Many of our riders already use clipless pedals and shoes with their bikes, but for those of you who are considering them, or maybe even haven't heard of them, we've put together this basic primer to get you started.
What are Clipless Pedals?
Clipless pedals feature a series of cleats in the souls of your cycling shoes and clips built into a specialized pedal that snap together. The result is that you are now able to maintain your foot position and connection with the pedal throughout your ride.
Wait? So you "clip in" to Clipless Pedals?
Well, yes. So the name is confusing. But long ago earlier versions of this type of system were known as "toe clips" (which are actually cages that attach to a regular flat pedal). So when the system that actually "clips" or connects directly to the shoes was released, they had to give it a different name and voila! You get "clipless." Go figure.
Benefits of Going Clipless
Ask anyone who uses the system already and they will likely begin singing their praises. We'll make it easier for you and create a simple list that you can follow more easily:
1. Much better power
So, now you and your bike have become one machine. Why does this make a difference? Because with regular, flat pedals, you're not only pushing the pedal down to move the bike, you're also exerting energy to lift your other leg (keeping contact with the pedal in doing so).
2. Boost your efficiency
With traditional pedals, as you push your pedal down, the bike moves forward, and for a moment, the rotation of your wheels lose some power until your other leg pushes down and the cycle continues. In more challenging terrain like we have here (say boggy sand or sandy inclines) you can get bogged down pretty quickly trying to stomp through with regular pedals. When you're riding clipless, your tire's rotation is no longer dependent only on your downstroke, you can pull up as well, keeping the power on the tire consistent.
3. Reduce fatigue
This may not seem as intuitive, but, because you're able to both push down and pull up your legs to propel the bike forward, you can spread the effort across more muscle groups. Spreading out the effort allows your muscles to share the load and this makes the ride less strenuous. It also means that your legs and core get a better overall work out and you gain speed. How about that?
Some things to Consider
While we absolutely adore our clipless shoes and pedals, however, we do have a few things to contemplate as you consider moving into the system.
For starters, it takes practice.
You will most definitely fall at least once as you get used to it. Don't sweat it, we've all been there. So practice somewhere that you can feel safe (your lawn, a dirt path…), somewhere a bit soft if you can, so your fall won't be so hard.
Second, what's your budget?
The system requires both the pedals and a specialized riding shoe. Come into the shop and we can help you select the right set up for the type of riding you like to do. The over all cost will set you back roughly $250.
Don't make the switch until you're ready.
Jumping into a clipless system before you've gotten to know your bike and are fully comfortable riding it as it is now, is not a good idea. Get yourself ready by getting miles on your bike first. Then give us a call.
Get a proper fit.
Sure you can probably get out there and pick up a set of shoes and pedals on the internet. But, getting your system fitted by a professional will likely save you a lot of frustration and discomfort. That's where we come in. We'll show you the options, set up your bike and get your cleats and pedals properly fit so you can avoid causing pain while riding.
Not Ready to go Clipless?
No sweat. We recognize it's not for everyone and sometimes you don't need the added worry of clipping out on your mind when you're hitting the trails. Here's a quick guide on making the most of your flat pedal system:
1. Use a stiffer soled shoe.
The stiffer the sole, the less flex and more efficient your stroke will be. Flex = wasted energy = thumbs down. Teva Pinners are a popular option, but most skate style shoes are also good options.
2. Make sure your shoe has enough grip on the pedal.
When the weather goes bad, or you hit a puddle, you'll want to be sure that your shoe has good enough tread to keep contact with the pedal or you risk slipping off the pedal.
3. Consider a flat pedal with pins.
Upgrading your flat pedal to increase your grip will help give you an extra leg up. Especially in wet or difficult terrain. Getting a well-designed pedal with pins can make a big difference in your ride.