Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Bend, OR
Bikes: American Breezer mtb, American Classic ti road bike w/SRAM Force and XO, Crotch Rocket, SOMA 69'er w/XX-1 mtb, Handsome Shop Bike w/700c wheels. Bianchi SS 'cross
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Well, Giantismic, as you've read, there are indeed a bunch of answers to any question, and some are better than others (For instance I wouldn't avoid a bike shop simply because one of its employees advised you of his personal preference on whatever - Isn't that what all the replies, including mine that follows, have been?).
I've been riding offroad (Mountain bikes since the late '70's & cyclocross since the mid '80's) and never could get the hang of clipless pedals / it's tough being a wienie / even though I wouldn't use anything else on my road bikes (I'm currently using Bebops on a couple of bikes and can highly recommend them). So, I use Power Grips on my mountain bikes and 'toe clips & straps' on my 'cross bike. In "my experience", the Power Grips are a legitimate alternative because they work very well - they're light & simple, release is not an issue, and they support efficient pedaling (Plus, I find they are confidence inspiring in challenging terrain and that I crash less than my buddies, especially when going slow in the rough stuff). It's worth noting that I ride with a couple of guys who are, horrors, still using "toe clips & straps" and nobody waits for them! However, my 20+ years experience is limited to just about everything worth riding in Colorado, northern New Mexico, Utah and the Ozarks, so I can't speak to what's happening in the rest of the world.
I guess my point is to try a few alternatives (Ask your buddies to loan you their pedals - though cleats can be a problem -and try a bunch, including Power Grips if you'd like, and see what works best for the majority of riding you'll be doing. This approach will help protect you from the opinions of folks like me. Have fun and good luck!