Scared to use cleats?

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Scared to use cleats?

Postby ovie68 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:12 am

The thought of using cleats really scares me. I don't like the idea of not being able to quickly put my foot down and falling over :oops:
Can anyone share experiences with cleats, good or bad?
Should I be brave and give them a go?
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by BNA » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:19 am

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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby sogood » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:19 am

Yes. Learn to anticipate and disengage early. It'll come. Remember also to set the cleat tension to the lowest setting.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby trailgumby » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:37 am

Good advice from sogood. :D

To that I would add this: when you do take a tumble to the side (and everybody does at the start), turn it onto a roll or tumble with the aim of ending up on your back with your legs in the air (think dying cockroach :lol: ) rather than sticking your hand out hard with the elbow locked, which can result in a broken bone.

Most of the time if you focus on rolling sideways you wont even end up with any skin off. I'd suggest maybe even practicing on a grassed area.

When I first started with cleats I disengaged one foot early when coming to a stop. This does require planning ahead, which means staying on the road and away from pedestrian traffic areas. I'd recommend low traffic routes to start with.

In an unexpected emergency unclip, I find it helpful to hit the brakes and lock up the transmission as this gives me something to push/stabilise against when I need to kick the heels out and jump off fast. I had this happen a couple of times on the weekend and while there's still that sense of panic :lol: I got both feet out of the pedals and on the ground simultaneously just fine. :)

I'm at the stage where I now feel acutely uncomfortable on flats: I'm so used to the security of being locked in I have a fear of my feet rattling off the pedals, especially on technical mountain bike trails.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby A_P » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:32 pm

ovie68 wrote: I don't like the idea of not being able to quickly put my foot down and falling over :oops:



Are you a new rider? Do you regularly need to put your foot down through fear of falling? if so then maybe your not ready for cleats. If not then yes i think you should give them a go.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby DaveOZ » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:34 pm

ovie68 wrote:Should I be brave and give them a go?


Yes, just make sure someone has a video camera pointed at you. :wink:

Seriously, it's not hard and make riding so much easier and better for your knees. Get the cleats adjusted correctly too. Try it.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby ovie68 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:53 pm

A_P wrote:
ovie68 wrote: I don't like the idea of not being able to quickly put my foot down and falling over :oops:



Are you a new rider? Do you regularly need to put your foot down through fear of falling? if so then maybe your not ready for cleats. If not then yes i think you should give them a go.

To clarify - I'm not scared of falling over now but if I have feet stuck in cleats when I come to a stop then I'll fall over!

sogood wrote:Yes. Learn to anticipate and disengage early. It'll come. Remember also to set the cleat tension to the lowest setting.

I didn't even realise that you can adjust the tension on them. It might make me feel more comfortable knowing that it will be 'easier' to get them out.

TrailGumby I like the fact that not using cleats makes you uncomfortable now, who knows if I give it a go maybe I'll get to that stage......one day

Thanks everyone for your responses.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Toolish » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:55 pm

I felt similarly a couple of years ago when i got cleats. I have not fallen yet, just spend the first few rides on quiet roads and randomly clip in and unclip as often as you can. They will be crap rides for any sort of training but you learn the skill.

Then unclip well before you need to if possible. Eg. if there is a stop sign un clip 50m short of it and roll up.

After a while it becomes second nature. The 2 closest calls I have had was when a car cut me off at a round about and I had to stop suddenly but instinct took over and I unclipped as I sort of fell and got the foot down in time. The other time was at a triathlon dismount line, couldn't work out why i had such big issues until i realised a bolt had come out of the cleat so as I twisted the cleat was twisting on the shoe rather than unclipping!
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Parker » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:07 pm

I feel heaps when I first got cleats.

I remember climbing this hill and knowing I couldn't make it, I also couldn't unclip... I just let myself fall, don't put your arm out and don't tense up, you'll be fine :)
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby im_no_pro » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:18 pm

Another +1 here for giving it a shot. If you have (or can borrow) a stationary trainer practice clipping in and out on that first to get some confidence (if you don't have a trainer, a doorway is just as effective). Make sure you get comfortable clipping in and out with either foot, no point in being an expert in clipping out with your left foot if your about to go down on the right side (don't ask me how I know this..... :oops: ). As mentioned, back the tension off until your comfortable with the whole process.

Nervousness at the start is perfectly normal. You may or may not fall, but don't be surprised (or put off) if you do, chances are it will be at slow speed anyway. Like others have said if you don't stick your arm out to break the fall chances are you will be fine.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby jet-ski » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:20 pm

the first clipstack i've had in a long while I didn't put my arm out because I was concentrated on protecting my new CF bike with my body! lol
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Oxford » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:12 pm

Like TG I really dislike riding without cleats now. Even a quick trip to the shops has me putting SPD sandals on so I can clip in.

If and when you decide to go "cleated", I suggest that you set yourself up somewhere so you can hold yourself up stationary. Click in and out each side at least 100 times practising putting your foot in and out of the pedal. This helps to develop muscle memory for the process. Eventually you'll be just doing it without even thinking and wondering why you didn't go "cleated" earlier.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby sogood » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:25 pm

Oxford wrote:Like TG I really dislike riding without cleats now. Even a quick trip to the shops has me putting SPD sandals on so I can clip in.

My feet kept on lifting off platform pedals. Really annoying. :twisted:
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby RonK » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:33 pm

ovie68 wrote:The thought of using cleats really scares me. I don't like the idea of not being able to quickly put my foot down and falling over :oops:
Can anyone share experiences with cleats, good or bad?
Should I be brave and give them a go?

For what it is worth, I wrote a little article about this very subject for a lady friend a few years ago - she went on to use clipless pedals very successfully. You can read it here.

It's also worth picking up a copy of the latest edition of Australian Cyclist, which has excellent articles about pedals, cleats and shoes.
Last edited by RonK on Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:34 pm

Go for it. You'll feel more part of the machine than merely a passenger astride. :D

MTB pedals and cleats make for an easier learning experience.

Your first experience of clipping in and out should be in a door way, stationary. Try it a dozen or so times on each side you your body can start to get an idea of the process before it has to concentrate on everything else involved in making a bike move.

Next, head to your local footy ground and do laps on the grass, clipping on and out as you go. Try to do it at all crank angles and speeds.

After that, find a big carpark when it's quiet and do the same. Pick some lines to stop at and practice deliberate stops.

Now for the quiet roads...

A couple of last minute things...

Don't look down! Your feet will learn where the pedals are quicker if Big Sibling brain is not involved.
When pulling up at lights, look at the ground where you are planning to stop. I'm thinking oil puddles and already slippery cleats here.

Good luck with it. :)
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby marinmomma » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:10 pm

I have found that the Look Keo pedals and cleats are easier to use compared to Shimano ones!
I started out with Shimano but was struggling to unclip without great effort, which increased my anxiety levels as I was also riding a drop-bar roadie for the first time...nothing like a steep learning curve :shock:

Go for it I'd be surprised if you didn't have a clip-stack at some point...follow the advice about rolling and chalk it up to experience! Happens to most of us :wink:
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Naels » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:47 pm

I recently got cleats for Christmas and it has made me quite nervous! I didn't realise you could loosen the tension... That sounds like a good idea while I get used to them.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby mishb » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:17 am

Lots of good tips here.

Practice at home somewhere stationary, eg like in a doorframe. You'll know when the tension is right for you.

Decide which foot you are going to unclip when you stop - I think most people use the left as that is usually the side closer to the curb. It was a no-brainer for me as I'm left handed. But whatever you decide, stick to it - my husband had his first clipstack because he forgot which foot he'd clicked out, it has to become second nature.

Then head to a park or somewhere to practice starting off, clipping in, unclipping and stopping. I had one tumble onto the grass when I did this, but otherwise I got it fairly well straight away.

When you stop, try to consciously lean your weight towards the unclipped side, so the bike doesn't overbalance towards the side that is still clipped in. The only clipstack I've ever had happened this way, it was quite windy and I didn't lean over to the left enough, so the bike tipped to the right. I kept my elbow tucked in though and just landed on my arm and thigh, no harm done at all, except to my dignity. I unclipped my right foot and managed to get up and off the road pretty quickly.

For me, it's important to unclick early, anticipate areas where you may need to make a quick stop (eg roundabouts or shopping areas). I ride through high traffic areas with one foot unclipped. Practice riding with one foot unclipped and just resting on the pedal, be careful that it doesn't sneakily slip back in without you noticing.

I don't struggle to get mine clipped back in, when taking off. If it doesn't clip right in, I just get through the intersection etc, without worrying about it, then just wiggle it around a tiny bit and it always goes in.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby mishb » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:19 am

marinmomma wrote:I have found that the Look Keo pedals and cleats are easier to use compared to Shimano ones!
I started out with Shimano but was struggling to unclip without great effort, which increased my anxiety levels as I was also riding a drop-bar roadie for the first time...nothing like a steep learning curve :shock:

Go for it I'd be surprised if you didn't have a clip-stack at some point...follow the advice about rolling and chalk it up to experience! Happens to most of us :wink:


Me too! I got my shoes and cleats at the same time I got my first proper bike. So clipping in, along with the concept of having to lift up onto the seat and not being able to put my feet straight flat on the ground made it all a bit hairy at first. Still is a little, but I am getting better and better.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby clackers » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:43 pm

You can get touring pedals, Ovie - one side flat, one side MTB style clipless - as your gateway drug to full clipless.

Disengaging does become natural with repetition, like using the clutch on a manual car.

Like others, I'm irritated these days if I find myself riding flats for some reason.

Whatever the efficiency benefit is (20%? Who knows?), I've gotten accustomed to it.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby grasshopper » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:46 am

OP, I wouldn't recommend deliberately limiting yourself to one-sided clipping in/out. You will favour one or the other soon enough (your chocolate foot). However there will come a time you need to unclip quickly with the 'wrong' foot, and it's better that your body has some memory of doing so.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby Welsh Dragon » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:02 pm

I've got my pedals and shoes and am too scared to use them also!

But....very fed up in flats now for various reasons including my feet flying off sometimes!
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby gcouyant » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:47 pm

ovie68 wrote:The thought of using cleats really scares me. I don't like the idea of not being able to quickly put my foot down and falling over :oops:
Can anyone share experiences with cleats, good or bad?
Should I be brave and give them a go?


It's not so much a case of being brave, but more so having the option to clip in when you're feeling comfortable with the conditions and your head space and remaining unclipped on a platform pedal when you're not quite in the mood.

I think the best beginners option is the Shimano PD-A530 pedal. It's a touring pedal with clipless on one side and platform on the other. The platform side has a good area for the cleated shoe and there's no chance of accidentally clipping in.

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Hope this helps. Clipless is a whole new world of control and pedalling power - definitely worth the effort to learn.
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Re: Scared to use cleats?

Postby sonj » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:38 pm

The less you fret about clipping in, the more likely you will succeed - it can be a Zen thing, think of trees or something. Clipping out - practice somewhere safe. Anticipate idiots in traffic (but you knew that) and if in doubt, clip out before you drop the anchors if you can. Or do what I did and clipstack in front of an audience of one driver who (I imagine) was grinning from ear to ear after she gave way to me at a t-junction where she had right of way... Unfortunate or malicious timing? I will never know.

I remember as a kid slipping forward off the pedal and having the sawtooth edge embedding itself in the back of my heel. Never again. After picking up cycling again I graduated to SPD pedals and MTB shoes with recessed cleats on my new road bike and am a verry happy Doris (Fred) who will never go back. Hell I can't even go to spin classes without my SPD shoes - cages just don't cut it.
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