If you’ve recently bought your first road bike you’re perhaps considering trying clip-in pedals. For many cyclists, making the switch from regular pedals to clip-in pedals is a move that’s laced with trepidation and fear. And because clip-in pedals require the shoe to be held in place with a spring ski binding-like mechanism, it’s no surprise that many can find it a difficult transition to go through. I know that it was for me. I was terrified of falling off and took some persuasion to give them a go, but after buying my first pedals a few weeks after getting my road bike, I can honestly say that once you’ve tried them, you won’t go back to riding without them.
If you’re wondering whether to go for it and make the switch, I’ve compiled the following beginner’s guide to clip-in pedals. Let’s start with a few good reasons to consider using clip-in pedals over ‘standard’ ones…
Why use clip-in pedals?
While getting used to using clip-in pedals can come with some struggles, they do have many advantages. From increased efficiency and better power transfer to added security. I’d say the advantages of clip-in pedals far outweigh their disadvantages.
Better Power Transfer
If you do decide to take the leap and join the clipless revolution, one of the first things you’ll notice is an increased transfer in power in your cycling movements. As you are forced to maintain constant contact with your bike when riding with clip-ins, you’ll quickly realise that, instead of having to focus on keeping your feet in place, you’ll be able to apply all of your energy on propelling you and your bike forward, which will result in better power transfer.
When using traditional platform pedals, cyclists can only apply pressure in one section of the rotation, and that’s the down stroke. And while that’s generally the most powerful part of the stroke, as cycling with clip-in pedals requires the feet to be anchored in place, they allow cyclists to properly sweep back and pull up as well as stomping down during the down stroke. So, not only are you pushing the pedals down, but you’re also pulling them up with each revolution.
The result being that such movements engage other parts of the body including the hamstring, the core and the hip flexors, which elevates the pressure off the muscles that are used in the down stroke, generating more power and less fatigue.
OK, so if you’re deciding to go for it, how the heck do you stay up?!
My top three tips for cycling with clip-in pedals
1. Practise somewhere traffic free and flat
Learning how to stay upright whilst clipped in to your bike is kind of crucial right? I’d be lying if I said I’ve not had a tumble or two. It’s kind of inevitable in the early days of cycling with clip-in pedals that you’ll take a fall. Practising somewhere flat and without traffic is a must for the first few tries. That’s definitely my top tip! And if you do fall, don’t worry too much, it’ll more than likely be a slow motion fall which will hurt your pride more than your body!
2. Anticipate your stops
Zero speed falls are common with clip-in pedals newbies and the main reason for this is forgetting to remove your foot from the pedal in time before coming to a halt.
To avoid the embarrassment of literally dropping to the ground with your bike, be sure to anticipate your stops early by removing one foot from the pedal – and make sure you get used to removing the same foot first every time. I make sure I always unclip my left foot first. It can always just sit on the pedal but if I see traffic lights or a junction coming up, I unclip so that I’m ready and prepared for a stop.
3. Your feet do not have to be secured into the pedals for you to start pedalling
When setting off, start by sitting on the saddle and securing one foot in its clip while resting the other one on top of the pedal and start cycling. Doing so will make the whole experience that little bit easier by enabling you to gain some speed and momentum before locking both feet into place. Physics doesn’t stop just because your feet are sitting on top of the pedals, so know that your feet do not have to be anchored to the clips all of the time, especially during take-off.
Cyclists all over the world favour clip-in pedals over the traditional platform kind. There’s a couple of different kinds of clip-in pedals to choose from – ones where you can clip in either side of the pedal (usually for commuting and mountain biking) or ones where you clip in just on one side of the pedal (usually used on road bikes). Do your research and see which might work best for you. Check out specialist retailers like Radial Cycles for a look at what’s out there. Whichever type you choose, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the difference it makes to your cycling experience.
If you’ve got any top tips for riding with clip-in pedals be sure to share them in the comments.
*This is a collaborative post