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Old 07-13-09, 01:56 PM   #1
lawr
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cycling shoes

Hello, all.

I recently purchased my first road bike, my first racer, a 2009 Trek 2.1. (For the last seven years I've been on a Trek 800 Sport, which was modified for speed a few years ago.) Simultaneously to the acquisition of my racer, I purchased Shimano SPD SL racing pedals and cleats and affixed the cleats to the bottom of a pair of Northwave shoes: Northwave because it was the only thing he had in 39s (European; 6.5 US).

On my Trek 2.1 virgin voyage, I resolved to take the same 30 mile trip that I usually take on a Sunday on my mountain bike. I ended up doing sixty miles instead--not a smart move really, for a lot of reasons, mostly to do with my age and level of fitness, but hey, I was in that place you get into sometimes, where reason goes to hell.

However, what really made the trip unpleasant was that I must have wiped out at least a half a dozen times because I couldn't get my feet out of the pedals, despite having the tension set to its lightest setting. I even practised getting them out occasionally, but even in practice it was touch and go. The further along I got, the more fearful I became about the fact that my feet were not available for sudden, or even some anticipated, stops. When I had time to calculate the stop, I fared better, though even that was not a sure thing. The crucial moment was when a dog came out of nowhere, and in panic, I slammed on my brakes and went over to the right, onto my elbow on a road that would make hamburger out of number 8 steel if you dragged a chunk of it a few feet along this road's surface. (Riding your bike along this road is like putting a quarter in one of those vibrating beds. Your hands go numb after a while.)

Anyway, at the end of the trip, my bike looked fine, but I was a mess, blood everywhere on my legs and arms. I don't think I could take many trips like that.

My question is: Do others experience this when becoming accustomed to this type of pedal? Or is this unusual? Is it the combination of Shimano with Northwave? The cleats are Shimano.

It seems to me that getting out shouldn't be so difficult, but I struggle to get out even when the setting is at the lowest tension. Any ideas why? Any suggestions?
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Old 07-13-09, 03:20 PM   #2
one_beatnik
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It may be that you haven't adjusted the pedal spring tension properly. (Oh wait you mentioned that...) Have you lubed the springs in the pedals? You should be able to twist out them pretty quickly. Is this your first experience with clipless pedals/shoes? If it is, it just takes some getting used to. I remember falling at a bike expo at the beginning of RAGBRAI and a guy in a recumbent trike asked me if the pedal were fairly new to me. Yep. He told me you'll fall 3 times before you learn to clip out quickly. I took a lot of comfort in that because that was my 3rd fall. He was right.

I can't answer the compatability question.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:04 PM   #3
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I came from the mid 80's and look pedals were just coming into being so I was flabergasted when I started riding again and couldn't get shoes with cleats (What kind of pedal do you have? I don't know.. it doesn't matter, does it? Yes it does. Oh well, I have old pedals then...) anywho, I found I had to get new shoes and pedals and they were going to be clipless, so I got some nashbar pedals and shimano shoes. I did ok at first on the ground, got about 200 miles on them. thats fine.. Then I got my rollers down for a day inside. Needless to say I went down about 15 times during that 12 miles on the rollers (you just can't pull out of clipless pedals you HAVE to twist). It took me a week to debruise. After a thousand miles I am better but i still haven't gotten back on those rollers.
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Old 07-13-09, 04:42 PM   #4
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You might want to try toe-clips instead of going 'clipless.' I prefer toe-clips over clip-ins. Tried both, but my toe-clips just feel right to me.
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Old 07-13-09, 08:07 PM   #5
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When I got my first road bike, an older 87 Miyata, it had toe clip pedals and I hated them. So I found someone who had a pair of SPD pedals laying around and he gave me his shoes and cleats to go with. I to had a hard time getting them off, I dont know if it was the age of the pedals or the cleats, but I did not enjoy them. Not only that, but I hate I could not walk in them if my wife went riding with me (she likes to make stops and walk from time to time)

So I changed to crank brothers eggbeaters, which to my knowledge (correct me if I am wrong) uses its own type of cleat that can be bolted onto a 2 bolt SPD shoe.

I love these pedals, even though they are designed for a mountain bike, I clip in easy (and no matter what way the pedal is facing) and I get out just as easy.

I did experiance what you did with the SPD, and from what I was told it just takes practice. I just did not like the way they felt. (walking was number 2)

I have fallen only once, and it was in front of a bunch of people and I did get pointed and laughed at. But I have not let that deter me from riding with these pedals and shoes.

my suggestion is to go to your LBS and see if you can test out some pedal/cleat combos on a trainer to see what works best for you. That was what I did and I am glad I switched.
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Old 07-14-09, 01:59 PM   #6
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I've read through all of your responses, and I just wanted to thank you all for responding. If the rain has stopped by tomorrow morning (GMT), I'll be attempting another run with the shoe/cleat/pedal combo. I've read everyone's response with great interest and found all the responses useful. I was happy to see that I was not the only one put off by a cycle that ends feeling like the aftermath of a ice hockey marathon with the Broad Street Bullies. Canopus's reluctance to get back on the rollers with clipless truly reflects my own current trepidation.

Having said that, I will try again. One_Beatnik's query about whether I had lubed the springs gave me the idea of greasing the rear of the cleat where it snaps into the pedal. I am going to try this and hope that it eases the extraction. And looking over cleats from other models mentioned, such as the Nashbar cleats, made me think about how I might modify the Shimano cleats to exit more quickly. This is why we buy Old Timers, one of the three most important tools known to mechanics worldwide (the other two being a pipe wrench and a five pound hammer).

I am intrigued though by BND 10706's reference to eggbeaters. I looked them up on the Crank Brothers web site. They make three-hole cleats as well, which would fit the shoes I have. They are a bit expensive, but if they keep me from battering myself and my bike, all's well. And if worse comes to worst, I will chuck in the whole lot and go for toe-clips as recommended by Panthers007.

Thanks again to all.
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