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Falling down with clipless - how bad can it be?

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Falling down with clipless - how bad can it be?

Old 10-19-05, 08:02 AM
  #1  
aerodave
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Falling down with clipless - how bad can it be?

I'm about to get a new road bike, and I've already got my new shoes. It will be my first experience with clipless pedals, and I'm excited to try it out.

Everyone says that everyone falls when they're new to the world of clipless. Maybe I won't, but it sounds like I probably will. People don't seem to make it sound like a huge deal, so I'm guessing it's not the worst thing that could happen.

But doesn't it...well...hurt?! I try to imagine just leaning over on pavement and landing full-force on my side. Seems to me that would be most uncomfortable. And I'm sure that my instincts would take over, and I would do some sort of panic dance to "save" myself and make things worse. Like trying to catch myself with an outstretched arm.

I'm 6'3" and about 220, so I'm gong to fall from higher and hit harder than your average person. The bigger they are...(you know the rest).

So, tell me about your experiences falling over. Ever break anything on yourself or...even worse...your bike? Or is it really just a get-up-and-dust-yourself-off kind of deal, with more damage to the ego than the flesh?

Should I just throw myself on the pavement a few times to get used to it?
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Old 10-19-05, 08:29 AM
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6,2 - Got cleats* about 8 months ago and haven't come off because of them yet. It's not like I have special balance either. I think it's just a matter of practice. I used the faithful supermarket carpark for my first outing and spent about ten minutes banging in and out of them at the little intersections. I've had a few moments since then but my instincts are very insistent on me not falling over.

*What's with the name clipless? The whole mechanism is practically dictionary definition of a clip. Surely flats would be clipless, right? {/pedant rage}
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Old 10-19-05, 08:36 AM
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I've fallen several times in cleat related incidents ... YES it hurts, but you'll recover.

One suggestion ... practice with the cleats with your bicycle in your trainer for a while first until you get the right tension level and get a feel for them. That might help.
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Old 10-19-05, 08:42 AM
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Sheldon Brown to the rescue

Originally Posted by The Seldom Kill
*What's with the name clipless? The whole mechanism is practically dictionary definition of a clip. Surely flats would be clipless, right? {/pedant rage}
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Old 10-19-05, 08:52 AM
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*What's with the name clipless? The whole mechanism is practically dictionary definition of a clip. Surely flats would be clipless, right? {/pedant rage}[/QUOTE]



I agree. I'm a newbie and was confused when I heard the term "clipless" especially since bike shoes clip into the pedal.
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Old 10-19-05, 08:59 AM
  #6  
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Yea, it is supposed to be the opposite of the toe clips and straps. Hmmm...could be a little confusing.

For those trying 'clipless' pedals, make sure you set the tension on a really light hold. It does take a little getting used to. Once you get in and get comfortable, you will really like them.

I've fallen a few times. Machka is correct. you will get over it.
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Old 10-19-05, 09:08 AM
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I switched from clip to clipless 6 months ago. I did all the falling years ago on the clip pedals and haven't fallen yet with the clipless. However, I was also glad that no one saw me in the garage sitting on the bike hanging onto the car's roof rack learning to clip in and out. Once I got comfortable with that I went out for a moving test of clipping in and out. I loved it and went and put clipless pedals on all my bikes the following week.
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Old 10-19-05, 09:28 AM
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Clip in and out 10 times with each foot before you even take the other foot off the ground. Then ride 10 times across a patch of grass, stopping at the end of each time to unclip and turn the bike round to go back. Practice unclipping with the left foot at the end of the ride, and then practice with the right foot.

By then it will become automatic, and you will get so used to it that you "unclip" even when you are riding flat pedals. I rode a test bike at the weekend, and noticed my ankle doing an involuntary jerk out as I slowed to a stop.
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Old 10-19-05, 09:32 AM
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One recommendation I would make is to keep the chain on the big chainring while you are learning to clip and unclip. I did the "unclip right foot, fall over to the left" trick on the small chainring and managed to stick the teeth of the big ring into the back of my right calf. Otherwise, the embarrasment is worse than the pain of the fall. After a while, it becomes instinct. Have fun.
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Old 10-19-05, 09:45 AM
  #10  
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Ride in the park on grass for awhile and pratice.
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Old 10-19-05, 10:27 AM
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Procedures break down when your brain is overloaded. If your feet can think for themselves you will unclip automatically when you stop, but there may come a time when you have to watch out for a pothole, avoid a car door and make an emergency stop for a lose dog all at the same time. You may forget to unclip.
If you do fall, dont reach out to grab the ground, keep hold of the bars or you will break your collar bone. You may want to try topping over on grass just for fun.
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Old 10-19-05, 10:29 AM
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Keys are:

1. get on grassy area and practice clipping in and out. Make sure tension is not too tight, or that you put extra torque on leg to clip out.

2. don't clip in with both feet until you're moving. Those are the only times I've fallen. If you're not moving the gyro effect is not helping you. I usually clip in the right foot, go about 2 revolutions and then clip in the other foot.

3. ALWAYS, without exception, get in the practice of unclipping one foot whenever there is any chance that you might have to suddenly stop, i.e. intersections. Losing a millisecond because not having both feet clipped in is much better than kissing the pavement.

Oh, if wearing pants/jeans and have ties or pull up socks to keep out of gears, don't stop to fix pants without unclipping. That was my most embarrassing fall, just before leaving our driveway.
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Old 10-19-05, 11:11 AM
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Eh, just get out there, fall over, and get over it . It's called a horizontal trackstand.

Yeah, I coulda practiced like all the people before me said.

But I didn't. I put my shoes on, hopped on the bike and went for a ride.

So 10 minutes into my first ride, my son yelled "Dad, you dropped something!", I grabbed the brakes, came to a stop, and fell over sideways. On an asphalt bike path. All I got was a scraped knee (not bad), and a sore shoulder. I did put out my hands to try to stop myself. The bike got a scratch on my bar ends (I have flat handlebars) and no other damage I noticed.

I'm 6'4 and 200 lbs so not far off from you. It was mostly just funny because I KNEW it was going to happen sometime... just not right then.
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Old 10-19-05, 12:15 PM
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i have fallen plenty of time, while still having my feet attached. It sucks, but now i feel more comfortable with them. its a learning curve, but its well worth it
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Old 10-19-05, 12:53 PM
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You'll fall- hopefully not in front of anything moving- I fell over in front of these two Soho shopping lovelies, and in their shock I could tell they wanted to ask what I was doing, (picture me laying on the street clipped in) but eventually they asked if I was okay, I all I could come back with was- "Did it look like I meant to do that?" I don't think I even put my hand out, either way I was fine. Just embarrassed.

You will get used to them, ( Just remind yourself you're clipped in as you slow down), you will love them, they are so efficient. So worth it.
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Old 10-19-05, 01:29 PM
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I'm a big fella and I've fallen a few times due to the pedals, but it's kinda one of those "ow that hurt" you get back on your bike and push on.
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Old 10-19-05, 01:39 PM
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I got Eggbeaters and only fell once, while trying to snake through this opening in a fence (club ride leader likes to snake through weird things like that) and got nervous and fell over on my side, in soft dirt and weeds. No problem.
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Old 10-19-05, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by aerodave
Everyone says that everyone falls when they're new to the world of clipless. Maybe I won't, but it sounds like I probably will. People don't seem to make it sound like a huge deal, so I'm guessing it's not the worst thing that could happen.

Should I just throw myself on the pavement a few times to get used to it?
I would try to avoid falling at all costs because it can be VERY painful and dangerous. On my first day of clipless peddals, I fell with a backpack which had my Kryptonite U-Lock and it went right into my ribs! OH THE PAIN! I took off the clipless peddals and wouldn't touch them for 4 months.

You learn real fast to unclip one foot for the following.

a. Stop lights
b. Stop Signs
c. Kids on the street or Peds trying to cross.
d. City riding in general
e. Huge mountain downhills where you're going over 30mph or over.

Some may agree with me on "E" but I still feel more comfortable being able to jump off than go down with the ship.
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Old 10-19-05, 02:18 PM
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This is my first year with clipless.

Yes, you are gonna fall.
Yes, it's gonna hurt. (not really)
Mostly, your pride from public embarrassment,
cause that's where it's gonna happen, in public.
So get over it.
........ ;>)"
I fell several times early in the season, when I was physically exhausted and the brain was just overloaded. Mostly at low speed stopping when forgetting to anticipate (indecision) which foot and when to unclip. Usually you forget to twist the toe, you pull/panic/pull straight up and then "tilt" you're done, over you go !

LOL: Should I just throw myself on the pavement a few times to get used to it?

If you are in good cycling shape, you are not going to have any issues. Relax, clipless are great when you get used to them.



Oxymoron : clipless pedals ?
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Old 10-19-05, 02:35 PM
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Just started with some Look pedals in June (they are still on the factory set release tension and free float).

I had a few very close calls stopping at first - right foot unclipped OK but losing balance to the left, flailing right leg to get balance back over to the right. Neighbor witnessed one such event and was very amused (and relieved not to have to take me to ER).

Next challenge was starting (up hill) especially crossing intersection and timing the traffic:I tried to start off in too high a gear, couldn't engage right foot quickly enough to keep revs up, tried to push off with cycling shoe couldn't get much traction (is that a MACK truck coming at me!?!) tried peddling without full engagement, foot slips, pedal whacks me in the shin (OUCH).

Still no falls to date! Lesson learned I always downshift plenty prior to an up hill stop in anticipation of getting a clean, one-legged take-off. Give yourself plenty of time until you get used to them. What was a normal stop or take off on traditional pedals (toe clips or bare) turned into panic situations.
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Old 10-19-05, 04:01 PM
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I fell more often and more painfully with toe clips and straps that with my clipless pedals. The worst part of falling due to not unclipping is that you're either going very slowly or not moving at all, so you look like a total dork just falling over. Yeah, it hurts, but not nearly as bad as it would hurt if you were cruising along at a good pace and wiped out. I agree with Eggplant Jeff-- get out there and fall over and get it over with. It really does become reflexive to unclip one foot in situations when you might need to stop. I've only been using them for about 3 months and I don't even think about it anymore. Once you get used to them, you'll love them.
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Old 10-19-05, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by aerodave
Everyone says that everyone falls when they're new to the world of clipless.
Physical injuries from falling while learning to master clipless pedals are rare. You would be well advised to try to remember to keep your hands on your handlebar. That way your spiffy new handlebar tape won't get skuffed and you will minimize the possibility of breaking your collarbone.

Injuries to your pride are much more likely. Most people who I've known have managed to do extended rides without incident. Then, after the ride, as you ride into the parking lot where everybody is standing around and watching, you'll relax a moment too soon and lose it.
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Old 10-19-05, 06:18 PM
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Here's how I got used to my clipless pedals:

I had eggbeaters, so the tension couldn't be adjusted. I couldn't get the feel for clipping in, so I held onto the garage doorframe and practiced clipping in and out. Did this for about 15 minutes.

Now, our driveway is a circle loop-around. Very short. I went around the loop once and then back into the garage to grab onto the doorframe and unclip. Then I clipped in (while still gripping the doorframe) and repeated the loop. Did this for about 15 minutes. I then proceeded to do the loop more and unclipping without holding on to the doorframe.

After that, I was ready to ride. I've never fallen flat on my side thanks to the said Clipless Traing Program.
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Old 10-19-05, 06:38 PM
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I've had my speedplay pedals for 3 months and fell for the first time today. I skidded off a sandy, curve on the bike path to avoid an oncoming runner. I quickly unclipped my right foot as I came to a stop in the sand. Unfortunately, there was a slight downslope to my left side. With the sand on the road, the pedestrian, the curve and the skid, my brain just wasn't fast enough to unclip the other side. I went down soft and easy on the ice plant. Nothing hurt but my pride.

Just goes to show that you can't always choose when and how to unclip. Stuff happens.

Of course I could have just ridden a little more cautiously, but.......

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Old 10-19-05, 08:44 PM
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I am a daily rider who just switched to eggbeaters last April. I was just like you and very concerned about fallling over. In fact, I was so paranoid about forgetting to unclip, that I NEVER HAVE! Not once, ever! So you don't have to fall...at least from forgetting to unclip.

You will probably fall however. I have fallen over three times. Once on the road bike and twice on the mountain bike. Why did i fall? Well, it seems that forgetting to unclip is not really the most frequent reason for falling. Especially once you get familar with them.

EAch time i fell, was because i unclipped a foot on one side and for some reason the bike fell over on the other side. This sounds impossible until it happens but once it does it really isn't that hard to conceive. Both times i fell on the mountain bike, i was riding in very deep rutted, crunchy terrain. It was one of those deals where you are a millisecond away from needing to put your foot down to catch your fall. Problem again, was that the side i unclipped on didn't turn out to be the side the bike fell to. Whamo!

On the road bike i did the same thing at an intersection one time but really can't explain why it happened. I just unclipped and the bike fell over the other way. Whamo again!

The interesting thing is how little it hurt. I think it is because you sort of "swing" down to the ground. Have you ever seen a bike fall over? It is sort of gradual, although it is swift enough to get your attention when you hit the ground. However, i think the biggest danger would be falling over in the wrong place, not just falling over.

Falling over in front of a moving car at an intersection for example would be bad.

So don't sweat the clipless tip over. Unless you are severely out of shape or extra heavy it really should be no big deal. Also don't subscribe to the fact that you will "forget" to unclip. You don't have to do that either.
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