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  1. #1
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    Difficulty with clipless pedals-I need help!

    About 8 years ago I tried switching from straps to clipless pedals. I tried loosening the tension, but still had difficulty getting out in a hurry, like a short, steep technical climb through rock when your tire hits something and stops!

    After falling about 20 times in 3 days, almost breaking my wrist and dislocating my left shoulder (I seem to prefer to fall to my left) I gave up and went back to straps.

    I haven't ridden much in the past 6 years and I'm getting a new bike (probably a Tallboy, Jet9, Rip9 or Pivot429-I need to demo a couple more before deciding) and I want to give clipless pedals a try again.

    I'm 6'4" 250 lbs and do a lot of core and balance workouts at the gym so for my size, I'm pretty coordinated. I'm a surgeon and need my hands or I'm screwed, so breaking an arm or dislocating a shoulder is not worth it to me, but I prefer not to be the only one with toe straps on the trail (I seem to be able to pull straight back out of these VERY quickly).

    Any advice on pedal options or what to try are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Try a pedal like the Time Atak or the Crank Bros Egg Beater Candy. No tension screw to worry about. Practice on a lawn. Think "Heel". Always go heel first to the ground.
    Do not put out your hand to catch you, just land on your side.

  3. #3
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    I'm 6'4", 260 pounds. I like Eggbeaters. Super simple and I step in and out like flats. After the initial toe clip to clipless hardship period, they've become effortless.
    I like turtles

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWright
    Do not put out your hand to catch you, just land on your side.
    QFT!!!! One of my riding buddies sprained his wrist and tore his ACL after losing his balance on a seesaw and trying to catch himself, and he's not even a clyde. If you're going down, just take the hit on the side.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496
    I'm 6'4", 260 pounds. I like Eggbeaters. Super simple and I step in and out like flats. After the initial toe clip to clipless hardship period, they've become effortless.
    Same size plus a little and I love my CB Candy 2's
    MxV=Clydesdale

  6. #6
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    Regardless of which type you get, take the bike out into a grassy area and practice getting in and out. I would do this repeatedly for a week before hitting any trail, and then only hit easy trails until muscle memory starts to take over. If there is a tension screw, set it as loose as it will go. I've been using clipless long enough now that if I ride a bike with platforms, getting off nears a bloody disaster... think of a cyclocross exit except after twisting the foot off the pedal, you slip off and the pedal tears up your calves...

    One other thing. I could be very wrong on this, so a 2nd opinion is warranted, but I would think that a pedal with low float would be preferred over one with a lot of float for a beginner... less twist to exit the pedal...

  7. #7
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    Even though I only use Crank Bros on my bikes, I would still recommend something with tension adjust that pops loose at 8-10 degrees rather than a CB. My wife learned on some $25 Ritcheys (still has them on her bike now), and being able to adjust the tension out to "barely clipped in" set her mind at ease.

    The good news is that it eventual does become second nature.

  8. #8
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    Since you haven't ridden much lately, get a decent pair of platform pedals with some grippy shoes like 5-10's and that will help you gain the confidence.

  9. #9
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    You need to repeat it and rehearse it and repeat it again. It has to become muscle memory (motor learning), an action that you can repeat with no conscious thought, like tying your shoes, or riding your bike, or touch typing on your keyboard. Building muscle memory can take hundreds and hundreds of repetitions.

  10. #10
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    I think the old pedals I had were shimano XTs and shimano shoes. I thought that I had the tension set as light as I could but it was a bear to twist out.

    It sounds like the Time and Crank Brothers take a different movement to disengage than the shimanos.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevermiss
    I think the old pedals I had were shimano XTs and shimano shoes. I thought that I had the tension set as light as I could but it was a bear to twist out.

    It sounds like the Time and Crank Brothers take a different movement to disengage than the shimanos.
    It's not a "different" movement so much as it's MORE movement needed to disengage. CB disengages at about 15 degrees. The other problem that you might experience is the feeling of disconnectedness you get with so much float. I can bounce around on my CBs and still be engaged. It's just difficult to know when you are disengaged.

    Look, go back to your Shimano pedals and check that you have the screws as far out as they will go without actually falling out of the pedal. Maybe oil the springs a little. Also check to make sure they're clean, no debris floating around that could limit their action. Check your cleats for the same. A little caked on mud could be disastrous.

    There is one other option, and that is a platform pedal with clips. You could unclip as you slow down while retaining some grip on the pedals.

  12. #12
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    Practice, but get away from toe clips! I see more toe clip accidents than clipless. It takes a little practice in learning to 'lead with your heel' when you want to unclip, but that becomes second nature very quickly. Height, weight etc have nothing to do with any of it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevermiss
    About 8 years ago I tried switching from straps to clipless pedals. I tried loosening the tension, but still had difficulty getting out in a hurry, like a short, steep technical climb through rock when your tire hits something and stops!

    After falling about 20 times in 3 days, almost breaking my wrist and dislocating my left shoulder (I seem to prefer to fall to my left) I gave up and went back to straps.

    I haven't ridden much in the past 6 years and I'm getting a new bike (probably a Tallboy, Jet9, Rip9 or Pivot429-I need to demo a couple more before deciding) and I want to give clipless pedals a try again.

    I'm 6'4" 250 lbs and do a lot of core and balance workouts at the gym so for my size, I'm pretty coordinated. I'm a surgeon and need my hands or I'm screwed, so breaking an arm or dislocating a shoulder is not worth it to me, but I prefer not to be the only one with toe straps on the trail (I seem to be able to pull straight back out of these VERY quickly).

    Any advice on pedal options or what to try are greatly appreciated.
    Three
    suggestions:
    1) Practice a lot. As has been said, muscle memory must be automatic. When you no longer have to think about unclipping when you stop you've got the muscle memory nailed.
    2) Don't go on anything super steep until you've got muscle memory and technique nailed! OR Unclip and walk the really tough sections. It's really hard to build confidence if you crash ad hurt yourself.
    3) Add more cardio to your workouts! More speed climbing will make it easier to roll rocks and keep them from stopping you (maybe lower tire pressure also...)!

  14. #14
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    Practice.. or get these! I have used SPDs for years.. but I went back to these.
    Swear by them!

    http://powergrips.mrpbike.com/index.php?section=index
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  15. #15
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    I started with straps many, *mumble* years ago... then went to Shimanos for a bit but my knees did not like them. I've been riding various forms of Times ATAC for over 10 years for all my bikes.
    As many prior posts said, practice. Putz around with the bike at home popping on and off the pedal, adjust the tension until you're comfortable. Make the process instinctive. I can come off either pedal almost as fast as a platform. The only time its screwed up is due to mechanical problems.... which usually point back to me for not swapping the cleats when they wore out or just simple pedal maintenance... which does need to happen.
    You mention pulling straight out quickly from straps... that won't work with clipless so your muscles have to relearn the new and "unlearn" old motions when you bail.
    That... will take some time.
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  16. #16
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    Speedplay Frogs

    Had a pair for years. They are full float. Meaning you are never clipped in. For me, disengaging the pedal is easier than Shimano style cleat systems. Never tried the CBs. They look interesting. With the Speedplays, you are always going to disengage w an outward heelflick and lift.

  17. #17
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    I ride SPDs on my commuter, so very comfortable with them and have gotten habitual at dealing with getting out in a hurry (e.g. car pulling out in front of me: emergency stop!).

    However, I have never been able to get on with them offroad, in specifically the situations the OP mentions: going uphill over tough terrain, slowly. Just too many times when a sudden stop pitched me over to one side and just not able to get foot out fast enough. The last time resulted in a good tumble off the trail down the side of a hill, at that was the last straw!

    Now use Superstar Nano flats with 5.10 Impacts or Shimano AM40s (3 years now), and I slightly miss the connection over really rough stuff downhill, and pedaling efficiency is a little reduced, but overall I love them. Also much easier to get pedaling again in heavy mud or tech uphills when you need to restart.

    Your shins may look like hamburgers during the summer though!

    HTH,
    Kev

  18. #18
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    Get flats, the high quality flats with good shoes make pedaling almost identical to clipless pedals and you don't have to worry about not getting out of your pedals. I made the switch full time last year and don't see me ever riding flats on anything but my singlespeed (Some hills I actually do need to pull up on my pedals, but that's not proper pedaling as far as I'm concerned).
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  19. #19
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    Go with XTR or XT pedals and the multi release cleats. I too tried clipless years ago and just never got comfortable with them. I too have been riding with toe clips. I'm 57 years old and decided to give clipless another try - I need all the advantage and efficiency I can get.
    I got the XTR trail pedals and the multi release cleats - have them set loose. They are as simple as my toe clips - no problem getting out. My previous pedals were obviously junk, the new ones work great! After about 10 rides I have finally gotten into the new rythm of up and down stroke. I'm climbing hills with amazing power now! The added advantage is awesome.
    .

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by lherndon
    Go with XTR or XT pedals and the multi release cleats. I too tried clipless years ago and just never got comfortable with them. I too have been riding with toe clips. I'm 57 years old and decided to give clipless another try - I need all the advantage and efficiency I can get.
    I got the XTR trail pedals and the multi release cleats - have them set loose. They are as simple as my toe clips - no problem getting out. My previous pedals were obviously junk, the new ones work great! After about 10 rides I have finally gotten into the new rythm of up and down stroke. I'm climbing hills with amazing power now! The added advantage is awesome.
    .
    After speaking with a few other people, I have decided to get the XTR pedals and Shimano shoes with the SH-56 cleats.

    I'm still trying to decide which bike to get, but the one that I have liked the most so far is the Tall Boy.

  21. #21
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    I started with the CB Candy pedals and hated them. Fell constantly. The release angle felt closer to 50 than 15 degrees. Switched to the Forte Carve from Performance Bike. In the 4 months since, I haven't been able to clip out just once.

  22. #22
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    I love my XTR's, for me they are the perfect balance of being able to use your feet to toss the bike around as well as when things go awry you can pop out without delay. My last pedals did not perform so well and I know your pain. Sucks to just fall straight over at 0 mph cause yer clips are stuck.

    Did you go trail or race model?

  23. #23
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    I haven't purchased them yet, but I'll likely get the trail model.

  24. #24
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    I recently made the switch from old school toe clips to spd clipless and it hasn’t been near as bad as I thought it would be. I have the PD-M520 pedals and the cleats that came with (SH51 I think). With the tension all the way loose I find a panic yank in almost any direction gets me free. No “cant get out” falls yet, but the toe clips have takin me down a few times so I sure it will happen at some point. The mountains here are still packed with snow so I haven’t done a lot of tech stuff on them , hoping to be well practiced before the melt.

    Gary
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  25. #25
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    Once you get the hang of it you will never think of it again. Quit trying to lift your foot out. Just a simple foot twist, Toe In, Heel Out. Heel in or stomp through would not work for obvious reasons. Practice it at speed so you will not tip over on an easy straight away, until it becomes second nature. Then start releasing the left foot then braking to stop.

  26. #26
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    You will stop and not clip out.......

    Went clipless this year but got the Shimano 530's which are flat on one side and clipless on the other so I can ride around with my family in regular shoes/sandles.



    The platform/flats are not what I would call very aggressive so I don't plan on using them for trail riding but they are great for just casual cruizin'. If I find the clips to be an issue on the trails and I want to ride in regular shoes, I'll probably drill eight or ten 3/16" diameter holes that don't penetrate all the way through in each of the flats of these and bottom out some 1/4" long spring pins into them to give them some serious tooth.

    Being clipped in has not really been a big deal, but...... Even though I practiced a lot and had the motion committed to muscle memory, the other night I rode up to my garage exhausted after a long ride and just freakin' tumped over right on the concrete driveway. I did what I read here and just took it like a man without sticking out a hand etc and it really didin't hurt too bad. My pride was injured pretty bad though since I did it in front of my neighbor .
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  27. #27
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    The technology on flats pedals and shoes has rocketed over the last few years.

    A thin pair of flats like Kona Wah Wah and a pair of 5.10 shoes (not impacts but the lighter ones like freerider) will give you more grip than you need and allow you to fully circular pedal.

    You will never slip off a pedal with 5.10 shoes, ever. I can deadlift my 45lb bike a foot in the air from a trackstand of pedal grip.

    Technology has moved on, SPD are still best for racers, but at the end of the day losing 1% speed on a loop is nothing compared to the increased safety and fun (I have more fun on flats as I know I can take risks)
    Why would I care about 150g of bike weight, I just ate 400g of cookies while reading this?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2FewDaysOnTrail
    Being clipped in has not really been a big deal, but...... Even though I practiced a lot and had the motion committed to muscle memory, the other night I rode up to my garage exhausted after a long ride and just freakin' tumped over right on the concrete driveway. I did what I read here and just took it like a man without sticking out a hand etc and it really didin't hurt too bad. My pride was injured pretty bad though since I did it in front of my neighbor .
    If you really had it committed to muscle memory it wouldn't have happened. Muscle memory actions occur without conscious thought. What you did was like saying you forgot how to breath. If you are seriously fatigued, that impacts conscious actions more than reflex actions.

    Not tryingt to be a dick or anything, I'm just pointing out that this wouldn't have happened had it been truly committed to muscle memory and you had just a few ounces of strength left.

    I do know an older motorcycle rider who, a few years back after a very long ride pulled up to a stoplight and couldn't get his foot off the peg in time to support himself and fell over (riding a sport bike where your legs are tucked up a bit higher than normal.) His legs had fallen asleep and cramped and he was seriously fatigued. He is currently 72 and still riding. If that was the case with you, where you were that fatigued, then it could have happened with straps, clips, or even on really grippy flats..... just saying.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaveGiant
    The technology on flats pedals and shoes has rocketed over the last few years.

    A thin pair of flats like Kona Wah Wah and a pair of 5.10 shoes (not impacts but the lighter ones like freerider) will give you more grip than you need and allow you to fully circular pedal.

    You will never slip off a pedal with 5.10 shoes, ever. I can deadlift my 45lb bike a foot in the air from a trackstand of pedal grip.

    Technology has moved on, SPD are still best for racers, but at the end of the day losing 1% speed on a loop is nothing compared to the increased safety and fun (I have more fun on flats as I know I can take risks)
    In the old days for me, when I rode BMX, I've used many, many aggressive flat pedals with grippy shoes like Vans or even my Converse.... and I've got the scars on my shins and calves to prove it.

    Then I rode for nearly 20 years with clips on my mountain bike. Being loosely strapped in was definately worth it, and I used to huck fairly sizable drops going downhill on a rigid steel bike... I'm talking old school here and I thought I'd never go without clips again... they kept me safely on my bike and me able to keep the rubber side down.

    Three years ago I tried SPDs on my mountain bike for the first time, and even though the shoes aren't as good for walking out of the boonies over rocks and boulders, logs and mud after you've taco'ed your wheel as my lighweight hiking boots are, the riding experience is so much better that its worth it for me.

    Bottom line is that I can't see myself going back to my BMX days and getting new scars from it, I really don't see any major improvements in technology of the platforms and shoes from then to now either. And yes, being able to spin is important for me too... that's how I ride out and back to the gnarly trail sections.
    Last edited by GpzGuy; 03-27-2011 at 04:23 PM.

  30. #30
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    I tried to unclip, just didn't happen.....

    Quote Originally Posted by GpzGuy
    If you really had it committed to muscle memory it wouldn't have happened. Muscle memory actions occur without conscious thought. What you did was like saying you forgot how to breath. If you are seriously fatigued, that impacts conscious actions more than reflex actions.
    Your correct and that was kind of my point. I was so exhausted that even though I was attempting to unclip, by the time my foot twisted out, I was already at about 45 degrees to the ground when my conscious thought realized I was going to bite it.

    Actually kinda funny.....
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  31. #31
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    Year before last I was at the beach, on vacation with my family and riding around. Got in some good trails, then spent some time riding into the local beach town (tourist trap)... went into the local bike shop and picked up a pair of PD-M424's with the plastic platform so I'd have be able to pedal without my SPD shoes, like to the vanpool lot in the mornings going to work. I went ahead and had the shop install them while I browsed around, put my old PD-540s in my pack, then checked out, clicked in (with a loud and ominous CLICK!) and pedaled off through the town. When I came up to my first stop sign (in traffic) I knew I was in serious trouble... I simply could not get my foot out!

    I just barely managed to grab the stopsign pole to keep from falling over. I turned right around and pedaled back to that shop, catching myself on the open door frame of the shop and proceeded to chew the shop tech a new one. He helped me off the bike and discovered that the pedals were adjusted all the way up to 11.... and one of the adjusters had stripped. He gave me a new set and adjusted them to have the same tension as my old pedals and sent me on my merry way..... close one, and a definate moment of panic for me.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevermiss
    I think the old pedals I had were shimano XTs and shimano shoes. I thought that I had the tension set as light as I could but it was a bear to twist out.

    It sounds like the Time and Crank Brothers take a different movement to disengage than the shimanos.
    I thought I was the only one with an issue, ive got the shimano xt's and the Shimano shoes as well I was sure I had them set loose and I still couldnt twist out and I would fall over. So I took them off and put the flat pedals back on. I have them sitting right here on my desk beacuse i was contemplating putting them back on for my ride this morning to TRY it again LOL
    I think I may look into the egg beaters

  33. #33
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    Why do you need clipless pedals?

    You don't need clip-less pedals at all! Go buy some Five-ten sticky rubber shoes and a good pair of flat pedals (Don't buy cheap flat pedals get some thin ones with replaceable pins I have 2 pair Diety Decoy which cost $80 and Point One Racing Podium pedals which cost $165 both work great) will work wonders for you. Five-ten shoes, and the newer thinner design of flat pedals are a game changer for the old flat vs clips-less argument.

    I rode clip-less for about 4 years (shimano spd, and crank brothers egg beater and mallot pedals). I never had any trouble getting out of my clip-less pedals, and never felt the need to unclip before riding technical situations (although my brother seems to go over in the bushes at least once on every ride because he cant get out of his pedals). I switched to flat pedals and 5-10 sticky rubber shoes last year and it was the best thing I have EVER done for improving my riding finesse. I use to just plow through every thing and rely on being physically attached at the pedals to keep me in control and on my bike when it got rough instead of using proper technique to keep me in control and on my bike when it gets rough. I now understand what it means to ride foot heavy hand light.

  34. #34
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    I'm also an Eggbeater afficionado. I like the simple Eggbeaters better than the Candies, which in my experience tend to start creaking. You just have to make sure to use shoes with super-stiff sole. I currently use Shimano M230 shoes, they are not super-light, but otherwise excellent. Always use CrankBros. Shoe Shields with Eggbeater pedals. Otherwise your soles are prone to break after a rather short while (killed a nice pair of Specialized Carbon Comps this way ).

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