View Full Version : Clipless Advice
04-27-2002, 10:33 PM
I posted this on Alt.mountain-bike but figured I might get some good advice here too...
I bought the cheap clipless pedals to see if I liked them - no sense in dropping $200 to find out I didn't. I love them and hate them, I think I hate them because they are cheap and good ones wouldn't be bad. Here's what I am wondering:
1. I had a hard time getting my foot out of pedal, couldn't turn it quick enough to pop it out (I have the scrapes to prove it). I've found that starting with the foot on the top pedal is much better. Any other advice? (I fell over at a really low speed going up a hill because I lost momentum and couldn't free myself...)
2. It seems like there is a lot of play between the cleat and the pedal. I can swing my foot fairly loose. Should this be really tight with no wiggle?
3. Ball or toe? I started to have one foot get numb so I moved the cleat further back under the ball of the foot (as far back as it would go) no real difference. Any advice on novice cleat placement?
4. Tight or loose? If I tighten the pedal up will the cleat pop out quicker or will it be harder to get out of (like a ski binding)?
As always with the cheap stuff, no instructions.
Thanks in advance,
04-27-2002, 11:09 PM
Had enough? Time to go with the flats! Naw, just kiddin. Here's what I know:
1. Whatever works for you. You'll get the hang of unclipping quicker as you ride the pedals more. Remember that you don't always have to clip in immediately; sometimes, you might be able to get a few pedals strokes in to gain momentum so you can comfortably clip in.
2. That play is called float. That, I believe, prevents knee problems. Feels weird, but get used to it and you'll learn the clip/unclip threshold.
3. Get your cleats fitted. I forget what it's called, but the shop I used to work at would use these weird blocks threaded onto the cranks that helped align the cleats with the natural pedal stroke of the rider. We did this on all of the new bikes we sold with clipless pedals or if someone bought a new pair of pedals.
4. Another preference. You might try starting loose and work it tighter as you grow used to the pedals. If you have em too loose, you risk popping out at inopportune times. In my opinion, a clipless pedal in the shin is just as painful as a flat pedal full of steel pins. Yaaaaa!!!
5. Bonus content. Break in your pedals and learn how to clip in and out by placing your bike in a doorway so you can't fall over. Bada-bing! heh heh.
04-28-2002, 03:26 PM
Thanks for the advice, I loosened them up a few clicks and they are 100% better. I'm never going back to clips, this is so much better!
In my experiences with clipless pedals,
- Cheap ones don't last too long. I've had the clip parts break off, and they tend to freeze up with water / dirt / grit, etc. Dust caps pop out.
- If you do decide to get other / better ones, try the Time ATACs. I've had these for a while and they're the best I've tried so far. You may also want to try the egg beaters, I've heard a lot of good things about them.
Otherwise, you've done yourself some good by going clipless.
04-28-2002, 03:59 PM
i second the 'Beaters. i haven't seen too many people out at WC with them, though.
anywho, they're awesome. so are the ATACs, though, especially if you want more of a body to the pedal.
04-29-2002, 03:35 AM
I used mostly flats...occasionally using the stock clipless that came with my first bike. It wasn't until I tried a nice pair of clipless pedals(eggbeaters) that I REALLY liked them. I feel 100% comfortable in them now. I recently tried some Time ATACS...and felt almost just as comfortable in them as my eggbeaters. I still use my flats on urban assaults though.
I've been riding Eggbeaters for about a month. They're great! At mtbreview, people complained about not being able to get out quickly. I got to test that this weekend after a collision with a tree. My feet came out quite nicely as I went over the bars. I swear that tree moved out inrto the trail! I haven't had a problem with coming out of the pedals when I don't want too. I have the cleats set up for the quick relaease mode They feel just as solid when standing as spd's feel. Even though the pedal appears to be nothing more than a spindle, there is a surprising amount of contact area. And they cost less than Times, Frogs, etc.
04-29-2002, 11:50 AM
There's a learning curve with clipless. It's likely you'll take a few tumbles getting used to them, however, the payoff is well worth it.
Lowering the release tension is a good thing to do, as is practing in a door way like Toonces mentioned earlier. Also, you may want to put a little lube on the pedal where the cleat contacts. This tends to make them release a little easier.
I'm an Shimano SPD user (basically all the cheap pedals will be Shimano SPD clones). I tried the Times, and clipping in and out was great, but the side-to-side "lateral" float drove me crazy. I've since been told that different shoes can impact that.
I've used several different variants of Shimano pedals on different bikes - 515, 535, 747 & 959. The all work the same way, though the more expensive ones are lighter and smoother. The 959's are superb - by far the best engaging/release pedal I've used. They're supposed to work well in mud - which has historically been SPD's short-coming - but I can't vouch for that yet. The 959s are pricey, though. I have used some of the clone pedals and think that the extra money you spend on the 'real' shimano pedals is worth it. Shimano pedals have double the amount of float, and just seem to function better.
04-29-2002, 03:52 PM
FWIW, I started out with the "classic" Shimano M737's, and then when I began to wear the spindles enough that I had to repack the bearings every couple of weeks, I got a set of cheapie Shimano knock-off's (look sorta like Shimano 515s). Suddenly I had trouble clipping both in and out. It was like they didn't want to engage initially, and then coming out, they'd get mostly out (like the back would be free), then kind of "catch" or "hang" on something and not release entirely. Scored another pair of 737's and I've been happy ever since.
I tried the 515's, 535's and 858's, and all of them had this slack feeling when you are clipped in, like there's some slack between the cleat and the pedal so when you pull up, you can feel it. Vague, unconnected feeling in the pedal. Didn't like them. I've tried Wellgo 800's (813, etc.), they are better, but I don't have a lot of time on them. The Wellgo higher-end pedals, M3 I think, were nearly impossible for me to get into, but they were solid and secure when in, and clipping out was easy.
Reports are the Shimano 959 pedals have the feel of the old 737's with light weight of a more modern pedal. They should, for the price! My next pedal will be the egg beaters. Unfortunately that may be a long time off, since Shimano 737's last forever.
05-02-2002, 09:41 AM
I have time pedals and SiDi shoes and have fallen over so much I don't have the courage to do technical sections clipped in. I just can't get them out in time. Some people tell me they will break in but i don't know if I can last that long.
If I have to buy another pair of shoes, (170 bucks down the drain) I will.
What's the story on platforms?
05-02-2002, 10:00 AM
platforms are cool for some things in my opinion....such as...
-FAST downhill/REALLY technical sections...
-trials type stuff...
of course...make sure you have a nice grippy pair of platforms or they aren't that great....
the problem with platforms is that you just don't get the same amount of power....especially on climbs or when you're really hammering down some straights or fast singletrack. You feel like you're mashing downwards all the time....instead of the smooth powerful spin that you get from clipless pedals....
I used to think that I didn't gain much from clipless over platforms...but I'm a true believer now. I still like platforms when I'm screwing around the neighborhood...or riding at UT etc etc..
05-02-2002, 10:10 AM
Originally posted by fletch
platforms are cool for some things in my opinion....such as...
-FAST downhill/REALLY technical sections...
imho, jumping, or any other thing you might do in which gravity would not always keep your foot on the pedal, is the primary case where clipless pedals are of benefit.
I find that when I jump, if my feet come off the pedals, I'm screwed. I can't imagine not having the security of having my feet firmly attached to the pedals when the bike is airborne. Since landing from a jump requires you to be off the saddle and on your feet, this is CRITICAL imho.
I'm not discounting the use of the pedals for climbs, etc.
My friend, who is a very experienced mountain biker, recently began racing BMX. He crashed due to a foot-off-pedal fault on his first race and immediately he switched to clipless pedals even for BMX.
I can't, for the life of me, figure any circumstance where platform pedals are better, except for MAYBE if it's severely muddy and you will get mud caked onto the shoes so they won't clip in properly, OR of the going is so steep that you cannot get clipped into a pedal in time to get the pedals moving. The biggest reason, in my mind, to go with platform pedals, is in order to make the bike compatible with typical street shoes. The biggest reason I find committed mountain bikers going with platforms is fear.
05-02-2002, 11:21 AM
I'm referring to large jumps...not jumps that you would typically find at any mountain bike trails. Uhhh...something more akin to the types of jumps you would see on the Xgames on TV. Platforms allow you to bail from your bike in the air when you are obviously going to crash hard and in a dangerous position. They also allow you to do certain tricks...like feet over the bars etc etc...
I raced bmx back when I was a teenager...and rode platforms then. I can see where clipless would benefit a bmxer because the jumps are groomed and not too steep....and you benefit from staying smooth/efficient/low/fast...as opposed to going big and doing "stunts."
I definitely appreciate my feet staying on the pedals with clipless pedals on rough descents....however....if you spend a bunch of time on platform pedals then you can truly appreciate the advantages they give you in SOME situations.
having said all of this...I ride clipless 90% of the time...
05-02-2002, 12:19 PM
The form of jumping is pulling up on the bars and sucking the bike in with your feet (or actually, pushing the bars out and down). If you've learned bunnyhops with platforms, then you know what I'm talking about. Not 6-inch bunnyhops, I'm talkin full on 3-foot hops over garbage cans, benches, tables, etc. You shouldn't have to be clipped in to hop a bike.
I ride nothing but platforms and don't know if I'll ever go back to clipless. I'm incredibly comfortable with riding technical sections and stopping and starting on technical uphills or downhills. I can ride one foot on the pedals and don't need to worry about ever clipping in. I'm comfortable landing a jump with one foot not b/c I'm a trickster, but b/c riding a long time with the same system gets you in this zone where you can handle little mess ups. It's the same with clipless pedal riders. I see them all the time being able to clip in and out as if they aren't attached to the pedals. Takes practice and, um, practice.
There are obvious advantages to both systems. I [just about] started on clipless pedals but as I rode more and more bmx, i switched to platforms and have never had regrets. I think it's a good I idea to learn one then try the other just to see what the other side's about. I wouldn't ditch a good clipless system prematurely b/c there's that learniing curve that needs to be conquered before you try something else. One anomolie that dogs people that switch from clipless to platforms is the foot slip. Wherein the rider is accustomed to being able to pull the pedal up with the foot or is used to being able to ride loose on the pedal b/c they're clipped in, that won't totally work on a platform pedal at first. It's a matter of consciously keeping the feet pressed on the pedal. That's one of the main reasons clipless users get hurt with platforms. Anyhow, have fun!
05-02-2002, 12:30 PM
The three big benefits of clipless for me:
- Secure attachment to the bike
- Consistent foot positioning on the pedal
- Allows better use of hamstrings for climbing and acceleration
The biggest con of clipless for me:
- I can no longer bunnyhop without them.
I rode BMX bikes my entire youth and could bunnyhop without problem. I move to mountain bikes, and could do the same. I've spent three years on clipless, and I can no longer bunnyhop without 'cheating' and pulling up with my legs. That's almost reason enough for me to switch back to platforms for a few months. It's a shame that the pedal axle from my old 'bear trap' bmx pedals won't work on mtb cranks...
Originally posted by jkarnes
The biggest reason I find committed mountain bikers going with platforms is fear.
I hear you. I've been adjusting to clipless now for about a year. After first starting out with Time's and having one hell of a time disengaging (and falling way too much), I went back to the good old Ringle ZuZu platforms for a couple of months. Then I switched to Speedplay Frogs which I found to be much easier to release from. Part of my problem involves maneuvering and maintaining balance through technical sections at slow speed. When I go for rides, I have rarely taken the time to practice trackstanding, which is dumb on my part since this is one of the basic skills a committed mountain biker should learn well. So, whenever I'm clipped in and come to an unanticipated, sudden stop there's better than a 50% chance that I'll eat dirt, even with the no-brainer Frogs. Instead of concentrating on cleaning a trail section I often give more thought about whether or not I should clip out to avoid a potential spill; therefore, the fear factor is always with me when I'm clipped in. I'm confident that much of the fear will diminish if I ever master the balance issue. It's wierd how I used to be able to balance a dirt bike like a pro long ago during the motocross years, but put me on a bicycle and I fall over like the old Laugh In tricycle guy.
Overall, I think I get more riding pleasure with the ZuZu's over clipless, but it's hard to beat the pedaling power and efficiency that clipless offers.
I go back and forth from clipless to platform, depending on where I go. I just got a pair of Primo Super Tenderizers and they're great so far. About $30. Shin guards are an added plus. I'm trying to work up my bunny hop again with these.
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