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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This weekend, I will try clipless pedals/shoes for the first time. I have read many posts, most suggest I will fall a few times before unclipping becomes second-nature. I have a new Trek Pilot and do not want to "scratch it up." I also have a comfort bike that I could start out on with these new pedals.

I had a thought today; what if I install only one clipless pedal on my new Trek? Since my left leg is dominant, (this is the one I usually put down when coming to a stop) I would put one clipless pedal on the right crank. When I am coming to a stop, if I am not thinking about the clipless pedal, I would naturally put down my left foot and all is well. The next stop I will start thinking about using the right foot, but if I forget, all is well again.

Does this sound logical? Do you think I need to start out with the pedals on my comfort bike? Also, if I start out maybe on a grassy field, what if I get my cleats all muddied up with grass/dirt?

My new pedals are Look 5.1 with adjustable tension and ajustable float. I know I need to start with the least amount of tension, and probably the most float, is this correct?

Any suggestions will be appreciated as I will be trying them this weekend. Also, I nurse a left shoulder that was injured last year and do not want it to "flare up" again if I fall.

Thanks,
Dennis
 

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A few tips, possibly not helpful...

Full disclosure: I rarely ride clipless. I have three sets of pedals with matching cleats and shoes, but most of the time I ride in toe clips and straps. I don't go any slower, and I like wearing shoes I can walk in.
When I thought I was going to switch, though, I tried some things that made it easier:
--I did a couple of rides with the pedals on my beater in the trainer, practicing unclipping every few minutes until I could do it easily. That helped a lot, and let me tune the pedals for rotation and release tension without having to worry about falling over.
-- My first few real rides were on a familiar course on flat terrain at a time when there wasn't much of a crowd. I didn't go into traffic for two or three days. That way if I screwed up, I had time and space to figure it out..
I think because of this, I had only one "Mensa fall," toppling over while I was clipped in. I can work the pedals fine now, so that's not the reason I took them off. I just like clips better for the kind of riding I do.
The comfort bike idea isn't bad, but I don't know that it's necessary. Can't hurt anything, though, and if it makes you feel better....
As for a couple of your other worries: If the cleats or pedals get dirty, clean 'em. Mountain bike racers ride them; you shouldn't run into anything on a lawn that's going to do any damage.
And to a degree, at least, try not to be paranoid about scuffing up your bike. As Grant Petersen of Rivendell says, "It's a piece of outdoor equipment--it's going to get dirty." Go use it up--that's what you bought it for.


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Relax.

I have read many posts, most suggest I will fall a few times before unclipping becomes second-nature.
For each person who posted their clipless crash story, there's another person who posted that they never crashed because of failure to unclip. Add to that the legion of riders who never had any problems with clipless pedals and who never posted on any board, ever. In other words, relax.

It's usually not "forgetting to unclip" that causes some riders to fall down at stops. It's a combination of two things: one is the inability to ride really, really slow while clipped in (imagine yourself being able to do trackstands - you'd never even need to unclip.) The other is not unclipping early enough (imagine yourself unclipping 100 meters before a stop sign: plenty of time to come to a relaxed stop and put your foot out)

Your one-clipless-pedal idea is just avoiding reality. Consider doing this before you join an organized ride: go to a parking lot and pick yourself a stop line. Roll up to that line and unclip in plenty of time for a relaxed stop. Do it again, and again. As you get more and more comfortable, defer unclipping until what you feel is the last possible moment. Do this until you feel more at ease with the whole idea of clipless pedals - as you surely will.
 

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Go for it.

Go ahead use your Looks on one or the other bike. I wouldn't ride with one Look and one platform pedal. You'll likely have different pedal heights which would throw off your pedaling motion, and you'd have to remember two different dismounting drills (right vs left).

Your idea of trying them on grass seems like a good idea - if you do get some grass/mud in the cleats, they'll still work (although you may not get fully clipped in - not a bad thing if you're still learning to use Looks).

As for tension/float, go with the least tension, but don't overdo the float. More float means more rotation before the pedal releases, making it harder to get out in a hurry.
 

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go for it !!

i was new to "clipless" 3 months ago too, and i haven't looked back.. it's totally awesome..

my advice... go the full monty and use both pedals... the only way you'll learn is by giving it a proper go... at first it will seem real difficult, but stick with it.. you'll find there is a "correct" entry angle, and once you know it, it'll be easy... you just need to find it first...


yes, starting on grass (or indoors as i did with plenty of space is a top idea).. i did fall once, but it was on my couch.. (what a nice fall that was)... but as soon as i felt i knew how to do it, it was straight onto the road in the CBD where i live and no problems at all... no crashes, nothing, and it's awesome using these things even when stopping at the lights frequently. (campy daytona pedals btw..)

WHAT I REALLY RECOMMEND is knowing how to balance your bike and mastering low speed manoeuvering... this is key... i could stand still on my MTB long before i got into roadies and this low speed balance really helps... i was amazed to see how many people had difficulty clipping in at low speed on a mass group ride, even tho they can use clipless fine on an open road... not good enuff in the city or busy roads IMHO. if you fall b/c of clipless, it will be at low speed, so make sure you can balance your bike and keep it upright.. if you are one of those that wobbles on their bike at low speed and when coming to a stop, i can see some issues..

cheers,

joe
 

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Got me thinking about how this concern comes about. I used to fall over in clips and straps regularly, but I also used to party heavily and tended to ride home at 2 am. Poor combination! Ah the 70s, I suppose I had a good time. Have to look at other peoples' notes!

Bike handling skill. I suspect one doesn't fall clipped in at low speed if one has good bike handling skill. Much of bike handling skill comes from a good fit on the bike. The rest from practice, either intentional or just through riding. If you can do a track stand you shouldn't have any trouble.

Planning. If you can get going again if the pedal doesn't disengage, then you're fine. Try again.

Backup plan. You can always lean against a car or other object and then take your time.

Usefulness of clipless pedals: I am much less secure and more clunky with the clips on my commuting bike. Feels heavy, too. My clipless shoes and pedals are quite light and nimble. My feet don't get cold and numb. Easier to dance into a spin. I noticed this immediately when I first changed to clipless.

My old bike got obsolete and so did my gear. I looked around and I was riding a Reynolds 531 lugged racing frame, Campy Nuovo Record, tubulars, Campy pedals with clips & straps, leather shoes with nailed on cleats worn down. About 1992. Nobody else I saw was running this getup. Wool shorts. Wool jerseys. I realized I hadn't updated anything since the late 1970s. I switched to an oversize tube lugged steel frame, clipless pedals, and new clothes. Nice nice jump. At that time, a 7 speed rear end and early generation SIS. The biggest performance difference clearly came from the clipless pedals. Very easy, very crisp. The ability to have my foot rotate a little bit was a big plus. Never had a single problem getting in and out.

My current clipless allow rocking as well as rotational movement, just a little. Really helps my legs work smoothly. My shoes are who knows how much stiffer than old style shoes. Carbon sole. No slop, my foot floats around.

I wouldn't go back to clips & straps for more than short commuting.
 

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I have my wife and two kids all riding clipless

I started them all on a trainer and had them get used to the feeling of clipping in and out. Also had them get used to which leg felt more comfortable to clip in and out, since you usually favor one leg or the other and most people don't unclip both feet at a stop sign.

Riding on grass sounds good, but roadbikes don't tend to roll well on grass so I wouldn't recommend this!

The other tip I passed on was on how to start up. When you swing your leg over, clip in that leg with the crank all the way down. Then, once clipped in, lift your foot up (turning the crank backward, or counter clockwise) high enough so you can push off. Then give yourself a good push to allow your other foot to get clipped in. For my wife and kids this was much harder than learning to unclip for a stop.

The other note you made is a good one. Loosen the tension on the pedals to allow you to get used to them. This lets you get in and out easier. Once you get used to it you then tighten them down. When I used to ride Looks I actually had them cranked all the way tight, but that was personal preference.

After a few stops your brain takes over and it becomes a habit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for All the Replies / Road Clipless Today!

Thanks to everyone for your post. Installed the pedals last night, took the bike into the house and practiced clipping in and out. Today, I took off from my house with my right pedal clipped in and the left unclipped. While going down the road in my sub-division, I practiced getting out of the right pedal. After 1.2 miles, I turned on to our local "rails-to-trails, 24 miles of pavement for bicycles and walkers/joggers. I then clipped in both pedals and road for awhile, not worring about cars or stop signs. Practiced several times on the way. I am proud to say I made it back home without incident.

I enjoyed riding with the new pedals/shoes. I can really feel a difference!

Maybe I won't fall next time either. Thanks again all.

Dennis
 

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If u do an Artie or two it won't be the end of the world. Lo speed crashes are muy better than hi speed. Watch out for leaning one way when u are clipped in & out the other and u can't bring it back. Always make sure u wear gloves of some kind. Don't even think there is anything better than clipless pedals. I'm pretty old an prolly brittle, and hate to fall, but have on occasion; the ones attributed to clipless were worth it.
 

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I've been riding clipless of various types for 18 years.

In that time I have keeled over while clipped in once.

Look cleats, if you leave them long enough wear to the point where they merely locate your foot over the axle. I couldn't pull away from the lights out of the saddle they were so bad!

I stopped off at the LBS, fitted new cleats and was on my way. My GF had asked me to stop off on the way home for milk etc. So I merrily bunny hopped onto the pavement and stopped in front of a lovely little old lady. Went to get off as per usual, forgetting the LBS stop earlier. Little old lady learned Anglo Saxon words as I disentangled my legs from the bike!

BTW this was 3 years after getting LOOK pedals and riding every day!
 

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ultimobici said:
I've been riding clipless of various types for 18 years.

In that time I have keeled over while clipped in once.

Look cleats, if you leave them long enough wear to the point where they merely locate your foot over the axle. I couldn't pull away from the lights out of the saddle they were so bad!

I stopped off at the LBS, fitted new cleats and was on my way. My GF had asked me to stop off on the way home for milk etc. So I merrily bunny hopped onto the pavement and stopped in front of a lovely little old lady. Went to get off as per usual, forgetting the LBS stop earlier. Little old lady learned Anglo Saxon words as I disentangled my legs from the bike!

BTW this was 3 years after getting LOOK pedals and riding every day!
My only crash was the opposite... my LOOK cleats had worn down and in the process of stopping and starting again at the last intersection I went through, a small piece of the cleat broke off. I get home, wife's on the porch, I go to pull my left foot out, and WHAM! I got stuck in the pedal and keeled over pretty good.

It pays to check the cleats regluarly and also watch for loose screws (wife lost one on a ride and toppled over since she couldn't get that foot out).
 

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Ride around slowly in a parking lot or on a deserted road, repeatedly clicking in and out, and putting your feet to the ground, until the motion becomes second nature. And if the pedals have adjustable release tension, set them up for easy release at first.
 
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