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  1. #1
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Going Clipless - HELP teach an old dog

    OK, I've taken the plunge and bought some shoes and clipless pedals.

    I really like how they feel, way better than toe clips, even if the toe clips are tight. I went for a short ride after I finished with the yard work, and these things really seem to help me stay "connected," as well as make it easier to practice my spinning.

    Now I need advice on where to set everything, especially the placement of the cleats on the shoes. I know absolutely nothing about these things, and sure want to learn.

    Do I set them as far to the front as I can, and become a toe dancer? Or aim for my arch for maximum power? Or, do I try to set them near the balls of my feet? It may sound like a stupid question, and I have more.

    Do I try to set them so my feet are straight, flared out, pigeon toed, or what?

    I find that they are easier to get clipped and unclipped if they are forward and straight, but I am not sure if I am getting the most benefit with them there.

    I would like to know what is considered ideal, for most, not necessarily the most comfortable, as I'd like to try to start out right.

    I also assume that I should start out as loose on the clamping as I can get away with, especially until I become more acclimated to them. I sure have to think about what I'm doing when I want to stop.

    I'm very surprised at the amount of adjustment that is possible. Way more than I envisioned.

    I appreciate any and all opinions, and relish the opportunity to learn about these things.

  2. #2
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    I set mine so they were on the back side of the balls of my feet. I felt like they were too "pivoty" when I put them directly on the balls of my feet like I thought I'd need.

    The angle will depend on your own feet. Mine naturally point pretty much straight forward and I don't have any knee issues so my foot doesn't pivot around within the float to any big degree. Because I didn't require much float angle I set them so I don't need to turn my heel out very far to snap out of them as well. If you need the float for comfort then you'll need to alter it to your own needs. However I still say it's nice to set them so you have the float you need but ONLY just as much as you need at least for the heal to the outside angle. No point in having to pivot more than you need to snap out of them.

    You'll know if you need to alter from straight forward just by trying them. It doesn't hurt to flex your foot around at various stages of pedalling. If you find an angle where it feels like you're foot is running out of float then adjust the sole plate angle a little. Turn your foot both ways to feel for the limits.

    Definetly start loose but not silly loose. If you find your foot popping out then go in a "click" on the tension adjusters and ride on. If it clicks out again go one more click. If it clicks out occasionally then I'd say you're likely pretty optimum for casual riding vs having them so tight that it's harder to get out of them in a bit of a panic. If you're not racing then the odd popout is a fair compromise for being a little easier to snap out of on purpose. Something you do FAR more than the occasional popout while climbing a hill or a big push. But if your riding normally involves that sort of activity then by all means tighten them another notch. There's no one perfect setting I found. I struck a balance between the occasional pop out and ease of snapping out. I like it that way.

    For road riding I would not use anything else. I positively love them. I've got a mix of Wellgo and Shimano SPD pedals and they've worked excellently for well over a decade at this point.

    For off road riding I'd never use them. Even on a bet. For that it's BMX style platforms all the way baby. The one exception would be a casual corner store errand bike where you don't want to bother changing shoes and it's only 5 minutes away anyhow.

    Practice snapping out and in even when you don't need to it really helps with ingraining it into your brain.

    And another hint. When coming to a stop snap out on one side and get ready to put that foot down. Just before the bike rolls to a stop like in the last foot but while it's still moving point the wheel stronly away from your loose foot. Doing so will ensure you lean the bike strongly towards the loose foot and avoid those embarrasing clipped in prat falls and all the girls from the private school pointing and giggling at your "prowess"....
    Last edited by BCRider; 07-09-08 at 07:13 PM.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  3. #3
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    Somewhat dependent on clipless system and cleat. Looks have a wider contact area and a bit more spring tension side to side, then SPD's. Speedplay's feel like you're on ice, but you get used to them as they have a lot of lateral float.

    I now use SPD's on all my bikes, thus my replies are particular to that model:,

    "Do I set them as far to the front as I can, and become a toe dancer? Or aim for my arch for maximum power? Or, do I try to set them near the balls of my feet? It may sound like a stupid question, and I have more."

    I typically have the cleat position set under the ball of the foot and then cleat slightly forward to promote heel down, which in turn promotes less pressure on the quads if pushing over the top of the pedal.

    "Do I try to set them so my feet are straight, flared out, pigeon toed, or what?"

    Pedal/cleat dependent. SPD's have a smaller contact patch, and I use the SM56 multi-release cleat which has more float then the single release 51. I have them set up slightly heel in (point of cleat oriented more towards inside of shoe), to allow for a quicker release point when turning the heel out.

    "I find that they are easier to get clipped and unclipped if they are forward and straight, but I am not sure if I am getting the most benefit with them there."

    See above.

    "I would like to know what is considered ideal, for most, not necessarily the most comfortable, as I'd like to try to start out right."

    Ideal is what works after using them a while.

    As example, I have my Lake sandels setup with the cleat positioned as far to the outside of the shoe as possible. This positions the shoe closer to the crank which I find helps support the foot on shoes that have a softer sole. Likewise, I have a pair of Sidi's whose cleat is positioned to provide clearance when wearing booties.

    "I also assume that I should start out as loose on the clamping as I can get away with, especially until I become more acclimated to them. I sure have to think about what I'm doing when I want to stop. "

    Bike around a park with grass shoulders, where you can practice clipping and releasing. Practice with your left foot as well. Get used to them then tighten when you get more comfortable.

    Note also that cleats wear and over time the amount of pressure to release changes due to wear.

    Hope this helps

    Steve B.

  4. #4
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot, to both of you. That really helps me get started. Looks like I'll have a little more adjusting to do for tomorrow's ride.

    I am using a combo SPD pedal (Shimano, PD-M324 MTB Pedal) so I can still ride with tennies if I choose to.

    I put about 15 miles on them this evening, at two different adjustments. So far, I like the feel of them when they are very slightly behind the centerline of the balls of my feet, just where they are a little more difficult to snap in. I'll now try to angle my heels in slightly to make them easier to unclip - good idea! I'll try to find the limits of the float tomorrow.

    I love these things already, and can't wait until I get them adjusted right, and also become more proficient with them.

    If anyone has any more ideas, let me have them...

  5. #5
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    All the advise you've received sounds good. Just keep the tension set low. You can increase it as you become more confident.

  6. #6
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I spent a lot of time this morning clipping and unclipping during my 27 mile loop. I only fell over in the grass twice, and sdjusted them four times. I think I'm getting better, and closer on the adjustment. It sure doesn't take long to find out what doesn't feel good. I still need to get them looser for awhile.

    Thanks, you guys have been a big help.... and I appreciate it, and I need it!

  7. #7
    Forever CLYDE ! cyberpep's Avatar
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    Hi Wanderer,
    I have the same pedals on my touring bike. I have the cleat back at the ball of my foot and the tension at the minium.I wear a mountain biking shoe with them and finally I cut one of treads off the bottom of the shoe beside the cleat because it was sometimes interfering with me clipping in.
    These are great pedals for touring since often you are not wearing your cycling shoes so you just flip them over and they are flat like a normal pedal. Sometimes I won't clip in if I am in a urban area with heavy traffic with my bike loaded in case I have to put a foot down in a hurry.
    Happy riding!
    2003 Giant Cypress R
    2007 Cannondale T2000

  8. #8
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I put in 21 miles today - too hot and humid to do more - especially with a rear flat, about 5 miles into the trip..... But, the good news is that I loosened the clips on the pedals, and moved the thingamajigs on my shoes back, and angled my heels in slightly. I spent a lot of time going slower, or at least slowing down, and practicing clipping and unclipping. Clipping in is getting pretty easy, but I still have to pay attention when unclipping. Also, I never fell down today, even with an unplanned stop.

    Clipping in is almost automatic, even if I'm not paying attention. I have to make sure I flip the pedals over if I want to stay unclipped.

    Color me happy.

    Now, if my new bike would just get ready for delivery......


    And, why do they call them clipless, when you spend so much time clipping and unclipping??????

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Little point when you tighten those cleats up- Use the long allen key and put put force behind it. Then tighten them again.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  10. #10
    Senior Member skiph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post


    Now, if my new bike would just get ready for delivery......

    Wanderer:

    Good thing you are getting the clipless learning curve out of the way before the !!NEW!! bike gets there....much better to be falling over with the old one than the new one.

  11. #11
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Exactly the reason I put the new pedals on the old bike! I figured I'd be gravity enhanced for awhile.

    All kidding aside - thanks to everyone for the help and advice on getting these things set up - it was a really big help, and definitely saved me a lot of time. You guys are great!

    Plus the LBS left a message on my machine at about 10PM last nite. They musta stayed late working on stuff, and now my new bike is ready! Now, if it would just stop raining so I can go ride it home.....

  12. #12
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    This is how I do it without any assistance:

    Mark the topside of your shoe where the middle of the ball of your foot is so you can see it when you're on the bike. It's the big joint behind your big toe. You will want to start out with the cleat positioned so that this mark ends up just above the centre or slightly behind the centre of the pedal spindle (the cleat should also be right in the middle of the space for it on the bottom of the shoe, not more to either side).

    Once you have that done, go and sit on the side of a table or something that lets your legs dangle. See how your feet hand naturally (toed in or out). You will want to try and reproduce this angle on your pedals by adjusting the cleat position very slightly (turning it whicheve way is appropriate.

    That should get you pretty close for a starting point. Ride the bike at least some miles and see how it feels. You can make some fine tuning adjustments if necessary. You may or may not also want to move your feet closer or farther from the crankarm if your pedal allows this.

  13. #13
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    This thread got me thinking about the cautions I read when I went clipless last fall. I did pretty much the same thing as OP - Shimano M324s and ran them on my old bike first, then the new one. Everybody got me so paranoid about falling that I was totally focused on unclipping my right foot as I approached red lights and stop signs. As a result I have never fallen, although I have come very close when I get absent minded. Like Wanderer, I like having the platform on one side but I am curious about other pedals. The vast majority of riders are on little things that couldn't be ridden without bike shoes. Are there significant advantages to other types - other than weight?
    Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson

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