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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 04-07-12, 05:51 AM   #1
msr13 
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Recommended Clipless for the New Guy

I would appreciate some advice. I have been getting a lot more comfortable on my bike and have changed my mind. I would like to advance to a Clipless system. I am, frankly, afraid of falling, and the idea of not being able to get my foot out in time to brace myself, etc. is a bit scary. Are there recommendations for both a pedal system and a process for getting used to them? I am fortunate enough, where budget need not weigh into the calculation for this accessory. This one seems important. Again, I appreciate any insights. Thanks.
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Old 04-07-12, 05:54 AM   #2
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Practice saying "Oh Shoot".

You know when you are going to fall over.
But there is nothing you can do about it.
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Old 04-07-12, 06:29 AM   #3
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I use Spd- Sl's. You're going to have to get used to them pretty much no matter what system you have. You'll probably fall, just about everyone does. In fact, my LBS guys swear that the only to kinds of people who go clipless are those who have fallen and those who haven't, YET! lol. But it's really not that big a deal and it won't happen on your first ride or your second. It'll happen after you've used them for a week or so and have gotten comfortable with them and you "forget". They're insidious, lol. But it's kind of a Right of Passage. When I fell I went to the LBS and showed the guys my scraped up knee and albow and they clapped. I really felt like one of the family.
Just get them. You'll fall, you'll laugh and get over it, and you'll be glad you switched.
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Old 04-07-12, 06:58 AM   #4
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I bought a pair of 105's for cheap on nashbar. I like them just fine. They have a tension adjustment, and I set it to the minimum and I seem to be able to get my foot out easily enough.

Think they were around 50.00
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Old 04-07-12, 07:00 AM   #5
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I've only used Shimano SPD-SL pedals and cleats. They're low maintenence, and not very fussy about dirt and crud. Release tension is adjustable (dial it all the way down at first and get used to the motion to unclip). The cleats have plastic outriggers so you can actually walk a little bit in them. You can spend as little as $40 or so for the cheapest R-540s, and up to the $300 range for Dura-Ace carbon pedals. They all work the same and take the same 3 bolt cleat. I use 105s myself. You can find them online for under $60. While I like buying at the LBS, paying $100 for pedals I can get for almost half that online is silly.

Practice first. Grab onto a fixed object (light pole, porch railing, whatever) and practice clipping in and out. While you can rotate your foot either way to unclip, it's much easier to unclip by rotating your heel outwards. You can apply more force turning your foot that way. Also, unclip at the bottom of your pedal stroke.

Only negative with SPD-SL is the one sided only entry. Takes practice to get it done smoothly. After a few months you'll be able to do it by feel.
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Old 04-07-12, 07:36 AM   #6
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I love my SPD and MTD shoes. I fell on the second day using them. I can't recommend someone switching to them the first year of riding unless it's mainly MUP. Dealing with traffic in stop and go, being in the correct gear before you stop, always doing the same sequence when stopping ... ect. Get these down before you add clipping in and out to the skill mix.
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Old 04-07-12, 08:03 AM   #7
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As the guy at my LBS told me- clip out early. If you are clipping out with one foot, make sure you throw your weight to that side. If I am in an area with lots of traffic or stop signs I may only clip with one foot until I get to a little stretch of open road.
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Old 04-07-12, 08:09 AM   #8
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You will fall. Not at first though. They will feel alien at first and you will be very aware of them, but eventually you get used to them, then you forget you're clipped in...

Then you'll fall.
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Old 04-07-12, 08:13 AM   #9
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I jumped in headfirst with clipless pedals. The first and only clipless pedals I bought are Shimano Dura Ace. I love the pedals, but the cleats suck if you have to do any walking.
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Old 04-07-12, 10:12 AM   #10
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Crank Brothers Egg Beaters and Shimano SHWN43s. Easy in and out, for me. Durable and light.

What I really recommend is a pair of pinned platform pedals and a pair of Five.Ten Camp'4s. No worries about getting in and out. Great energy transfer and if you want to walk around when you get somewhere, you have real shoes without a metal cleat.
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Old 04-07-12, 10:58 AM   #11
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Quick question about shoes.... Is there a brand made more for wider feet? I have hobbit feet. I wear a New Balance 10.5 4E...
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Old 04-07-12, 11:07 AM   #12
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I had Shimano SPD 520 pedals and Bontrager RL MTB shoes for a year and liked 'em good enough. They definitely made a change to my riding, and did add some enjoyment to it. That said, I'm now back on big BMX platforms with tennis shoes and just as happy. I'm not sure I'll go back to them.

I'd also echo not using them your first year riding. Just get used to the motion, the weight shifting and all of that before you go clipless. They will make a difference, but it's not as extreme as say - proper fit.

Anyway SPD's are very easy to get in and out of as long as you practice and set the tension very loose.
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Old 04-07-12, 11:08 AM   #13
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Quick question about shoes.... Is there a brand made more for wider feet? I have hobbit feet. I wear a New Balance 10.5 4E...
I had the Bontrager RL MTB shoes, in a 47, and even with my stump feet they fit very well. I was actually a bit surprised as I'd tried a few before that, and initially had bought the Bontrager Race shoe for riding with platforms. I switched to SPD's because the Race had an odd fit issue with my foot that the Race did not, but the Race was not up for being riding on anything other than clipless.

In other words, I was quite happy.
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Old 04-07-12, 02:12 PM   #14
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Shimano makes some wide shoes... even their normal width shoes are roomy.

I prefer speedplay to SPD-SL because I need the extra float. I also think they're easier to clip IN to and clip OUT of, which is dead handy. 105 pedals are pretty inexpensive, you could certainly try them out.
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Old 04-07-12, 05:33 PM   #15
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I have commuter shoes with SPD multi-release cleats and MTB pedals. I don't have to worry about having the pedal the "right side up" .
The beauty of the commuter/MTB/touring shoes is that they have good traction so there is NO reason not to unclip and put a foot down at stop signs, intersections.
It's unlikely that you will slip on the pavement; and you can pedal a few rotatations with the arch of your foot on the pedal to get some momentum before clipping in as you learn.
Pretty soon all that practice makes it instinctive to quickly unclip and to clip back in.

I have the tension very loose on the pedals (Shimano 540's ?) Right now I am wearing the Keen bike sandals. Love 'em and wear them year round with socks.

While learning, practice clipping and unclipping when you are stationary and leaned up against a post. Then practice while you are rolling through a wide open empty parking lot when you don't have to focus where you are going and won't run into anything and don't have to actually stop.

I grew up using (loose) toe-clips on my 10-speeds 40 years ago. Not sure if I fell then.
I've had a few close calls when I've been bumped at stop lights, but in 3+ years no actual falls.
So there are exceptions.
Hope I didn't jinx myself.

When bike shopping recently I had platform pedals for test rides. It was scary having my foot slide around on the pedal untethered.
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Old 04-07-12, 06:14 PM   #16
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These have been extremely helpful answers. Thanks. As a large guy, 250 lbs. in my forties (although down 8 already since starting to ride more seriously), I am very concerned that a fall will lead to broken bones-- not just a few scrapes. I feel comfortable controlling the bike now with flat pedals, and think clipless will increase my efficiency and endurance. But, I will admit a wussy-level fear of broken bones. I like the idea of waiting a year before trying to switch. That feels like very good advice. Gives me coverage to continue my cowardly lion approach .
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Old 04-07-12, 06:31 PM   #17
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There are plenty of people who ride with platform pedals... don't feel obligated to get clipless because you read it somewhere.
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Old 04-07-12, 06:39 PM   #18
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Personally, I like Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. I run them on both my Fixed Gear and my road bike, and the wife runs them on her recumbent trike. She whined a bit at first, but given what happens if you drop a foot off the pedals on a recumbent trike (Leg suck and broken bones!), with her dropping hills at 40+ MPH on a Sun EZ3SX of all things (A delta trike!), I wanted her safe.

Once she got used to 'em, she's said she'll never go back to platforms. I know for certain I won't.
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Old 04-07-12, 07:12 PM   #19
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These have been extremely helpful answers. Thanks. As a large guy, 250 lbs. in my forties (although down 8 already since starting to ride more seriously), I am very concerned that a fall will lead to broken bones-- not just a few scrapes. I feel comfortable controlling the bike now with flat pedals, and think clipless will increase my efficiency and endurance. But, I will admit a wussy-level fear of broken bones. I like the idea of waiting a year before trying to switch. That feels like very good advice. Gives me coverage to continue my cowardly lion approach .
Another option for you is to have a look at SPD - single sided pedals. One side is platform and the other is spd [Shimano A530 SPD Single Sided Touring Pedals] http://s.wiggle.co.uk/images/shimano-pda530.jpg is an example. This will allow you to use MTB style shoes, which are very easy to walk in and come in many styles or you can use what you currently do for shoes.

So you end up with both the option to use clip in or platform on any given ride.
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Old 04-07-12, 08:52 PM   #20
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These have been extremely helpful answers. Thanks. As a large guy, 250 lbs. in my forties (although down 8 already since starting to ride more seriously), I am very concerned that a fall will lead to broken bones-- not just a few scrapes. I feel comfortable controlling the bike now with flat pedals, and think clipless will increase my efficiency and endurance. But, I will admit a wussy-level fear of broken bones. I like the idea of waiting a year before trying to switch. That feels like very good advice. Gives me coverage to continue my cowardly lion approach .
Clipping out becomes a natural motion that you don't hardly think about after a while. I was scared of them too for a long time, and yes like most people, I have fallen over going zero mph before. It sucks but I did it at 300 lbs and walked away with a few scrapes. No broken bones. I think they are well worth overcoming your fear of falling. Just practice clipping in and out in a hallway or something before you go live for the first time with them. It's really a lot easier than you probably think it is!
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Old 04-07-12, 10:41 PM   #21
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Personally, I like Crank Brothers Egg Beaters. I run them on both my Fixed Gear and my road bike, and the wife runs them on her recumbent trike.
i have crank bro's mallets, its the best of both worlds. monday it was windy so i took my road bike to work. yep rode in dress shoes.
today before i got out of traffic i pedaled not clipped in. once i got on the MUP i clipped in and pumped away.
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Old 04-07-12, 11:17 PM   #22
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As the guy at my LBS told me- clip out early. If you are clipping out with one foot, make sure you throw your weight to that side. If I am in an area with lots of traffic or stop signs I may only clip with one foot until I get to a little stretch of open road.
+1. I just converted to Time ATACs and clipping out at the last second is asking for trouble. Clip out early before an expected stop, and if things are very slow and congested clip out just in case. Only takes a second. I recommend double-sided pedals so that you can keep your eyes on traffic and and the road while clipping in.
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Old 04-08-12, 07:54 AM   #23
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As several have said, anticipate the stop, and clip out early. With SPD-SL pedals, you can keep light pedal pressure with the unclipped foot, and snap back in if the need to stop goes away.

Also, you can pedal well enough from the "wrong" side when you start up again after a stop, to get forward momentum going.
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Old 04-08-12, 09:25 AM   #24
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i have crank bro's mallets, its the best of both worlds. monday it was windy so i took my road bike to work. yep rode in dress shoes.
today before i got out of traffic i pedaled not clipped in. once i got on the MUP i clipped in and pumped away.
Can you clip on on both sides?
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Old 04-08-12, 09:36 PM   #25
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Can you clip on on both sides?
yep, you dont have to look down even on the first day of owning them.

there is a bit more angle to unclipping than other pedals but to get two sided platforms and two sided clipping in i will take that inconvenience.

the mallets are heavier and not as pretty as others but being 70lbs to big the pedal wieght isnt a concern.
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