Share your experience - Riding clipless for the first time

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by xenovier, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. xenovier

    xenovier New Member

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    I've read the other post on the horror stories of their clipless experience.

    Nevertheless, I made sure I practice enough before I ride on real roads.

    I would say it's better to practice on something you would lean on than practicing on a trainer because this teaches you balancing skills which is vital to using clipless.


    So I practied with a table 5 metre in length, 1 metre in height for 30 minutes clipping and unclipping, and visualising the possibilities I would face. Like emergency situations where I need to unclip in weird positions. Then I simulate it with the help of the table to keep me balance.

    I practiced both feets, leaning on different sides. I find my left foot harder to unclip for my dominant foot is my right, and also the foot I normally rest during stops.

    So I decided to give my left foot more practice.

    My right foot is filled with black marks from the cranks from practicing as I lost my balance a bit sometimes, but nothing serious.

    Finally I lost all balance, supposedly I rest my weight on the correct side with my left foot, but shit just happens, and ended up with 5cm cut on my right calf with blood. I hope there's no infection.[​IMG]

    For that my confidence level sunk, I was already imagining the feeling of falling on tar roads, having your skin ripped apart and having your dignitiy destroyed. True stories are touching, but so far none has been inspiring but sad.

    ---

    Despite the low morale, I decided to go for the real thing. Nothing helps you learn faster than the real thing.

    It was easier than I thought. Then I realise it needs more skill when it comes to uphill or downhill and uneven terrain.

    The hardest if the terrain is slanting because you are inclined to lean where the slant is. So if the slant is to the left, and your dominant foot, or the foot you normally unclip to rest is your right, be very very extra careful!


    So I decided to practice on these terrains which lasted 15 minutes. I didn't fall but ended up another 3cm cut on my right calf. No infections pretty please.:(

    Just thought I share how I use clipless and hope it will be helpful to others:

    Pedals: PD-M540 (SPD-SL)
    Cleats: SM-SH11 (Yellow cleats with 6 degree float)

    HOW TO GET ON


    Make sure you practice enough to clip and unclip comfortably on something you can lean on.
    It's best to practice in housing areas with minimal traffic, with ample distance to travel around, and hopefully no trace of human creatures to safe the embarassment in case you fall.[​IMG]

    1) Rest on your dominant/resting foot(assuming it's your right), bring the left pedal to 5-7 o'clock and clip your left foot in.

    2) With left foot clipped in, and right foot still resting, bring the left pedal up to 10-11 o'clock. Please pay attention in your resting foot as you still can lose balance and fall, with your left foot still clipped in. Then you will have cut marks on your calf like me.[​IMG]

    3) Gain momentum from your left pedal, and while the bike is moving, this is your chance to clip your right foot in. The right pedal would normally sit around 9-12 o'clock for me to clip in. I normally backpedal on my left foot to get my right pedal into position. It's really up to you which is the most comfortable position you want to clip your right foot in, and depending the situation.

    If you are skillful enough, it should be possible to clip in any position you wish.

    Sad to say the only way to improve this step is to keep practicing. If you have trouble clipping the right foot in, and losing speed, DON'T PANIC!

    You can either:
    a) Calmly stop, take a couple of deep breathes and try again. The left pedal would be at 6 o'clock when you want to stop.
    b) Gain momentum again with your left foot. I prefer back pedalling and then pedal forward again than cycling in full motion.

    If you stop to take some deep breathes, I would advice unclipping the left foot until you are ready to go again from the beginning. I believe it's a good habit to unclip both sides between stops to decrease the risk of falling.

    If you worry it's a waste of time, I think with enough practice, clipping in again becomes second nature. I dread the thought of falling and would do anything to prevent it, don't you?

    4) Once getting the right foot in, pedal away and enjoy! It's surely an exciting feeling, like you got your first kiss, but don't let that excitement make your forget you are on clipless, where so many poor brothers and sisters fall into that trap and have a nasty fall.

    ---

    HOW TO GET OFF

    First of all, stay calm and confident just like how you started off.

    1) The right foot should be prefarably 12 o'clock to unclip, as I find it to be easiest at this position. I advice practicing unclipping in different positions for emergency purposes.

    2) With your right foot ready to rest, as the bike is about to come to a complete stop, make sure your weight is lean towards the right side. I find that it helps if you turn your handlebars to the left, between the moment where the bike is at a complete stop and the moment you would balance to rest on your right side, as pointed out by a forumer.

    3) As your right foot touches the ground and rest, if possible, make it a habit to unclip your left foot as well unless you're really confident you won't fall like me! I'm convinced myself unclipping both sides is the way to go.

    4) Even better if you can unclip both feet before the bike comes to a stop without losing balance. I always unclip my right foot, followed by the left and rest my feet on the other side of the pedals. I'm still experimenting this step.

    I find it difficult to unclip both at the same time due to balancing issues. Though if you're not careful , it will be ugly if one of the your foot accidently clips in the very last moment. Uh-oh.

    ---

    Lastly, a lot comes with anticipation, and pray to the cycling Gods for sharp instincts to tell a possible emergency stop to unclip both feets on time to land safely.

    That is what I'm working on, and hopefully with enough practice (praying), I won't have a fall even in emergencies. Hopefully! [​IMG]

    ---

    I love clipless. I discovered I could travel the uphill back from uni at 20-25km/h with the same effort, compared to lastime without clipless, I only manage 15-20km/h.

    Owned.

    I wonder why, but I would prefer to be hit by a car than to fall on clipless if the situation calls for. Strange. Guess I'm really THAT scared of falling on clipless.[​IMG]
     
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  2. mongooseboy

    mongooseboy New Member

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    My first clipless pedal experience wasnt too great, but i had crappy pedals. They were KORE pedals, and they fell out when you least expected, and held you in when you wanted out. i had a few chainring tatoos (bloody ones at that), and some scraped up knees from falling on rocks...the last was my own fault i thought i could climb a quick rise in a tough gear:cool: didnt work.

    im ok with them now...havnt been offroad with clipless in a long time though so i dont know how i would fare offroad, but on road i can get right out and stop perfect at a sign or light. emergency stops wouldnt be as pretty, but id stay on my feet at least
     
  3. pistole

    pistole New Member

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    - no offense meant to the Original Poster.

    - but the convoluted way in which the description of using clipless is done would only put off people from using them.

    - clipless is easy to learn , its not brain surgery and doesn't need acrobatic skills.

    - just keep the cleat-release-tension to the minimum and practice is some parking lot of something like that.

    - once you've gone with clipless , you wonder how you ever did it before.
    .
     
  4. openclassmx

    openclassmx New Member

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    I did my requisite fall and got it over with. :eek:


    Went riding with my boss and on one long, slight descent he dropped me by about 200 yds (he rides a recumbent and I dropped HIM on the climb going the other way). He hopped off/out and sat on a bench to take a breather as I pulled up and I unclipped on the right... and promptly fell square on the left. Hit my elbow on the concrete hard. He had a good laugh.
     
  5. aubinmg

    aubinmg New Member

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    I got my new Stevens Strada 600 at the end of June. I had my LBS put on some Wellgo dual side pedals so I could go clipless on my commute and just hop on the bike to go down the street to run an errand on the platform side. The LBS set the tension at the lowest level and I went for a ride clipping in and out until I felt confident enough to head home. Got there with no issues. Two days later I was out for my first long ride on a bike path. I get to an intersection with a busy road, the light's changing and there's a little girl blocking my, way so I decide to stop instead of powering through. Well of course I couldn't get my feet out of the &%$$% pedals! Finally got my left foot out but I fell right, onto the road! I got a bruise on my hip the size of a desert plate but I scratched my new bike! Took a little while to get my confidence back but all's fine now. The work end of my daily commute is on some of the busiest streets in downtown Ottawa so I ride on the platform side just in case a blind motorist cuts me off. Everybody I've talked to has had at least one spill so I don't feel too special but I wouldn't go back to my clips.
     
  6. Scotty_Dog

    Scotty_Dog New Member

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    +1.
     
  7. Cycler6n

    Cycler6n New Member

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    My first experiance was great, never fell, came close to but never did, now they come natural
     
  8. MartinInMass

    MartinInMass New Member

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    I just my first set last week. Dura-Ace 7800 SPD-SL as a birthday gift.

    I've read all the 'horror stories' and while these pedals are top tier, I have no idea what all the fuss is about. Straddle bike, pick a side to go first, snap in, take off, put in other side. Reverse when stopping, and don't take off across a busy road if you're still unsure of yourself.
     
  9. xenovier

    xenovier New Member

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    +2.

    I was very excited about going clipless and thought it would be easy, until reading all the horror stories, the phobia increased with each story, and crippled the excitement.
    But like I said, it was easier than I thought.

    It's all in the mind[​IMG]
     
  10. Lionfish

    Lionfish New Member

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    No problems. I spent a few minutes on the trainer to know how they'll feel & was fine ever since. Never fell; never came close. Now I can't imagine NOT having them.

    I HIGHLY recomend a few minutes on a trainer to remove any fear of falling.:cool:
     
  11. Jace1283

    Jace1283 New Member

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    Thats just too much writing. I went up and down my street ONCE just to get a feel for them and have never fallen over. I've worn them about 100 miles so far I didn't even really have to get used to them. Its easy, just spin your heel out and that it! Whats the big deal? I'll give you the benefit of the doubt though, maybe my clipless pedal are easier? Just buy the clipless, try them in a open place and get on with it. It's that easy.
     
  12. ::dom::

    ::dom:: New Member

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    I haven't heard any "horror" stories... If you need to clip out you're usually slowing down. It's only when you forget to clip OUT and you're almost at a stop the you say to yourself "Oh! $%^&*" and topple over.

    I had a crash after a altercation with a Melbourne tram track and actually remained clipped-in. I had the presence of mind to hold my beautiful Ti frame, Record equipped bike off the road with my feet while I skidded along the tarmac leaving a trail of skin.
     
  13. Andatura Veloce

    Andatura Veloce New Member

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    Same with me... After a few minutes on the trainer and some practicing in the parking I was pretty confident in clipping in and out. I haven't fallen yet..
     
  14. xenovier

    xenovier New Member

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    I was curious about clipless so I search around to find out more. There was a thread about a day ruined by !*#@&)@#& clipless. It really had a negative effect on me!

    Maybe someone should start a post about a beautiful day with clipless, but the title just doesn't seem to sound right, no?

    I wrote that post after riding 10km around the neighbourhood hoping to help anyone wanting a basic guideline how to use it from my perspective.

    Hope it doesn't discourage anyone! Afterall, this post is about sharing our first experience, and it's up to you if you want to listen to someone riding on clipless for only 10km[​IMG]

    ---

    I did 50KM today on clipless second time, went through at least 10 traffic light stops. I fell at a traffic light halfway the journey with my right foot already unclipped for landing. There was a mother and a daughter just one metre away from me staring at me with an expressionless look. It was a graceful fall, nothing damaged in the process.

    Then came to the end of my journey, wasn't a good ending, I had to fall with both feet clipped. This time blood on my left knee. There was a concern man nearby, asked if I was alright and what happened?

    I told him I wasn't able to unclipped my feet from the pedals before the bike came to a stop, if that makes any sense to him.

    He pat me on the back, smiling and say:" better becareful nextime"![​IMG]

    All in all it was an awesome ride with clipless today. Despite falling twice, it's not that bad, because I do find humour in it![​IMG]
     
  15. sooray02

    sooray02 New Member

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    I ate it. Of course I had the 'oh shit' face.
     
  16. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    No big deal. Of course, I'd been using clips and cleats for 20 years before foot pain urged me to go clipless.

    Of course, I'd tipped over a couple of times after forgetting to loosen my straps. And once spun out on a steel-grate bridge in the rain. Somehow I ended up ass-over-teakettle with one hand in the grate, rear wheel freewheeling in the air, and feet still clipped in. My buddy came up behind me, asking, "Are you all right? What can I do?"

    "Just loosen my straps," I groaned, and the whole mess came down and I was able to get up.
     
  17. 8ab4

    8ab4 New Member

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    I've found it's better to to clip out when you think you may have to stop suddenly. I clip out and hover my foot above the pedal in case I need to clip in quickly and take off.

    Honestly though, falling while clipped in is not so bad. I have some pretty sweet scars that I get to show off ;)
     
  18. jcthomasjr

    jcthomasjr New Member

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    When bought my first set of LOOK's around 1990 I just put them on, attached the cleats, and went out for a ride. Did not fall over or anything. Now that is not to say that over the years I have never fallen over due to not unclipping in time.

    Just clip in to go, unclip "before" stopping. Agree with the above that the confidence in clipping in and out comes quickly. Just do it.
     
  19. meehs

    meehs New Member

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    As I remember it (and this was a long time ago), I went to the bike shop with a friend who I used to do some offroad racing with. We each bought a set of Onza H.O. clipless pedals. These were one of the really early MTB clipless offerings. You had to partially disassemble the pedals and install firmer or softer elastomer "springs" in order to adjust the release tension. For the most part I liked clipless a lot right away. But the Onza pedals were inconsistent in their release and I had a requisite embarrassing fall on my first ride with them.

    I was riding a local horse/MTB trail that ran adjascent to a paved biking/walking path. I got up onto the paved trail at a stop sign where the paths converged to cross a busy road. A mother and daughter were at the stop sign waiting to cross the road. I said "hello" as I rolled to a stop and proceeded to ever so slowly tip over and crash to the pavement. Non-cyclists didn't even know that clipless pedals existed back then so I can't imagine what the mother and daughter must've been thinking. They just laughed and asked if I was okay. Nothing was hurt but my pride (if I ever had any). :eek:
     
  20. GinaNY

    GinaNY New Member

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    I'm a total newbie here, but did a 25 mile charity ride last week (on my hybrid) and it started drizzling so my shoes were wet. I had always watched my DH in clipless and thought they looked so dangerous, but after my foot slipping off the pedals a few times because it was wet, I think not!

    I'll have my first road bike in 5 days and you can bet I'll do whatever it takes to get used to the clipless. Also, had a "lesson" with the owner of the LBS and man, he just kicked my ass over the hills. He would have anyway of course, but if I'd had the extra efficiency of the clipless, it might not have been quite as embarrassing. I mean, I am in great shape, just don't do enough hills.

    So if I fall - eh - it won't kill me - and it sounds easy enough if you remember what the heck you're doing.
     
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