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Old 10-07-13, 04:08 PM   #1
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Want to transition to clipless!

Okay, so where do I start? Yes, I have read many of the past few threads on this subject. But I am still well confused. I commute to work mostly and I am able to keep a pair of shoes there. I wear a size 8-ish shoe normally. What about cold weather?? Are there insulated shoes available?

I welcome any and all replies.
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Old 10-07-13, 04:34 PM   #2
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Okay, so where do I start? Yes, I have read many of the past few threads on this subject. But I am still well confused. I commute to work mostly and I am able to keep a pair of shoes there. I wear a size 8-ish shoe normally. What about cold weather?? Are there insulated shoes available?

I welcome any and all replies.
Yes, there are insulated shoes (I just bought these). I also keep a pair of shoes at the office. I recommend SPD (or similar) mountain bike cleats as it is much easier to walk with them (as opposed to the SPD-SL big road bicycle cleats).

You can read about my experience going clipless here. For anything but the shortest of trips, I would ride without them anymore.
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Old 10-07-13, 04:51 PM   #3
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Besides insulated shoes, booties work well.

I have a neoprene pair and they keep my feet nice and toasty in the cold weather.
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Old 10-07-13, 05:56 PM   #4
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You'll also note that some spd shoes are very stiff and are better for riding than walking. Others are made to be comfortable walking which means less stiff. Take that into account. A good pair of shoes with insulated booties will be much less expensive than spd winter shoes and if you had winter shoes you'd need something to change into at work.
My best advice is to be careful to stop "consciously" each time; that will help keep you from falling over .
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Old 10-07-13, 06:14 PM   #5
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Like mentioned above, there are booties that go over the shoes but not sure how cold it can get before they would be ineffective. My winter commuting requires very thick wool socks and insulated hiking boots so I take my spds off in the winter. I also agree that the mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats are better and easier to walk in. Other than that, try it out, they do help to make you peddle more efficiently and be careful to unclip ahead of time when anticipating a stop. You have to think more at first until you get used to them.
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Old 10-07-13, 06:15 PM   #6
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What's your budget? You can spend $150 for a basic SPD + MTB/touring shoe combo
or carbon fiber soled shoes and titanium pedals for a few hundred.

What temperature range will you be riding? You can wear sandals that take cleats for
100 degree summers or clipless boots for freezing temps.

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Old 10-07-13, 06:29 PM   #7
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I tried several different styles of cleats/pedals before picking one. I found that I could buy a set of used pedals and cleats for about $20. If I didn't like them, I could sell them for $20 and buy another set.
I ended up trying several TIME, Shimano SPD and Crank Brothers pedals.
I ultimately went with Crank Brothers Candies. They were the easiest in and out, clicked less on the pavement, and felt most comfortable when clipped in. I have them on all 3 of my bikes.
Neoprene booties are a life saver in cold weather. No need to buy winter shoes.
As far as shoes go, you have basically two choices:
You can get the more comfortable, casual shoes, which flex more, and are easier to walk in.
Or you can get stiffer soled shoes, which are super stiff and feel AMAZING on the bike, but are harder to walk in.
I found that the shoelace and velcro variety shoes only last about 1-2 years max before the velcro dies.
One of my current favorites are a pair of Shimano M162 shoes with the ratchet strap system. I hope to get several good years out of them. They are very stiff, and the sole is curved enough to make walking shorter distances bearable.
My other favorite pair is an old set of Specialized Sonoma shoes with the 3 velcro straps. They are super comfortable to walk in and are my casual cycling shoes.
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Old 10-07-13, 06:35 PM   #8
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I tried spd and crank brothers and ended up with SPD SL pedals and shoes. Purely for riding I found this to be the best option. Stiff shoes are a good thing and I also find the pedals to be easier to get in and out of then the other options I tried. I don't care about walking. I keep other shoes at work and change when I get there and it takes all of 15 seconds of my time. I tried other shoes with SPD/Crank Brothers that were more walkable to supposedly be able to wear them all day but there is always a compromise. Those shoes are never going to be as comfortable for walking as a non cycling shoe and they are not as good performing on the bike because they are not as stiff as a road cycling shoe in my opinion.
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Old 10-07-13, 06:43 PM   #9
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I have SPD sandals, MTB shoes, MTB winter shoes, shoe covers and finally, regular winter boots. Use dual platform SPD pedals in the winter and regular SPD pedals the rest of the year. Also, various wool and cotton socks.
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Old 10-07-13, 06:43 PM   #10
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Start with cleat/shoe/pedal style. Most of us who commute with clipless use a MTB cleat/shoe/pedal system. MTB shoes use a recessed cleat which lets you walk more or less normally off the bike. Road shoes have a protruding cleat that make you duckwalk. I use Shimano's SPD system. Others swear by Crank Bros.

If you choose SPD, you'll have a choice of pedals: Double-sided, single-sided, and a mixed one sometimes referred to as "campus" style, which is clipless on one side, platform on the other. Common wisdom says to start with campus pedals, but I found them incredibly frustrating. No matter which shoes I was wearing, the pedals always flopped wrong side up. Just start with double-sided and be done with it. Later on I switched to a more road/touring oriented single-sided SPD pedal.

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What about cold weather?? Are there insulated shoes available?
How cold is cold? I see Kville and think Knoxville, TN. You Confederate boys have a different idea of cold than we Yankees do.

For most folks just looking to extend their season a bit, booties will do just fine. They'll get you to freezing, maybe a little below. I use Endura's Road Overshoe. They're more durable than others I've tried, they're actually pretty water-resistant, which is nice in the rain, and they keep me warm down to freezing.

Below freezing you really ought to look at winter cycling boots. Three-season shoes are designed to keep your feet cool, so you're working against the shoe design to try to keep your feet warm. Plus the cleat backing plate is uninsulated metal. It'll suck the heat right out of your foot.

Winter cycling boots start at about $150 and go to about $350. So you're making a commitment. I use Lake MXZ302s ($280), which have been updated and replaced with the Lake MXZ303s. The 303s address my only complaints about the 302s. While I have six years on my 302s, I've probably got another 10 left in them. so I won't be trying the 303s any time soon.

They're insulated--even the sole and cleat plate are insulated--and completely waterproof. They're the warmest boots I own. I've ridden--comfortably--down to -4°F (-20°C) with only two pairs of regular white athletic socks. No thick wool socks, not heat packets or anything. They're an amazing shoe.
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Old 10-07-13, 08:30 PM   #11
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People react to cold differently and of course "cold" is a relative term. It also makes a big difference how far you're riding. What works great for 30 minutes at 5 degrees may not after an hour at the same temp.

That being said, Performance used to sell these awesome booties that kept my feet warm on my 45 minute winter commute down to the double-digits below zero. Of course they were somewhat oversized so I could fit a larger pair of shoes with room for thicker socks. Now they've switched to a much less durable design. And frankly that is the problem with 90% of the booties out there. They don't do well with everyday use.

Again it depends on what kind of cold you're talking about but in my opinion you're probably better off going with platforms during the winter and allowing yourself the much wider and less expensive selection of non-clipless boots.
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Old 10-07-13, 10:24 PM   #12
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It took me a long time before I decided to go clipless but once I did I often wonder why it took me so long to make the transisition. I ride on shimano PD-A530's, which have a platform on one side and clipless on the other. At first the choice of these pedals was because they gave me the option of not clipping in, which was comfortable for me, but now I never ride without being clipped in, unless in areas with a lot of stop and go.
I wear Chrome Industries Midways, which aren't super stiff, so they are comfortable to walk in, and really look like a casual shoe. My only complaint with them is that they are heavy. I also wear a pair of Shimano MTB shoes with the Endura MT500 overshoes when it's cold and wet out.
When I first started learning to ride clipless, I hooked the bike up to an indoor trainer and pedaled and practiced clipping in, clipping out, etc until I was comfortable. Like others have said clip out well in advance of your stop and all will be good. I've fallen over a couple of times, once while anticipating a light to change that did not change, and another when I first started riding clipped in and kind of zoned out and forgot I was clipped in. But once you get used to it, and get used to the mechanicals of clipping out it will become second nature.
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Old 10-07-13, 11:14 PM   #13
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Cold~ish ? above or below 0 C?
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Old 10-07-13, 11:17 PM   #14
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Winter shoes available:

45nrth Wolvhammer
Exustar E-SM450
Gaerne Akira (Road) waterproof
Gaerne Artix (MTB) - Same upper as Akira but with MTB sole.
Gaerne Polar (Road and MTB) - not waterproof
Lake MXZ3
Louis Garneau 0
Northwave Avalanche Pro
Northwave Celsius J GTX
Northwave Fahrenheit (road)
Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX
Shimano MW02
Shimano SH-MW80
Sidi Diablo GTX
Specialized Defroster

If anyone has any updates to this list, let me know.
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Old 10-07-13, 11:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by BaggerRyder View Post
It took me a long time before I decided to go clipless but once I did I often wonder why it took me so long to make the transisition. I ride on shimano PD-A530's, which have a platform on one side and clipless on the other. At first the choice of these pedals was because they gave me the option of not clipping in, which was comfortable for me, but now I never ride without being clipped in, unless in areas with a lot of stop and go.
Exactly the same story as me, and same pedals too Been contemplating even getting pedals that don't have the platform side to avoid the odd minor inconvenience of having to flip the pedals over from platform to clipless side after stopping at a light.


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When I first started learning to ride clipless, I hooked the bike up to an indoor trainer and pedaled and practiced clipping in, clipping out, etc until I was comfortable. Like others have said clip out well in advance of your stop and all will be good. I've fallen over a couple of times, once while anticipating a light to change that did not change, and another when I first started riding clipped in and kind of zoned out and forgot I was clipped in. But once you get used to it, and get used to the mechanicals of clipping out it will become second nature.
Everybody warned me that I would fall over while learning to ride clipless; it actually hasn't really been an issue. For the first few weeks, I'd be clipping out on one side well in advance of roundabouts, stop signs and traffic lights, just in case I would have to stop and jump off. There have been a couple unexpected stops I've had to make where I've had to unclip last second and have always gotten out with the exception of one time (where I was unclipped on the wrong side and just leaned the wrong way and couldn't correct it before I fell over). You can adjust the tension on the clipless spring on your pedals; while I'm pretty strong, I've got it set pretty light. Have never come unclipped by accident, and I can get out without thinking now.
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Old 10-08-13, 06:49 AM   #16
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Besides insulated shoes, booties work well.

I have a neoprene pair and they keep my feet nice and toasty in the cold weather.
I have an inexpensive pair (~$14) that seem to be made of the same material as the soft shell Columbia jackets, not waterproof, but do provide wind resistance and on today's ride (2C, 36F), my toes were toasty and when colder temps come around, I'll switch to wool socks and should be fine to -10C (14F).

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Old 10-08-13, 08:46 AM   #17
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For all-season, all-weather riding, I recommend a fully caged SPD pedal (e.g. Shimano M424 or Cook Bros Mallet) because you get extra grip on a sure foot plant every time you need it, whether you're powering off from a stoplight or are the pedals are slippery from snow and rain. For the same reasons, I'd suggest at the very least a platformed pedal, e.g. Shimano XT M785 or Cook Bros Candy, as opposed to an ultra small surface pedal like the Cook Bros Eggbeater.

I'm with everyone else on the walkable SPD shoe + bootie, primarily because I like being able to stuff a handwarmer packet between shoe and overboot when it's really cold. Granted, I don't have a high-dollar pair of winter specific shoes to compare to, but I also find that cleaning booties after a messy commute is easier than cleaning a dirty, wet pair of shoes, so that may be worth considering, too.
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Old 10-08-13, 09:06 AM   #18
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My 2 cents:

If you get the "campus" style pedals mentioned above, you can just use whatever old boots you have around the house once it gets cold. I think if you are seriously hardcore gungho winter commuter then a pair of bike specific insulates shoes/boots is probably a good investment. On the other hand, if you wear them once and get cold and they say "I don't like riding when it's cold" then you are out some money.

I like the SPD and the platform/cleated "campus" pedals for commuting. My commute isn't long but it is a little hilly so I enjoy the little performance boost that clipless pedals give you. On the other hand, sometimes I want to wear my sandals without having cycle specific ones, or just run down the street to the grocery store and don't want to bother with the special shoes, so the platform side is nice. I haven't had any trouble with getting the proper side of the pedal, if you get the wrong side you just turn the cranks over one more time (when I am clipping in, the correct side always seems to stay up anyway, but this is with the Shimano 324 so others may be different). I've thought about switching to double sided to save some weight but right now I'm not sure it's that big of a deal.
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Old 10-08-13, 09:51 AM   #19
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To me the only downside to a campus style pedal (especially the A530) for winter use is that the platform is not very grippy. For winter I use a simple, large plastic pedal with pegs.

There's no law that says you have to use the same pedal all year.
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Old 10-08-13, 01:44 PM   #20
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Thanks for the great replies so far. I am in Pennsylvania. The past 3 years I have commuted 11 months out of the year, usually taking 5 weeks off in February into March. I have ridden in all weather in temps down to single digits.

I will check out the SPD stuff. I am sure the online retailers are running sales on this stuff by now.
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Old 10-08-13, 02:10 PM   #21
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Besides insulated shoes, booties work well.

I have a neoprene pair and they keep my feet nice and toasty in the cold weather.
I've got a pair, too. I find they help, but:

My "regular" (non-winter) shoes are effectively open in the bottom where the cleats attach. This means that cold air comes in (which is particularly bad in my case because I ride a recumbent).

The openness also means that if you step in a puddle, your foot's going to get soaked.

Not all shoes are open like that and the booties will work much better on those that are not.
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Old 10-10-13, 11:23 AM   #22
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If you choose SPD, you'll have a choice of pedals: Double-sided, single-sided, and a mixed one sometimes referred to as "campus" style, which is clipless on one side, platform on the other. Common wisdom says to start with campus pedals, but I found them incredibly frustrating. No matter which shoes I was wearing, the pedals always flopped wrong side up. Just start with double-sided and be done with it. Later on I switched to a more road/touring oriented single-sided SPD pedal.
I hear this a lot and find it very confusing. I guess maybe I've been lucky but my pedals are balanced to almost always present spd side up. The times I wear regular shoes I have to do the flipping, but that's less often and hasn't been that annoying.
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Old 10-10-13, 11:39 AM   #23
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I hear this a lot and find it very confusing. I guess maybe I've been lucky but my pedals are balanced to almost always present spd side up. The times I wear regular shoes I have to do the flipping, but that's less often and hasn't been that annoying.
same here. i learned to ride clipless with campus style combo pedals and i've never had any issues with them. in fact i love combo pedals so much i still use them on two of my bikes so that i can ride them with any kind of footwear. i love that flexibilty, and i've never found them to be annoying or frustrating. part of it may be that i took to clipless pedals very quickly, and i learned how to trackstand at traffic lights, so i rarely need to clip out and clip back in. once i'm clipped in, i'm good to go!

different (pedal) strokes for different folks.

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Old 10-10-13, 11:46 AM   #24
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same here. i learned to ride clipless with campus style combo pedals and i've never had any issues with them. in fact i love combo pedals so much i still use them on two of my bikes so that i can ride them with any kind of footwear. i love that flexibilty, and i've never found them to be annoying or frustrating. part of it may be that i took to clipless pedals very quickly, and i learned how to trackstand at traffic lights, so i rarely need to clip out and clip back in. once i'm clipped in, i'm good to go!

different (pedal) strokes for different folks.
In my case, I installed "campus-style" pedals because I hadn't ridden with clipless pedals and it let me put off "the big day." Since riding with them, I never ride any distance without clipping in, but I keep them (and even installed them on my second bike) because they are no problem, they let ride my bike around the driveway when I'm tuning it up, and in case somebody else wants to try one of my bikes.
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Old 10-10-13, 12:15 PM   #25
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I hear this a lot and find it very confusing. I guess maybe I've been lucky but my pedals are balanced to almost always present spd side up. The times I wear regular shoes I have to do the flipping, but that's less often and hasn't been that annoying.
Might be related to the design of the particular pedals. I noticed that the bearings were pretty stiff on the A530s when I first got them so they tended to remain in the orientation you left them in. They've long since loosened up and they now hang almost vertical (tipped slightly forward) with spd side toward the back. Knowing this it's pretty easy to clip in.
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