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  1. #1
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    Clipless, how long does it take to get used to them (not for me)

    My girlfriend started riding again last weekend after a little over a year away from riding. It's a long story but, she had a bad wreck, damaged her knee, had surgery, that didn't work, then had to have knee replacement surgery. A year and 3 weeks later her surgeon tells her she can ride again. Last weekend we rode 16 miles Saturday, 14 miles Sunday. When her doctor gave her the green light to ride, she asked about riding clipless, something she's never done, but wants to try. She rode with flats last weekend. But bought new shoes this week, on her own. She wants to ride clipless this weekend. We're going to be riding a trail system she's never ridden. I'm going to strongly suggest she doesn't use her new shoes. I have a pair of Shimano m545 pedals that are almost new that I had mentioned that I would give her. I won't even put them on this weekend.

    I'll win this battle, but I feel for her since she's so excited about riding again, and going clipless, and using her new color coordinated clipless shoes. It's been a very long time since I went clipless. I don't remember, how long does it take to get used to and good with clipless pedals? I can tell her that... and how important it is to first practice in the yard around the house, and places like that. Before going to the trails.

  2. #2
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    Long time for me as well, from what I remember all the crashes are 0mph fall overs. Like ski bindings, they pop right out when you crash.

    Took me a weekend or two of falling over and I had it.
    "Bigring, that's deep. ...Well, I suspect it is. I didn't read it."

  3. #3
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    Tough call. Some people are natural. I had a REALLY steep learning curve(I fell a lot in the beginning) because I started with toe-clips in the 80's and even though I "off-dirt" biked with clipless, I still fell a bunch in the rooted, rocky stuff we have here in Hawaii. The sensation of pulling back to get out vs. just stepping to the side was not natural in the beginning. I have friends (my girlfriend included) who just picked it up and barely ever fell. I say more power to your girlfriend, give her credit and support her desire. She'll probably do fine with enthusiasm alone.

  4. #4
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    If she is set on trying them somewhere that she's never ridden(I'd be againest that too) bring the flats also just in case. I had been ridding clipless for 3 or 4 months the first time I went to Moab ,Ihated them there lucky I had brought my other pedals ,so I switched them ,I felt a lot better then. Went back the next year with both sets of pedals ,never took off the clipless.

  5. #5
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    Comming from road riding, it took me 2 rides to get used to my mtn clips (time atac). From the third ride on it was totally fine.

    However, my friend who had never ridden anything but flats before took about 4 or 5 rides before he could get in an out easily as well as avoid toppling over at rest stops.

    I would highly recomend she learn to use them on familiar trails.

  6. #6
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    Don't go riding on unfamiliar trails with clipless pedals. Best thing to do is go to a large field and do 30 stop and go's(foot on ground)

    She will fall over a few times, don't want to ruin those knees again. That where you will land on when you do a 0mph crash!

  7. #7
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    Multi release cleats and setting the pedals to the loosest position is a good start. If she's just starting out she should be just fine like this.

  8. #8
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    I did about 15 minutes of practice in a field, then about a week on my normal XC trails. To get to where I would NEVER fall because of being clipless, about a year

    However, the type of falls you get from failing to unclip typically aren't serious -- just going slow or stopping, and you topple over. Usually you unclip automatically when you crash. Twice I didn't, but was got no additional injury as a result. I typically wear knee-warmers doubled over to protect them from abrasions.

    I would encourage her to try it and see how it goes. She may like the security of being attached to the bike -- I know I do.

  9. #9
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    What Menusk said,the pedals are adjustable,set them loose,mine are set loose so if you want you leg out on reflex you can.Couple of rides and she will be good,nothing too technical for the first trip.

  10. #10
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    We rode today. At the trail head she put on her new Shimano color coordinated mtn bike shoes, still with the flats on her bike. But she rode around the parking lot a couple times and decided that wasn't a good idea, and put on her sneakers. After reading all the responses I almost gave in and agreed with her that she could go clipless... it sounded like a couple people thought it was ok... and I felt bad holding her back. Anyway, I'm glad she didn't. Something that neither of us thought of, occurred to me out on the trail; she doesn't have full range of motion with her new knee yet. Last weekend when we rode twice, she had about 98 to 100 degrees bend in her knee. That is very close to the minimum to make that arc as you go over the top with the pedal. Today for whatever reason she was less than that. You can compensate a little, by raising the seat. But that has it's limits, of course. So, if she was clipped in, that right foot that would be "attached" to the pedal would have forced her to make those last few degrees of bend. And at the very minimum it would have been extremely painful, and possibly damaged tendons. Who knows. I'm no doctor. I'm just glad we didn't have to find out. So, long story short.... she needs to hold off on clipless for a little longer, until she gets more range of motion.

  11. #11
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    Glad to hear she didn't push the situation with her knee issues.

    As far as getting used to riding clipless; I just made the transition to clipless last week.

    Immediately after putting on the clipless pedals and prior to hitting the actual trails, I clipped in/out close to 50 times while not in motion, trying to jump start my muscle memory.

    Result is I've fallen over about 5 times since then. Each time, it was at a stop and I basically "forgot" how to get unclipped at the very last second. Thankfully, noone was around to witness it. It's kinda frustrating at first, but I was determined to laugh about it (despite the bruises and blood) and keep moving forward.
    The last 3 rides there have been times that I had to put my foot down (mostly because of climbs) and I've managed to get my foot out without making a conscious decision to do so. I like to think I'm "over the hump."
    So, in my case (and her mileage may vary), it took me about 8 rides til it became "second nature." Maybe I'm a slow learner.

  12. #12
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    When she is ready...an idea

    I run Shimano multi-release cleats. SM 56, I think. The 56 is correct. Anyway, with five release points, they come off in a panic and stay on otherwise. The only time I fell over was the very first time I rode clipless.

    If it matters I run Shimano XT pedals. The Shimano 540 does work with the multi cleats.

  13. #13
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    half a ride to get used to it, about 3 to get really comfortable for me.

  14. #14
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    but i agree, learning clipless on a new trail system is not such an awesome idea.

  15. #15
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    Can I ask a related question... I just purchased a new FS XC bike which came with a set of generic Shimano SPD pedals. I changed them over to XT pedals and adjusted them all the way open (the furthest to the left). What I am now finding is that I cannot get out of the pedals when I need to drop a foot onto the trail or when I come to a stop. I am using the same shoes on three bikes and they come out of the other two sets of SPD pedals without any issue but they stick in the XT pedals.

    Anyone have a similar experience or any insights before I change these back to the standard kit?

  16. #16
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    It probably took me about 2 weeks or so before I stopped falling over. I definitely wouldn't try learning on an unfamiliar trail. I rode clipless for about 2 years but as my bike and riding style have become less xc oriented over the last few years I switched back to flats. I have nothing against clipless but I think that running a good pair of flats is probably the way to go on a new trail if you haven't used clipless before.

  17. #17
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    Put some time on a trainer with the new shoes and pedals before taking them in the field and avoid the falling over thing all together. i

  18. #18
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    i remember having a total idiot fall at first, which made me not like them. i only used them sparingly on the road bike for a while...and still didnt like them. (to me it felt like tugging on a foot stuck in the mud, a claustrophobia of sorts). After a while, i found some shoes and cleats i liked. i also use the multi-releases because i find when i'm in a rock garden, adn i need to unclip in an awkward spot, i can do so and not twist up my ankle. When i got those cleats, maybe only 2ish falls could be blamed on being clipped in. I also practiced a lot. Have her practice in a field or super easy trail! you have to retrain your brain and thats' different for everyone. Some people just never feel right in them, and return to flats and they'r happy. Some may disagree with this, but i think SPDs are the most beginner friendly because of the tension adjustment. you dont want them falling over (because they will) and have a foot bound tight enough to sprain an ankle.
    fap

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnb View Post
    My girlfriend started riding again last weekend after a little over a year away from riding. It's a long story but, she had a bad wreck, damaged her knee, had surgery, that didn't work, then had to have knee replacement surgery. A year and 3 weeks later her surgeon tells her she can ride again. Last weekend we rode 16 miles Saturday, 14 miles Sunday. When her doctor gave her the green light to ride, she asked about riding clipless, something she's never done, but wants to try. She rode with flats last weekend. But bought new shoes this week, on her own. She wants to ride clipless this weekend. We're going to be riding a trail system she's never ridden. I'm going to strongly suggest she doesn't use her new shoes. I have a pair of Shimano m545 pedals that are almost new that I had mentioned that I would give her. I won't even put them on this weekend.

    I'll win this battle, but I feel for her since she's so excited about riding again, and going clipless, and using her new color coordinated clipless shoes. It's been a very long time since I went clipless. I don't remember, how long does it take to get used to and good with clipless pedals? I can tell her that... and how important it is to first practice in the yard around the house, and places like that. Before going to the trails.
    I got used to them very quickly. Maybe a day and have never fallen over. I clipped unclipped and practiced stopping and unclipping maybe 30-40 times just riding around.

  20. #20
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    I rode clipless for about 2 weeks and went back to flats... I just prefer the feel of a decent set of platforms + five tens. It's kinda a mental block for me, clipless makes me ride more conservative in fear of killing myself.

  21. #21
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    johnb, just because your girlfriend is not running clipless, that does not mean she should not be riding with a good mountain biking shoes that will protect her foot. Years ago when I first started riding I was wearing a pair of tennis shoes and ended up breaking three toes. Lesson learned, good shoes are something that should be seriously considered.

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