Why you should switch to clipless pedals
Question: What is the single best upgrade that you can make for your bicycle that will make the biggest impact on your riding?
What if we told you, “pedals and shoes.”
That’s right, clipless pedals and a quality pair of cycling shoes will change your view on pedaling your bicycle forever. Clipless pedals are just like a conventional bicycle pedal; a spindle that attaches to the crank arm, bearings and platform for your foot except for one detail, you connect to the pedal through a small locking mechanism. This attachment comes in two parts: the pedal and the cleat. Cleats are designed to give the rider a solid connection with the bicycle but also allows the rider to “unclip” at his/her desire. The pedals are designed with a specific degree of float. The word float is used to describe a degree the pedal will “un-clip”. Float allows your foot to move around in the pedal, not give you the “locked in” feeling. Some pedals designs have more than float then others so make sure to understand what amount of float is good for your riding style.
So what’s the big deal?
The true mastery of the clipless design comes out when you are riding the bicycle for the first time. Feeling connected to the bike and feeling muscles engaging that were before lying dormant. One of the key benefits of the clipless pedal is you get a pull and a push down now in your pedal stroke. This equates to nearly double the power that you were getting previously. This allows you to develop a better spin and step away from the push-down-push-down pedaling style. Now you the can benefit from pedaling smooth circles making the ride more enjoyable and keeping the muscles in the legs more subtle and ready for the road ahead.
Platform pedals can offer great space for your foot but you are not always getting the most from each pedal stroke. Sometimes you can be pedaling from your arch, sometimes from the ball of your foot and some from the heel. Moving your foot around like this can often result in knee pain, back pain and rocking back and forth in the saddle, which leads to saddle sores, no fun at all. Having clipless pedals keeps your foot in pedal at the same position every time. Having a consistent cycling position is a great way to keep yourself comfortable or make small adjustments that can greatly improve your pedaling efficiency.
Are all clipless pedals compatible with each other?
They are not, much like all the other parts on your bicycle the clipless pedals are manufacture specific. This means that the cleats and pedals will only work together. This means that Shimano pedals (SPD) cleats will only work with Shimano pedals, Look cleats with Look pedals and so on.