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  1. #1
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    Pedal quandry - how to get back into clipless riding?

    Hey BF, I love these forums but feel like I hardly ever get to contribute. And now I'm asking for advice again...

    I went to clipless pedals on my road bike in January, after maybe 6 months of riding with cages and regular shoes. I already had been using clipless pedals on my MTB for several months and was loving it. Everything felt good, my road bike was fine and I was upping my distances, and I got made the mistake of buying pedals without really knowing what I was getting into.
    I bought some Time RXS pedals from Bonktown and proceeded to ride with them, using some old shoes my Dad had given me. After a few rides I was getting medial knee pain, and went to a bike shop a few days later. I had bought some other things from them before and they had no problems adjusting my cleat position and saddle height. I also went to the Doctor and he basically recommended the fitting. Anyway, this eliminated the pain for a month or so, but then it returned. I went back for another adjustment and all was well for another couple of months until the pain again with a vengence. I went cold turkey from then until now on that bike, and didn't ride any bikes at all for a couple of months.
    Saw the Doctor again and he said it could be muscle imbalances and gave me some exercises to do, and also told me my knee caps are located slightly inward which could be causing the pain and that there are other muscle strengthening exercises to do that could help correct this. Plus he said to get back into other exercises like running or even walking (running I do now after having put it to one side when I got hooked on riding) which could strengthen surrounding muscles.
    Anyway, since then (about 5 months ago now) I've been riding my commuter bike everyday with regular flat shoes and pedals, and my MTB with the eggbeaters like before. It's time I got back into road biking again but don't know what to do, I'm hesitant about going right back to clipless and which pedals I should use and whether it could have been the older shoes too. I am thinking I will go to the bike shop and see what they say, whether they can do a more intense fitting and recommend some pedals. But I don't know if I should ride long distances with regular shoes and pedals first to get my body used to it, and to get my fitness back up. Or whether I should just try the same pedals but make a fresh start on cleat location, saddle location and everything else, or maybe if I should replace the shoes or what I should do and where I should start.

    It just bummed me out for so long and I don't want to hurt myself again

  2. #2
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    speedplay lite actions have tons of float and are kind(er) to knees. worth looking into. the cleats use four bolts but come with an adaptor plate to mate to a 3 holed shoe.
    SP-LI-BL-ANGLE.jpg
    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
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    They do sound pretty good, just don't want to spend $115 without knowing if I should. Do bike shops generally recommend them or is it more a 'you've tried everything else, you could try these' sort of thing?
    Actually that sounds dumb, $115 is worth it if I can ride without knee troubles, but it's more a do I need to just now or is there something else I should try first kind of thing.
    Last edited by Jimbo1983; 12-02-11 at 11:56 PM. Reason: clarification and a typo

  4. #4
    Family, Health, Cycling Lanceoldstrong's Avatar
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    Bike shops generally recommend what they stock and can sell. On the other hand 5 years ago when my research had me conclude that Speedplay would be best for my knees I had a bike shop guy try to talk me into another brand that his shop also carried. He carried both brands but I think at the time he thought Speedplay was odd, or unproven.

    Since that time they have become way more common. Many pros choose them. They swept 1, 2 and 3 in the Tour de France this year. In the 5 years I have had them I have been very happy with my Speedplays. 5000 - 6000 miles a year and no knee problems.
    In Escendo Est Verum

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    I've been reading their reviews online and they do sound pretty sweet, guess I'll have to see if the shop has them or what they say about them. Are they very hard to set up regarding cleat alignment or no more than any other pedals?

  6. #6
    Family, Health, Cycling Lanceoldstrong's Avatar
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    They come with lots of shims and spacers so they can be set up in a variety of ways to tailor the fit to individual needs.
    If you go the Speedplay route make sure you buy them from a shop with a fitter who has experience dialing them in for riders.
    In Escendo Est Verum

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Use the same thing that works on your mtb on your road bike. Many riders prefer to use so-called mtb pedals and cleats on their road bikes. There is really no reason not too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Use the same thing that works on your mtb on your road bike. Many riders prefer to use so-called mtb pedals and cleats on their road bikes. There is really no reason not too.
    I don't know if there's a way to use eggbeater cleats on the road shoes I have, as the contact area is part of the sole itself on the MTB shoes. It's a good point and I did think about some candies as they have a bit of a platform. I'm going to check out the shop on Monday and see what they say! Updates to come Thanks for the all advice!

  9. #9
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo1983 View Post
    I bought some Time RXS pedals from Bonktown and proceeded to ride with them, using some old shoes my Dad had given me.
    [snip]
    Saw the Doctor again and he said it could be muscle imbalances and gave me some exercises to do, and also told me my knee caps are located slightly inward which could be causing the pain and that there are other muscle strengthening exercises to do that could help correct this. Plus he said to get back into other exercises like running or even walking (running I do now after having put it to one side when I got hooked on riding) which could strengthen surrounding muscles.
    [snip #2 ]
    But I don't know if I should ride long distances with regular shoes and pedals first to get my body used to it, and to get my fitness back up. Or whether I should just try the same pedals but make a fresh start on cleat location, saddle location and everything else, or maybe if I should replace the shoes or what I should do and where I should start.
    I don't think it really matters what pedal-cleat system you use at this point.

    For equipment, the only thing I would say would be to get some shoes of your own. But, maybe your dad's shoes already fit great anyway.

    A good fitting would certainly help. If you were in the DC area, I've gotten recommendations for a sports physiology clinic that supposedly does a better job than any of the shops. I haven't gone to them yet, though.

    I'm more inclined to say that you should keep following your doctor's advice and get some cross-training exercising. Cycling is awfully repetitive (sometimes I want to say that cycling is to other sports as typing is to painting) and the cranks force your legs to keep moving no matter how unbalanced your efforts are.

    What other physical activities do you do? I asked that question with a thread some time back and more often than not, people said that they weren't doing all that much.

  10. #10
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo1983 View Post
    I don't know if there's a way to use eggbeater cleats on the road shoes I have, as the contact area is part of the sole itself on the MTB shoes. It's a good point and I did think about some candies as they have a bit of a platform. I'm going to check out the shop on Monday and see what they say! Updates to come Thanks for the all advice!
    http://crankbrothers.com/accessories_3hole_cleat.php

    Used these for quite a while when I had Eggbeaters, then Quattros, on my road bike.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    I agree that there are some MTB shoes that are pretty stiff and can work for road use. I used Crank brothers candys and Egg beaters for about a year. Now I use Speed play Zeros and adjust them for maximum float. If you adjust the cleat with a bit of toe in that will make it even easier on the knees.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    What other physical activities do you do? I asked that question with a thread some time back and more often than not, people said that they weren't doing all that much.
    I run 2-3 times per week, but for a while I wasn't doing anything other than cycling (and surfing but that's way different) which as he said could contribute to certain muscle groups over-powering others. I'd like to run even more often but I find that it can be hard to motivate at times, plus the trails here are pretty boring.
    So it could be a combination of the imbalance in the muscles and the fact that cycling is super-repetitive, leading to small physical differences causing pain over long periods of riding. Which is why I'm trying to ease back into it the best way possible, instead of jumping all in without much idea the last time I did it I still ride my commuter bike 5 to 10 miles a day but it's more stop/start riding in traffic without long-term spinning.

    The reason I asked about shoes was in case the old insoles mightn't be supporting my feet enough, but it never seems to matter what I wear when I ride on flats. They fit pretty comfortably, maybe a little narrow but I find that with any shoes I buy.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    http://crankbrothers.com/accessories_3hole_cleat.php

    Used these for quite a while when I had Eggbeaters, then Quattros, on my road bike.
    Those actually look pretty sweet, and may be worth me looking into...

  14. #14
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo1983 View Post
    Anyway, since then (about 5 months ago now) I've been riding my commuter bike everyday with regular flat shoes and pedals, and my MTB with the eggbeaters like before. It's time I got back into road biking again but don't know what to do, I'm hesitant about going right back to clipless and which pedals I should use and whether it could have been the older shoes too. I am thinking I will go to the bike shop and see what they say, whether they can do a more intense fitting and recommend some pedals. But I don't know if I should ride long distances with regular shoes and pedals first to get my body used to it, and to get my fitness back up. Or whether I should just try the same pedals but make a fresh start on cleat location, saddle location and everything else, or maybe if I should replace the shoes or what I should do and where I should start.

    It just bummed me out for so long and I don't want to hurt myself again
    Pardon me but the obvious question here is.......
    Why go back to clipless when you already know that ordinary shoes and platform pedals are best for you?

    After all you did heal with them.......no?
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    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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    Because the idea that I can't do something annoys me, especially if it was just bad timing and a bad combination on my part.
    And using clipless just felt so much better, I vastly prefer the feeling of riding that way. Ultimately if I have to use flats forever then so be it, but I don't want to give up on it right away if it was only error or poor choice.

    But it is a good question and a good point.

  16. #16
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo1983 View Post
    Because the idea that I can't do something annoys me, especially if it was just bad timing and a bad combination on my part.
    And using clipless just felt so much better, I vastly prefer the feeling of riding that way. Ultimately if I have to use flats forever then so be it, but I don't want to give up on it right away if it was only error or poor choice.

    But it is a good question and a good point.
    I've found that as I age there are times and things I like to do, and used to do, that just are not to be anymore for me so I adapt and move on fighting for what I can do and not what I wish I could do. Life is much sweeter that way.............

    Could be these "Power Grips" pedals will enable you to enjoy some of the benefits of clipless but still be a safe platform pedal you need.

    The whole pedal & strap assembly.....
    http://www.amazon.com/Power-Grips-Hi.../dp/B001HBURMM

    The straps to add to your platforms.....
    http://www.rei.com/product/609173/po...grips-original
    Last edited by Nightshade; 12-03-11 at 07:54 PM.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    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?

  17. #17
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Let's say that your RXS pedals are causing some problems (I've switched from CB to RXS on my roadie and haven't had problems yet, but YMMV as always ) --

    But, you already know that the Eggbeaters on your mountain bike work great and haven't hurt you.

    You could, at least for a while, switch over the pedals and shoes and see how it goes.

  18. #18
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    I used shimiNO spd pedals for years and had knee problems for years. My first XC bike came with crappy eggbeaters and the knee problems disappeared! The spd's had zero float and the hours spent with a locked ankle must have effected the knee joint. 4000 miles with the eggies and not one issue. I've moved up to the candy 3's for both bikes and I pass roadies all day long. One problem is the clamping system is not good for shoes and you'll need to make or buy ($10) a protective plate to mount the cleats on.
    splitting hairs or spitting hairs? you need a new hobby

  19. #19
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    I rattled off some reasons a while ago about why I've grown to prefer clipless over toeclips and/or straps; it's quicker for me to search than it would be to re-type it all:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...s#post13079976

    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    I think toeclips are too much of a compromise everywhere but the velodrome.

    Toeclips are a bit harder to get into than clipless, especially if you want retention that's as strong as clipless - meaning that you'll need to reach down and tighten the strap. And, if you really want your feet lodged in there, you'll get stiff-soled cycling shoes that have a little cleat to keep the foot from sliding backward out of the cage.

    You could keep the straps loose, of course. You won't be able to pull though the bottom of the stroke ("scraping mud off your shoe"), but at least you get to kinda pull up the back and over the top. But, you'll still need to flip the pedal around every time you take off from a stop, and that will probably never be as easy with regular shoes as it would be with the cleated shoes I mentioned.

    Or you could get half-clips... which I think have all the drawbacks of toeclips but hardly any of the benefits. You still need to flip them right-side up, but you don't get to use much more of the pedal stroke than with plain platforms because they don't retain your feet very well.

    Disclaimer: I have neither owned, nor used, track pedals with toeclips and straps cinched down tight on cleated cycling shoes. However, I've owned all the other types - toeclips, half-clips, MTB clipless pedals, road clipless pedals, and plain platforms. On the three bikes I have now (I've had eight over the past few years), I have CB Mallet MTB pedals, MKS Sylvan Touring platforms, and Time RXS road pedals. I'll ride any of them in plain shoes, yet the clipless setups give me that option for longer and faster rides.

    Cliff's Notes: try, don't just speculate. You won't know what they're like to live with until you, well, live with them.
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post12836361

    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    The only way non-cycling-specific footwear has mattered to me so far is when the super-deep grooves of my Nike Free running shoes align themselves with the "cage" of my MKS Touring pedals and prevent my feet from rotating at all. It's funny when plain pedals and running shoes conspire to give me less float than any of my clipless setups.

    Well, there's another problem I've had, and that's when I tried using half-clips on the same pedals while wearing shoes with lugged soles. It was awfully difficult to flip the pedal right-side up and stick my toe into the half-clips without lifting the sole off the pedal, which usually ended up pushing the pedal upside-down again. Again, it became more difficult to use than my road or MTB clipless setups, and I took the half-clips off. They're sitting in a box now.

    Clipless isn't that bad for my commuting, so I'd say to seriously consider it for your short triathlon.
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post12839150

    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Adding on to my previous post --

    Not long ago, I would've said to try toeclips & straps if you're not ready to go clipless.

    However, I've since decided that toeclips aren't as good as they should be -- certainly not as good as any decent clipless system. My reasoning goes like this -- if the toeclips and straps are set tight enough to provide good foot retention, they need to be undone and re-done every time you start and stop (unless you're good at track standing -- which, of course, was developed to accommodate clips n' straps in track racing). This makes them more difficult, overall, than clipless. Plus, if you really want solid retention and stiff soles with toeclips, you'll end up with cycling-specific shoes anyway (lightweight, stiff, with a little cleat to hold onto the pedal).

    I've already said why I don't like half-clips. I also don't find them worth much more than making sure I don't pedal with the arch or heel of my foot.

    For ME, then, I either go with clipless or plain platforms. I have some clipless pedals that work as platforms -- Crank Brothers Mallets on a bike -- and sometimes ride my road pedal-equipped bike with plain shoes. No more toeclips, straps, or half-clips for me.

  20. #20
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    Clipless system jacked up my right knee about five yeas ago. It is better now but I would never go back. Not to start a controversy, but all the studies I've read pretty much indicate there is no real performance advantage. You might save yourself some grief and just stand pat, although it sounds like you have your reasons for wanting to try them again.
    El secreto, por lo demás, no vale lo que valen los caminos que me condujeron a él. Esos caminos hay que andarlos. Jorge Luis Borges, El Etnógrafo

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    Well now I don't really know what I should do! Now I'm leaning towards riding with eggbeaters and my MTB shoes on the road for a while and maybe I'll just see about those 3-bolt cleats if that works out, and leave the speedplays for until I am really ready, maybe as a birthday present or something
    I know my reasons for riding clipless probably aren't the best, I just really really liked it and don't want to stop

    Thanks for all the advice so far, and the helpful links regarding different products!

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    Also remember that pedal angle is not the only possible bike-related source of knee pain. Saddle height and pedaling style jump to mind as other causes.

    A comment above...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanceoldstrong
    ...5 years ago...He carried both brands but I think at the time he thought Speedplay was odd, or unproven.
    Funny because those pedals (or similar) have been available for at least 15 years, and have been touted as the cure to knee pain since the first day.

    As for the suggestion to go back to clips and straps... except for being hard to engage, having inferior power transfer (unless you are cinched down like a track racer), and having clumsy and inconsistent to release to the point of being dangerous (esp. if you are cinched down like a track racer), they are great!

    My suggestion: Get a set of Speedplays. Your knees will thank you.

    Also - 'Powergrips' work on the principal that the tension holding your foot down comes from the force exerted on the strap by the side of your foot... thus they can, in many instances, increase pressure on your knees and make you problems worse. AVOID.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by matimeo View Post
    ... all the studies I've read pretty much indicate there is no real performance advantage....
    Source, please? Not being argumentative, real;ly curious. I use BMX flats on my touring bike and I think they are a fair compromise, but I certainly work a little harder to maintain the same speed. And I won't ever go back to clips and straps... they are suicide, IMHO.

  24. #24
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LarDasse74 View Post
    Source, please? Not being argumentative, real;ly curious. I use BMX flats on my touring bike and I think they are a fair compromise, but I certainly work a little harder to maintain the same speed. And I won't ever go back to clips and straps... they are suicide, IMHO.
    Here's one: https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejour...s-2008-1038374

    This one says "an active pulling-up action on the pedal during upstroke increased the pedalling effectiveness, while reducing net mechanical efficiency." I don't know that there have been tons of other studies on the topic but I'm sure they're out there. The truth of the matter is that the "pulling up" effect of clipless is a fable, since that pedal is already pretty efficient in swinging back around as you're pushing down on the other side. There may be a tiny advantage in the brief "dead spot" of the pedal stroke but the benefit does not show up in studies. I was careful to say performance advantage- some people like the way they feel and make you connected to the bike and in some ways they're safer (once you're used to them) because your foot shouldn't slide or slip. HOWEVER, methinks that if there was a measurable advantage, you would be able to find studies out there that say there is, but there aren't. The few there are say there is none and I can't find any that show an advantage. My understanding of physics would correlate with those findings. This is an interesting article on the subject (this guy seems to have done his research and consulted with some smart people): http://www.bikejames.com/cardio-trai...foot-pedaling/

    They're not bad, but it's not like they're going to improve your performance in any significant (other than psychological for some) way.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there, including in these forums on the subject.
    El secreto, por lo demás, no vale lo que valen los caminos que me condujeron a él. Esos caminos hay que andarlos. Jorge Luis Borges, El Etnógrafo

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by matimeo View Post
    Here's one: https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejour...s-2008-1038374

    This one says "an active pulling-up action on the pedal during upstroke increased the pedalling effectiveness, while reducing net mechanical efficiency."...

    They're not bad, but it's not like they're going to improve your performance in any significant (other than psychological for some) way.
    I think you might be misreading this... while efficiency goes down, 'pedaling effectiveness' goes up. So there may be some advantage but it is negated in some circumstances. It certainly does not say the effect is a 'fable' or that there is no effect.

    As I said, I ride most of the time with BMX flat pedals with no clip or clipless system. THe one time I always ride with clipless is when I am on technical singletrack trails, as the ability to pull up as well as push down allows you to put a little more power into the system when you need it.

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