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Bikes, Cycling, Safety

To clip in or not to clip in

When I bought my Specialized Allez road bike in 2014 (after scouring bike shops, taking in bike shows, looking over and trying out more bikes than I care to disclose and, after my wife said to me, after barely listening to yet another list of bike specs, features and pros and cons said: “Just pick one and buy it!”) I made a conscious decision not to acquire more bike-related stuff than I truly needed. I was going to focus on the riding, not the accessories.

Of course, I needed a few necessities like water bottle and cage, lights, helmet and, of course, padded shorts (that need became apparent after the first ride.) Then when I picked up my new bike, the guy at the shop told me that even though the bike came with the cage-style toe clips I would probably want to replace them with clipless pedals.

I dismissed the idea as another useless accessory but at the same time wondered if I should just fully commit to the whole road bike milieu and clip in like most of the other road cyclists. They were the riders whose pedalling cadence seemed more fluid. Plus their pedals made a satisfying clack when they clipped in. It sounded to me like a type of starter’s pistol. Let’s go, they said. Take on that road.

Cycling purists will tell you that clipless pedals are the only way to ride. They’ll imply that you have to use them if you want to be considered a real roadie.

So I took the plunge.  They were easy to install (especially since I’d also bought a bike repair stand.) I practiced with them in the backyard, making sure the tension was set so I could snap in and out quickly.

Clipless pedals certainly helped on a climb when I had to get out of the saddle and stand on the pedals. My feet always felt secure and I knew they wouldn’t slip out of the pedals.

Trouble is, I had this nagging suspicion that I couldn’t get my feet out fast enough. I didn’t like the feeling of always being attached to the bike, especially in Toronto traffic when inevitably a car would stop suddenly in front of me or pull into my path from a side street or parking spot.

Everything I’d read about riding clipless mentioned that you should expect to crash at least once. That thought didn’t appeal to me — especially when I researched some of the crashes. For one, there’s this guy (granted, he was on a mountain bike but scroll down through his post and check out his x-rays.)

Still, I’d prefer not to create some x-rays of my own, so I’ve gone back to using the cage-style pedals that came with the bike, albeit with the adjustable straps removed, leaving just the centre clip for the toe of my shoe to slip under. While they allow me to slip my foot out quickly they’re still tricky to get back into when I’m pulling away from a stop.

So I’m in the market for a compromise solution. There’s these platform “pin” pedals (often used on mountain bikes) and these “Click’r” pedals that can be used with or without cleats. So, that means I’m still buying more stuff. But this stuff should let me concentrate not on my feet but on the fun of the ride.

 

 

 

 

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About Paul Ferriss

Paul Ferriss is a writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He is editor of CAA Magazine (published for the Canadian Automobile Association by Totem, a custom content agency.) He's also Totem's director of creative and editorial. Previously he was executive editor at Marketing, a magazine covering advertising, media and marketing, where he also covered automotive marketing and managed an editorial team. He also works as a freelance writer and has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and Canadian Business. He's the author of Never Too Fast: The Paul Tracy Story.

Discussion

One thought on “To clip in or not to clip in

  1. Clipless pedals are the only way to ride! 😉

    You can back the spring tension right off on most pedals so clipping in and out is very easy. It soon becomes second nature. Sure, you’ll probably take at least one slow motion tumble but the only thing hurt will be your pride. Those flat pedals with pins in them are deadly. I’ve got a fair few scars on my shins from slamming into the metal pedal pinss from my BMX days.

    Posted by tempocyclist.wordpress.com | June 18, 2017, 1:31 am

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