Revenge of the Clipless

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Anonymous's picture

"Finally went clipless. Got Lake winter boots and a set of Shimano MTB pedals from Sids. Knew they'd be more efficient but am suprised how quickly I've gotten comfortable with them.

In that regard, I found the best preparation to be a) using a bike with downtube shifters and b) riding a recumbent in traffic. Both require you to think ahead and plan the next move, rather than just react.

We'll see if my ride averages inch up -- or if I just have an easier time at the same pace.


FYI: Clipless pedals - Wikipedia:

""In 1984, the French company LOOK , applied downhill snow skiing binding or cleat technology to pedals producing the first practical clipless pedals. Bernard Hinault 's victory in Tour de France in 1985 helped secure the acceptance of quick-release clipless pedal systems by cyclists. Those pedals, and compatible models by other manufracturers, remain in widespread use today.""


Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
A bike that requires you to think ahead and plan?

That would be a fixie.

Anonymous's picture
Don L (not verified)
more incentive to plan ahead

would be a fixie without a break (aka track).

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
First clipped in UAR.

Dyker Heights. 32 miles. Nice.

In any case, I have now decided there are two types of people in the world: those who clip in and those who DON'T.

Those who DON'T, I no longer wish to associate with and have nothing but disdain for their existence. They are dirt. Their words have no meaning. I don't want to be seen with them, let alone share the same ride. In fact, I faunt in their general direction!

Those who DO are the chosen people and are the true recipients of all the miracles the world has to offer. Their days on earth shall be merry and at the end they shall ascend to heaven on winged carbon Sidis.


I only hope that new twinge in my knee goes away ...

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)

Welcome to the club, Neile! I too was pleasantly surprised by the ease of the transition, and the comfort of riding clipless, when I made the switch a few years ago--and of course I too promptly stopped associating with the unenlightened.

As to the twinge in your knee, try playing with your cleat position, the tension of the springs in your pedals, and/or your seat height.

When summer rolls around, get Shimano sandals to ride clipless AND sockless!

Happy New Year,

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Adjusting cleat position solved it. Thanks. (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
First clipped in road ride

Crossing Over #2 - 60 miles with a fair amount of hills.

Some improvement on the ascents. Nothing dramatic. But on the flats was able to comfortably pull two cogs higher than unclipped -- a numeric improvement of 12%.

Once back in Manhattan, I tried some sprints and was able to accelerate to 23mph from rest in about a block and a half.

Two days later, parts of my thighs are aching that never had before -- indicating further improvement to be forthcoming as the eccentric muscle group develops.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)
First Clipless road ride

I remember my first clipless road ride - back in 1994. I rode from the bike shop at 89th and lexington and into central park at 90th street around 6pm on a summer night. The park was crowded with runners, bikers, walkers, etc.

To get a visual, I'm 6'tall and ride a 60 cm bike which at the time was brand spanking new.

I entered the park at about 3mph and began to turn to ride towards 110 street. A walker got in my path and I had to slow to a stop and put my foot down. I couldn't get out of my pedals. Well, can you imagine a large tree very slowly falling down....timber. It seemed like time stood still as I fell. On the ground I was clipped into my pedals and very embarrassed looking up as people began to circle around me to see what was going on.

I got back on my bike, clipped in and rode off. I fell over about two or three more times before I got used to the pedals. But, now (60,000+ miles later) I can say that I wouldn't ride without them.

Good luck,


P.S. Andy's post below is good advice that I wish I had when I got my first pair of clipless pedals.

Anonymous's picture
Andy Elder (not verified)
THE Clipless Tip.

"I'm always amazed that, when someone purchases clipless pedals--particularly when it's clear that it's their first pair--the shop selling them (or friends who've learned from experience) doesn't (don't) tell them that the time to unclip is while slowing to a stop , NOT after they've come to a stop.

I'm happy to report, without intending to boast, that I never experienced the ""newbie tipover"" associated with clipless pedals simply because I figured this vital step out before attempting a full stop in them. To this day, it's natural to unclip while slowing/braking to a full stop.

I'm not blaming those new to clipless pedals here but am blaming those selling them to first-timers and cycling friends of first-timers for not dispensing this very basic and essential tip for remedying every new clipless user's biggest fear. Perhaps someone out there will learn from my post; sure hope so.

Happy New Year,

Anonymous's picture
Experienced Clipper (not verified)
My 2 Pennies

"I think most, if not all, newbies know that they shouldn't wait until a complete stop before unclipping, it's just that they aren't used to the new system. I think it's completely normal to experience the ""newbie tipover"" because our brains need a little time to get used to unclipping, and that it has nothing to do with what we know or don't know.

I remember my first tipover in the middle of broadway around 8th st. I was startled from a bus pulling out in front of me and decided to stop suddenly, but forgot about the pedals. Oops.


Anonymous's picture
Heath (not verified)

I unclipped my right foot and extended it to place it on the ground. Just as I am about to put my foot down, I fall to my left, the side that is still clipped into the pedal.

Anonymous's picture
Russ Berman (not verified)
Clipped into What?

Why do we clip into or clip out of clipless pedals?

Anonymous's picture
Nick (not verified)
Meaning of clipless

Clipless refers to being w/o toeclips which along with toestraps mated to a platform pedal were the predecessors to todays clipless pedals.

Admittedly, they could have been named better.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)
Perfect circles

I found this article interesting and thought you might as well.



Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

"This article's conclusion is in direct contradiction to the findings of Dr. Coyle (and others):

""Although the ""elite-national class"" cyclists were not different from the ""good-state class""
cyclists regarding VO2 Max or lean body weight, group 1 was able to generate I 1 % more power during the 1 h performance test than group 2 (P < 0.05), and they maintained a 10% higher bicycling velocity for 40 km (P < 0.05).

The higher power output was produced primarily by generating higher peak vertical forces and torque during the cycling downstroke and not by increasing the effectiveness of force application to the pedal... It appears that ""elite-national class"" cyclists have the ability to generate higher ""downstroke power"", possibly as a result of adaptations stimulated by their greater number of years of endurance training."""

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)
Interesting test...

"Pedal mashing versus pedaling efficiency - which will enable me to ride faster with less effort on a long ride? Would the individuals in the test above create more power if they learned to pedal more efficiently years ago? I really don't know.

MPO is that learning perfect circles may enable a pedal masher to create more power (Watts) with less effort (HR) over an hour. Presently, I am more of a pedal masher and want to find out if ""re-training"" my muscles will improve my power output and efficiency while in my base training cycle.

An excerpt from another article is below.

Pedaling Efficiency
(by Bill Edwards, Ph.D.)

Improvements in pedaling efficiency can make it possible to produce power with less muscle stress and less
fatigue. Many of the world’s greatest cyclists have worked hard to improve pedaling efficiency using
sophisticated scientific measurements of pedal pressure. The SpinScan function provides a direct visual
measure of pedaling efficiency, thereby allowing one to work on improving pedaling efficiency by the use of
real-time biofeedback. One can actually see the immediate effects of modified recruitment patterns on
pedaling efficiency.

Inefficient pedaling causes one to recruit a relatively few leg-muscle fibers at high intensity, whereas efficient
pedaling technique spreads the load out over a great many muscle fibers at a much lower intensity. Muscle
fibers fatigue very quickly at high intensity, whereas muscle fatigue occurs much more gradually at lower
intensities. It therefore is an advantage to be able to produce power using lower average intensity...."

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
More to Ponder

"The evolution of the Coyle position is quite interesting. In the 1988 paper, ""Determinants of endurance in well-trained cyclists,"" note the following:

""We hypothesized that the subjects in group H may be
better able to exert force during the knee-flexion phase
of cycling based on the observation of Davis and Hull
(15) that competitive cyclists appear to slightly pull the
pedal up when cycling. This would reduce the amount of
work performed by the knee extensors (i.e., vastus lateralis)
of the opposite leg, thus lowering glycogenolytic

We were surprised to find, however, that the
metabolic responses to submaximal cycling with and
without toe clips and cleats were not appreciably different.
These observations indicate that the reduced glycogenolysis
observed in the vastus lateralis of group H
compared with group L was not due to differences in the
skilled use of toe clips and shoe cleats.""

If you examine pedaling mechanics from a thesis-antithesis perspective, the theis is something like ""more power is obtained by a pedal stroke where forces are applied uniformly around the range of motion including significant force on the upstroke.""

In 1991, Dr. Coyle furthered his 1988 work in a paper ""Physiological and biomechanical factors associated with elite endurance cycling performance."" Guess what, the exact opposite of the above theis is true, with striking correlation. The technical term for ""pedaling in circles"" is pedaling index. In Dr. Coyle's 1991 study, the most powerful cyclists had the lowest pedaling indices. In addition, the most powerful cyclists generated the least power from the upstroke. Moreover, the most powerful cyclists peak force was applied over a more narrow range of motion. Most interestingly is the correlation across both groups in the study.

Hence, powerful cyclists generate their power by a high peak force applied over a narrow range of motion with little force generation obtained on the upstroke.

Despite the claims Seiji Ishii, Dr. Coyle's recent paper ""Improved muscular efficiency displayed as Tour de France champion matures"" does not discuss Armstrong's pedaling index. Regarding his cadence:

""Therefore, it is likely that the increases in freely chosen cycling cadence displayed over the years by this Tour de France champion reflect his increased mechanical efficiency, agreeing with the pattern expected to result from muscle fiber conversion from type II to
type I.""

I have all the papers if you would like a copy."

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)

After reading the excerpts from Dr. Coyle, I searched the internet for information on perfect circles. What I found is consistent with his findings. It appears that the power is on the downstroke and that we should pedal nice, smooth circles at a high cadence (80+ rpms) without overcompensating in any direction for max power and efficiency.

I thought the following advice was a good supplement:


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

"More on pedaling index from Dr. Coggan:

""At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will again mention that studies of elite and sub-elite US road cyclists by Ed Coyle using an instrumented pedal demonstrated that, at least when pedaling an ergometer, the elite cyclists had, in essence, a *lower* ""pedaling index"". That is, their torque was ""peakier"" than that of the sub-elite riders, even when pedaling at the same power output.

...To me, the notion of ""pedaling round"" is a lot like religon: there are a lot of fervent believers, but not much in the way of good evidence, that this is beneficial to performance...""

The purpose of training is not to develop a smooth spin; rather, it is to produce more power. When most look at a cyclist with a smooth spin, they assume a uniform application of force, when in fact there is simply a uniform angular velocity. Nobody can look at a cyclist and extrapolate the cyclist's force pattern.

Does a smooth spin actually matter? Yes, to the extent that a smooth spin is indicative of synchronized muscles, minimizing negative forces. Is a smooth spin (uniform angular velocity) a prerequisite for high power production? I have never seen a peer-reviewed paper addressing this question."

Anonymous's picture
A.Lerner (not verified)
a breath of fresh

"It's about time we got back to discussing some of the more important & exciting subjects on this thread,..... ""CLIPLESS PEDALS"" ...does anybody REALLY care , incredibly BORING ,watching grass grow or paint dry are probably as equally interesting .Many of you guys are more interested in getting from point A to point B & back again so as to return home as quickly as possible because you ""Have things to do"" so why did you bother comming out in the first place, or stuffing your face with some ""godawfull""food stuffs, then, try to remove ounces from your frame(as in bike)so as to increase your riding efficiecy , it makes no sense. So let's hear for the guy who had the ""b--ls to express himself honestly on a taboo subject ,here's to j. jabapo , a real stand up kind of a guy !!! BRAVO"

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Starve the troll. (nm)
cycling trips