Arthritis and clipless pedals

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Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby reags » Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:59 am

Hi guys/gals,

I've started using clipless pedals last Friday for 2 rides and usually I'm accustomed to stretch and sometimes kick my legs outwards to relieve the sometimes sore knees due to arthritis (the very reason I took up cycling). My concern is that with cleats it restricts and locks my feet in one position so to relieve myself I'd have to be constantly unclipping on top of the already many unclips required at traffic/pedestrian lights. My other worry is crashing due to not being able to unclip fast/well enough (which has almost happened several times already) and that's a factor I don't really need with my already not so great joints. I've been trying to refine my technique but so far it hasn't been great.

Speaking of which, with cleat installation, is it supposed to be completely tight and immovable or should it have some movement?

So here I am four days later struggling to decide whether it's worth me sticking it out and giving it a few more tries or whether I should just return to flat standard pedals. I would love any tips, advice, and anything you riding experts could inform and educate me with to help resolve my dilemma.

My best and thank you all in advance,
Reagan
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by BNA » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:17 am

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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby sogood » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:17 am

Common fear. The solutions are,
1) Proper bike fit. One that ensure the positioning and settings are correct.
2) Familiarity. Clipping and unclipping will become natural and efficient.
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby reags » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:35 am

Thanks for that mate. Yep I've spent a while getting the bike fit as right as I can for my condition though you're right with familiarity, will need to give it another go sometime when the Sydney weather isn't so terrible. The other fear I have is that with trail riding, as the tracks are often unpredictable so unclipping if a hazard unexpectedly appears could almost be too late. Typically I'd man up and just go hard, but with arthritis I'm forced to be a lot more cautious as it affects everything else I do daily such as driving and even the simple things like raising my arms which hasn't been easy with inflammation.
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby sogood » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:39 am

My experience with clipless has been with road riding. For trail riding with regular obstacles, I'd suspect there's a different set of criteria you'll need to consider for your physical condition. I am sure others will give you a personal perspective soon.
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby AndyTheMan » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:49 am

In terms of whethere there should be 'movement' when clipped in depends on the pedals/cleats.
I use Shimano SPD-SL pedals and cleats (road) and there are basically two cleat types.

The cleats with the yellow plastic ends have a few degrees of 'float' allowing a small amount of laterall movement when you are clipped in.

Its my understanding that the ones with the red plastic ends do not have this 'float' and once you're clipped in they are fairly stationary.

I've got the cleats that allow a bit of float as I can images that cleats/pedals without much movement may lead to injury/strain unless the bike/pedals/shoes/cleats are perfectly set up.

I've never taken a fall as a result of not being able to unclip. I think it just take a bit of practice - Like most I have a couple of sets of lights/give ways etc on my regular journey and after a bit of practice the unclipping become fairly natural.

I actually have more of an issue clipping in - recently I was out in the dark in an area where there was no light (other than my front facing lights and rear flashers_ and I had trouble clipping in - only to look down and realise it was pitch black.....

Took me a few goes but got there in the end!
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby lgbran » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:54 am

also have dodgy knees, hips and pain from arthritis. You should be able to loosen your cleats right off ( makes it easier to unclip) and tighten down the track once worn or as adjustment needed. Once you are used to them you won't go back to flat pedals. Unclip before you get to an intersection and don't do as i did and thougt I'd unclip on my weaker side and fell over.. Practice clipping abd unclipping as you go and will become second nature. Depends on how restrictive arthritus is. My knees and hips are stuffed from years of runningand like many taken to cycling. I haven't ridden for about 5 months and weight ballooned to 108 kgs.. so lots of weight preassure on my joints and need to start cycling watching diet agai. Good luck and keep perservering
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby reags » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:01 am

lgbran wrote:also have dodgy knees, hips and pain from arthritis. You should be able to loosen your cleats right off ( makes it easier to unclip) and tighten down the track once worn or as adjustment needed.


Excellent info. gentlemen. Andy - I'm riding a MTB w/Shimano XTR985s.

So in regards to cleats, I take it they're not supposed to be completely tight and immovable? If this is the case then perhaps it's where I'm messing up as I've screwed them on tightly (?). Sorry to hear of your arthritis too, but glad you're able to relate to the pain and inconvenience! What's frustrating is that I'm 28 and have had to deal with this disease for around 3yrs now. Not fun at all and $$$$$ on the meds/rheumatologist :(
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby sogood » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:16 am

reags wrote:So in regards to cleats, I take it they're not supposed to be completely tight and immovable? If this is the case then perhaps it's where I'm messing up as I've screwed them on tightly (?).

As was noted earlier, there are different cleats that provide for different levels of float (range in angular movement). So it's your choice as to which type of cleat you purchase and use. Otherwise the screw setting in the pedal is for the release tension ie. How hard it is to unclip. This is important for some aggressive riding situations where one does not want to accidentally unclipped by some hard pedal actions. For pedestrian riding, one can well turn it right off and offer the lowest release tension for ease of unclipping.

Going back to the issue of arthritis. Obviously there's a large range of how an individual can be affected. So it's impossible to say how clipless suits you as an individual. If you really find it uncomfortable, you can alway go with a more traditional clips, especially the model wthout a strap ie. A toe clip. This would be a balance b/n the efficiency benefit of clipless and ease of stepping in and out. Consider your physical condition and choose what's most comfortable and low risk.
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby reags » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:44 am

sogood wrote:there are different cleats that provide for different levels of float (range in angular movement). So it's your choice as to which type of cleat you purchase and use.


My pedals came with a pair of SH51s and in the manual they're apparently only compatible with 51/56s so options are fairly limited. I may give the 56s a try if I can't get used to the 51s so I should've clarified (sorry) - with these type of cleats which I currently have -

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... odelID=167

are they designed to be screwed in completely tight onto the shoe, or should they be 'free' to move?
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby trailgumby » Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:50 am

reags wrote:
lgbran wrote:also have dodgy knees, hips and pain from arthritis. You should be able to loosen your cleats right off ( makes it easier to unclip) and tighten down the track once worn or as adjustment needed.


Excellent info. gentlemen. Andy - I'm riding a MTB w/Shimano XTR985s.

So in regards to cleats, I take it they're not supposed to be completely tight and immovable?

Correct, definitely not. There should be float. I can't remember the exact amount, but 15-20 degrees either side of centre sounds about right.

If you have XTRs I'd back the screw off all the way on both sides, and retighten to just the first detent. Use the SH51 cleats that comes with the pedal, You don't want the multi-release option cleat, too easy to come out at the wrong moment (eg, mid-air off a waterbar on a fast fire road descent)

I run XT pedals. I've only just this year tightened mine up off the minimum setting after I learned to hop the rear wheel up over step-ups and do bunny hops at a mtb skills seminar. With the pedal set loose and a dot of chain lube on the contact points, the risk of you clipstacking is pretty minimal. If you do tumble over, it will be at slow speed and it's relatively easy to turn into a tumble.

If I stall on a rock or tree root and I'm going to go over I've trained myself to lock both sets of brakes. By thus locking up the pedals I can stabilise the bike for long enough to get both feet out and on the ground fast enough to avoid a fall.
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby trailgumby » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:01 am

Forget the multi-release 56's. They're OK for touring, or if you're skilled and used to handling a bike midair on flat pedals, but dangerous otherwise in my opinion for MTB.

You can too-easily lift your foot out - not ideal while you're say midair off a waterbar on a fast fire road descent. That's not going to end well. I had a lucky escape with a worn M515 pedal that came with my first dually. It released unexpectedly while mid-air. I managed to keep it together somehow, but the nuts took a hit in the process. :x :oops: I still dunno how I managed to keep it together. :shock:

The SH51s only release if you kick your heel out to the side, either in or out. Much safer in my view, and not at all hard to get used to if you set the sping tension at its loosest to start with.

The cleats should be tightened down firmly on the shoe. If they move on the shoe, you won't be able to get your foot out of the pedal. That won't end well either :lol:
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Re: Arthritis and clipless pedals

Postby reags » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:41 am

Cheers for the tips mate. Guess I'll have to give it a few more tries - All of my recent rides have been on cycleways with mates but will hopefully hit the trails soon and decide from there. Really hoping I don't stack it as it won't be fun (think it takes me a lot longer to heal than others). By the way, I dig your sig. :lol:
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