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  1. #1
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    Clipless or not?

    Hello all,

    My name is Joe. I've looked at your site for a while but now decided to register.
    I have a question to get opinions.
    My kid's have convinced my wife and I to start riding.
    This is our second summer in which we average about 40 miles per week.
    Currently I have platform petals and have been considering going to clipless like my son.
    What do you think? Is it worth chancing falls etc.
    Current health not too bad considering I have CLL. Weight 165 Height 5'-10"
    Lemond Tourmalet in Louisville

  2. #2
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miatatbone
    Hello all,

    My name is Joe. I've looked at your site for a while but now decided to register.
    I have a question to get opinions.
    My kid's have convinced my wife and I to start riding.
    This is our second summer in which we average about 40 miles per week.
    Currently I have platform petals and have been considering going to clipless like my son.
    What do you think? Is it worth chancing falls etc.
    Current health not too bad considering I have CLL. Weight 165 Height 5'-10"
    If you are only doing 40 miles per week, I really wouldn't bother with the fuss, trouble and expense. There is not that much to be gained.

    If you find yourself doing 100-150 mpw or more, then you might think about it.

  3. #3
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    What Dnvr said. However, I went clipless a couple of years ago when I started doing more miles and never regretted it. I have fallen a few times at stops (either forgetfulness or sudden stops where I couldn't unclip) - only thing hurt was my pride. Twisting your foot to release soon becomes second nature. Yes, you can adjust the release.

    The instant increase in efficiency (hence ease and less fatigue) was like getting a new bike. I was amazed. No going back for me.

    My first clipless pedals (still on my hybrid Trek 7200) are Shimano style clipless on one side, platform on the other. So for an after dinner "bike walk" around the neighborhood I can wear street shoes. If I'm going for a longer ride, I wear my cleated bike shoes. On my road bike...strictly clipless.

    As for why they're called "clipless" when your feet "clip" to them...well, that's a mystery. Probably because they supplanted the old fashioned toe clips (the metal or plastic thingie with the strap you may have seen).

    If you make the leap, have the bike shop adjust the shoe cleats so that you are pedaling with the balls of your feet over the pedal axle. Prevents foot discomfort ("hotfoot") from having your feet locked into a sub-optimal pedaling position.
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  4. #4
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    Go clipless.
    You will notice a difference on the first hill.
    I talked my wife and a friend into getting them, thier reaction was the same, "Holy S*** why did I wait so long?"
    I have only fallen once with my clipless pedals, and it was my fault, not the pedals. I fell more with toeclips and straps.
    You can get the single sided type, and see which side you use more.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    If you are only doing 40 miles per week, I really wouldn't bother with the fuss, trouble and expense. There is not that much to be gained. If you find yourself doing 100-150 mpw or more, then you might think about it.
    In general, I'd agree with Denver, but with one minor caveat - If you go up & down hills a significant amount, I'd recommend considering clipless. The efficiency advantage there is significant.

    On the other hand, if you ride only on the flats, like I do, you may not want to bother with clipless even if you're riding 150 miles per week.

    My opinion is consistently in the minority on this issue, so take my advice as being fully worth what you've paid for it!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    In general, I'd agree with Denver, but with one minor caveat - If you go up & down hills a significant amount, I'd recommend considering clipless. The efficiency advantage there is significant.

    On the other hand, if you ride only on the flats, like I do, you may not want to bother with clipless even if you're riding 150 miles per week.

    My opinion is consistently in the minority on this issue, so take my advice as being fully worth what you've paid for it!
    75% riding up & down hills
    Lemond Tourmalet in Louisville

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Definitely go clipless. Then, providing you get the same pedals as your son- You can borrow his bike, which is probably better than yours , and learn to fall off on his bike.

    Clipless do work and make your pedalling more efficient but almost as good are the old fashioned Toe clips and straps. May not be as efficient but a darn sight cheaper.
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  8. #8
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Do it. Go clipless. Doing so will add to the motivation and comfort of riding farther.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  9. #9
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Whichever way will make you want to ride your bike more is the best way to go. I have a bike with Look cleats, one with eggbeaters and one with toe clips. I love riding every one of them. Sometimes I change to platform pedals with no attachments and I love riding that way too.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    If you are only doing 40 miles per week, I really wouldn't bother with the fuss, trouble and expense.
    Gee, I was thinking just the opposite. I think that 40 miles per week is too much to mess around with your feet sliding on the pedals NOT to change to clipless. I've never met anybody who, once they got acclimated to clipless pedals, wanted to go back.

  11. #11
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
    Gee, I was thinking just the opposite. I think that 40 miles per week is too much to mess around with your feet sliding on the pedals NOT to change to clipless. I've never met anybody who, once they got acclimated to clipless pedals, wanted to go back.
    OK - I guess the OP will make his/her decision. But, heck, 40 miles is just a couple of short 20 mile rides. I do them regularly with my bike that has just old-fashioned (cheap) toe clips. I don't even get on my bike with clipless unless I am planning on going on a long ride.

    I just like being able to jump on the bike without any fuss or bother or changing shoes or clothes.

  12. #12
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    Heeeelllllllooooooooo Jooooooe!

    Clipless or not, enjoy the ride and welcome to da Ward.

    P.S.
    I agree with some of the stuff above in the previous posts.
    Carpe who?

  13. #13
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    If you're still developing riding skills, balance, climbing skills, etc., I vote for waiting. Get toe clips and straps for your platforms (that's not very expensive even if you toss them after a few months), keep them loose, and get used to that amount of restraint. Once you're comfortable riding and climbing with them, then switch to clipless.

    OTOH, if you've already acclimated to riding and are frustrated because you're not getting maximum energy transfer to the bike, switch now.

    Either way, plan on switching, you'll be happier in the long run. Just be aware that you will fall at least once, everyone does.

  14. #14
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    It sounds like you are in pretty good shape, judging by your height and weight. There are a couple of ways to go, if you want to try having your feet attached to the pedals. As has been mentioned, you can first try clips and straps. They will be more economical because you don't need special shoes. Another alternative (and one I sometimes use) is Power Grips. They are a wide canvas strap that attaches crossways on your pedal and you enter them by angling your foot in, pushing into the strap, then turning your foot in to tighten things up. I like them because it's easier to ride tightened in than it is with clips and straps. You may discover that this is all you need.

    If you decide to go to clipless, you will need the pedals and special shoes. I highly recommend going with an SPD system (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) because the cleat will be recessed into the shoe and you can walk normally. I also like SPD pedals because you can adjust the tension. When you get yours, make sure they are backed down to the minimum setting so they will be easier to get out of. Also be sure the cleat is placed properly on your shoe. I like to start with the cleat right over the ball of my foot and adjusted to the angle my foot normally takes. I'm slightly duckfooted so I angle them out a bit.

    I would recommend buying your pedals and shoes at a local LBS if possible. They will find the right shoe, set up your cleats, and give you some tips on clipping in and out. Take your bike along so they can put the cleats on and give you some supervised practice. After that, try some rides where it's either grassy or has some fairly soft dirt as odds are you will have a fall before you become accustomed to them. We live on a farm and I was riding with mine in a pasture while I was learning and fell right into a green cowpie. That was a memorable fall!

    Regardless of which way you go, here's hoping you have many happy rides this year. And if you're in a pasture, watch out for the green cowpies!

  15. #15
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    I'll be the contrarian. I went clipless on my mountain bike and enjoyed them, but when comparing pedaling efficiency between the mtn bike and my touring bike (700c) I really didn't notice any real difference. I read a study that Shimano did and they concluded that there was no real benefit between clipped vs. clipless.

    That said, go out and read the Rivendel website where they adhere to the clipped old style pdeal philosopy I find that being able to move my feet around on the pedal helps increase comfort and does not distract from a healthy cadence
    F Thomas

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  16. #16
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    Thanks guys for all the opinions. It helps to get feedback from someone about your age instead of a fit 20 year old at the LBS.

    I think I will go to my local bike store and see what they have. I need to do something with the shoes. My son and daughter-in-law (and sometimes my wife) say I've got to do something. Biking shorts, nice jersey. and beat up old white tennis shoes don't quiet go together in the looks department. (Not that I'm vain or something) I need to stay more active somehow and maybe if I make changes it will help.
    Lemond Tourmalet in Louisville

  17. #17
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Wow. By all means get better shoes! A stiff sole will make a difference with out without being clipped in.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright
    Favorite rides in the stable: Indy Fab CJ Ti - Colnago MXL - S-Works Roubaix - Habanero Team Issue - Jamis Eclipse carbon/831

  18. #18
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    I have only fallen once while riding clipless. After 60 miles of a century I pulled into a rest stop and as I was coming to a stop I discovered the cleat on my left shoe had actually loosened and no amount of twisting would release my foot from the pedal. I have never mastered being able to stop placing my right foot on the ground. I might as well just go ahead and fall over

  19. #19
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    My mileage is not high. I went clipless on my road bikes and my MUP bike and won't go back. I like the secure feeling that I can stand up and apply power without being concerned about slipping.
    On the other hand, I went clipless on my mountain bike and have already dropped that idea. I want to be able to move my feet quickly and I'm not at that point yet with clipless.
    One piece of advice I received from a couple of experienced cyclists when I started with clipless. I was advised to turn the tightness adjustment to loose. That was good advice and has helped me to become comfortable with clipless very fast.
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  20. #20
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    I think smokeystrodtman gave the best advice - you'll need to get shoes that fit well. Remember there are touring/off-road shoes where the cleat is recessed so you can walk easier off the bike, but they may compromise some comfort and efficiency down the road. Just get shoes that work for your feet and your riding, and get the cleats/pedals that match (ie, Make sure they are compatible before you buy the pedals).

    One nice thing about toe clips and straps is you can use any shoes except big bulky ones. But in order to get the same efficiency as clipless you must tighten the straps (meaning you need to reach down and loosen by hand to get out - I'd say the clipless are definitely safer in that respect!). You also really need the old racing shoes with cleat to get the full benefits from toe clips. I rode with clips for years before realizing all they did was keep my foot from slipping off - because I didn't adjust the strap there was no assistance in spinning. I still potato mashed from 12:00 to 6:00 with each foot alternating downstrokes.

    Finally, with all the doo-dads and yee-gaws modern bikes have, Eddy Merckx himself has said the clipless peds are the greatest advancement made, fwtw.

    I'd say if you are confident in your bike handling and coordination, try them. Keep the old peds in case you hate the clipless, or for rides where you want/need other shoes on (bad weather, easy pace, etc.) Swapping back and forth is not that hard - just grease the threads and don't over-torque.

    I fell a few times last year when I first switched but now I am pretty comfy - I am just getting up the nerve to use them in traffic (commuting). The trick for me besides basic use and experience was remembering to unclip as I approached an intersection. My falls resulted from waiting to unclip till the last second when I wasn't familiar enough with the movement. Your peds need to break in a bit too, they'll be stiffer at first. Practice in a parking lot or yard if need be.

    Also, there is a brief learning curve to pedaling efficiently but your spin - and your fitness will improve markedly. I can mash (down/down) for half a mile, and then spin for the next half and I not only see a dramatic increase in MPH , it also feels much better and works your whole leg out more fully, as opposed to just the quads.

    good luck!
    Last edited by pgoat; 08-08-06 at 01:13 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
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  21. #21
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    We'll, I decided to go with the clipless. 80 miles so far and no falls.
    The LBS recommended the Shimano SPD type (recessed cleat so you can walk). I also got he Pearl Izumi shoes which are very stiff due to the I-beam type construction. I'll see how these work for a while.
    The 20 mile ride I took on the flats seemed much easier. I've got to learn the hills better. I still want to push push.
    Lemond Tourmalet in Louisville

  22. #22
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miatatbone
    We'll, I decided to go with the clipless. 80 miles so far and no falls.
    The LBS recommended the Shimano SPD type (recessed cleat so you can walk). I also got he Pearl Izumi shoes which are very stiff due to the I-beam type construction. I'll see how these work for a while.
    The 20 mile ride I took on the flats seemed much easier. I've got to learn the hills better. I still want to push push.
    I use SPDs too. I've adjusted them to the loose position (have to adjust both sides of each pedal). I like them because they can be used on both my road and mountain bikes.
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  23. #23
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    miatatbone it will take a little time but as you learn to pull on upstrokes and get a circular spin going you will see and feel the improvements when climbing. Be patient and have fun - and congrats on your purchase & excellent job so far!! I bloodied the same poor knee twice in my first two rides!!
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  24. #24
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    Well, I spoke too soon. Took my first spill. Couldn't get out of the clips fast enough.
    I was riding and saw a owner walking her dog. (not on a leash). I slowed. She said it was ok he won't do anything. Well he ran toward me and tried to grab my shoe. Needless to say it caught me off guard. No time to get the feet free from the pedal and fell into a ditch. Only minor road rash on me and the bike. The lady was apologetic, but why can't people obey the law and keep their dogs under control. I sure would hate to have this happen when moving fast.
    Lemond Tourmalet in Louisville

  25. #25
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by miatatbone
    ...I was riding and saw a owner walking her dog. (not on a leash)...
    Well, at least the critter didn't get into your spokes!

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