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New to clipless, very difficult to unclip, extreme duck footedness

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New to clipless, very difficult to unclip, extreme duck footedness

Old 09-12-23, 12:02 PM
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New to clipless, very difficult to unclip, extreme duck footedness

Hi All,

I'm trying to get used to using clipless pedals on my road bike. I bought the yellow spd-sl cleats and Shimano's PD-RS500 pedals because they're supposed to be really low tension and good for beginners.

I practiced inside and then rolling around outside on my backyard, I didn't fall, but I had a lot of close calls yesterday while trying. I've set the pedals to their least amount of tension and I think I've positioned the cleats properly.

My problem is that extreme duck footedness runs in my family. My Dad has a photo of my grandfather, standing at attention in the military with his feet completely backwards. I can also turn my feet completely around. When I dangle my feet, my left foot hangs at ~11 oclock and my right foot is about 2/2:30. I am unable to rotate my right foot inward more than like 11:30 without getting a muscle cramp. To give you another example of how easy external rotation is for me, when I lay down on my back, my feet lay complete to the side, they don't point upwards unless I consciously hold them up.

All this is to say, I have a real bear of a time getting the right clip undone. My left is hard, but I think I've got it down pat enough to only take a couple of spills. My right though. I'm not sure what I can do about that. Even standing still, balanced with a wall, I find it hard to get out of, having to physically twist in the saddle to get it to unclip.

Would like some advice on what to do I've injured this ankle more than a few times, I don't want to fall with the bike on top of me and sprain it again, or twist it trying to get out of the clip. It's definitely my weak ankle.

Couple of ideas I had:
  1. I'm using the yellow cleats now, they've got a lot of float, if I got the blue or reds that have less float, maybe I could get out easier because they'd require less internal rotation
  2. A couple of bike fit experts on youtube recommend using a longer spindle to increase the Q factor. Maybe I get a knee saver and give me some more room to rotate, maybe even rotating towards the bike instead of away from it.
  3. Use a flat pedal on my right side
  4. Try some other system (wahoo speedplay maybe?)

I've also considered hip mobility exercises, but I've done these in the past to try and be less duck footed, and no matter how much I worked on it, they never helped. I think my bones are just turned out. My knees are certainly inline with my rotated feet.
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Old 09-12-23, 12:23 PM
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If your feet are naturally splayed outwards like that, maybe clip-in cleats just aren't for you.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:19 PM
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Maybe, but I don't want to give up until I'm completely sure.

I have a dream of next year getting some power meters, and while I know crank arm power meters exist, I'd really like them in the pedals. And I'd rather not throw away the money I've spent on the shoes already lol.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:23 PM
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i can rotate inward or outward, given the degree allotted, & release from the pedal. Duckface, feet, foots, or kankles doesnt matter.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
i can rotate inward or outward, given the degree allotted, & release from the pedal. Duckface, feet, foots, or kankles doesnt matter.
I'm very glad you can rotate your feet enough to release from the pedals.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:29 PM
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Why do you think you have to attach your feet to the pedals?
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Old 09-12-23, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
Why do you think you have to attach your feet to the pedals?
I've succumbed to peer pressure. Serious answer though, I want to eventually get a power meter. I know there are crankarm meters but if I ever get another/different bike they're not interchangable. And from what I understand they're a bit better at power transfer.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by malfist
I've succumbed to peer pressure. Serious answer though, I want to eventually get a power meter. I know there are crankarm meters but if I ever get another/different bike they're not interchangable. And from what I understand they're a bit better at power transfer.
Just ride. Most people who use clipless pedals do so because they want to look like racers. Sure, there are a few who get an advantage from being attached, but most cyclists don't need to be.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:51 PM
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It should take a couple three sessions to get half decent at unclipping. It will be a planned maneuver for a while, and tipping over will occasionally happen. Usually at the most humiliating inopportune moments.

If you can pedal clipped in then you can almost certainly unclip. It's a skill worth learning IMO. A poster above asked "why?" Because I enjoy being mechanically attached. It blurs the line between man and machine.
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Old 09-12-23, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by malfist
My Dad has a photo of my grandfather, standing at attention in the military with his feet completely backwards. I can also turn my feet completely around.
Clearly, we need to see photo of this ... for scientific reasons, of course.
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Old 09-12-23, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Clearly, we need to see photo of this ... for scientific reasons, of course.
I'll have to see if my dad still had it, they're off snowbirding in florida (this early!) already. It's an old sepia photograph with a couple of people he served with all together at attention and he's in the middle of them with his feet backwards!
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Old 09-12-23, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by malfist
I'll have to see if my dad still had it, they're off snowbirding in florida (this early!) already. It's an old sepia photograph with a couple of people he served with all together at attention and he's in the middle of them with his feet backwards!
Just snap a pic of you doing it then.
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Old 09-12-23, 02:12 PM
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Ya'll just wanna see my feet


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Old 09-12-23, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by malfist
Ya'll just wanna see my feet
That's impressive. Now, how about some dog pics?
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Old 09-12-23, 02:20 PM
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You can try inward unclipping, or cleats with less float. I'm not extremely duck-footed but had a bear of a time unclipping with my right foot as well when I started. Had some close calls when I needed to emergency unclip, still managed to do so all but once, when as I was completely exhausted. Nowaways it's far from my preferred side to unclip, but after enough repetition, it's not as alien of a maneuver.
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Old 09-12-23, 02:54 PM
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With that degree of splay, are your legs able to comfortably piston in place or do they hinge out when pedaling?
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Old 09-12-23, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR
With that degree of splay, are your legs able to comfortably piston in place or do they hinge out when pedaling?
I'm not sure, I've never thought to check. I was using quite large flat pedals. Will check tonight when I go for a ride. Fingers crossed all falls are minor, if there are any!
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Old 09-12-23, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR
With that degree of splay, are your legs able to comfortably piston in place or do they hinge out when pedaling?
Originally Posted by malfist
I'm not sure, I've never thought to check. I was using quite large flat pedals. Will check tonight when I go for a ride. Fingers crossed all falls are minor, if there are any!
I used to ride with a guy that was duck-footed. He used Speedplay pedals because they were available with long spindles, and that helped keep his heels from rubbing on the crank arms.
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Old 09-12-23, 03:27 PM
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I toe-out, I guess what you call duck foot. If I try to pedal with my feet straight it hurts my knees. I also have wide size 13 feet so if I use clipless my heels hit the crankarms unless I have Kneesavers. When I started using clipless I had some custom extenders made because they were not on the market yet.

I've used some type of extender on every ride for 35 ish years.

Anyway I set the cleats (Look Delta) so that my shoes rest with my heels close to the crank and toes pointing outward. There is enough float to move heels out a bit but I can unclip easily.
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Old 09-12-23, 03:35 PM
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My right foot points outward, and the attached ankle has a bunch of metal in it. I find it easiest to twist inward, with Shimano SPD 2-bolt cleats.

I have the cleat positioned at an angle roughly 1/2 way between parallel and where my foot wants to go, i.e., if my foot is at 2:00, my cleat is bolted at 1:00.

I've worn a little hole in the side of the shoe.

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Old 09-12-23, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
I toe-out, I guess what you call duck foot. If I try to pedal with my feet straight it hurts my knees. I also have wide size 13 feet so if I use clipless my heels hit the crankarms unless I have Kneesavers. When I started using clipless I had some custom extenders made because they were not on the market yet.

I've used some type of extender on every ride for 35 ish years.

Anyway I set the cleats (Look Delta) so that my shoes rest with my heels close to the crank and toes pointing outward. There is enough float to move heels out a bit but I can unclip easily.
When I was trying them out yesterday, I got the cleats set to something comfortable and my heels were hitting. I moved it to a slightly less comfortable position to not hit, but I did it with as small of a margin as I could.

You're saying some extensions were the right solution for you?
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Old 09-12-23, 03:55 PM
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Fellow duck here. Not as ducky as you, but when I'm on the beach or after a fresh snowfall, I will very deliberately try to walk with my feet straight. When I turn around to look at my footprints, all I see are the footprints of a duck.

That said, I've successfully used clipless pedals for 30+ years. My hack for clipping out is to rotate the heels inward, not outward. Just like a duck would do if ducks rode bicycles with clipless pedals.

Note, this won't work with the cranks at 3 or 9 o'clock, as the crank or chainstays will get in the way. But at 6 and 12, presto!

Good luck. Brink the bike indoors and practice clipping in and out while watching a sitcom or something. In time it will become second nature.
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Old 09-12-23, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by malfist
When I was trying them out yesterday, I got the cleats set to something comfortable and my heels were hitting. I moved it to a slightly less comfortable position to not hit, but I did it with as small of a margin as I could.

You're saying some extensions were the right solution for you?
Yes. The only way I can use clipless pedals is with extensions. Actually I tried drilling my shoes and moving the cleats to the inside once in the late 80s but that was awkward.

The extenders I have now are Kneesavers purchased from SCOR cycling but they might be out of the biz now, I'm not sure. I have seen others on the market.

Another thing is I use Look Delta pedals which have wrench flats but most new pedals only have the 8mm Allen wrench hole in the end of the spindle. So you can't access the Allen fitting with the extenders. I have seen extenders with a hole drilled through the center so you can get an Allen wrench through but it seems that would compromise the strength of the extender.
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Old 09-12-23, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
I used to ride with a guy that was duck-footed. He used Speedplay pedals because they were available with long spindles, and that helped keep his heels from rubbing on the crank arms.
Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace SPD-SL pedals are also available with +4 mm spindles. I use the Ultegra +4 mm pedals, and they are a game changer. Prior to their availability I just could not comfortably unclip using regular SPD-SL pedals, which was why it took me so long to start riding clipless.
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Old 09-12-23, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by big john
I toe-out, I guess what you call duck foot. If I try to pedal with my feet straight it hurts my knees. I also have wide size 13 feet so if I use clipless my heels hit the crankarms unless I have Kneesavers. When I started using clipless I had some custom extenders made because they were not on the market yet.

I've used some type of extender on every ride for 35 ish years.

Anyway I set the cleats (Look Delta) so that my shoes rest with my heels close to the crank and toes pointing outward. There is enough float to move heels out a bit but I can unclip easily.
SCOR seems to be out of (the component) business, but 9/16" pedal extenders are readily available on Amazon, some at a 2 pair for $16 price. Due to my foot pronation, I have to use them on all my SPD pedals to avoid damaging the crank arm with my ankle (or vice versa).
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