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Struggling with SPDs...

Maria1Maria1 Posts: 18
edited September 2009 in MTB beginners
I've been riding with flats for a few years, but have never been particularly technically good, or confident (I generally stick to easier trails).

Anyway, recently I've got some Shimano Deore XT SPD pedals to try, but I'm really struggling with them. Stopping on level, easy ground isn't a problem - it's when I need to just put a foot down for balance on trickier stuff that I'm coming unstuck. I keep toppling into the nettles!

How long does it normally take to get used to SPDs? Some people say they were fine after a few rides, but I seem to be taking a bit longer...

Should I just give up & ride on flats? I'm not finding that it feels that much easier with SPDs, as fitness isn't what I have a problem with - it's technical ability I'm lacking!

Posts

  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 10,151
    Hi Maria,

    I will shortly be trying this too.

    I am fairly proficient with SPD pedals for road use, but have never been brave enough to try them on an MTB, I tend to like to 'dab' now and then, and am worried this will not be possible with spd's.

    We are off to Cyprus next week for a load of mountain biking and road cycling, and I am going to try SPD on an 'easier' day to see how I get on. Still a bit nervous though!

    Dan
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  • i have recently got some spd's on my xc bike and i am still a bit wobbly but i am getting the hang of it after quite a few rides so you should be ok after a while, i guess it will just take different people different amounts of time to learn. good luck :D
    Matty
  • stumpyjonstumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    Makesure the tension screw is backed off enough, should be so loose that your feet come off in normal riding but not so tight that you struggle to unclip. Keep with it, it does take practice and is worth it although some people find they never get on well with SPDs.
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Or don't feel pressured to persevere, and stick to flats.
  • It took me ages to get over the need to 'dab' a foot down when things got a bit sketchy. Clipping out should become second nature fairly quickly, but getting fully confident on clipless takes longer. Now I just ride stuff and I think SPDs have pushed me to be more aggressive and attack things harder, knowing I don't have that safety net.

    You should probably know by now if you like them enough to persevere or if you preferred flats...
  • Levi_501Levi_501 Posts: 1,105
    I commute with SPD's and found the tansition to SPD for off road easy.

    Could you fit them to a road bike and do a lot of stop start waiting at lights, filter down a cycle lane (assuming you have one near you) to try and get the hang of them.
  • rhyko7rhyko7 Posts: 781
    i dont quite understand this - why do you want to use spd's?

    go back to flats! unless your racing or trying to set best times or distances just use flats.

    ridings about having fun not seeing how fast and efficiently you can ride up a hill. dont loose sight of why you ride, its supposed to be fun. if spd's are spoiling your fun ditch them

    it took me one or 2 rides ride to kinda get used to spd's but im not anywhere near as comfortable with my riding in them on decsents as i am with flats so i went back to flats, i still use spd's occasionally for long rides and if i race but everything else i use flats
    Dont look at it-ride it! they are tools not f*cking ornaments

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  • I have found the transition to SPD's quite difficult, but wouldnt go back to flats now as I appreciate the extra security the clipless pedals give.

    Why not give shimano multi release cleats a try, they look very similar to the normal ones but have additional release angles which make them easier to release. You can always switch back to the normal ones once releasing becomes more natural to you. Most LBS sell them, I think mine cost £6-£7.
    I ache, therefore I am.
  • The reason I'm trying them is because I do race - mainly long adventure races. I reckon that over a 24hr race, SPDs might make enough of a difference to be worthwhile, so it's worth a try.


    I'll try some of the suggestions on here - multi-release cleats sound like they could help - and give it another month. If I'm still hopeless after that I may go back to flats!
  • As stated above, just loosen the tension screws when first starting out with this, and it will be second nature before you know it. And obviously, if you see a bit of a scetchy section ahead, you can always unclip before rolling through it. Once you get some confidence, I think a lot of technical riding is actually easier with SPDs as your feet aren't being bounced off the pedals all the time. And in time they'll make you a better, more fluent rider too, as you'll start to keep speed up and whizz through tricky sections a lot better. Be prepared for a few spills though, especially if its wet - suggest you stick to dry trails for the 1st few goes, and steadily build up the technical difficulty - it will take some time and practice to get it right!
    Scott Scale 20 (for xc racing)
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  • rhyko7rhyko7 Posts: 781
    Maria1 wrote:
    The reason I'm trying them is because I do race - mainly long adventure races. I reckon that over a 24hr race, SPDs might make enough of a difference to be worthwhile, so it's worth a try.


    I'll try some of the suggestions on here - multi-release cleats sound like they could help - and give it another month. If I'm still hopeless after that I may go back to flats!

    ok fair enough i think spd's are worth it for racing and long distances-they really do make that much difference i reckon.

    i wouldn'y bother buying new cleats, ride something gentle with em, maybe on the road, just keep practicing clipping in and out until its second nature

    im sure your not the 1st person to struggle to get used to them-nor was i, my 1st ride was a disaster lol, got used to them by end of ride, i still have silly embarrasing falls when i forget im in spd's :oops:

    ive learnt the most important thing is anticipation, try and figure out you may need to clip out long before you have to, i.e get out before its too late, if you think you may struggle through a section or a gate is aproaching clip out early.

    i think you should slacken them off for off road use and persever, maybe wear knee/elbow pads? :wink:

    good luck, im sure you will get used to them
    Dont look at it-ride it! they are tools not f*cking ornaments

    my riding:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/rhyspect

    Some of my Rides Data/maps:
    http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/Users/527337
  • RedJohnRedJohn Posts: 272
    I got multi release cleats, worked well. I kept the tension backed off fully to start with, and it's easy to unclip whever I wanted. After a while I started getting annoyed that the cleats were unclipping when I didn't want them to so I started tightening them up :-) When I need to dab it's second nature and no problem at all, I don't find or feel that I'm fixed to the bike when I want to put a foot down..

    I tried flats for a while recently, didn't get on, kept bouncing off the pedals (when standing up anyway - very disoncerting to realise that the only contact I had was with the bars!). When I wanted to put a foot down or get off, I found myself twisting my foot as though I had SPDs on!

    Anyway I went back to SPDs and I wouldn't change.
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    Maria1 wrote:
    Should I just give up & ride on flats? I'm not finding that it feels that much easier with SPDs, as fitness isn't what I have a problem with - it's technical ability I'm lacking!

    There's a lot of hooey spouted about SPDs and other clipless systems. I think that a lot of people try to use them without looking properly at what needs to be done and preparing the way forward.

    It is definitely best to start off using multi-release cleats - with these, giving them a good yank in any direction (even straight upwards) will release them in most situations. Also, back the spring tension right off on the pedals.

    When you're riding, try not to fixate on the fact that you're clipped in - concentrate on your riding but keep it in the back of your mind that you MAY need to unclip in a hurry. If you shove it to the back, this thought will quickly become second nature and you'll be clipping out without thinking about it in no time.

    For long distance rides there is no doubt that SPDs will give you an edge - you simply can't pedal as efficiently on flats as you can clipped in (be it with a clipless system or with toe-clips and straps). You'll need to learn that you can make use of the upstroke as well as the downstroke because you can pull upwards and forwards on the pedals as well as pushing down on them.

    Falling off because you forgot you were clipped in isn't really an excuse - its like saying you fell over running because you forgot to put one foot in front of the other. I've been using SPDs more or less since Shimano first introduced them and in that time I can honestly say that I've never had an off where being clipped in has caused it. Oddly enough though I have fallen off because I wasn't clipped in... :shock:

    Just before anybody starts shouting at me, I do use flats on playing bike and for trail centre use, but for trail riding and such then it's spuds all the way.
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  • handfulhandful Posts: 920
    I think spds are all about confidence. It took me a few rides to use them competently when I thought about it but a lot longer to be able to not worry that I was going to forget to unclip :lol:
    I wouldn't be without them and unclip totally naturally now and also feel much more confident attached to the bike. I would say the best advice is ride withing your ability until your confidence permits you to push the boundaries a bit. :wink:
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  • The Big CheeseThe Big Cheese Posts: 8,651 Forum Tart 2010
    Or don't feel pressured to persevere, and stick to flats.

    That's just what I did, it doesn't slow me down or make me less profficient at all
  • It sounds like there are some quite different opinions!

    I've got some SH56 multi-release cleats now (didn't pay for them, found some going spare), and am going to give them a try on this afternoon's ride...
  • For my first few rides i was ending up in brambles and thistles all the time. Then after those few rides i just clicked and its all been good since. One of the best things i have ever bought.
  • gongagonga Posts: 225
    dave_hill wrote:
    Maria1 wrote:

    Falling off because you forgot you were clipped in isn't really an excuse - its like saying you fell over running because you forgot to put one foot in front of the other. I've been using SPDs more or less since Shimano first introduced them and in that time I can honestly say that I've never had an off where being clipped in has caused it. Oddly enough though I have fallen off because I wasn't clipped in... :shock:

    Just before anybody starts shouting at me, I do use flats on playing bike and for trail centre use, but for trail riding and such then it's spuds all the way.

    Hi dave.
    I have done over 150 miles on my spuds and i`ve had at least one moment wth the pedals every ride :lol:
    Im going back to flats as my technique and confidence aren't good enough for tricky trails (especially inclined switch backs).
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    gonga wrote:
    Hi dave.
    I have done over 150 miles on my spuds and i`ve had at least one moment wth the pedals every ride :lol:
    Im going back to flats as my technique and confidence aren't good enough for tricky trails (especially inclined switch backs).

    Each to their own, I guess!

    I still think though that a lot of people go into using clipless pedals with the notion that they will cause you to fall off, and consequently never get on with them.

    Personally, I find great difficulty in keeping my feet on flats on fast, rocky descents, even with sticky-soled shoes and any attempt to get air invariably results in the bike falling earthwards and me continuing upwards!! But I still use them as I said, especially for trail centres and when I'm just tooling about.
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  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    What is this recent thing of "at trail centres"?
    There seems to be a general idea floating about the forum that trail centres are more technical than riding in the wilderness. I don't get it.
  • What is this recent thing of "at trail centres"?

    Not sure its such a recent thing . . . Most people only class MTB'ing as a sanitised park car ride trail type of weekend activity.

    I personally blame the Welsh with there ( Natural ) Man made take on mountain biking.
    Bikes are drugs and Im pedalling

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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    There seems to be a general idea floating about the forum that trail centres are more technical than riding in the wilderness. I don't get it.

    In some cases it is - in some it isn't. I wouldn't bother at Llandegla, for example - compared to my regualr trail rides it's about similar. and CyB isn't far behind either.

    But have you ever ridden at Laggan, Stainburn or the Dark Side at Mabie? I wouldn't want to attempt any of those clipped in because they are far harder than what I'm used to for natural riding.

    Similarly, there are some routes in the Lakes which I wouldn't ride with SPDs/whatever simply because they involve a lot of walking/carrying and cycling shoes would be a liability.

    Just out of curiosity (and this is a genuine question, it isn't a dig or having a go), do you ride anywhere other than Welsh trail centres?
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  • technical riding in the wilderness. I don't get it.

    Amended correctly Mr Hill :lol:
    Bikes are drugs and Im pedalling

    http://sherwoodpines.yolasite.com/
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    dave_hill wrote:
    Just out of curiosity (and this is a genuine question, it isn't a dig or having a go), do you ride anywhere other than Welsh trail centres?
    I don't ride many trail centres, apart from Welsh ones, no, but I do ride in the wilderness a lot.
    I've spent a great deal of time riding the old slate quarries/tips round here, for example, and there's some amazing trails in the forests. The mountains are also great to ride, but I prefer to ride them in company in case something goes Pete Tong.

    The thing is, the natural terrain round here is much more technically challenging, steep, rocky and dangerous than trail centres - That's why I don't get the whole "I use flats for trail centres" thing :?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    deadliest wrote:
    technical riding in the wilderness. I don't get it.

    Amended correctly Mr Hill :lol:
    right. :roll:
  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    deadliest wrote:
    technical riding in the wilderness. I don't get it.

    Amended correctly Mr Hill :lol:

    Eh?
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  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    The thing is, the natural terrain round here is much more technically challenging, steep, rocky and dangerous than trail centres - That's why I don't get the whole "I use flats for trail centres" thing :?

    Right, that explains it - I find that in the main, trail centre riding particularly in Scotland (which is where I tend to frequent) is much more technically demanding than what I would call a natural trail - I'll happily do a 30 miles trail ride from my front door fully clipped in, but a trip to Lee Quarry about 15 minutes drive away is a cue to spin the flats on or take my "playing" bike.
    Give a home to a retired Greyhound. Tia Greyhound Rescue
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