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Question about clipless pedals and rider weight

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Question about clipless pedals and rider weight

Old 01-10-11, 09:50 AM
  #1  
dangs
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Question about clipless pedals and rider weight

Hello all - I am considering switching from platform pedals to clipless pedals on my road bike (2011 specialized secteur elite). I have never used clipless pedals before, and I am still a beginner on my bike. I have a few hundred miles on the bike, but my rides are still short (less than 15 miles). However, I want to switch to clipless pedals soon to start getting used to them now as I begin to try and get more serious about doing more on my bike.

One concern I have, is whether or not my weight will be a problem. I currently weigh around 205 pounds, which makes me very heavy for a road biker. Is this too heavy for clipless pedals? Are there any pedal types or materials that I need to look for (Chromoly, Titanium, etc)? I hopefully plan on losing around 20-25 pounds in the coming year or two, but for now, I need something to support 205!

Also, along those lines, any recommendations on pedal types for a first timer? I've been using the search function and looking around, and it sounds like either Speedplays, Shimano 105s, or Crank Brothers are the main ones recommended? Cost is not an issue to me, HOWEVER, I also don't care about the weight of the pedal. Any recommendations?
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Old 01-10-11, 09:58 AM
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Your weight shouldn't be a problem. There are plenty of guys on the Clydes subforum running clipless that weigh quite a bit more than you. Heck, I still weigh 350 - with a goal of dropping another 100 in the next 12 months - and I'm using clipless. I'd get something with a wider platform, maybe even dual platform to start with, and SPD cleats.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:13 AM
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Pick out a pedal you like and contact the manufacturer. They have all the data on their products. However, given your relative inexperience with biking in general, I might consider getting some more miles in before I moved to clipless.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:17 AM
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Right now, it sounds like most people like Speedplays best. So that is what I am leaning towards. Wondering if I should go with the zero's or the light action.

But, I am not SET on speedplay, and still open to suggestion.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:21 AM
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I don't think your weight will be an issue. I'm currently 210 (and I was about 240 a couple of years ago when I got more serious about riding and fitness) and I haven't had any problems with my Speedplay LA pedals. I also found those to be fairly easy to learn to use, as I had never used clipless pedals before purchasing the Speedplays.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:38 AM
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With Clipless pedals, the only thing that might concern you at your weight is that the pedal spindles are up to the needs of a heavier rider. Shoes for clipless pedals are made with very stiff soles, and it is the shoe sole that supports your foot. Your worries are not that big a deal, I know many riders who weigh much more than you do, and who are probably quite a bit stronger, and they all ride with clipless pedals. It might be best to avoid pedals that have titanium spindles, the 20 or so grams of weight saved won't be of any concern to you. Any good quality clipless pedal will be fine for you, to start it might be best to look at systems that are easiest to get into, pedals that offer 2 sided entry are easiest for beginners, you don't have to worry if your pedal is right side up.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:44 AM
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I weigh about 200 and have used old-school cleats and toe straps, Look, and SPD pedals over the last 25-30 years. The only difference your weight will make is when you invariably can't unclip some time when you come to a stop and topple over like you're in a comedy skit. The lighter (and younger) you are, the less it hurts (or so I hear). :-)
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Old 01-10-11, 10:51 AM
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I'm not getting the correlation between weight and pedals. Isn't there the same amount of energy transmitted to the pedal, no matter what the weight of the rider? Or is it the thought that if the rider weighs more, it takes more energy to move the bike, therefore, more energy applied to the pedals?

I'm 235 and have been riding clipless for years. The same spd pedals and mountain bike shoes the whole time. Never a problem.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dangs View Post
Right now, it sounds like most people like Speedplays best. So that is what I am leaning towards. Wondering if I should go with the zero's or the light action.

But, I am not SET on speedplay, and still open to suggestion.
Actually more people like and use Looks and SPD-SLs on road bikes by far. Speedplay users just seem to post a lot more than others. If you're near a good LBS, go in and try them all out on a trainer.
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Old 01-10-11, 10:57 AM
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Your weight is fine I'm 210 and I ride Speed play pedals with zero issues

when buying a pedal decide if you plan to do much walking off the bike or stopping

if so I'd lean toward crank brothers or spd pedals

road style pedals are walkable and the walking is improved with cleat covers but not nearly as walkable as SPD or crank brothers
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Old 01-10-11, 12:14 PM
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I think the only issues with weight and clipless could be if you weighed too little. Girlfriends of mine have run into this with harder to engage pedals like crank bros.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:15 PM
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I agree with Smallguy.

Make the switch. Your weight is really not an issue. I would look more at what type of riding you do and if you want to walk in the show with a cleat on it. If yes, then go with a 'mountain' style pedal system.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
Actually more people like and use Looks and SPD-SLs on road bikes by far. Speedplay users just seem to post a lot more than others. If you're near a good LBS, go in and try them all out on a trainer.
Can someone link me to SPD-SLs? I am not sure what people are talking about. Are they different than regular Shimano pedals? How do I know which are which?
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Old 01-10-11, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
I'm not getting the correlation between weight and pedals. Isn't there the same amount of energy transmitted to the pedal, no matter what the weight of the rider? Or is it the thought that if the rider weighs more, it takes more energy to move the bike, therefore, more energy applied to the pedals?

I'm 235 and have been riding clipless for years. The same spd pedals and mountain bike shoes the whole time. Never a problem.
PhotoJoe, my weight question wasn't about energy transfer....it was about whether or not certain pedals are unable to work with heavy riders. As in, I'll be riding along and the spindle will suddenly snap off.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:34 PM
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The pedals aren't the only thing to take into account when looking to upgrade to clipless. The cleats are also an important part. If I were you, I would be careful of LOOK pedals because they come with plastic cleats that can wear out quickly.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dangs View Post
Can someone link me to SPD-SLs? I am not sure what people are talking about. Are they different than regular Shimano pedals? How do I know which are which?
They are very similar to Look style pedals: https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-2010-S...4684921&sr=1-1

Mountain SPD's look like this: https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-PD-M54...4684972&sr=1-2
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Old 01-10-11, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by dangs View Post
PhotoJoe, my weight question wasn't about energy transfer....it was about whether or not certain pedals are unable to work with heavy riders. As in, I'll be riding along and the spindle will suddenly snap off.
No, I get it. My only point was that I don't think your weight has anything to do with the pedals. It takes a certain amount of upward/downward force to move the bike. The only thing that your weight would affect would be that it may take a little more force to move the total mass of rider/bike. I think you are totally safe. I'm down to 230 and only ride with SPD's. Pedals and shoes have both held up since 1997. Go for it...you're fine.
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Old 01-10-11, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by dangs View Post
Can someone link me to SPD-SLs? I am not sure what people are talking about. Are they different than regular Shimano pedals? How do I know which are which?
https://www.trianglecycling.com/showthread.php?t=34715

SPDs are for mountain biking although some people use them on road bikes. You can get shoes with soles that extend around the cleat so you're not walking on the cleat. But they are not as comfortable for riding as SPD-SLs because the cleat is so small, putting more pressure on the center of your foot.

SPD-SLs and LOOKs are one sided road pedals. So you have to hit the pedal right with your foot to clip in. Once clipped in your foot is held more firmly than with SPDs, especially if like me you use the optional no float cleats. The larger pedal/cleat area makes for more comfort.

SPDs and SPD-SLs are very reliable. I have had to adjust one bearing on one SPD-SL after 20,000 miles of use. They are also rebuildable.
Speedplays seem to require more maintenance (judging from my friends who use them). The cleats are more likely to get clogged with mud or sand, like when walking around at century rest stops. The cleats are heavier than SPD-SL cleats but the pedals are lighter.
And the pedals are double sided so it's easier to clip in.

Look pedals are simlar to SPD-SL but lack the small rubber bumpers that keep you from walking on the cleat's locking surface. The SPD-SLs are noticeably more walkable than Look cleats. Looks also squeak like crazy, that's why I switched to SPD-SL.
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Old 01-10-11, 02:23 PM
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....The only difference your weight will make is when you invariably fail to unclip some time when you come to a stop [for some bizarre unknown reason] and topple over like you're in a comedy skit......
At the rate people seem to fall over these days I can only imagine the devastation we would have had back in the stone age when coming to a stop meant planning ahead, reaching down and loosening toe straps. Crazy I tell you........just crazy!
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Old 01-10-11, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
No, I get it. My only point was that I don't think your weight has anything to do with the pedals. It takes a certain amount of upward/downward force to move the bike. The only thing that your weight would affect would be that it may take a little more force to move the total mass of rider/bike. I think you are totally safe. I'm down to 230 and only ride with SPD's. Pedals and shoes have both held up since 1997. Go for it...you're fine.
How do you get on your bike without putting weight on the pedals?

There are pedals with weight limits - some of the super light ones. They should say, though. Most will be fine.

Speedplay Zero Titaniums and Nanogram Zeros are listed as 185lb max rider weight.
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Old 01-10-11, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
No, I get it. My only point was that I don't think your weight has anything to do with the pedals. It takes a certain amount of upward/downward force to move the bike. The only thing that your weight would affect would be that it may take a little more force to move the total mass of rider/bike. I think you are totally safe. I'm down to 230 and only ride with SPD's. Pedals and shoes have both held up since 1997. Go for it...you're fine.
Maybe the OP is concerned about the strength of the spindles when up out of the saddle i.e. the spindles supporting their whole body weight.
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Old 01-10-11, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dmcdam View Post
Maybe the OP is concerned about the strength of the spindles when up out of the saddle i.e. the spindles supporting their whole body weight.
dmcdam, this is exactly what I am concerned about. If I am out of the saddle and climbing, for example, my full weight (or close to it) is going on each pedal. Just want to make sure I'll be OK with my weight where it is for now.

Last edited by dangs; 01-10-11 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 01-10-11, 04:10 PM
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one of my teammates is 200+. He has never broken a pedal (shimano DA).
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Old 01-10-11, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
I'm not getting the correlation between weight and pedals. Isn't there the same amount of energy transmitted to the pedal, no matter what the weight of the rider? Or is it the thought that if the rider weighs more, it takes more energy to move the bike, therefore, more energy applied to the pedals?
Larger riders exert more force and torque than smaller riders that achicve the same result. That being said, many track riders are over 200lbs and don't break spindles. I've seen images of Marty Nothstein (US) and Chris Hoy (UK) both over 200lbs use Shimano, LOOK, and Speedplay pedals on their bikes. Those guys put out well over 2,000W and squat over 450lbs (probably much more than that). If anyone is gonna break some spindles, they would. I know 300lb guys that ride Shimano, Look, and Speedplay every day with no issues.

Like others have said, stay away from the super-light ($$) stuff. But, those come with well-stated weight limits. Everything else if fair game.

Originally Posted by nablack View Post
The pedals aren't the only thing to take into account when looking to upgrade to clipless. The cleats are also an important part. If I were you, I would be careful of LOOK pedals because they come with plastic cleats that can wear out quickly.
So can any other cleat without proper care and attention.

Shimano cleats are plastic. SPD-SL (Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105, R540s) are probably the most popular road pedals out right now.
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Old 01-10-11, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by dangs View Post
dmcdam, this is exactly what I am concerned about. If I am out of the saddle and climbing, for example, my full weight (or close to it) is going on each pedal. Just want to make sure I'll be OK with my weight where it is for now.
I use Look pedals and weight in at about, uh, ah, ahem, cough, 220lbs. No issues at all.
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