THAT is the question!
Definitely clip in! Whether it’s road or mountain biking, be sure to get set up to clip in right from the get go.
If you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, clipping in means you have special pedals, shoes and cleats that attach you to your bike. Yes! Here’s the why, what you need to know, how and what to expect.
The benefits of riding clipped in are insurmountable as you get to use the full pedal stroke as opposed to just the down part of the stroke.
There are four parts to a pedal stroke and with flat pedals you are using pretty much only one part of it.
Using the whole pedal stroke saves a TON of your energy, gives you more power and allows you to go faster AND who doesn’t want that?!
Clipping in and attaching yourself to your bike can be a bit intimidating at first but I promise it will be second nature in no time! Two key things you need to know:
(1) Clipless pedals do not come with any new bike. You will be buying these separately. When you get clipless pedals (as opposed to flat pedals) it also means you will need to get some road cycling shoes and cleats that go on the bottom of them so you can attach to your pedals.
(2) Get your pedals adjusted properly. When you buy the pedals the bike shop will likely put them on for you. There is a spot that is adjustable on the actual pedal which makes it harder or easier to get out of. Ask them to adjust the pedal so that it is as loose as it can be so it will be nice and easy for you to clip in and clip out when you need to.
Once you get set up, what you can do is practice clipping in and out. This will help to build those little muscles you use in doing so and create some muscle memory. There are a couple steps to getting comfortable with clipping in:
(1) Start clipping in and unclipping to build muscle. Get on your bike in your house or garage. You can either set it up on a trainer if you have one and if you don’t you can lean against a wall or door jam and practice clipping in and clipping out over and over again. It is important to do both your left foot and your right foot since you will be coming to complete stops and need to unclip from both pedals.
(2) Find a piece of grass to ride on. Once you have practiced inside a few times, it’s time to get outside on some grass and practice. Ride to a nearby park or if you have a large yard that works too. Ride your bike clipping in and clipping out. You also want to come to a complete stop and unclip from both of your pedals and then practice restarting again.
Please note that pretty much everyone falls over at some point when they first start with these pedals so don't let that freak you out.
What happens most of the time is that you unclip from one pedal and forget that you are clipped in to the other one and you try to lift and step off.
You will know exactly what I’m talking about when it happens. It's usually a nice and slow fall over and pretty laughable as you know you're going over but you can't do a damn thing about it. :) [Timber!]
WATCH VIDEO: PEDAL COACHING 101