First Time Riding Clipless- Impressions



NJAgent020

Member
Apr 3, 2015
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I got my first road bike in April. Its a Cannondale Synapse and I love it.
I had them put on the Shimano A-530 pedals which are half platform and half clipless.

I have done a number of events using the platform side, always kinda fearful of going clipless. I struggled through some of the hills in a gran fondo, and I thought I wuold finaly take the plunge.

I purchased the Bontrager Solstace multi sport shoe. It fits terrific. Amazingly comfortable, and the three velcro straps really keep the shoe secure.

The solstace has a rubbery bottom like a regular sneaker and recessed cleats. Not as stiff as the hard plastic road shoes, but easier to walk around in- and since most of my trips involve a trip to a book store or market.. I appreciate not slipping on tile, tarmac or damaging the bottom of the shoe.

I opted for a more central location for the cleats, in the lower position - closer to the middle of the foot than the tip.

As for the clipless ride- WOW!!!!! What a difference. All my fears were for nothing. As long as you think ahead when you approach an intersection, really I had no worries. Clipping in and out was remarkably simpler than I thought.


The feeling of connectedness to the bike- it makes pedalling so much easier and smooth. I can't wait for my next clipped in ride.

If it works out well, for Christmas I will upgrade to a sportier set of pedals.

Anyone else have any advice or war stories from their first clipless ride?
 
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Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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I might be the sole weirdo here, but I went from 40 plus years of toe straps to clipless and had no problems at all with engaging or disengaging. I was sort of worried from all the people who had issues, but after I took a shoe by hand and entered and exited the pedal I had the idea of how it worked. In reality it wasn't that much different from toe straps but of course SpeedPlay pedals I've found out is easier to use in that respect. so sorry to disappoint you but I don't have any war stories. Sometimes if you reach stall speed before unclipping you could fall over and I've come close to doing that, but it's the same with toe straps too.
 

ABNPFDR

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Sep 24, 2014
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No war stories either. Started with toe clips back in the mid 80s. bought my first clip less pedals in 1987 and compared to clips, it was a piece of cake. I don't get why anyone hesitates to use them.
 

mpre53

Well-Known Member
Feb 20, 2013
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Cape Cod, MA, USA
Nope. First ride was a non-event. I couldn't imagine going back to clips and straps, and I really couldn't imagine using platforms on anything but a beach cruiser.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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After 30+ years on clipless pedals the only thing even close to a war story I have to tell is that while winding my way carefully through 5 or 6 fields of racers lining up for the start of a road race a small rock had unknowingly jammed the release of my left pedal...the foot I use to stop and start It locked the shoe in the pedal like it was welded to it.

I damn near fell over as I tried to unclip. The shoe would NOT release. In front of a large crowd of racers and spectators and refs and moto drivers. I damn near fell half a dozen more times as I almost hit stationary riders and other slow moving riders in the parking lot that had maybe 200 guys trying to find their Category/Field.

I can't release my right foot at all due to a physical issue, so I was pretty much going to have to find something to lean on or go over. I finally found a tree or something to lean on and I had to unstrap the shoe and pull my foot out of the shoe. It took both hands to force the shoe to finally release from the pedal. A small stone or pebble had wedged itself behind the release spring wire and rearward movement was impossible. Rotation of the cleat was blocked as the stone was trapped between the steel Campy cleat tab and the inside of the pedal's spring wire.

It was un-nerving, For sure, but would have only been embarrassing even if I had fallen. I have never had that weird stone-locking thing happen before or after that. It happened completely out of the blue. I've never seen anything like it before or since.
 
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maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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One of the retaining bolts fell out of a friends spd cleat resulting in a no release scenario. The cleat just rotated with the pedal. Luckily we were riding alone and found a good place to work on it. He removed the shoe and after a few minutes, figured out how to release the cleat from the pedal.

We ended up stealing an unused, rack eyelet, bolt from the bike to reattach the cleat.

I was able to get my wife to come out for a group ride only once. The ride was going well and we stopped after about 15 miles to regroup - forgetting to unclip, she tipped over in front of everybody. Did I mention that was the only time she came out with me?
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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maydog said:
One of the retaining bolts fell out of a friends spd cleat resulting in a no release scenario. The cleat just rotated with the pedal. Luckily we were riding alone and found a good place to work on it. He removed the shoe and after a few minutes, figured out how to release the cleat from the pedal.

We ended up stealing an unused, rack eyelet, bolt from the bike to reattach the cleat.

I was able to get my wife to come out for a group ride only once. The ride was going well and we stopped after about 15 miles to regroup - forgetting to unclip, she tipped over in front of everybody. Did I mention that was the only time she came out with me?
That's the problem with the clipless design, there is more potential for failure vs toe clips, plus there is more wearout issues with clipless, the only thing that wore out with toe clips was the leather strap which were cheap to replace and easy to tell when they were getting bad.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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The bolt falling out was more an issue of poor installation than design, I think.
 

metalmancpa

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Jun 11, 2015
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I just got back into cycling. My main goal was fitness, so I ended up getting a Specialized Sirrus with toe clips, because I've never used clipless before. I'm in a sprint triathlon in 5 weeks which is why I needed a new bike (my old one was a 1980's hybrid). But, since I'm not planning a career of racing bikes or tris, I went with the flat bar and toe clips. Right now after a month + riding 3x or so a week, I've got my average speed a bit over 18 mph on rides anywhere from 12-30 miles. I figure I'm getting a good workout, plus I should do respectfully in the tri.
 

welshdude3

Member
Jul 6, 2015
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pittsburgh
Trial by fire. Got a pair of Shimano dual-sided clipless. Duck to water. Really improved form drastically. My cycling life is separated into BC and AC. Can't ride around the block without them.
 

Uawadall

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Jun 14, 2015
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I pretty much have the same experience as you, even the same shoes and bike,lol...When I first started cycling(first week), I was really bad..I went out with my brother who's a little more experienced and bumped into him while we were riding. At first I cringed at the idea of clipping my feet onto a bike.Fast forward 3 months and i'm riding much better and went clipless. It came very natural to me and I never fell off yet. The main thing I notice is, I climb hills much easier clipped in. With normal pedals, my foot would constantly move around wasting energy often forcing me to stop and restart on long hills. 2 weeks ago a ride as much longer than expected due to a fellow rider getting multiple flats...It was my second day riding after a long ride and I was beyond tired. 3 miles away from my house, I had no energy,but my feet kept pedaling without me even thinking about it. I can already tell my riding is much more efficient being clipped in.
 

limerickman

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Jan 5, 2004
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A couple of my old bikes have clips and I sometimes take them for a spin for old time sakes.

I've no problem pedalling with clips or clipless.
 

BobCochran

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May 3, 2015
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Using clips is another thing I probably need to do. I'm still in my infancy as a cyclist (smile.) I have Shimano pedals that can take clipped shoes but I just don't know yet about getting the right kind of shoes. When I cleaned my chain today I found a yellow warning tag in the left pedal saying I can only use Shimano shoes, or something like that. I'll need to find the tag. I think it is on the deck somewhere and I forgot to bring it in.

Bob
 

BobCochran

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May 3, 2015
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I've looked at myself in the mirror and admitted that I have to have clips. It turns out I have Shimano SPD pedals. Someone suggested I try Keen cycling sandals. I agreed. This weekend, I will practice with the clips in my local school parking lot. Like Froze, I will clip and unclip the shoes with my hands first so I can get the sense of how they work.

Bob
 

limerickman

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Jan 5, 2004
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BobCochran said:
I've looked at myself in the mirror and admitted that I have to have clips. It turns out I have Shimano SPD pedals. Someone suggested I try Keen cycling sandals. I agreed. This weekend, I will practice with the clips in my local school parking lot. Like Froze, I will clip and unclip the shoes with my hands first so I can get the sense of how they work.

Bob
Initially it will take a bit of practice but after a short while you won't even have to think about "clipping in" and "de clipping".

I use LOOK pedal/clips
 

BikeBikeBikeBike

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May 19, 2015
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Before I came to this forum I didn't like clipless.
I think I was just biased though.
Already brainstorming my next build (will be posting on that soon) which will 100% have clipless.