Cycling 101: Learning to use your clipless pedals

For many people, using clipless pedals is a very daunting task.  The thought of being attached to your bicycle is scary.  I recently wrote an article on why you should use clipless pedals, and how they can he (Find it here:  Cycling 101: Why you should use clipless pedals)  Now – how do you use them?  Let’s talk about that.

The first thing you MUST do is properly mount your pedals and cleats.  If you do not know how to do this, seek help from a bike shop.  The cleats MUST be tight.  If they are not, you can have issues getting your foot out!  Make sure they are tight.  The cleat should be in the center of the shoe (right to left) and under the ball of your foot.  Most any shop that sells shoes can and will help you with this.

Virtually ever type of clipless pedal has a tension adjustment.  I suggest loosening that up as much as possible in the beginning.  As you get more experienced, but you can decide later.  This is TYPICALLY done with an allen wrench (hex key).

Before we talk about how to GET IN to clipless pedals, lets talk about how to get out.  I know of no clipless pedals you do not exit by pushing your heal to the outside.  Practice – right now – put your toe on the floor and rotate your heal outward.  Do that 10 times with each foot!  Boom – you are now an expert!

On most pedals, you enter by putting the front of the cleat into the pedal and then stepping down.  Usually, you hear and/or feel a “click” when you are engaged.  I like to “tug up” on my foot to make sure I am clipped in.

I _HIGHLY_ suggest you find a wall, rail, car, shoulder or something to hang onto and clip in, clip out, clip in, clip out, clip in, clip out…. repeat so you feel how it works.  It’s easy – but at first you will be nervous, knowing you can do it will help you when you are moving.

Key Point:  Pick your “stay on the bike foot”.  In 90% of stops, you stop and do not need to remove both feet.  Mine is my right foot.  I never take it off the pedal unless I am getting off my bike.  Every stop – I put my left foot down. It’s your choice 🙂

Starting:  Clip in your  stay on the bike foot.  Make sure it’s all good.  Put your foot in a good position to start and push off like you always do!  DO NOT IMMEDIATELY WORRY ABOUT CLIPPING IN THE OTHER FOOT!  It’s okay to put your to, heel, or any other part of your foot on the pedal and get up to speed.  Fast enough so you are stable.  Now coast and clip in your other foot.  Off you ride, safe and sound … connected!

Stopping:  Now – you are attached to your bike.  You have to change that to safely get off the bike.  MOST of the time, you plan to stop.  That’s easy!  As you realize you are going to stop, you simply coast, take your off the bike foot and rotate it out until you feel your foot unclip.  You may have to pedal a little more, that’s okay, but as you get ready to stop, ease off the seat and put your foot down.  BOOM!  You just did it!

Emergency Stopping:  This is just a fast version of stopping!  As soon as you realize you you are going to have to stop, disengage that foot!

Practice Makes Perfect: You are going to have some shady stops in your near future.  Do your best to relax.  You may want to ride around, clipping in, clipping out, practicing stopping.  The more you do it, the more you will feel confident! Confidence removes stress!

Remember that _NOBODY_ who has ever used clipless pedals has ever avoided falling over at least once.  We have all done it.  If you realize you are going to tip over, again – relax.  Putting your knee or your arm out is probably a mistake.  Your hip is generally more padded and can take a bump.