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First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!(11 posts)

First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!paluc52
Dec 22, 2003 1:43 PM
Yesterday was day one for my transition to clipless pedals. Pedals worked fine on my trainer and in the driveway. But I stopped and fell over sideways (to the left) at the first stop sign. Pythonesque; but no one was around. I was fine until about a mile from home. This time I toppled over to the right. Lots of traffic; humiliating. The common theme in the two falls seemed to be the sudden need to disengage a foot at the top of my stroke when only knee and calf action can be used (as opposed to whole leg / hip action available when disengaging a straight leg).

Is this typical for a bike klutz? Will it get better? Can I take encouragement by the symmetry of it all - fell once going out; once coming in; first to the left, then to the right?

Also, what's with the tired arches which I started to feel after about 5 miles? I never had that with clips and running shoes. I thought a stiff sole would make it easier on the feet.

Any advice appreciated.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!flatspoke
Dec 22, 2003 2:12 PM
The only thing important about clipless , is to remember you have them when you stop at a light .I never fell because I always tried to unclip 4 or 5 seconds before stopping .Then you get used to it and after a while you won't have to think about that.

The first few rides , you will need to constantly remember that your feet are "stuck" in the pedals ...
Also , some people like to hang on to something when stopping , if there is something available you can always try to grab it . (metal fence , wood pole ..). It looks a bit strange to see someone struggling to catch a fence ; but it's still better than falling like a brick !

Might be useful on the first times .You should get used to it , and after a while you will think , " how can you ride a bike without these ? "

Anyway what pedals do you have ? .Maybe you can loosen the mechanism so its easier to get out .

Your experience is normalKerry Irons
Dec 22, 2003 4:22 PM
The only person I know who did not experience the "Laugh-In tip over" with clipless pedals is my wife. She mounted her Speedplays at the start of the roller season, and went the whole winter practicing clipping in and out on the rollers. This requires a lot more "real world" behavior than on a trainer, where you are anchored in place. Everybody else, myself included, typically fell over a half dozen times, plus LOTS of close calls, in getting used to clipless pedals. My problem was 30+ years of pulling up hard in emergencies as the way to get out of tight toe clip straps. A reflex that was hard to get over, and did no good whatsoever to get out of clipless pedals!
Dec 23, 2003 5:40 AM
If your pedals have any settings, it'd be a good idea to set them at the lowest clamping tension, at least until you get used to them. Just don't do any out-of-seat climbing right now.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!Roger H
Dec 23, 2003 6:17 AM
My first ride clipless, I fell over in the parking lot with about a dozen people watching! It does get better. I wouldn't even think of going back now.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!Zenith
Dec 23, 2003 8:30 AM
I rode out of the LBS, onto a busy street in the middle of Boston. I felt pretty good rolling up to a stop sign so I smiled at the cute boy in a Jeep Wrangler and he smiled back. I lifted my hand to give him a little "yes, I'm a cute girl on a bike" wave...

...and tipped over onto the hood of his car.

re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!loki_1
Dec 23, 2003 9:51 AM
its amazing how fast you can go from a "cute girl on a bike" to a damsel in distress. But, luckily for you that works equally well (sometimes even better). For a guy doing that, we are just another idiot trying to look cool and failing miserably.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!pomole
Dec 23, 2003 8:41 AM
from one newbie to another: you will fall *alot* for a short while. get used to it --it doesnt really hurt that bad. :) i fell like crazy infront of all kinds of people when i made the transition this summer. It hurts the ego more than anything.

what i learned: always unclip before stopping-- You will get used to this. drag a foot if you have to. Also, try and anticipate short stops and unclip before you have to... Especially at red lights, road intersections. Most importantly, Traffic is a bad place to learn to ride a bike so be cautious!! Your next few rides should be somewhat leisurely ones and try to snap in and out often to get used to the motion and the feel of the pedals. (take back roads, slow roads, bike paths, etc.)

as for foot pain, perhpas your cleats are not mounted in the optimum position for your feet. i must have adjusted mine about 5 times to compensate for my duck footed stance and wide feet.

once you get used to them you cant beat the advantages of clipless pedals. hang in there.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!Fredrico
Dec 23, 2003 9:01 AM
People used to fall over regularly on club rides with toe clips and straps, too.

Tired arches: your foot isn't far enough over the pedal spindle. The cleat is too far forward on the shoe. Moving it back so that the ball of your foot is right over the pedal spindle should solve the stretched arches problem. That's the first thing to check, anyway.

If the problem doesn't go away, or the cleat is already positioned correctly, maybe the shoe is at fault. How about inserting arch supports in both shoes?
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!mapei boy
Dec 23, 2003 10:49 AM
To paraphrase Flatspoke, you'll keep from falling by keeping your head in the game. Wiggle your feet in the pedals to remind yourself what kind of pedal you're attached to. Detach yourself a good distance before you have to stop. In any case, once you get used to them, you will truly see that they're one of the great inventions in bicycling.
re: First Ride w/ Clipless Pedals!xxl
Dec 23, 2003 2:28 PM
Clipless systems apparently vary markedly in their learning curves; I never had a bit of problems dealing with my crappy old low-end Ritcheys, but plenty do. It will get better, but check the spring tension on the pedals. They're usually little screws or allen bolts, often marked +/-. Playing with the tension may be just the ticket. Also, some systems are a lot more sensitive to dirt and gravel bits being caught up in their mechanisms. Some people will also dab some sort of lube on the cleat mechanism, to help things out. Like I said, I never had any problems, but I've seen lots who have.

Finally, according to an orthopedist friend, you really don't want to uncleat except with your leg straight out (i.e., at the 6 o'clock position), so as to prevent possible knee damage. And, when you do uncleat, try to roll your heel out as you do so; this seems to help everything disengage pretty well.

Keep at them, they really are so much better than feet belts.