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  1. #1
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    Learning to ride with clipless pedals

    I am not doing well so far. I read some stuff online. Crankbrothers had nothing to say. So I went to a large parking lot and soon found myself on the tarmac while attached to the pedals. So I formulated rule #1, namely, get out of at least one pedal before you apply the brakes. That works better and I did OK until the pain from the initial fall forced me to stop. I am still recuperating and my wife is on me to forget the whole thing. Does anyone have any sensible advice? TIA. Jim.

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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimwells41 View Post
    I am not doing well so far. I read some stuff online. Crankbrothers had nothing to say. So I went to a large parking lot and soon found myself on the tarmac while attached to the pedals. So I formulated rule #1, namely, get out of at least one pedal before you apply the brakes. That works better and I did OK until the pain from the initial fall forced me to stop. I am still recuperating and my wife is on me to forget the whole thing. Does anyone have any sensible advice? TIA. Jim.
    Stop for now to heal up then try again later. No harm no foul, mate.

    If ,after you try again, you fall again then I'd strongly suggest that you look at other ways to hold your foot on the pedal. There are "Power Grips" with a foot strap, or toe clips that range from strapped toe clips to a simple mini plastic toe clip. If those fail you then there is not one damn thing wrong with riding with good quality platform pedals.

    Good luck to ya, mate.
    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?

  3. #3
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Practice uclipiping and clipping in when you're not stopping. And, as you mention, unclip before you start to apply the brakes. Make sure the tension on your pedals (if it's adjustable) is set to the lowest setting.

    I've always found with SPDs that it is much easier to clip out at the bottom of the pedal stroke: easier to rotate my foot. So when I'm preparing to stop I coast usually with my left foot down, snap out and brake to a stop. Again, practice at first when you're not actually stopping and the risk of falling will be near zero.
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    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Yup. practice first while stationary. If you get your pedals at a LBS, ask them to hook the bike up to a trainer so you can get used to the motion. I did a self-install, so I practiced holding on to the rack on my Jeep. Then, I rode off and had no problem.

    Everyone has different ways of handling stops on the road. I generally unclip first on the right, and do it a few seconds before I have to stop. Depending on the stop, I may not unclip on the left. If I anticpate waiting more than a second or two, say at a red light, I unclip on the left, but keep my foot resting lightly on the pedal face, so I'm ready to step down and clip in as soon as I'm ready to move. Right foot supports. Unclipping left and keeping the foot in light contact with the pedal prevents the infamous "unclip right/lean a bit too far left" performance. Which doesn't hurt anything more than your pride.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Practice uclipiping and clipping in when you're not stopping. And, as you mention, unclip before you start to apply the brakes. Make sure the tension on your pedals (if it's adjustable) is set to the lowest setting.

    I've always found with SPDs that it is much easier to clip out at the bottom of the pedal stroke: easier to rotate my foot. So when I'm preparing to stop I coast usually with my left foot down, snap out and brake to a stop. Again, practice at first when you're not actually stopping and the risk of falling will be near zero.
    I agree, except ...

    I find it easier to unclip my SPDs at the top of the pedal stroke. So when I'm preparing to stop, I coast with my right foot up (the foot I unclip), snap out, and brake to a stop while lowering my right foot toward the ground.

    I rarely unclip my left foot, unless the stop is going to be for an extended period of time ... i.e. stopping by the side of the road to eat something.

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    I always unclip my left foot first, if you always unclip one particular foot first you will unclip automatically when something unexpected happens. Hope this helps.

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    I fell a few times when I first started.

    1. You will learn quickly to remain leaning your weight on the foot that is on the ground during a stop.
    If you lean towards the clipped in foot during a stop - over you will go.

    2. Make sure you are CERTAIN you are good and clipped in before standing while pedalling. A foot slipping off the pedal during standing pedalling is bad news. Just stay seated when you start off and get good and clipped in while doing seated pedalling. Don't try to clip in real fast and then stand up to pedal through an intersection fast. I fell once doing that. Embarrassing and got scraped up.

    3. I unclip the foot I intend to put on the ground at the stop during braking when coming to a stop. I leave the other foot clipped in during the stop and lean toward the foot on the ground.

    4. I have learned that some pedals are easier to get in and out of than others. If your current pedals don't work great, try something else.

    5. If your knees don't like the SPD's, get some free floating Speedplay clipless pedals for maximum foot rotational float so your feet can rotate more degrees when clipped in. Your knees will be happy then. I don't like SPD's because they don't allow much rotation of the feet when clipped in, and the knees hurt. And you can't always adjust the cleats far enough for the rotation you need.

    You will get it. Just takes time. And just remember to never lean your weight towards the clipped in foot when you are at a stop, and always be sure that you are clipped in well before doing any standing pedalling.

    PS- it is tempting, but dangerous, to look down at your pedal while getting clipped in. Don't do it. Clip in by feel. Go slow and watch the road when you are riding, and keep at it with the foot until you get it clipped in.
    Last edited by lungimsam; 06-10-12 at 10:24 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    hmm good tips here, as I have some SPD pedals that came with my bike, but no cleats or shoes. I plan to get some soon.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
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    I am fairly new to clipless too and here is what I did. First, as has already been mentioned, practice clipping and unclipping while stationary. Second, once you get the motion down practice on grass so you dont get hurt to bad if you do fall over. Third I always unclip one foot first, in my case its the right foot. This allows for muscle memory to build up, and once you get that foot down then work on the other. Last, always look ahead if you know you are going to have to slow down unclip on or both feet before completely stopping.

    As of now (been 2 months on clipless) I haven't fallen, but did have a couple of close calls. One in particular I was at a stop light making a left turn with one foot clipped and theother on the ground and somehow my weight shifted weird and I almost ate it in the left turn lane while traffic was passing by.

    It takes a little while to get used to it. One more possibly helpful tidbit, if your having a hard time clipping and unclipping loosen the clipping mechanism if the pedals have one, on my shimano's the right foot was harder to clip in and out so I adjusted the tension and now its great.

  10. #10
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    If you have a trainer, put your bike in and practice.

    I was told to pretend I was squishing a bug with my foot, moving the ankle out. That works for me.

    Unclip 50 feet before you think you need to.

    I don't know if you can adjust the tension with Crankbrothers (I'm gussing you have Candies). I set my tension on my spuds down as low as it will go.

    Stay with it. It really is worth the hassle once you get used to it.

  11. #11
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    I've never had a problem with clipless pedals, but presently trying to teach my wife to use them. She's been using them on our tandem, but that is with me supporting the bike so she doesn't risk falling. Tandem is out of commission awaiting a new wheel, and she is scared to try them on the single bike. I plan on putting one SPD pedal on the bike and leaving a platform on the other side. That way she will always have a foot free until she gets comfortable using them.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

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    All this assumes that you know how to ride well. Most full time riders spent many hours as a kid, learning to ride at very slow speed. If you don't have that skill, then learning to use clipless at low speed is especially difficult.
    Can you do a track stand?
    I suggest that, after you heal up, you practice with one clipless pedal and one platform, on a grass surface, with your arms and legs covered. If you do fall, just hold the bars, tuck your head in and roll over. Dont try to put your hand out to break the fall.
    Once you have a technique that works for you, drill, drill drill. Repeat it over and over until it becomes automatic. On the street, you can guarantee that when one bad thing happens, another will quickly follow and your brain becomes overloaded. You revert to training and do what you have practiced.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Practice uclipiping and clipping in when you're not stopping. And, as you mention, unclip before you start to apply the brakes. Make sure the tension on your pedals (if it's adjustable) is set to the lowest setting.

    I've always found with SPDs that it is much easier to clip out at the bottom of the pedal stroke: easier to rotate my foot. So when I'm preparing to stop I coast usually with my left foot down, snap out and brake to a stop. Again, practice at first when you're not actually stopping and the risk of falling will be near zero.
    Bolding mine.

    Excellent advice. When I went clipless I went with SPDs. I got very lucky, their clip out motion is exactly the same as with snow skiis. It was a motion I was already used to and no problem.

    Cliping in and out while not stoping will get someone used to the motion. Once you are used to it thigns become much easier.
    Perish any man who suspects that these men either did or suffered anything unseemly.

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    Don't give up.

    Whenever someone brings up being afraid of clipless pedals, I tell them the story about when I was on a narrow trail on my mountain bike. It was so narrow that my right pedal hit the cliff on the right side and kicked my back tire off the trail to the left. It was about 200 feet straight down. I was able to un-clip my right foot and catch myself on the trail before falling to my death.

    The moral of the story? Clipless pedals become second nature. Just practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildewinds View Post
    Don't give up.

    Whenever someone brings up being afraid of clipless pedals, I tell them the story about when I was on a narrow trail on my mountain bike. It was so narrow that my right pedal hit the cliff on the right side and kicked my back tire off the trail to the left. It was about 200 feet straight down. I was able to un-clip my right foot and catch myself on the trail before falling to my death.

    The moral of the story?
    Bikeforums is written by the victors.

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    Thanks for the advice and encouragement. Since my first ride with clipless pedals occasioned my first fall in 60 years of riding and since I am still in pain several days later, I am quitting. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. I have no motive sufficient to justify the risk. Jim.

  17. #17
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimwells41 View Post
    Thanks for the advice and encouragement. Since my first ride with clipless pedals occasioned my first fall in 60 years of riding and since I am still in pain several days later, I am quitting. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. I have no motive sufficient to justify the risk. Jim.
    You don't mean quitting cycling do you? NOOOOOOOOOOO!! Don't do it!!

    If clipless is not to be for you so be it.

    Platforms will do fine for casual rides more fitting for the older rider. Platforms on all of my bikes (I'm 66 now) enable me to ride just fine.
    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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