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  1. #1
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Yet another clipless pedals thread

    I've taken the plunge and made an appointment for a professional fitting on my road bike, which will happen in a couple of days. I took a longish-for-me ride on that bike for the first time in many years about a week ago, and the experience was painful in a number of ways - including knee pain, which I'd never experienced on a bicycle before. I'm pretty sure the knee pain had to do with poorly adjusted clipless pedals. I'd bought those pedals about 15 years or so ago, but only used them a few times before a bad accident and life took me off the bike for about 13-14 years.

    As the fitting gets closer, I'm getting more torn about whether to keep the clipless pedals on there, or just put the cages I used to use back on and get fitted that way. The pedals are 15 year old Look pedals, and the shoes are typical road shoes - I think they might be branded by Nashbar.

    On the pro side of clipless, I think I may get a little extra speed from them, and using the whole pedal stroke may have made some of the climbs a little easier because the strength of both legs could be working at all times. (Maybe - I'm not sure if this effect was just psychological...) Right now, I have to admit that speed is pretty far down on my list of priorities.

    On the con side of clipless, (1) knee pain, (2) stopping for lights, etc - I live in a pretty dense-traffic area, even more so on Saturdays, and stopping all the time in cleats really stinks, (3) having to walk at all - I was concerned about breaking down, and sure enough, I did have a flat that I had to change while wearing cleats. What a PITA! I actually carried a pair of sneakers with me in a backpack, just in case I needed to do the "walk of shame". Carrying the extra weight and bulk of a backpack and sneakers seems to completely nullify the benefits of clipless pedals, (4) I needed (I think) to raise the seat to accommodate the clipless pedals. Because of neck issues (stenosis, arthritis), this would also probably require a higher stem to raise the handlebars. My neck is still hurting a week after that ride.

    I guess I'm convinced that the cons outweigh the pros for clipless, at least for the kind of riding I do. Does anyone have any other perspectives that might sway me the other way?
    L'asino di Buridano...

  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    I've taken the plunge and made an appointment for a professional fitting on my road bike, which will happen in a couple of days. I took a longish-for-me ride on that bike for the first time in many years about a week ago, and the experience was painful in a number of ways - including knee pain, which I'd never experienced on a bicycle before. I'm pretty sure the knee pain had to do with poorly adjusted clipless pedals. I'd bought those pedals about 15 years or so ago, but only used them a few times before a bad accident and life took me off the bike for about 13-14 years.

    As the fitting gets closer, I'm getting more torn about whether to keep the clipless pedals on there, or just put the cages I used to use back on and get fitted that way. The pedals are 15 year old Look pedals, and the shoes are typical road shoes - I think they might be branded by Nashbar.

    On the pro side of clipless, I think I may get a little extra speed from them, and using the whole pedal stroke may have made some of the climbs a little easier because the strength of both legs could be working at all times. (Maybe - I'm not sure if this effect was just psychological...) Right now, I have to admit that speed is pretty far down on my list of priorities.

    On the con side of clipless, (1) knee pain, (2) stopping for lights, etc - I live in a pretty dense-traffic area, even more so on Saturdays, and stopping all the time in cleats really stinks, (3) having to walk at all - I was concerned about breaking down, and sure enough, I did have a flat that I had to change while wearing cleats. What a PITA! I actually carried a pair of sneakers with me in a backpack, just in case I needed to do the "walk of shame". Carrying the extra weight and bulk of a backpack and sneakers seems to completely nullify the benefits of clipless pedals, (4) I needed (I think) to raise the seat to accommodate the clipless pedals. Because of neck issues (stenosis, arthritis), this would also probably require a higher stem to raise the handlebars. My neck is still hurting a week after that ride.

    I guess I'm convinced that the cons outweigh the pros for clipless, at least for the kind of riding I do. Does anyone have any other perspectives that might sway me the other way?
    There's no real reason to use a road shoe. Mountain bike shoes...or even smooth sole touring shoes...are almost as good as a road shoe and you can walk in them. Some mountain bike shoes are as good as road shoes with carbon soles and lightweight uppers and you can still walk in them. I use clipless exclusively but I haven't owned a road shoe in about 15 years. They just aren't worth the hassle.

    On the plus side, both road and mountain bike pedals have come a long way since the late 90s. Cleats allow for some movement (called float) and the release mechanism has been refined. I'd say ditch the old pedals and shoes.
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  3. #3
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    I wouldn't want to persuade you either way, really. There are a couple of points I would make, though.

    1. You may or may not be right about the knee pain being related to the position of your feet on the pedals. But if that is the case, it could be fixed by repositioning the cleats on the shoes. And if you revert to clips and straps, you will still have the same problem to solve, except this time it will relate to making sure the clips are sized right. Finally on this one, are you sure it is the position of your feet on the pedals, rather than your position on the bike, that is causing you grief? Might be an idea to keep an open mind until after your fitting.

    2. Clipping in and out for stop signs etc. really does become second nature after a while. Those who aren't used to clips and straps find it takes just as long to get used to catching the pedal right to re-insert their foot.

    3. Walking in road shoes isn't the best. But if you wanted to stay clipless and avoid this problem you could switch to SPD pedals that take shoes with recessed cleats.

    Having said all that, despite the simplicity of going clipless, their functional advantage over clips and straps is relatively small. The priority is to keep your feet where they need to be, and both systems work for that. I think I'm right in saying that when clipless was first introduced, Sean Kelly - for several years the no.1-ranked pro in the world - declined to use them because he felt they made no difference to him.

    The advantage of clipless isn't really that you pull the pedal upwards, but that you can aggressively "unweight" the pedal, so you aren't pushing against the weight of your own foot, without your foot slipping. But you can get some of that with clips, and as you say, you aren't going racing. Do whatever makes you feel best. You can always keep the Look pedals and go back to them later, if the fancy takes you.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  4. #4
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I got clipless and the jury is still out for me. I only have about 60 miles on them. I going out in a few minutes for a 30plus mile ride. To address knee issues you may need a different system. I got Speedplay x series, which have basically unlimited float. My knees seem to like that. I also tended to get hot spots when I ride on platform pedals, with or without my power grips. I get none on the Speedplays.

    There are two downsides. One is that these are not recessed cleats. So, I had to get cleat covers to be able to walk any distance and even then it is an awkward walk. You don't go for a bike ride and then a walk, which I like to do often at the half way point. Meh. Not happy with that but I am not sure that I want to spend the money for a whole different system.

    The second downside is that I am less inclined to ride this bike around town because of the clipping in and out PITA. That isn't as big of a deal as I end up riding the hybrid.

    I am not sure that I am any faster with the clipless. I don't think so.

  5. #5
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. I rode that bike many thousands of miles before buying the clipless pedals, and most of my bikes have cages. It wasn't the clipping in and out at lights that was a pain - that was no harder than catching the cage is, which is second-nature to me at this point. The annoying part was having no traction on the ground at all, feeling that my foot was going to slip out from under me and cause an undesired intimate relationship with the top tube, if you know what I mean... I realize different pedals and shoes would probably solve this problem.

    But overall, it seems the advantages are minor, so I think I'll get fitted with the original cages on the bike. As was said, I can always try clipless again later.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  6. #6
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I think Speedplay cleats are the worst for walking in but I recently purchased some "keep on kovers" for my cleat and it's been astounding how much better it's been (for me). I need the float though, and my feet hurt if I don't ride in stiff soled shoes so *for me* road shoes and cleats are a no-brainer. As mentioned above, touring or mountain shoes offer some advantages in that area.

    I have been stranded before and ended up walking barefoot, which is no picnic either.

    Do us all a favor and post a detailed recap of your fitting, where you got it done, why you selected them and the results. I'm about 87% ready to take the plunge myself, although I'm comfortable on my bike.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    But overall, it seems the advantages are minor, so I think I'll get fitted with the original cages on the bike. As was said, I can always try clipless again later.
    I would suggest getting fitted with the clipless pedals. Cages don't really need to be fitted, since your foot position tends to vary quite a bit each time you step on the pedal and most people don't tighten the cage straps appropriately anyway. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, do need to be fitted. I'm one of those people who used to have quite a bit of knee pain due to poorly-fitted clipless pedals. Getting fitted with the clipless pedals on the bike doesn't mean you have to use them, but at least you'll have the option to do so if you want. I, personally, couldn't imagine riding a bike without clipless pedals...

  8. #8
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
    I think Speedplay cleats are the worst for walking in but I recently purchased some "keep on kovers" for my cleat and it's been astounding how much better it's been (for me). I need the float though, and my feet hurt if I don't ride in stiff soled shoes so *for me* road shoes and cleats are a no-brainer. As mentioned above, touring or mountain shoes offer some advantages in that area.

    I have been stranded before and ended up walking barefoot, which is no picnic either.

    Do us all a favor and post a detailed recap of your fitting, where you got it done, why you selected them and the results. I'm about 87% ready to take the plunge myself, although I'm comfortable on my bike.
    I'm on the other side of the country, so I don't know if some of the information will be useful.

    FWIW, I'm going to CycleCraft, on RT 46 in Parsippany, NJ. They're not the closest LBS by a long shot, but I happened to go in there a few months ago for something else, and got really good vibes from the people working there. We'll see how accurate my "vibe receiver" is in a couple of days, I guess.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  9. #9
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I would suggest getting fitted with the clipless pedals. Cages don't really need to be fitted, since your foot position tends to vary quite a bit each time you step on the pedal and most people don't tighten the cage straps appropriately anyway. Clipless pedals, on the other hand, do need to be fitted. I'm one of those people who used to have quite a bit of knee pain due to poorly-fitted clipless pedals. Getting fitted with the clipless pedals on the bike doesn't mean you have to use them, but at least you'll have the option to do so if you want. I, personally, couldn't imagine riding a bike without clipless pedals...
    That's a good data point. But doesn't the seat need to be adjusted when you move between clipless and platforms/cages?
    L'asino di Buridano...

  10. #10
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    I won't be going to your shop, that's for sure, but their methodology interests me. There's a shop near me that does a few different levels of that specialized body geometry fitting so I'm still in the data gathering phase.

  11. #11
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I switched to MTB with SPD clipless and I really like them. I have Shimano M087 shoes and Shimano M540 pedals

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...04_-1___202526

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...73_-1___202530

    When I first switched to clipless I used Platform/clipless and after I figured out That I could still pedal when not clipped in I switched to the dual sided pedals I have now. I not one of these guys that think everybody should switch but these shoes aren't too bad to walk in. I had a 2 mile walk of shame in them after I crashed in Florida without problems. In stop and go traffic I don't worry about getting clipped in but often my foot just goes right to that sweet spot. I don't think about my feet when riding and popping up to ride out of the saddle is just so easy now. Before clipless I used to worry about my feet slipping. I most always unclip my left foot and I'd suggest anyone that is considering switching to start standardizing how you stop. Do the same things in the same order. So am I faster because of clipless? I don't know. I'm not very fast anyhow.
    Last edited by jethro56; 04-24-12 at 11:37 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    FWIW, I'm going to CycleCraft, on RT 46 in Parsippany, NJ. They're not the closest LBS by a long shot, but I happened to go in there a few months ago for something else, and got really good vibes from the people working there. We'll see how accurate my "vibe receiver" is in a couple of days, I guess.
    CycleCraft is a good shop but my experience is the level of service can be hit or miss depending on how busy they are. If you know someone there by name you might want to call ahead and let them know you're coming.

    As an aside, I've found Marty's and High Gear to offer consistently great service.

  13. #13
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pug View Post
    CycleCraft is a good shop but my experience is the level of service can be hit or miss depending on how busy they are. If you know someone there by name you might want to call ahead and let them know you're coming.

    As an aside, I've found Marty's and High Gear to offer consistently great service.
    As I understand it, there's only one guy at CycleCraft that does the fittings - Mike, I think his name is - and it's by appointment only. I had to wait a week and half to get on his calendar! I think I have his attention for an hour, busy or not.

    Marty's sounds really familiar. Is that the one in Morristown? I used to work in Whippany, and I think I've been in there.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    hard sole road shoes , with the look/time, etc external cleat, say to me ,

    I have to take these things off, as soon as I finish riding.. bring some additional shoes..

    So I have Touring and Mountain type shoes , that I have not used in a long time,

    because There is no need .. between my place and the tavern ..

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    That's a good data point. But doesn't the seat need to be adjusted when you move between clipless and platforms/cages?
    The seat might need to be moved up or down if the pedals are of significantly different thicknesses. I doubt the height will change enough that you'll have to worry about moving the saddle in the clamps.

  16. #16
    Pug
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    High Modulus Pug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
    Marty's sounds really familiar. Is that the one in Morristown? I used to work in Whippany, and I think I've been in there.
    Yep, they have a location in Morristown and another one in Randolph in Rt. 10

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