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Should I get easier pedals?

rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
edited December 2015 in Road beginners
I bit the bullet a few weeks and went the whole hog and bought Shimano Ultegra 6800 SPD-SL pedals for my road bike (plus suitable shoes and cleats for those pedals). I'm struggling to like them and I think they are way beyond my basic cycling ability right now. The main issues are stop/start cycling. This is causing a slight erosion of enjoyment of my road bike.

I'm toying with the idea of replacing the pedals with SPD ones and this will entail buying another paid of shoes. I could keep the 6800 pedals and shoes until I'm a lot more comfortable so won't need to buy them again say in a year or two's time.

It'll probably cost me 60-100GBP to replace the pedals, buy new cleats and new shoes. However, the benefit as I see it will be far less worrying about falling off, much easier to move off at traffic light, roundabouts, etc, and more enjoyment of my road bike.

So I guess I could go for SPD pedals/cleats/shoes.

Any advice on what you would do in this situation? I'm not overly bothered about the cost and changing pedals is a manual task that I can actually do! I know I definitely don't want flats for pedals, but SPD-SLs are just way too advanced for my level and the type of recreational cycling that I do.
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  • rowlersrowlers Posts: 1,614
    I wouldn't say SPD-SL are "advanced", what is the problem exactly?
    I use Speedplay, the first few unclips are "tight", but soon settle in.
    All new pedals/cleats take a while to "bed in", i.e. the first few clip in/clip outs can be tight.
    I'd persevere....
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    They are extremely tight to unclip - even on the easiest setting. Sometimes I can't even generate enough force in my usual leg so have to quickly try the other leg, causing slight wobbling. Also, when I do unclip, such is the force required that forward stability becomes an issue sometimes.
  • doug5_10doug5_10 Posts: 465
    Not wanting to sound daft, but are you unclipping correctly? A quick flick of the ankle outwards away from the bike is all that is required. My 105 pedals are set midway between 'easy' and 'hard' and still don't need much force to release.
    Edinburgh Revolution Curve
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/1920048
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    Yep, definitely unclipping correctly. I rotate my ankle outwards sharply. It requires a lot of effort - I don't have weak legs but the effort required to unclip is horrendous to the point where I'm a little concerned about my knee/ankle/lower leg muscles, tendons and ligaments!. Clipping in is okay. It just might be the pedals I've bought - there's actually another thread here about them mentioning the same issue:

    viewtopic.php?f=40013&t=12950170
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,076
    Try pressing down on the pedal as you turn your heel out. Pressing down is not needed but it overcomes your natural instinct to pull your foot up. If you are doing it correctly it does not take much force. Persevere with it and you will soon wonder what the problem was. Good luck.
  • bbrapbbrap Posts: 620
    Just a thought, are your cleats fixed on firmly? A mate had the same problem and it was the cleats moving that stopped the release properly.
    Rose Xeon CDX 3100, Ultegra Di2 disc (nice weather)
    Ribble Gran Fondo, Campagnolo Centaur (winter bike)
    Van Raam 'O' Pair
    Land Rover (really nasty weather :lol: )
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    I'm going to re-check the pedals, shoes and cleats. The cleats don't seem to have moved on the shoes at all from a visual check, but I'll check if they're secured tightly. I also read elsewhere that changing the shoes fixed everything. I have dhb R1.0 road cycling shoes which are a budget shoes - could they be the issue? They have over a thousand great reviews on Wiggle.

    One thing I noticed on the pedals was a lack of a click every quarter-turn of the tension adjusting screw. The strange thing is that I can clip in quite easily now, it's just getting my foot out that is the issue a lot of the time.

    I'll also try pressing down because I'm not sure I've been doing that so far. But, as mentioned, the tension screw on the pedals is supposed to click every quarter turn so I'll look into that a bit more.

    I really hope I can get this resolved soon!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    The strange thing is that I can clip in quite easily now, it's just getting my foot out that is the issue a lot of the time.

    You could lean against a wall or something or hold onto while sat on the bike stationary and practise clipping in and out. As others have mentioned, the first few times clipping can be stiff and will ease off after a while. You only really need to worry about the side you usually place down when you stop and move off. I prefer using my left foot to stop on. Consiquently, My right shoe is always that little bit stiffer to clip in to since I raraly have to apart from when I get on or off the bike.
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    I had exactly the same problem as you when I first tried clipless pedals, and I was trying SPDs not SPD-SLs. I found unclipping difficult and sometimes, particularly with my left foot, I just couldn't do it at all - there were occasions I had to undo the shoe, take my foot out and remove it from the pedals by hand. I'm sure it probably is down to technique but I just couldn't get the hang of it. I went to Crank Brother pedals and had no problem at all with them right from day one - I've been using them for 2 years now and never once had a problem unclipping. I would definitely recommend CB pedals for ease of unclipping (they do have 'cons' in other areas though) but I'm sure other people would recommend other pedals, but if you're not worried about the cost, it seems pointless to me to stick with the SPD-SLs, especially if its making you enjoy cycling less. Just try some others!! Whichever pedals you decide to stick with long term, you can stick the other pair on Ebay and recoup some of the cost.
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    The strange thing is that I can clip in quite easily now, it's just getting my foot out that is the issue a lot of the time.

    You could lean against a wall or something or hold onto while sat on the bike stationary and practise clipping in and out. As others have mentioned, the first few times clipping can be stiff and will ease off after a while. You only really need to worry about the side you usually place down when you stop and move off. I prefer using my left foot to stop on. Consiquently, My right shoe is always that little bit stiffer to clip in to since I raraly have to apart from when I get on or off the bike.

    I've literally practised clipping in and out whilst holding onto a wall hundreds of times before I even went out for my first ride. It was quite hard to unclip but as I wasn't moving I could focus on my legs and the movement and mange to do it. Whilst cycling I think it's a little more difficult at the moment as the panic of running our of road sets in sometimes!
  • bbrapbbrap Posts: 620
    Do you have any cycling buddies who use different pedals you can try? (or maybe a local club). If you stick to a three bolt type (e.g. Look Keo) they will fit straight on to your existing shoe. I've tried a number of different Look pedals and always found them easy to get out of. Loads of Look Keo clones available at the budget end of the market (e.g. Exustar), you can get pedals and cleats for £20 or so on fleabay.
    Rose Xeon CDX 3100, Ultegra Di2 disc (nice weather)
    Ribble Gran Fondo, Campagnolo Centaur (winter bike)
    Van Raam 'O' Pair
    Land Rover (really nasty weather :lol: )
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    New cleats can be much harder to un-clip. I also have Ultegra pedals and after a while the pedals and cleats seem to wear into each other and they become much easier to disengage. I can't see what impact new shoes would have, as long as the cleats are securely attached to the current ones. I'd suggest giving the top of the pedal a spray with some WD40 or similar. It's certainly worked for me. Avoid getting it on the spindle where it could get into the bearings though. Hopefully it will free it up sufficiently so that you can use them, while the cleats and pedals bed in.

    I'd also try not pushing down, but just sideways when unclipping. I suspect it is friction between the cleat and the baseplate that is some of the issue, so don't try to increase that. Thinking about it, I tend to unclip my left foot when it is halfway up the upstroke, so pushing down with my right foot.

    Good luck
  • stevie63stevie63 Posts: 481
    I didn't get on with the Shimano SPD-SL pedals but since going over to Time Xpresso I have had no issues. Much easier to get in and out of. You can get the xpresso 2 for about £25 so not too expensive to try out.
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    I'd also try not pushing down, but just sideways when unclipping. I suspect it is friction between the cleat and the baseplate that is some of the issue, so don't try to increase that. Thinking about it, I tend to unclip my left foot when it is halfway up the upstroke, so pushing down with my right foot.

    Good luck

    Maybe this is where I'm going wrong? I'm trying to unclip at the very bottom of my downstroke - at that point I'm almost standing on the pedal.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 28,799
    I favour speedplay pedals now and they are fantastic. I honestly believe they are perfect for new riders with them being double sided and the amount of float you can put on them etc. Its just a shame they are so damn expensive to buy in the first place. Add aswell how hard they are to clip into when brand new.

    The idea of getting SPD and keeping hold of the others for now seems your best option. In the current weather you don't want to be worrying if you can unclip in an emergency. Roads are slippier, your stopping distances are longer and being unsure is just going to exaserbate the issue. My wife used spd-sl on the turbo but as soon as I tried to get her to ride on them outside she was too nervous. I got her spd pedals and she is a lot happier now. She has the option to clip in or not as they are flat on one side and clipped on the other. End of the day if its effecting your enjoyment its worth changing now.
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    It's just the unclipping that's taking a few percentage points away from enjoying my new road bike at the moment. I only cycle for enjoyment - I get such a rush out of it and find it immensely therapeutic and it takes the stresses of life away.

    Of course, fitness is important too but it's secondary to enjoyment for me. I'm going to give it one more go to figure out what the issue could be and will just swap out the pedals/cleats/shoes to something much easier if I cannot get on with the SPD-SLs for now.

    Interesting mention of Speedplay pedals - it looks like they're supplied with an adaptor so I wouldn't need to change shoes so it's only really the cost of the pedals plus cleats I'd have to fork out for. If they make unclipping a lot easier then I'd seriously look at them.
  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,591
    Speedplay are easier to clip in to (especially on uphill starts) as they are double sided. I wouldn't necessarily say they are easier to unclip from than SPD-SLs though. The unclipping action is basically the same.
  • stevie63stevie63 Posts: 481
    Honestly as I mentioned above the easiest pedals to unclip out of are the Time Xpresso and cost less for the pedals than speedplay cleats do. It isn't the most durable system on the market but at the price you can almost treat it like a consumable item like tyres
  • sniper68sniper68 Posts: 2,899
    I first tried SPD-SL(Shimano 105) back in 2007 and hated it.I was running Crank Bros Eggbeaters on the MTB at that time.I replaced the SPD-SL with Eggbeaters and stuck with them until recently.I now have Look Keo Classics on both my road bikes having fitted them 18 months ago and just persevering.They were stiff at first but soon "wear" to the pedal and now it's a lot easier.
    The only problem I've had was the front of my cleat snapped clean off halfway around a Sportive and I had to walk 3 miles to get a phone signal to get picked up!The cleats were completely shot after the walk.
    I've used SPDs,Eggbeaters and Time on the MTB and the only ones I didn't get on with was SPDs.Time and Eggbeaters MTB pedals are by far the easiest to clip in and out of(IMO).
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    It's just the unclipping that's taking a few percentage points away from enjoying my new road bike at the moment. I only cycle for enjoyment - I get such a rush out of it and find it immensely therapeutic and it takes the stresses of life away.

    Of course, fitness is important too but it's secondary to enjoyment for me. I'm going to give it one more go to figure out what the issue could be and will just swap out the pedals/cleats/shoes to something much easier if I cannot get on with the SPD-SLs for now.

    Interesting mention of Speedplay pedals - it looks like they're supplied with an adaptor so I wouldn't need to change shoes so it's only really the cost of the pedals plus cleats I'd have to fork out for. If they make unclipping a lot easier then I'd seriously look at them.

    Is it pretty much equally a problem unclipping left foot and right foot? I'd guess so, in which case it will most likely be technique. I'm yet to ride any clipless system which is difficult to unclip from. It does not take much force on any system, you just need to be doing the right thing. Once you've done it a few hundred times your technique will improve as you'll get better at it without thinking and just do it subconsciously. When a kid learns to ride a bike they are all over the place until they can do it without thinking, exactly the same with driving.

    If you are worried something isn't right then get another cyclist to shove your shoes on and try it on your bike, it will take them 5 seconds flat to tell you if it's "just you" or not.
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    I've tried both feet and it's difficult with both (a lot of the time). The way I'm unclipping is this: as I approach traffic lights I freewheel and my right leg (the one that I unclip for stopping) is almost fully extended - the right pedal is at its lowest point and in line with the seat tube, meaning its just a fraction forward of my body.

    I then rotate my ankle outwards and mostly it works but sometimes I have to try 2-3 times with increasing torque before my foot escapes.

    A quick update: I've just been out to the bike and loosened the tension. The pedal tension screw does click correctly at every quarter turn so I've sure the pedals themselves are perfectly fine. I set the tension to maximum and checked the indicator and then set the tension to absolute minimum (to the point that the screw was threatening to come loose) and then tightened just two clicks, so the pedal tension is just about at its minimum setting now.

    As for unclipping, I'd be interested to know your leg positions at the point of unclipping and whether your foot is straight, slightly forward, slightly behind you etc.
  • sniper68sniper68 Posts: 2,899
    edited October 2015
    Just a thought but a mate I ride with unclips by turning his foot inwards(not ideal i know) as he just can't do it the other(correct)way.
    Might be worth a try?
    *edit*
    No idea why an innocent word was starred out!
  • Schoie81Schoie81 Posts: 749
    rumbataz - what you're saying is sooo familiar to me! Sometimes I could unclip, sometimes it seemed impossible and for the life of me I couldn't see I was doing anything differently on the times it worked and the times it didn't. I was on the verge of giving up and going back to flats, but switched to different pedals and never had another problem.
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724

    As for unclipping, I'd be interested to know your leg positions at the point of unclipping and whether your foot is straight, slightly forward, slightly behind you etc.

    Try unclipping when your pedal is at the top, so the other leg that's not being unclipped is extended, you might find you're a lot more balanced that way when you unclip. Try it. (I think you're unclipping the opposite of this because you feel the unclipping foot is about to be on the ground so you're doing it when it's closest).
  • doug5_10doug5_10 Posts: 465

    As for unclipping, I'd be interested to know your leg positions at the point of unclipping and whether your foot is straight, slightly forward, slightly behind you etc.

    Try unclipping when your pedal is at the top, so the other leg that's not being unclipped is extended, you might find you're a lot more balanced that way when you unclip. Try it. (I think you're unclipping the opposite of this because you feel the unclipping foot is about to be on the ground so you're doing it when it's closest).

    Agreed, its far easier to unclip at the top of the pedal stroke, having your unclipped leg straight provides far more stability. Having your knee bent also seems to feel like a far more natural position to me to be twisting your foot out from. I favour unclipping LF and putting LF down, I presume this is dominant as always seems more sensible to me but just depends on what your dominant foot is that you favour to push off on.

    Going to left means you lean away from traffic and towards pavements/railings/poles to put your foot down on or lean against (or catch in an emergency clipless moment). It also avoids the classic nodder chainring tattoo on the inside of your calf from faffing to clip your RF back in.
    Edinburgh Revolution Curve
    http://app.strava.com/athletes/1920048
  • I found my SPL SLs (Ultegra 6620s) hard to unclip, so having moved the adjustment screw as far as it would go and found them still not loose enough, I dismantled the body of the clip part of the pedal (the black plastic bit), removed the red plastic indicator and put everything back together.

    With the indicator removed, there's a greater range of adjustment available, and once I wound the adjuster as far as it would now go, I found unclipping much easier.
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,133
    Switch them to your hybrid bike, then go somewhere less busy and practice, practice, practice, you need to knock the newness off the cleats and pedal mechanism and refine your technique. As mentioned above, spray the peal interface sparingly with GT85, if you can't master them sell them on and try one of the other pedal systems already discussed.
  • rumbatazrumbataz Posts: 796
    I think I've cracked it!!! Was about to ride the hybrid this morning but it was nice and sunny so went on the road bike, with some trepidation.

    However, I took on board the advice in this thread and unclipping became extremely easy all of a sudden. I think it's a combination of two things that helped:

    1. Loosening the tension on the pedals even more (which I did yesterday) - in fact, I think I can increase the tension slightly now as it's a little too easy to unclip!

    2. Unclipping at the 12 O'clock position - this is just so much easier and there's no wobbling! There's far less effort required and the action is easier and a little bit more intuitive and natural.

    The result? A hugely enjoyable ride and I'm still buzzing! A really big thank you to all those who offered advice in this thread.
  • bbrapbbrap Posts: 620
    Excellent news, welcome to the CCC (clipless cycling club). We now await your tale of woe in about 3 months time when you forget to unclip and keel over in slow motion to the amusement of a crowd of onlookers at the bus stop. Happens to loads of people, just pretend you meant to lay down in the road still attached to your bike.
    Rose Xeon CDX 3100, Ultegra Di2 disc (nice weather)
    Ribble Gran Fondo, Campagnolo Centaur (winter bike)
    Van Raam 'O' Pair
    Land Rover (really nasty weather :lol: )
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    I think I've cracked it!!! Was about to ride the hybrid this morning but it was nice and sunny so went on the road bike, with some trepidation.

    However, I took on board the advice in this thread and unclipping became extremely easy all of a sudden. I think it's a combination of two things that helped:

    1. Loosening the tension on the pedals even more (which I did yesterday) - in fact, I think I can increase the tension slightly now as it's a little too easy to unclip!

    2. Unclipping at the 12 O'clock position - this is just so much easier and there's no wobbling! There's far less effort required and the action is easier and a little bit more intuitive and natural.

    The result? A hugely enjoyable ride and I'm still buzzing! A really big thank you to all those who offered advice in this thread.

    There you go, and it will get easier still the more you do it.

    I know you started/titled the thread with a suggestion of changing pedals, but people talking about that being the answer were always going to be talking rubbish. It was always going to be down to technique as I said, and as you have confirmed by saying you may have the tension set too low now.
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