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Old 07-20-14, 08:26 PM   #1
Dessert
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How long does it take to get comfortable with clipless pedals?

Ok so I am over 50 and just getting back into cycling and wasn't sure where to post this topic. Everyone here is probably an experienced rider so I am asking for some advice on getting clipped in and out of road pedals. I just purchased a new road bike and LBS put on "Mavic Zxellium Elite" road pedals. I have never ridden with clipless pedals and it seems like my pedals have to be in a certain position to clip out effortlessly. The best position to clip out seems to be with foot going forward and downward to the bottom of the stroke. Any position other than that, and it requires a lot of effort to clip out. I'm naturally worried about that because if I have to clip out quickly I'm afraid I'll not be able to.
So my question is "what advice would you give me to help learn how to clip out quickly if I need to"? Am I doing something wrong? Is it just a matter of "practice makes perfect" and this will come with more experience?
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Old 07-20-14, 09:00 PM   #2
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Some get it right off the bat some take much longer. No way of knowing where you will be. Practice in a doorway or on a trainer or on grass until you are more than sure you have it down. Then practice even more while riding and clip out both when approaching any possible stops. If you fall down take comfort in the fact that many have done so before. Get back on and sooner or later you will get it.
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Old 07-20-14, 09:38 PM   #3
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I totally agree. It varies dramatically with the person. Coordination and confidence are both key.

Some folks get it right away, do fine for many months, then . . . for no known reason, topple over at a stop sign.

I guess getting used to clip-less pedals is (kind of) a metaphor for the way things go in life.

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Old 07-20-14, 09:54 PM   #4
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I don't know that particular brand of pedal, but see if it has an adjustment for the tension and make it as loose as it will go. You have to practice in a doorway first, just to have confidence that they will unclip for you. Then it's just practice. And think about them before you stop. I don't think it matters where in the stroke you clip out, you'll get your own technique. If they continue to frustrate you, hopefully you can discuss it with the folks at the bike store. They should be willing to swap them for another brand. There should be an adjustment for the tension. Also there should be a lot of discussions about them in the forum, with a lot of good ideas on how to get used to them. Try a search across the various forums.

I've never gotten real comfortable with them, but most people seem to get used to them easily enough. I have one bike with regular pedals and the half-toe clips, which I like. I have a road bike with clipless pedals, and it was in the shop for a while so I'm out of practice. I have to think about stopping, and clip out on the right ahead of time. I have knee issues so I may stick with them and get used to them again. I may also swap the right pedal with the half-toe clip. It'll look odd, but who cares. The main reason to use them is to keep your knee tracking correctly, in my opinion. And you can pull up on the up-stroke. But if I wasn't concerned about my knee I wouldn't use them. I'm probably in the minority here. :-)
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Old 07-20-14, 09:56 PM   #5
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I started with them at age 59 on my road bike, and rapidly got used to them - maybe 2-3 days. However, I had worn loose toe clips on a mountain bike for a few months prior. I alternate between a bike with pedals only, one with loose toe clips, and one with clipless with no problem at all. I can unclip at any point in the rotation, but it is easiest at 6 o'clock - I use Shimano mtn type SPD's. YMMV

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Old 07-20-14, 09:57 PM   #6
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There should be some way to adjust the tension on the pedals, adjusting them to the loosest position may work best for you. Assuming you hadn't tried that, that is.

I use Shimano SPD road pedals, and I can pretty well unclip at any point in the pedal stroke, on both sides if needed. Handy in emergencies! (I've not used other styles to compare, tho)
My stoker on the tandem has SPD mountain pedals, adjusted to loosest tension, but has to rotate them to a certain position to unclip. Of course, she doesn't seem to have any problem on her single bike with them.
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Old 07-20-14, 10:38 PM   #7
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As to un-clipping, are you rotating heal out?

You should be able to rotate the heal and un-clip with the pedal in any position.

Agree with others on setting tension to a minimum. I'm using Shimano SPD SL and after 3 years still have the tension on the lowest setting. Have no problem staying clipped in and can always clip out when needed.
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Old 07-20-14, 11:07 PM   #8
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It won't take you long, but make sure they are adjusted properly, then practice. It will become second nature soon. Having said that , I have returned to platform pedals, I had tried mtb pedals ( eggbeaters and frogs ), they didn't suit me.
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Old 07-21-14, 03:57 AM   #9
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Took me about 15 minutes clipping in an out while doing slow laps in an empty school parking lot. When you get the basic hang of it, practice unclipping in some simulated emergency stops - build up some speed then brake hard. If it's hard to unclip, either the pedals or your technique need to be adjusted.

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Old 07-21-14, 05:45 AM   #10
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It only took me falling over twice to get the hang of unclipping. Naturally, both time were in front of people
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Old 07-21-14, 06:17 AM   #11
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Is it just a matter of "practice makes perfect" and this will come with more experience?
This.

My advice is to get your bike between a door frame at your home, lean against one or the other of the jambs, clip in and practise clipping out again 40, 50 or 100 times in the position that feels most natural. Then go outside and ride your bike in an empty car park and practise the routine of unclipping, braking, stopping and putting your foot on the ground.

That routine is what you want to get instilled into your legs and feet so when you have to do it without sufficient warning, you will do it automatically.
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Old 07-21-14, 07:18 AM   #12
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I got toe clips when I was 14 and instantly knew I would never go back to riding without them. Then they invented clip less, and I switched to them. My habit of twisting to get out is now strong. When I'm occasionally on a bike with toe clips or foot retention, I still twist my foot out!

I like the tension at the minimum setting so I don't have to struggle at a stop. As a consequence, I learned accidentally that this is good for me. I've had a couple of panics when I did the wrong thing, pulling my foot straight up off the pedal. It worked. I didn't get hurt. I haven't had my foot come off when it should have stayed on, so this setting is safe for me.

One exception is on my track racing bike. It has SPD-SL pedals. I can't afford to have my feet come out accidentally on that bike, so I keep it at a tight setting. Different application, though.
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Old 07-21-14, 08:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dessert View Post
Ok so I am over 50 and just getting back into cycling and wasn't sure where to post this topic. Everyone here is probably an experienced rider so I am asking for some advice on getting clipped in and out of road pedals. I just purchased a new road bike and LBS put on "Mavic Zxellium Elite" road pedals. I have never ridden with clipless pedals and it seems like my pedals have to be in a certain position to clip out effortlessly. The best position to clip out seems to be with foot going forward and downward to the bottom of the stroke. Any position other than that, and it requires a lot of effort to clip out. I'm naturally worried about that because if I have to clip out quickly I'm afraid I'll not be able to.
So my question is "what advice would you give me to help learn how to clip out quickly if I need to"? Am I doing something wrong? Is it just a matter of "practice makes perfect" and this will come with more experience?
I switch back and forth between clipless and fixie straps, different bikes, so my brain never gets to go on automatic. I use VP clipless pedals and my shoe will aggressively pop out with a little heel twist in either direction. I really like that ejection feeling; my Shimano & Wellgo pedals took a ton of effort to get them to release, and they never felt springy on the release. So... I say it depends on the pedal/cleat system. If you are stuck with the Mavics I'd adjust them to allow an easier exit.
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Old 07-21-14, 09:04 AM   #14
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Both my wife and I went clipless in our late 50s and it took no time at all. We use SPDs with one side flats and the other clips. The flats are good for creeping along on busy city streets and for short trips with street shoes.
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Old 07-21-14, 09:37 AM   #15
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Good suggestions. One more: don't wait until the last second to unclip.
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Old 07-21-14, 09:59 AM   #16
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As to un-clipping, are you rotating heal out?

You should be able to rotate the heal and un-clip with the pedal in any position.

Agree with others on setting tension to a minimum. I'm using Shimano SPD SL and after 3 years still have the tension on the lowest setting. Have no problem staying clipped in and can always clip out when needed.
My experience also. SPD-SL on minimum tension. Just a quick outward heal twist unsnaps me. Only diff is that I use zero float cleats. Tried the yellow float cleats that came with the pedals, and hated them from the second pedal stroke. (I came from the rat-trap cages/straps, so am used to zero float.)
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Old 07-21-14, 10:28 AM   #17
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I haven't had the nerve to try snap-in/clipless, since I have been very happily using traditional toeclips and straps since 1968. If I were to convert one bike, I would have to convert all five, because I do not trust myself to remember to change the detachment motion from bike to bike.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:29 AM   #18
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Good suggestions. One more: don't wait until the last second to unclip.
In fact, my own piece of advice is to unclip whenever extreme slowing or stopping is a possibility.

I've gone down about five times since 2006 when I got them; about three were in the learning phase when stopping, during about six months; and the later falls usually on slow, tight, 180 degree turnarounds.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:30 AM   #19
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My experience also. SPD-SL on minimum tension. Just a quick outward heal twist unsnaps me. Only diff is that I use zero float cleats. Tried the yellow float cleats that came with the pedals, and hated them from the second pedal stroke. (I came from the rat-trap cages/straps, so am used to zero float.)
FYI: Shimano has some "light action" SPD-SL pedals that allow even smaller release tensions. I tried them and prefer the normal tension, but others might like em.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:33 AM   #20
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Nothing like a 0 MPH fall to make your day. Had another one yesterday , at least they don't hurt much, except for your ego.
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Old 07-21-14, 11:53 AM   #21
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Ok so I am over 50 and just getting back into cycling and wasn't sure where to post this topic. Everyone here is probably an experienced rider so I am asking for some advice on getting clipped in and out of road pedals. I just purchased a new road bike and LBS put on "Mavic Zxellium Elite" road pedals. I have never ridden with clipless pedals and it seems like my pedals have to be in a certain position to clip out effortlessly. The best position to clip out seems to be with foot going forward and downward to the bottom of the stroke. Any position other than that, and it requires a lot of effort to clip out. I'm naturally worried about that because if I have to clip out quickly I'm afraid I'll not be able to.
So my question is "what advice would you give me to help learn how to clip out quickly if I need to"? Am I doing something wrong? Is it just a matter of "practice makes perfect" and this will come with more experience?

Unless you plan to start racing what the blazes do you need clipless for??
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 07-21-14, 11:57 AM   #22
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On a trike about one minute.
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Old 07-21-14, 11:58 AM   #23
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Unless you plan to start racing what the blazes do you need clipless for??
In my case, clipless pedals are better for my feet and keep the pressure of toe clips off my toe.
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Old 07-21-14, 12:01 PM   #24
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In my case, clipless pedals are better for my feet and keep the pressure of toe clips off my toe.
So you are taking up racing??
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 07-21-14, 12:19 PM   #25
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So you are taking up racing??
Look, anyone who has been on this website for more than a month knows your stance on this. Why do you insist on offering the same inane "racer boy" comments in every thread that someone starts on pedals?

Your Johnny One Note song is getting old. I'll raise you one rollie eye.
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