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Old 11-18-05, 05:45 PM   #1
Hwy 40 Blue
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Should I give clipless another try?

Here's my sad little tale. Two years ago I decided to "get serious" and go clipless. Back then I rode a Trek hybrid. I put some cheapie clipless pedals on ($30 Performance Bike generic) and bought some cheapie shoes (SPD type) that didn't fit perfectly, but then I'm hard to fit. Dang it, I just kept falling over, like the dirty old man on Laugh-In on his trike. Except I'm a girl. Man, it hurt to fall over. I'd practice clipping in and out, adjust the tension till it wasn't too tight. I'd ride for a few weeks and have another crash. This side, that side.

A year went by. I realized I was afraid to get on my bike. I wasn't having fun anymore. I put the old pedals with toeclips back on, laced up my sneakers and away I went.

Now I have a new road bike. Chickening out, I ordered it with platform pedals and put Power Grips on. Those are straps that hold your foot much like toe clips. I wear sneakers. I'm happy, but I keep wondering if I should give clipless another go. I've heard Frogs are good. I had a bad experience before, and I don't want to waste my money. I'm not a slow cruiser on the bike paths; I like to do big rides on the roads. I'm training for a century next year. Should I quit sweating this and go my own dorky way, or try, try again?
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Old 11-18-05, 05:57 PM   #2
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Well I was gonna suggest you loosen the tension but then you said you did that. Did you get mountain bike shoes? Mine are just like sneakers (recessed SPD cleats), I had too many near misses walking into convenient stores. The first and only time I went on a group ride, my friend said we are stopping now, I did and fell over. Haven't fallen in years... but I talk myself thru the stop with one word clues even now.

Couple weeks ago I was at the LBS and my mechanic said take it for a spin in the parking lot and see if it's ok. I did ... no shorts, no shoes and all I can say is weird. Kept thinking I was gonna fall off.

I would suggest dual entry pedals, just means one less thing to think about.

Practice practice practice
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Old 11-18-05, 07:49 PM   #3
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Let me be blunt - If you fell over with cheap clips and shoes, you'll STILL fall over with expensive clips and shoes! Do the clipless shoes and pedals attach you to the bike any better than the toe clips and straps or power grips you've been using? NO! Why waste your money and have to "practice practice practice" for NO GAIN, and more likelihood of falling and injuring yourself?

Clipless shoes and pedals are the biggest marketing scam in the bike world, IMHO. Those who use them will swear by them, but I've yet to see any advantage at all.

If you're happy with what you now use, DON'T CHANGE!!! There are many disadvantages to clipless, but not a single advantage that you don't already have. Think about it!
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Old 11-18-05, 08:09 PM   #4
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FarHorizon above is a knowing, experienced rider of sound opinions, but in this area of subjective judgement, I have a different thought.

Clipless, for most regular (meaning frequent) riders, are the norm for a reason. You are physically, mentally more connected to the bike. Spinning somehow seems more natural with clipless. Quick, natural entry seems easier than doing the "flip the clip" toe stab with platforms&clips....and I did that for years. Exiting becomes natural, unthinking after a not so long time. No pressure from a strap. Finally, a simple twist of the foot becomes no harder to remember at stops than bending down and pushing the strap buckle to get out of traditional pedals.

Nashbar/Performance often have previous years' clipless models on sale for under a $100. Very nice Look PP396 currently at Nash for $85 and other Looks for less. Hang in there for a bit Blue with clipless........those road miles will spin by a little easier with them.

P.S. Speaking of "Laugh In", I did the same old phart on trike thing when I threw my chain on a hill this summer.....sudden loss of locomotion and no time to reach down for that Clip n Straps buckle. A most unseemly fall for a dignified 50++'er!
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Old 11-18-05, 08:10 PM   #5
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I had similar misgivings - 30 years of riding with toe clips and straps. I switched to Shimano 324's, platform on one side, SPD clipless on the other. I fell over once - in front of the LBS when I was trying them out, rode up to the door, said "these are great, OOPS" No problems since. I like being able to ride on the platform side (a) if I'm just going down the block to the store and don't want to swap shoes and (b) on campus in a walking crowd (I'm a college prof) and don't want to worry about getting a foot free and down if I'm blocked on the path. Also, if you're getting sore - you have effectively infinite float on the platform side.

Good reviews on MTBR.COM, nice cleat - a bit better, so says the LBS, than what is used on the 520's.

Downside - heavier by 200gr than double sided SPD's like the 520 or 540.

They always hang at rest with the cleat pointed back and down, very easy just to push my shoe against the pedal when starting up and clipping in, or stepping on the top of pedal and pulling the platform side under my shoe if I don't clip in.

I like them, no problems with my 57 yr old engine parts :-) .

Just something to think about.
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Old 11-18-05, 08:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarHorizon
Let me be blunt - If you fell over with cheap clips and shoes, you'll STILL fall over with expensive clips and shoes! Do the clipless shoes and pedals attach you to the bike any better than the toe clips and straps or power grips you've been using? NO! Why waste your money and have to "practice practice practice" for NO GAIN, and more likelihood of falling and injuring yourself?

Clipless shoes and pedals are the biggest marketing scam in the bike world, IMHO. Those who use them will swear by them, but I've yet to see any advantage at all.

If you're happy with what you now use, DON'T CHANGE!!! There are many disadvantages to clipless, but not a single advantage that you don't already have. Think about it!
Properly using toe clips AND straps means you have to reach down and loosen the strap to pull your foot out.
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Old 11-18-05, 08:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
Properly using toe clips AND straps means you have to reach down and loosen the strap to pull your foot out.
True, but how many of us actually tighten the straps? I found (back in the '70's when I still bothered to attach myself to the pedals) that I was able to both push and pull without having the straps tightened at all! That left my feet free to immediately disengage at will without having to lean down & loosen the straps.

The entire issue is academic with power grips. One gets attachment to the pedal, easy foot removal without having to loosen or even clip out, and no special shoes needed!

I don't ridicule those who use clipless pedals and shoes - I just think they're misguided. For myself - platforms only, please. The situations where being attached to the bike are important enough to justify the bother (serious climbing and muddy riding) are not things that I do at all. As for spinning - you'd be amazed at the cadence I can achieve with a properly fit bike and platform pedals.

The only situation where I attach myself to the pedals at all is with my fixed-gear bike. Even there, I use "mini clips" with no straps. Just the spring clips holding my toes in place on the pedals allow me to backpedal at will to reduce speed, and allow immediate foot removal for emergencies.

Although the overwhelming majority of BikeForums posters disagree with me about being clipped to the pedals, I believe my arguments are logical, sound, and road-proven. Unless my own experience guides me otherwise, I'll continue to advocate platform pedals for safety reasons and continue to oppose clipless pedals and shoes. I respect y'all's opinions - I just don't agree with you.
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Old 11-18-05, 09:17 PM   #8
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Both my wife and I would hate to ride with clips again. We love clipless (SPDs). Practice on a stationary trainer to get comfortable then go outside and hammer!!!
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Old 11-18-05, 09:57 PM   #9
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HWY 40 BLUE, I recently bought a pair of speedplay frogs. I've got a couple of hundred miles on them with the longest being a metric century. I (knock on wood) have yet to fall. I have found them easy to clip into and out of. Additionally, I feel that they have helped my hill climbing, however marginally. I cannot prove that empirically (tip of the hat to FarHorizon) but as there are plenty of hills here in sw wi (typically no more than 1/2 mile long but with grades of 6 to 14%) I'm willing to take all the help I can get no matter how subjective. On the other hand, as FarHorizon said, if your happy with what you have and it works for you...
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Old 11-18-05, 10:13 PM   #10
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Your story sounds all to familar. I had 747's for about a year and then I started getting stuck in them, fell over once and almost again later. Finally I gave up on them and went back to platform pedals. A couple of years later I tried some pedals my husband had, Coombe, easy to get out of but hard to get into because they are so small and road pedals besides, again I gave up. Back to platforms. Being a bit on the stubborn side I again tried about a year later, this time with Candy SL pedals. They have a small platform and I use mountain bike Sidi shoes with them. I love them, have ridden them for about two years now.
If clipless pedals are going to take the fun out of riding, don't do it, it's not worth it. Who says you have to go clipless anyway. If you can accomplish what you want with platform pedals, stick with it. Don't feel like your a dork, do what you want. The whole point of riding is to have fun, not worry about what other people say. Just tell someone who DOESN'T ride a bike how many miles you have ridden and watch them think you are the greatest person on earth "How can you ride THAT many miles--I could never do it!" You will hear that time and time again. That makes you puff up and puts a smile on your face!
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Old 11-19-05, 05:28 AM   #11
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If you are getting on well with power grips, Why bother about clipless pedals? I have to admit that I am a firm believer in clipless, but also have to state that if you cannot get on with them- don't use them.
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Old 11-19-05, 06:09 AM   #12
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I am a firm believer in clipless systems. It takes some proactice but your on your bike anyway so the practice is not additional time spent.
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Old 11-19-05, 06:37 AM   #13
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Why not practice twisting your foot as you come to a stop with your powergrips? Then, it will become really natural and you won't have to worry about it if you get it wrong. After a while, say, after 50 stops or so, you still don't like it, just forget about it, firm in the knowledge that you gave it a fair shot.

Don't just give up though, man. Despite all the crazy comments on here saying there is "no difference or advantage" there is a huge performance gain and here's why:

The clipless system allows you to pull up on the pedal much more effectively than clips and straps do. This means that you can spead the power transfer between the quad muscles, the calf muscles and the hammies whenever you feel that one of those needs a rest, simply by altering your technique very slightly. It makes you that bit more efficient, something you will notice on the centuries you plan to do.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-19-05, 08:37 AM   #14
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My expeirence-I've rode with clipless pedals for about 5 years with no serious problems what so ever, not that big of a deal to get used to but it seems like it has become so in some peoples minds. Having said that I thought the SPD road pedals were a step up from my old Look style cleats, wrong, hard to get into and hard to get out of so I went back to Look style road shoes which work much better. However my double sided SPD mountain bike pedals and shoes work very well and have kept them so might be a good way to go for you.
Far-I don't doubt you can spin with regular pedals but for us that like to ride fast more power can be generated with cleated shoes and pedals and that is on the flats and hills. A smooth pedaling motion is one of the most important things you can do to improve your performance on a bicycle.

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Old 11-19-05, 08:48 AM   #15
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I am curious about your usage of clipless in your previous "Laugh In" episodes (that was funny).

Did you choose just one side to mount and dismount your clipless when stopping? Or did you alternate?

Did you unclip one foot in advance whenever any possible danger, leaving the other foot clipped in?

I am asking because there was a recent thread here about a person who thought they should unclip both feet when coming to a stop, leading inevitably to disaster.

My left foot is the one that is clipped in when I start and stop, and I clip the right foot in after I get a couple of revolution of my cranks with the foot unclipped. I never actually start with both feet clipped in. When I stop or feel danger (kids, sand, changing traffic light, whatever), I unclip my right foot ASAP. HAven't fallen in 6 years.

Anyway, as to the question, I love my clipless, but if it is taking the joy out of riding, ride how it is comfortable. My wife does ALL of her riding on platforms - she wouldn't think of trying or using clipless. In her case, with her osteoarthritis and previous injuries from an auto accident, a fall (particularly the kind you get while using clipless) could be near disastrous.

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Old 11-19-05, 08:57 AM   #16
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Sh 55 and 540's

When I bought my first pair of Spd's I used th multirelease cleat Sh 55. It is not the best cleat to jump with but you stay locked in for ordinary riding, and if you panic nearly every serious effort to release your foot works. Get a good shoe and I would suggest that you start with Mtb shoes and the 540 pedal. The Look system is much better for road cycling but it is much more difficult both to clip in and to dismount (slippery cleat) and walk around with. I feel much safer clipped in because I have better control over my bike.
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Old 11-19-05, 10:07 AM   #17
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The only reason I've thought of trying again is the more efficient transfer of power, which would be a factor on long rides. But, clipless systems are relatively new in the history of bicycling, and people rode across the country and over hill and dale just fine before they came along. Well, yeah, but we got along fine with typewriters too. (I'm arguing with myself here.)

I am happy with the platforms and Power Grips, my sneakers fit, and I'm not afraid to ride my bike. I could maybe become a stronger cyclist with clipless. This debate in my head rages on. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. That's why these forums are great. I'm thinking....

DnvrFox, I'd usually unclip one side in anticipation and then the Evil Gravity Force would drop me off the other side.
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Old 11-19-05, 12:00 PM   #18
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I'm loving this thread, because it's answering questions I didn't even realize I had. That said, here's another:

I know this guy who's got a MTB with platform pedals who's starting to get an itch for a road bike. (Hard to imagine, I know.) How does one give a road bike with clips or with clipless pedals a road test if one isn't accustomed to such a rig? Does the LBS set up the bike with platforms just for the test drive? If you let me know, I can let him know.

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Old 11-19-05, 12:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Hwy 40 Blue
DnvrFox, I'd usually unclip one side in anticipation and then the Evil Gravity Force would drop me off the other side.
Sorry, I forgot to mention the "keeping your weight shifted to the unclipped foot" bit!

Just sort of came naturally to me, and then I realize it doesn't to everyone.
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Old 11-19-05, 12:55 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Digital Gee
I'm loving this thread, because it's answering questions I didn't even realize I had. That said, here's another:

I know this guy who's got a MTB with platform pedals who's starting to get an itch for a road bike. (Hard to imagine, I know.) How does one give a road bike with clips or with clipless pedals a road test if one isn't accustomed to such a rig? Does the LBS set up the bike with platforms just for the test drive? If you let me know, I can let him know.

Yes, if the LBS is any good.

Pedals are easy to remove and change out.
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Old 11-19-05, 12:58 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
I'm loving this thread, because it's answering questions I didn't even realize I had. That said, here's another:

I know this guy who's got a MTB with platform pedals who's starting to get an itch for a road bike. (Hard to imagine, I know.) How does one give a road bike with clips or with clipless pedals a road test if one isn't accustomed to such a rig? Does the LBS set up the bike with platforms just for the test drive? If you let me know, I can let him know.

If the bike has clipless pedals on, then you would have to be wearing a shoe with the correct type of cleat on for that type of pedal. Not so difficult on Mountain bikes as most ofus use Shimano or Shimano compatable pedals that use the same cleat. However, from what I understand, Road clipless pedals come in a wide variety that are not compatable with each other.
The best thing the shop could do is to change the pedals to the prospective customers preference, so that he can give the bike a proper trial. After all, its a 2 minute job for the shop to change the pedals for a prospective sale on that Latest top of the range Tour de France lookalike so that YOU can try the bike in comfort. Then if you decide to buy the bike, get them to leave the platforms on, but also supply the clipless as a start to the bargaining point, for when funds allow for a pair of SPD shoes. Incidentally, Unless you are into road riding on a serious basis, Get a pair of the mountain bike type shoes, that are walkable in, just in case you want to walk round some of the fantastic scenery you have on your rides.
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Old 11-19-05, 01:22 PM   #22
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Gary,
Take your regular pedals off your bike and and carry them down to the bike shop along with your regular riding shoes. When test riding that new bike, eliminate as many variables as possible so you can focus on the "feel" of the new bike itself.

As with aerobars, STI, a new pair of skis, etc.....amazing how spending time and growing familiar with something makes it seem more natural, easier, less self-conscious......its the same with clipless pedals. Most people just grow into them, sometimes sooner, sometimes later-- then won't give them up. Except for a few hardheads like me with friction dt's or FarHorizon with platforms.

Stepfam is right on with SPD's for day touring and schmoozing. That's why, over time, people get more than one bike.....for different styles of riding: be it harder training rides, heads-up on and off the bike day cruising on different road surfaces for lovely autumn days like this (CA dude here), or going to the store. Among other differences, that second or third bike may have its own style of pedal.

Viva la difference!
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Old 11-19-05, 03:05 PM   #23
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I was hesitant about clipless, but so far itís been great. They were adjusted for me loose to begin with using mountain style sneaker-looking shoes. They might have gotten a bit looser over time. So far, no falls, but a near miss here or there when stopping with my mind wandering. Even then, the foot pops out real quickly.
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Old 11-19-05, 05:32 PM   #24
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Many Shimano SPD Pedals come with temporary plastic platforms for this very reason. And, as stated earlier, a good bike shop will put some "test ride" pedals on.
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Old 11-19-05, 07:42 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwy 40 Blue
Chickening out, I ordered it with platform pedals and put Power Grips on. Those are straps that hold your foot much like toe clips. I wear sneakers. I'm happy, but I keep wondering if I should give clipless another go.
I use Power Grips on my Lightning Thunderbolt Recumbent and love em.
It is a SWB and the peddles are a bit above my butt as I ride down the
road. I have had em for a couple of years now and am proficient enough
that I can stay strapped into one at a stoplight and pickup the other one
on the fly right off the line.

I didn't like the idea of CLIPLESS peddles or whatever you call em cause
I prefer to wear tennis shoes when I ride. That and levis or shorts. And I didn't like the tappa tappa tappa sound that those special shoes leave on the pavement. I am not into wearing lyrca as I am afraid I would look effeminete or like a goofus in that stuff.

Power Grips are a nice way to go and I do pick up a little extra speed with em.

Ned Goudy
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