Scared of going clipless...

Secteur Posts: 1,971
edited May 2011 in Road buying advice
I am getting into cycling fairly seriously now (but still a newbie - nearly 3months in) and doing 60-70 miles per week, but I still use "plain" pedals with extremely flexible tennis/fashion trainers.

It's time to go clipless, but honestly I am pretty scared of doing it.

What is the easiest system for a newbie - which is considered easiest to clip in and out of?

Also, exactly what do I need to buy? - pedals, shoes and cleats too? Are they all interchangeable or do they come in sets per manufacturer?

Also, do road-shoe sizes reflect normal shoe sizing?



  • balthazar
    balthazar Posts: 1,565
    I think Shimano SPD is the best general system. It's easiest to operate, and there are different cleats available which set security of attachment against ease of release. Either way, they're easy to both attach and release, against other systems.

    Countless shoes are available, but they're all generally easy to walk in. Choose them as any other athletic shoe, mindful of your feet swelling a little when hot. Those with more rigid soles will feel nicer on the bike, and worse off; the reverse applies, so that is down to your preference.

    Dedicated road systems like Look, Time, SPD-SL and so on offer marginal benefits for considerable deficit, off the bike. SPD's are everywhere, offer enormous choice, are easy to walk in, and functionally fine. Pedals cost as little as £20-30.
  • father_jack
    father_jack Posts: 3,509
    Start off with MTB SPD's, recommend A520. Once you've got used to them progress to SPD SL (if you don't need to walk around a lot)
    Say... That's a nice bike..
    Trax T700 with Lew Racing Pro VT-1 ;-)
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    I have A530s (pretty much identical to A520s) on my road bike. I'd say they're harder to get in and out of than the M520s on my other bikes. They're also single sided which will be harder for a newbie.

    The M520s come with a plastic plug on one side which mounts a pair of reflectors to comply with UK law (it can be removed). But this plug has the effect of always making the pedal flat and hang horizontally so it's slightly easier to clip into if you're not used to SPDs.

    One thing you'll notice with solid sole cycling shoes is that they're much more efficient and comfy than trainers. One other thing nobody has mentioned yet, when you start use an allen key to wind the tension screw right back. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • BelgianBeerGeek
    BelgianBeerGeek Posts: 5,226
    Don't worry - just do it! Although my bike came with Look clipless so I just bought the shoes and got on with it. You will get the hang of it, try rides on quiet roads and practice clipping in and out. Regarding the above posts, how much walking do you need to do? MTB style shoes are also something of a compromise as they can be a bit chunky and may not look the part (come on, this is road cycling, looking the part is an issue :lol: )
    Ecrasez l’infame
  • wiffachip
    wiffachip Posts: 861
    and if you're using spd's, sh56 cleats are easier to unclip with compared to sh51's

    the cleats normally come with the pedals and usually you can specify which ones you want

    for ease of unclipping I would recommend

    a530 pedals with tension right down,sh56 cleats, any 2 bolt shoes
  • benga
    benga Posts: 8

    Been lurking for a while - but finally there is a topic I can add something too :)

    I went clipless at the weekend. Like you I wasn't sure about it but everyone said it was well worth it so gave it a go. The short answer is you'll be fine - go for it.

    The long answer is:

    Picked up the cheapest spd shoes that fitted from Evans as I had a 15% off voucher and the lbs where I got the bike from didn't have any big enough for me. Ended up with a touring type shoe by Specialized i.e. pretty flexible - which as I wasn't sure about clipless was fine by me for my first pair of shoes. You could actually feel a difference having proper cycling shoes over my converse with just toe clips.

    The lbs stuck on the cheapest clipless pedals and put the cleats on the shoes whilst he did a few other bits to the bike and after being shown how they work and 10 minutes outside the shop leaning on a wall practising I cycled home without incident :) Went out on Sunday to and was fine. I've only been on a road bike for a few weeks too.

    Obviously after writing this I will fall over in front of a bus load of people tomorrow :)

    Hope that helps.
  • fortyone
    fortyone Posts: 166
    For me the most important thing is to be able to clip out quickly. I found Look pedals were the easiest to get out of, but not all of them. Look were a good deal easier on the tension for the Shimano 105's and Ultegra I tried - Look use the number of nms for pedal tension - I originally had some older style PP296's which had a lower tension of 8nms, which were perfect. I now have the Look Keo 2 Max which have tension down to 9nms (but not the carbon ones, which have a higher tension). Unfortunately, when I looked on different manufacturer's websites for further information on this I could only find Look stated actual figures: most others stated variable tension, which was absolutely useless. Bear in mind that it seems the more expensive the pedals, in general, the higher the tensions, but other readers may have different examples.
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    All good advice - thanks!

    I only do cycling from my front door and back, so the only walking on them will be literally just a few steps.

    I hope to buy online this week (I find getting to the shops very difficult due to work), so need to have a good idea without actually seeing / testing any of this kit, which makes it difficult.

    Will look at the suggestions above.
  • pjm300
    pjm300 Posts: 58
    i went straight in to look pedals. theyre very easy to get in and out of, just try against a wall a few times to get the knack. you will have a couple of times when you have a bit of a panic at a set of lights, but thats all part of the fun :D its pretty easy now :)
  • freddiegrubb
    freddiegrubb Posts: 448
    :oops: All the above is good advice, this is what I did with my daughter who wanted to get into clipless-. trainers -cycling shoes with spds. -school playground- one trainer on one foot- shoe on the other. She rode round in circles for 5 mins.clipping & unclipping, then swapped over footwear- same thing for 5 mins. Finally both feet clipped in, then took it in turns with both feet . She had no probs. but I've told her to avoid being one footed as it's a bad habit for equipment wear & you shouldn't favour one particular foot/limb,as in tennis & a number of sports footwork is everything.
  • MikeMc
    MikeMc Posts: 27
    All good advice. I personally like Shimano pedals whether road or MTB. 2 things too look forward to is that once you go clipless you will never go back, you will actually see people riding with flat pedals and trainers and wonder how they can ride like that. The 2nd thing is the day you pull up to traffic lights or similar and forget to unclip and end up like a pile of crap on the road, you won't feel any pain as the embarrassment will numb your senses but don't worry we have all done it it's just part of the learning process.
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    So what & why is the difference between MTB & road pedals?

    Also, if my shoe broke etc, could I use the clipless pedals with normal shoes, if neccessary?
  • rake
    rake Posts: 3,204
    only if theyre one sided otherwise its uncomfortable. main difference i think is so they dont get clogged up with mud, and the shoes have treads so cant be as flat, you might need to unclip hastily on the slippy stuff offroad. if your scared dont bother. its more dangerous if you topple because you cant just slam a foot down.
  • EarlyGo
    EarlyGo Posts: 281
    Hi Secteur,

    MTB pedals are designed for the MTB SPD system which has cleats that are recessed into the sole of the shoe so that you can walk normally on the shoe when off the bike. The road SPD system has different pedals and the cleat is bolted onto the sole of the shoe which makes it a little bit awkward to walk on (especially on slippery cafe floors!). On most road pedals you would not be able to use ordinary trainers.

    The road system pedals, cleats and shoes will be lighter and stiffer overall than the MTB system. The MTB system is more of a compromise between comfort and speed whereas the road system is more performance orientated.

    Be aware that when attaching the cleats to the sole of the shoe the positioning of the cleats is a critical point. If the cleats are not aligned correctly then you can damage your knees, ankles and back quite seriously. I see from your previous post that you are looking at buying on-line? If so, make sure that you do plenty of research on t'interweb about finding the correct position for your cleats. If not, a trip to a knowledgeable LBS is a must.

    You will however be amazed at the performance increase that you will notice once you have converted and you'll never go back to training shoes again!

    Regards, EarlyGo
  • Save money and go straight to SPD SL.
    much better if you don't need to walk far
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971 ... rt-pedals/ ... ad-pedals/

    Are these suitable starter pedals then?

    Do I need a fixed cleat, or a "3 degrees of float" one???!!
  • 540's are perfect, shoes are fine too but check specialized bg shoes.
    Go one size bigger than normal and the cleats will have float as standard .
    Would not suggest zero float cleats
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    There's so much choice! Have no idea which to go for!

    The Specialized shoes are nice... but expensive!

    My bike is specialized, with BG saddle, so I suppose they'd match at least...
  • Though bg sports were around £65?
  • pjm300
    pjm300 Posts: 58
    i've got those sport shoes. not had any problems yet :)
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    OK, the sports it is - now what colour??!!

    Black bike (Secteur Comp 2010), Black shorts/tights, but white helmet...

    I quite like the look of the white ones...

    One final question - are specialized in standard european sizes - i.e. do I buy the size as if it were a "normal" shoe? (I'm size 11, so that's EU 46)
  • I'm a 44 but bought these in 45
  • I'm a 44 but bought these in 45

    +1 I bought mine for my MTB/commuter, along side shimano m520s but have since put them on my road bike until I can afford to get the road versions.
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971
    Well I will order them in my size for now, and see - can always return them I guess.

    Going for white!

    They seem like a decent road shoe that will serve me well, and are compatible with the Shimano 540 pedals.
  • You do know you have to average over 20mph to wear White shoes ?
  • Secteur
    Secteur Posts: 1,971

    I bloody hope not!


    At least the cars will see me from a mile off with the white ones!
  • Chav

  • Heavenfire
    Heavenfire Posts: 50
    I went for Shimano Ultegra pedals as the colour suited my new bike better than the others. I liked the fit of the Shimano RO87 shoes so went for them. First time out - on the street where Iive - anxiety quickly dissipated as I discovered (he thinks) "these are easier to clip out of than to clip in; at least that's good". Then I stopped, couldn't get my feet out, didn't have the presence of mind to pedal on ... and slowly fell sideways! I hope no one was watching!