A Guide To Clipping In

24 April, 2018

If you're curious about clipless pedals just know that learning how to clip in is a rite of passage among cyclists. For one, it requires a financial commitment of buying special shoes and pedals. More importantly, it attaches you quite literally to your bike. Which is a good thing because it increases your pedaling efficiency, letting you generate power as you pull up as well as when you push down. Clipless pedals can reduce the risk of injury by keeping your foot in the optimal position on the pedal. And for most cyclists, they are far more comfortable (and often safer) than toe clips that strap your foot to the pedal. However, being clipped in for new timers can be pretty nerve wrecking and it doesn't really need to be that way. Here are some tips to help you get comfortable with the idea of going clipless.

One thing to know is that there are many types of clipless pedal systems and brands. Many clipless pedal systems are highly adjustable and can be set so the spring action takes very little pressure to release and free you from the pedal. That said, 100 percent honestly, you will very likely topple over once or twice during your learning curve with clipless pedals. Everyone does. It’s a bit embarrassing, but a right of passage that doesn’t last very long before you get the hang of it. But it is important to practice in a safe place like a parking lot to get the hang of it before motoring down the road.

Follow your pedal manufacturer’s instructions to set your cleat tension so entry and exit are as easy as they can be. Some brands and models have no release-tension adjustability, so ask before you buy. If you’re unsure about anything, stick around the shop and have them assist you with the setup. The shop also can install the cleats to the bottoms of your shoes with special thread-locking grease that will help keep the screws—and hence the cleats— from coming loose, as well as help you position your cleats correctly so your pedaling position and alignment are correct.
Step In
Once they’re set up, practice getting in and out of your pedals. Prop yourself up on your bike where you can hold on to a stable surface like a railing or wall, and then step in to the pedal by positioning the cleat at the pedal and pressing down until you hear the telltale “click” of the attachment being made. Now clip in with the other foot and pedal backward to get the feeling of being clipped in. If that’s too difficult, you can simply stand over your bike and, with one foot on the ground, clip in with the other.

Twist Out 
Now practice releasing your foot from the pedal by twisting your heel toward the outside, away from the bike. Switch sides. Then step in and twist out again and again until it feels natural. Cruise when you feel comfortable clipping in and out, go for a spin around your neighborhood or on a patch of grass. Practice clipping in and out as you roll. 

Try coming to a complete stop, as if you were riding in traffic. As you slow to a stop, clip one foot out and drop it to the ground just as you normally would. Not feeling that confident yet? Stop next to a tree or telephone pole so you can grab it if you have to. 

Once you feel comfortable clipping in and out as you cruise your neighborhood and stop on a dime, show up at the next group ride looking like an old pro.

My hope is to get you feeling like you 'can do it'. AND YOU CAN! I know many people who were intimidated at first but once they started, they didn't understand why they made it such a big deal! If you decide to go clipless, keep your eyes peeled here as I've got a post coming up all about road cycling SHOES!!

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