! there's a mom, a stroller, and a dog hogging the bike path!) a couple times and it saved me from going over.

    What I don't like about the M324s is that no matter what I'm trying to do, I always end up on the wrong side of the pedal. If I want to take off and clip in as I ride, I end up on the clip side. If I'm intending to clip, I wind up on the bear trap side. In theory one side always rotates down and you could train your foot to roll into it a particular way to flip the pedal over to the desired side, but I've certainly not mastered it yet. I am considering getting rid of mine for this season, or stealing the pedals from my Bianchi.

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    I have M520's on my hybrid-flat handlebar road bike, and love them. I used them on the Specialized Allez that I owned, as well and loved them on that.

    I prefer Time ATAC for offroad though, much quicker to get in, and a lot more float. I just need new shoes for mine so I can put them back on my MTB... Someday!

    Maybe try some eggbeater/platform pedals that will allow more of an unclipped riding for those iffy situations?

    I do think Mountain pedals allow you to get out quicker. Road pedals are kinda designed around racing, I feel. I could be wrong though.
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    Senior Member knzn's Avatar
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    My minority opinion?!?!--Get a pair of decent platforms pedals such as MKS touring pedals from Amazon or ebay and don't look back. Amaze yourself at how much "power" you didn't loose and enjoy the freedom of wearing any shoe you want. Like I said, it is a minority opinion but after taking my M520's off I have been a happy camper.

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    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knzn View Post
    My minority opinion?!?!--Get a pair of decent platforms pedals such as MKS touring pedals from Amazon or ebay and don't look back. Amaze yourself at how much "power" you didn't loose and enjoy the freedom of wearing any shoe you want. Like I said, it is a minority opinion but after taking my M520's off I have been a happy camper.
    Actually, that's what I'd like to do - I yearn for the freedom of being able to put my foot down with no trouble and start pedaling again. I just don't feel like I'm in control of the bike when I'm clipped in. I feel like it's controlling me. But I've been able to climb some grinding hills and wondered how much of my climbing success is due to the extra torque I get from being clipped in.

    I've got a metric century I wanna try to do in April, and part of it includes a mountain climb. I'm kinda paranoid I can't do it without the clips. Hey, stupid race question: are you allowed to get off your bike and push up a hill if you just can't make it? I've never been in any sort of organized bike deal before.

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    I love my Power Grips. I have them on two of my bikes. Never had clipless so I can't comment on them.

    I'm a year round commuter and have been using a pair for over 3 years now. Some fraying, but I just wrapped some duct tape around where it was happening and it should last me for a while.
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    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    John,
    I don't sweat having both sides clipped in to deal with a traffic situation. My right foot stays clipped in. When I leave a stop I ride with my right foot clipped in and my left resting on the pedal. I don't care if my left foot clips or not until the traffic situation is past. I can easily accelerate with just my right foot in and my left on the pedal but not clipped. The way I learned to do this was by practicing leaving a stop with just my right foot doing the work. Most of the time my left foot finds it's own way home (it clips in) but sometimes I have to fiddle a bit after the traffic situation has resolved.

    I happen to use speedplay pedals but I don't think it's about the type of pedal. I think it's about the approach.

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    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    I pretty much agree with what bbeasly mentioned, however, everyone has different comfort and confidence levels.

    You can if you wish have a bit of both.

    As an example, if you switch to SPD, then you could use the
    Shimano PD-A530 SPD Dual Platform Pedal which you can use clipped in or simply clip out when in traffic and use the platform side.
    http://www.amazon.com/Shimano-PD-A53.../dp/B002NVJEOM

  10. #10
    Senior Member knzn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    Actually, that's what I'd like to do -
    Listen to your instinct and try it. Then you will know for sure!

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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    I just don't feel like I'm in control of the bike when I'm clipped in.
    That's funny; I'm just the opposite: I don't feel like I'm in control of the bike until I am clipped in!

    Hey, stupid race question: are you allowed to get off your bike and push up a hill if you just can't make it?
    If it's really a race, as opposed to a non-competitive organized ride, you'd probably be disqualified for creating a hazard...

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    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    That's funny; I'm just the opposite: I don't feel like I'm in control of the bike until I am clipped in!
    This sounds stupid, but I wanna be able to do what I want when I want. If I want to put my right foot down right now, I wanna put my right foot down right now. If I wanna pull over on a dime, I wanna pull over on a dime.

    And I wanna be able to give my undivided attention to what I'm doing on the bike and the traffic around me sometimes, as opposed to having to try to get the pedal flipped over to the proper position and getting clipped in during a tense situation involving two-ton cars. This only happens about 5 percent of the time during a ride, but it's that 5 percent that makes me not want to get on the bike.

    If it's really a race, as opposed to a non-competitive organized ride, you'd probably be disqualified for creating a hazard...
    This is really more non-competitive organized ride. Thanks.

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    Senior Member Spudd's Avatar
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    I agree with getting platforms and trying them. Try going up the hill in question. If you can't make it, then you know the clipping in was giving you something... and if you can, then you win!

    To be honest I really think the main thing is being comfortable on your bike. You've tried the clipless for long enough now that you can say you gave it a fair try. Do you have platforms on your commuter you can switch over to the road bike for trying?

    Personally I haven't tried clipless and I don't plan to. I like platforms. Both bikes I bought came with clipless and I asked them at the store to switch them to platform before taking possession.

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    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    The two-sided (clipless/platform) pedals you linked may be the best solution for you, John. You'll always have the ability to go either way.

    You'll need to keep in mind though that your shoes could be a limiting factor. For this experiment to work, they'll need two characteristics: they'll need to be stable when used on the platform side of the pedal (in other words, no slick cleat to want to slide off that side), and the cleated side will require a two-bolt SPD type of cleat. Your current shoes may or may not meet either of those requirements. You'll just have to take a look at them and see. If you need new shoes, you'll want to get ones with recessed cleats, like most SPD mountain-bike shoes. Even a road shoe that's two-bolt (SPD) compatible may still have a projecting cleat, making the platform side of the pedal problematic.
    Last edited by CraigB; 02-21-11 at 07:09 AM.
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    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    The two-sided (clipless/platform) pedals you linked may be the best solution for you, John. You'll always have the ability to go either way.

    You'll need to keep in mind though that your shoes could be a limiting factor. For this experiment to work, they'll need two characteristics: they'll need to be stable when used on the platform side of the pedal (in other words, no slick cleat to want to slide off that side), and the cleated side will require a two-bolt SPD type of cleat. Your current shoes may or may not meet either of those requirements. You'll just have to take a look at them and see. If you need new shoes, you'll want to get ones with recessed cleats, like most SPD mountain-bike shoes. Even a two-bolt (SPD) compatible road shoe may still have a projecting cleat, making the platform side of the pedal problematic.
    This is one of the reasons, I use only platforms... For short trips like to the post office or town, getting on the bike with regular clothes and shoes, makes sense, having to put on special clothes and shoes, is just a reason to take the car instead. That fits the mountain/hybrid and given that the road bike is 35 years old, clipless on there would just look silly, now a set of stainless toe clips and straps, yeah....

    Needing special shoes is just another thing to use as an excuse not to ride.

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    Senior Member JohnA42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    This sounds stupid, but I wanna be able to do what I want when I want. If I want to put my right foot down right now, I wanna put my right foot down right now. If I wanna pull over on a dime, I wanna pull over on a dime.

    And I wanna be able to give my undivided attention to what I'm doing on the bike and the traffic around me sometimes, as opposed to having to try to get the pedal flipped over to the proper position and getting clipped in during a tense situation involving two-ton cars. This only happens about 5 percent of the time during a ride, but it's that 5 percent that makes me not want to get on the bike.
    Sounds like clipless may not be your deal, but... have you tried to figure out why you sometimes have trouble clipping in or out? I've been riding clipless for a few months on 3 different bikes but with the same pair of shoes. I recently got a different pair of shoes -- road shoes as opposed to the MTB shoes I had been wearing. (SPD cleats on both.) The first couple rides with them I had a terrible time getting clipped in. It was to the point where I was ready to get rid of the new shoes when I figured out that the problem was the cleat location. They were a little farther back on the new shoes and I was trying to clip in too far behind correct spot. (Hope that makes sense.) A minor adjustment to what I was doing with my foot and everything is copacetic.

    Now, this is probably not what's causing your issue, but... if you can figure out what's causing your problem you might be able to solve it.

  17. #17
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    Here's what bugs me: I can generally get clipped and unclipped OK, but when I feel like I'm in a bit of a tight spot in terms of traffic, etc., I never can get clipped in very well - could be anxiety from the traffic situation causing me to have trouble clipping in. Like the other day, I had to try to pull out on a busy road and get clipped in at the same time, and it was like trying to juggle 10 balls and a chainsaw..
    Hmm, use a totally different approach. I don't unclip. Whiel approachinga signal, I plan ahead. I will slow and try to time the light. If I'm a little off I can trackstand for 3 or 4 seconds, I'm good. I rarely unclip on the road and in traffic. At stopsigns, I don't unclip, brief stand and I'm off, no unclipping.

    Many of my buds unclip at signal and when the light turn green, I'm 20 yards up the road before they can even shove off.

    Give it a try. Then the pedals don't worry you as much. I mean if you plan on trying to juggle 10 balls and a chainsaw.

  18. #18
    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudd View Post
    Do you have platforms on your commuter you can switch over to the road bike for trying?
    By jove, that's a fine idea. I get my new hybrid (platforms) from the LBS on Tuesday or Wednesday, and my old commuter's probably going to become a backup. I could take the platforms off it for a while (or get the LBS to - I can't figure out how to get the pedals off my road bike, I tried, but I probably don't have the right tools) and put them on the road bike. If I feel comfortable enough on the hybrid, the road bike's headed to Craig's List anyway, so the whole point may be moot.

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    The two-sided (clipless/platform) pedals you linked may be the best solution for you, John. You'll always have the ability to go either way.

    You'll need to keep in mind though that your shoes could be a limiting factor. For this experiment to work, they'll need two characteristics: they'll need to be stable when used on the platform side of the pedal (in other words, no slick cleat to want to slide off that side), and the cleated side will require a two-bolt SPD type of cleat. Your current shoes may or may not meet either of those requirements. You'll just have to take a look at them and see. If you need new shoes, you'll want to get ones with recessed cleats, like most SPD mountain-bike shoes. Even a two-bolt (SPD) compatible road shoe may still have a projecting cleat, making the platform side of the pedal problematic.
    Yeah, I saw some spiffy Nike shoes at the LBS yesterday that would be perfect. They didn't have 'em in my size, but at least they give me an idea. I'd like to be able to walk around a little bit better than in the clogs I have now, with the Look road shoes. Nothing like walking on your heels all the time.

    I figure I could go with the 324s, or maybe the M424s. Maybe.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnA42 View Post
    Sounds like clipless may not be your deal, but... have you tried to figure out why you sometimes have trouble clipping in or out?
    I don't have a problem 95 percent of the time, but it's that 5 percent that gives me pause. I'd prefer not to have a problem 100 percent of the time. I've got a good system worked out where I line up one of my velcro straps with the pedal to clip in. But in traffic, any time spent flailing around getting clipped in is time I'd rather be spending figuring out whether I'm gonna get creamed by that SUV or not.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Hmm, use a totally different approach. I don't unclip. Whiel approachinga signal, I plan ahead. I will slow and try to time the light. If I'm a little off I can trackstand for 3 or 4 seconds, I'm good. I rarely unclip on the road and in traffic. At stopsigns, I don't unclip, brief stand and I'm off, no unclipping.
    This bad intersection wasn't at a red light - I sat there for at least 2 minutes waiting for a break in traffic.

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    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    This bad intersection wasn't at a red light - I sat there for at least 2 minutes waiting for a break in traffic.
    So you're thinking of spending money to switch out an entire pedal system because of one intersection, waiting 2 minutes and not having problems 95% of the time? That's like asking for tire that never flats. Good luck with your search!
    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 02-20-11 at 07:53 PM.

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    I like 2-sided spd pedals, with mountain bike shoes that have rubber in the arch. I don't like the shoes with slick plastic or fiberglass in the arch. Ones with rubber in the arch allow you to pedal through the intersection, and THEN clip in.

    That is what I do. SPDs also work on spin bikes at my gym.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    This sounds stupid, but I wanna be able to do what I want when I want. If I want to put my right foot down right now, I wanna put my right foot down right now. If I wanna pull over on a dime, I wanna pull over on a dime.
    I've tried clipless twice, and twice had to give it up because I couldn't get clipped in properly. While that was a physical issue leading me to give them up, switching back to platforms taught me that being attached to the pedal gave me very little, if any, additional power. I say ditch'em, John423, and just ride your bikes.

  22. #22
    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    So you're thinking of spending money to switch out an entire pedal system because of one intersection, waiting 2 minutes and not having problems 95% of the time? That's like asking for tire that never flats. Good luck with your search!
    Like I said above (and Neil quoted below), it's a matter of feeling like I'm in control regardless of the situation. I want to be able to do whatever I want to do on the bike any time, and if that's put my foot down or pull over in a big hurry or pull into a busy intersection without having anything but that busy intersection to worry about, then it's worth it to me to at least try platforms and see the difference before trying more expensive options.

    Even if I can't figure out how to change the pedals on the bike (and I haven't even started YouTubing yet), how expensive could it be to have it done at the LBS where I got it? They're putting together/Frame Saving my hybrid right now - steel is real - and I believe I'm well on my way to earning frequent flyer status down there. I'm already greeted like Norm from Cheers by the repair guy, so it's all good.

    Yeah, I know I should HTFU and ride the Look pedals. And I'm going to today, I've got to get more miles under my butt. And I've got a new route that bypasses the bad intersection (and a mean ol' dog along the way), so lets see how it goes.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I've tried clipless twice, and twice had to give it up because I couldn't get clipped in properly. While that was a physical issue leading me to give them up, switching back to platforms taught me that being attached to the pedal gave me very little, if any, additional power. I say ditch'em, John423, and just ride your bikes.
    I'm curious to see just how much power it adds. The first order of business with the hybrid is to go on my typical road biking route and see how I pull some of the hills on that country road.

    It is affecting my enjoyment of the road bike, so I feel like I have to do something to make myself feel more comfortable on it, which will make me want to ride it more.

  23. #23
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by john423 View Post
    Like I said above (and Neil quoted below), it's a matter of feeling like I'm in control regardless of the situation. I want to be able to do whatever I want to do on the bike any time, and if that's put my foot down or pull over in a big hurry or pull into a busy intersection without having anything but that busy intersection to worry about, then it's worth it to me to at least try platforms and see the difference before trying more expensive options.

    Even if I can't figure out how to change the pedals on the bike (and I haven't even started YouTubing yet), how expensive could it be to have it done at the LBS where I got it? They're putting together/Frame Saving my hybrid right now - steel is real - and I believe I'm well on my way to earning frequent flyer status down there. I'm already greeted like Norm from Cheers by the repair guy, so it's all good.

    Yeah, I know I should HTFU and ride the Look pedals. And I'm going to today, I've got to get more miles under my butt. And I've got a new route that bypasses the bad intersection (and a mean ol' dog along the way), so lets see how it goes.



    I'm curious to see just how much power it adds. The first order of business with the hybrid is to go on my typical road biking route and see how I pull some of the hills on that country road.

    It is affecting my enjoyment of the road bike, so I feel like I have to do something to make myself feel more comfortable on it, which will make me want to ride it more.
    I found I didn't lose power when I lost clipless. The hills didn't get any more difficult.

    As for swapping pedals, that's what a pedal wrench is for, and it's not an expensive tool.

    John423, if it makes you feel more comfortable riding, then do it.

  24. #24
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Neil's right about the pedal wrench. It isn't expensive. It's large, because you need a good deal of torque. The only other thing to know about changing pedals is that the threads are reveresed on the left pedal. In both cases, to loosen you want the lever arm of the wrench to point toward the back of the bike, and you push it down toward the ground. The other thing to remember is to grease the new pedals' threads before you install them.
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  25. #25
    Rain, rain go away john423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    Neil's right about the pedal wrench. It isn't expensive. It's large, because you need a good deal of torque. The only other thing to know about changing pedals is that the threads are reveresed on the left pedal. In both cases, to loosen you want the lever arm of the wrench to point toward the back of the bike, and you push it down toward the ground. The other thing to remember is to grease the new pedals' threads before you install them.
    That's why I couldn't get the pedals off. I thought I needed a special tool, like you do for about 99 percent of the stuff on a bike, but I wasn't so sure, so I tried using just a regular adjustable wrench with no luck.

    I'd read that about the reversed threads, and I read about greasing the new threads, but somehow the "pedal wrench" thing escaped me.

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