These new step-ins...

  • Home
  • These new step-ins...
8 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

"I live in lower Manhattan and I'm returning to road riding after a hiatus of 7 or 8 years. I've just purchased a speedy new Specialized Alliez steel road bike. I'm also new to step-ins; the shop sold me Shimano PR-R600s (""the Ultegra pedals"") along with the specialized road shoes. My first fall was right out of the shop at the first traffic light; I fell hard on my left hand, but fortunately didn't break anything. I understand this is a common occurrence for those new to step-ins! After a week or so of ice and bandaging, I decided to try again. I first lowered the pedal resistance to the easiest setting, and took the shop's subsequent advice to practice first, which i did at a nearby park. I got comfortable enough to try the Hudson Bike path; things were going fine until I ended up in traffic and fell again, due to my old habit of keeping my feet in the pedals while waiting for the light to change - obviously we'll need to unlearn that. Unfortunately I stuck my left hand out again to break my fall, and ended up re-injuring my hand – again, no break, but it’s by no means healed.

I am no klutz – I’m a squash player and a swimmer and have done some road riding and touring in the past. Despite that these are racing pedals and great for road riding, they don’t seem very suitable for negotiating the unavoidable heavy Manhattan traffic with lots of stops and starts, where there’s lots of potential to mess up. Not only are they tricky to get out of, but to get into them after pushing off, I have to frequently look DOWN at the pedal briefly to flip it upright (they’re one-sided) – thus taking my eyes off of the many potential disasters unfolding around me.

Soooo, what to do – I could start wearing hard plastic wrist guards and keep trying to get used to these pedals – I’m wondering if I can shift and brake with those on, tho. I could go back to toe clips and forget the step-ins until I move to Montana. Several friends (including an experienced club member) have suggested I’ll get used to them eventually. However, I cannot afford to fall and break a wrist. And hey, this is supposed to be FUN, not dangerous and injury-filled!

The option I want to ask you folks about: would the step-in pedals made for mountain bikes be easier to deal with in Manhattan traffic? I see on Shimano’s website that several of these are 2-sided (easier to get into?); the PD-A515 is advertised as urban/multi-purpose. I’ve read elsewhere on the web that almost half of road riders use mountain bike pedals; must be a reason. The shop I bought the bike at didn’t seem to have much of a selection, and nothing was out on display – he went into the repair area and pulled these out of a cabinet. So maybe I need to look at and try out some other models (?).

I’m sure there’s lots of collective experience on this, and I’d be grateful for any suggestions.


Anonymous's picture
Bruce Gordon (not verified)

I've had 2 pairs of clipless pedals: spd's and now the shimano pd-7800. I had a lot of experience with toe-clips before that. If you don't clip out in time, then you're likely to fall, and I'm not sure that spd's (or whatever) would have saved you given that you weren't used to the pedals. Maybe pedal that has no clip-out resistence (Frogs) would have helped. The best thing is to have the habit of unclipping one of your pedals when you're coming to a stop. You can practice this and build confidence (Go to a park and stop 100 times. I'll bet you see an immediate improvement!). I've only had my road (one-sided) pd-7800s for a couple of weeks. I do find that they're a bit harder to clip into than the 2 sided spds due to the single side. I find I can use a single leg to get going even if my unclipped foot is not engaged. I can push a little with the unclipped pedal and pull up with the engaged pedal until I have the time to fix things.

Do you have your pedals set so that they require the minimum pressue to release. If you mistyped and actually have the pd-600 then you're pedals are virtually identical to mine. I find that the minimum setting is fine.

I recommend practicing religiously. For the future, if I'd practiced and still felt that a fall was in the offing, I'd change something for sure.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

The better part of the first year of moving to clip ins I rode in traffic with one foot pretty much unclipped, if I remember correctly. I had fallen over once, thinking I could balance on the bike at a light ( wrong!)
I have mtn bike Frog Speedplays so the pedal is workable without being hooked in. It is like a tiny lollypop. This system works well with me. They only unhook if you twist your foot away from the bike. I am told that other systems will disconnect if you twist either way.
Coming back to your problem. Only clip in on both feet when you are sure you are able to pedal evenly for a while. This means not clipping in both feet in traffic.

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

My approach when I started with clipless was: if I squeeze the brake, I clip out.

Anonymous's picture
Anon (not verified)
lots to learn

"Having returned to riding a year and a half ago after a zillion years off, I've figured out quite a few relevant things already regarding shoes, pedals and NYC traffic riding. I second what several others have suggested about mtb shoes and pedals.

Look for shoes without aggressive lugs (most online catalogs like Performance/Nashbar) have images of the bottoms). Lake, Shimano and Specialized all have them. Specialized also makes the ""Sonoma"" as a road shoe with no lugs but otherwise more like a mtb shoe.

As for SPD cleats, there are two kinds--single release and multi-release-- get the multis--you can get out a lot easier either way you twist your heel. Shimano M-324 pedals (so-called ""novice"" pedals) are platform on one side, SPD on the other and easy to pedal without clipping in when you don't want to, no matter which side you end up on (and you don't have to look to spin to the other side when you want to clip in because you can feel the cleat holder).

For the next step, Crank Bros. makes the ""Candy"" line of pedals which uses their own cleats and have the 4 side ""egg beater"" in the middle of a little platform so it's both easy to clip in or to push the pedal without clipping in. All the varieties are usually available on eBay for way less than list price. (They may be described as mtb pedals, but they are still very small and light. The only disadvantage is that they require periodic lube.)

Hope this helps. (BTW, the bike shop should have put your bike on a trainer and let you practice clipping in and out for a while before you rode out on the street.)"

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Get double-sided pedals & single-release cleats

"""As for SPD cleats, there are two kinds--single release and multi-release-- get the multis--you can get out a lot easier either way you twist your heel.""

Actually, the SH-55 multi-release cleat releases either by rotating the foot (in the horizontal plane) OR rolling the foot in the vertical plane. Some riders have had problems with accidental releases with those cleats (not good!).

I would recommend the single-release SH-51 cleats and double sided pedals like the Shimano PD-M515.


Anonymous's picture
Roberto C. (not verified)
how to practice

Maybe its too late for this, but when I first got clipless pedals (SPD-R) I practiced by getting on my bike in the house in a narrow hallway. There wasn't room to fall to either side. I practiced clipping in and out while stationary and supported myself with my elbows against the wall. I never had one of the beginners wrecks caused by inability to clip out fast enough. Good luck!

Anonymous's picture
Alan Resnick (not verified)
clipless pedals-

read some of the responses-may have missed -but if not there-OF REAL IMPORTANCE-is doing the same motion EVERY time! So practice in your house leaning against a wall-and then preferably on a quiet Sunday in the park-in and out every 30-60 seconds and then after 20 timmes then every few minutes-and then again alot befor eyou leave the park to head home. But what??? In at the bottom-with cranks still; and OUT at the top of the pedal stroke-with cranks still; and shoe outward-not inward-try just a little motion so your foot actually stays on or near the pedal. It is a learning curve-unfortunately you fell twice early on and lets hope thats enuf!! Alan R.

Anonymous's picture
sisimpops (not verified)
My First Clipless Pedals - help?

Well, I'm finally making the switch to clipless...but I have no idea which pedals to buy! I ride a road bike, and I do a lot of long rides including centuries. I also dabble in triathlons. I have mountain bike shoes, so am looking for MTB pedals...but beyond that I don't know what to buy.

My local shop said I should get a pedal with a platform for more comfort on longer rides (less foot pain and numbness). A longtime cycling friend said that's ridiculous--a platform doesn't make any difference when you're clipped in. Frankly, I get pain and numbness on my current pedals with toe-clips, so I'm afraid of having MORE pain and numbness.

I've been slow to go clipless primarily due to my fear of clipping in and out. I am a klutz and just know I'll fall over I have been thinking about the Frogs, because I heard they're easy to get in and out of. But they don't have any platform to them at all (so if I listen to my bike shop guy, they're not for me).

Also...I've noticed that prices vary greatly. Is there a huge difference in quality between the high-end and low-end pedals? What do you get for the extra money?

Any advice would be very much appreciated! I'm so confused!

cycling trips