Cleats & when not to use???

How to..., how not to..., & when (not) to

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Graham_U
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Post by Graham_U » Mon Mar 21, 2005 17:47

Ian,

I read your comments about using flat pedals. If there was a reason for using them, then I recommend a compromise. There are MTB "toe-clips", which I actually use on my road bike. I've never felt comfortable with my feet tied tight to the pedals, where as these are hard plastic and fairly open with no side ties. Not that good for pulling on, but good enough to hold your feet over bumps and great for a getting your foot out quick.
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Cleats & when not to use???

Post by MartinF » Mon Mar 21, 2005 20:58

Graham_U wrote:Ian,

I read your comments about using flat pedals. If there was a reason for using them, then I recommend a compromise. There are MTB "toe-clips", which I actually use on my road bike. I've never felt comfortable with my feet tied tight to the pedals, where as these are hard plastic and fairly open with no side ties. Not that good for pulling on, but good enough to hold your feet over bumps and great for a getting your foot out quick.
Interesting point about the cleats. Whilst I'm a real convert to their value, I still have to contend with a fair number of involuntary, cleat-assisted dismounts, with consequent pain to knees, hips, wrists, shoulders & other sticky-out bits. This despite having the pedal tension backed right off.

I've now come to the conclusion that I should probably unclip over mud, rooty mud, muddy roots, and other areas where unbalance risk is high.

Anyone else got any thoughts about when to (not) use cleats??
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steve powell
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Post by steve powell » Tue Mar 22, 2005 17:58

Having never used cleats I'm not sure I can reliably comment on there use or otherwise (but how else would Ian be able to get up those hills :))

Both Viv and I are currently plucking up enough courage to get some. The learning curve looks painful though.

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Post by Ian Long » Tue Mar 22, 2005 19:02

Cleats on a road bike are great - when really working up a hill they allow you to throw all style out the window and get as much power through the pedals as possible. I don't think I have ever fallen off my road bike as a result of cleats although have had a few close shaves, particularly during the winter when my feet have been so cold I haven't realised that they are still on the pedals while I am stationary :shock: .

On the mountain bike I also love the cleats - they help you keep the bike under control and provide that extra level of confidence for the really tricky bits. I certainly don't subscribe to the idea of cleating out for the hairy bits as staying in will provide so much more control. The downside of course is the dreaded fear factor - if it does go wrong then you are really going to wish that you weren't cleated in :cry: .

Where cleats are pretty useless is for learning tricks. This is where I was hoping the flat pedals were going to come in. (By flat pedals I meant MTB style flats which have little spikes sticking into the sole of your shoe to provide extra grip - you know, the ones that love the taste of shins :lol: .) I have already learnt the hard way that cleats and learning new moves don't go together well - even if you uncleat before you do the move, there is a good chance of accidentally cleating in during it.

What I was hoping was that I could afford to drop the efficiency of cleats during our normal rides and get used to flats so that I could practice tricks without to much risk, however I think my feet are too trained to the idea of cleats. When ever I had to work the pedals really hard, I ended up flipping the pedal back on itself - don't ask me how :? . I have tried single sided pedals in the past and found they didn't work for me (I have gone over the bars twice while trying to get a single sided pedal the right way up on a tricky descent). I hate toe clips, even without straps with a passion - they are never the right way up, they catch on rocks, don't secure your foot and don't do anything for me.

So, for the foreseeable future, I am going to stick to cleats during our rides and flats for messing around at home.
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Post by Al Donald » Tue Mar 22, 2005 21:45

FWIW:
I'm a recent convert to cleats and they are a definite improvement on toe clips, especially on climbs. However it's when things get a bit knarly that the advantages are not so clear cut. On a fast bumpy descent then yes cleats definitely keep your feet on the pedals and are probably safer. But on slower technical descents I sometimes do uncleat. I have pedals with a platform surrounding the cleat, which don't offer the grip of a proper flat, but do allow quick dabs when necessary. Interestingly, I don't think being cleated makes much difference if you do have a big "off", as during my major crash last week, my shoes uncleated without me even knowing or feeling it :shock: :? and I can't normally pull my feet out without slightly twisting first. OTOH, most freeriders and downhillers use flats!
But for the stuff we do, overall cleats are worth having I would say.

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Post by Viv Powell » Wed Mar 23, 2005 19:53

I am still contemplating trying cleats but am a little worried by them :shock: - I currently use toe clips with straps and get on reasonably well with them - all Ian's comments are true tho', except that they do secure your foot better than just a pedal. I prefer to be in the clips when doing any of the tricky stuff (fast or slow), but sometimes if there is not much of a run in I struggle to get pedal flipped and my foot in and comfortable before the obstacle arrives, which can be a bit hairy. I'm not sure that single sided cleats would be any better in this respect.

I do like the sound of cleats helping my hill climbing, I need all the help I can get so more efficient use of the energy that I have has to be a good thing :D

Some cleated pedals were fitted to my bike when I got it, which can be single or double sided, however if double sided there is not much pedal if I decide to use them with trainers or something. I would rather have something like Ian and Adrian, double sided with a pedal around the cleat.

My main trouble at the moment is getting the trainer style of shoe in my shoe size, I'm not too happy buying shoes of any kind without trying them on so I could have problems getting anything. I have always had similar problems with motorcycle boots, obviously not enough women or small footed men ride mountain bikes or motorcycles :cry:

All in all its a lot of money to spend on new pedals and shoes if I decide that I really don't get on with them.

Hmmmm still not sure - I'll keep looking for shoes and take it from there I guess.
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Post by Al Donald » Wed Mar 23, 2005 21:14

I would definitely recommend getting cycling specific shoes rather than just trainers. They have a much stiffer sole to give proper support, and are more comfortable/efficient. Most MTB shoes can be used with or without cleats so that shouldn't be an issue. if you already have the pedals (and cleats?) I would say give them a try. Practice getting in and out of them whilst stationary first, then on the road.

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Post by MartinF » Wed Mar 23, 2005 22:00

Viv Powell wrote:I am still contemplating trying cleats but am a little worried by them :shock: - I currently use toe clips with straps and get on reasonably well with them - all Ian's comments are true tho', except that they do secure your foot better than just a pedal. I prefer to be in the clips when doing any of the tricky stuff (fast or slow), but sometimes if there is not much of a run in I struggle to get pedal flipped and my foot in and comfortable before the obstacle arrives, which can be a bit hairy. I'm not sure that single sided cleats would be any better in this respect.
I started off like yourself, Viv - not totally convinced that being terminally connected to the bike was an entirely rational state to aspire to. And I still question it at times now (hence this thread!). So, not entirely sure of the sanity, I went & bought the least expensive Shimano shoes available & single-sided pedals. At least that way, if it was a complete mistake, it hadn't cost the earth.

I guess the problem for me was the single-sided pedals: I had several involuntary earthbound excursions as a result of trying to get my pedals the right way up to clip into, rather than focusing on the trail at hand. Hence my purchase of double-sided pedals on eBay.

I actually bought 2 pairs off eBay - Shimano 545s (with pedal platform surrounds) and 515's which are pretty much bare bones pedals, so far unused.

HOWEVER, Shimano do 2 (at least) different cleats: The SH55's which came with the cheapy shoes, and the SH51's which came with my Specialized shoes (also off eBay!!). The difference is that the 55's release more easily than the 51's. The 55's will also release by lifting the heel, whereas the 51's only release by twisting the heel sideways (either way). So the 55's are more user friendly. My next step will be to put my 55 cleats onto my "normal" (Specialized) shoes.

As I said, I don't think I could go back to not using cleats - I just need to get my head sorted out about how to handle muddy/rooty stuff, and until I do that, I want to be able to get out of the cleats quickly.

BTW, my shoe size is 40/41 - there's no problem in getting shoes that size, but you're right in wanting to try them on first. Go to one of the larger shops, take some thick socks, and go through their stock.
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Post by Ian Long » Wed Mar 23, 2005 22:00

Viv, the biggest outlay is in the shoes rather than the pedals themselves, and as Al says, the real advantage there is in the longitudinal stiffness in the sole of the shoe that stops your foot flexing during the down stroke. Even if you decide you don't get on with cleats and go back to your current pedals, the shoes will still pay dividends. You don't realise how much your foot flexes during a pedal stroke until you swap to cycling shoes and find that you have to raise your saddle half an inch to compensate.

With regard to the cleats Adrian, Carl and I use at the moment. They are great, however be warned the cleat is proud of the pedal itself, so although you can ride them fine in trainers while messing around, you wouldn't want to do a full ride in trainers on them. Unfortunately there aren't any cleats (to my knowledge) that aren't proud because they usually try to make the shoe so that the male side of the cleat is flush with the sole of the shoe so that you can walk in them without walking like a duck :lol: .

I have a pair of double sided FPD cleats (cheap, poor alternative to SPD, not recommended but they came with my bike) and a pair of single sided SPD cleats available for loan if they are of any use. If you do end up buying some pedals, I would recommend looking on eBay, quite a few of the eBay sellers are shipping pedals vastly cheaper than the shops. There are also some bargains to be had on the shoes but that is obviously more risky than something generic like the pedals themselves.
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Post by Ian Long » Wed Mar 23, 2005 22:12

HOWEVER, Shimano do 2 (at least) different cleats: The SH55's which came with the cheapy shoes, and the SH51's which came with my Specialized shoes (also off eBay!!). The difference is that the 55's release more easily than the 51's.
Definitely go for the 55s as your first cleat - they are much easier to get in and out of. I think I am right in saying the 55s are always silver coloured, 51s are black so it is easy to tell the two apart. I have a pair of the black 51s on my shoes and although I can pull them straight out, it does take a much more concerted yank then my old ones did.

You will be surprised how quickly it becomes second nature to twist your feet out of the cleat when you are coming to a halt.
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Post by Ian Long » Wed Mar 23, 2005 22:19

Viv Powell wrote: I do like the sound of cleats helping my hill climbing, I need all the help I can get so more efficient use of the energy that I have has to be a good thing :D
Alas they don't totally solve the problem of going up hill :cry: They allow you to pull and push on the pedals, however that is a whole new set of leg muscles you didn't know you had and another demand on your depleating oxygen reserves. To get up the hills easily you need one of those fankly motorised thingies that make a lot of noise.....
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Post by MartinF » Mon Mar 28, 2005 17:48

Ian Long wrote:Definitely go for the 55s as your first cleat - they are much easier to get in and out of. I think I am right in saying the 55s are always silver coloured, 51s are black so it is easy to tell the two apart.
Unfortunately not so simple - both of mine are "steel" coloured, but do have the cleat types stamped into them. See pics.
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Post by Viv Powell » Mon Mar 28, 2005 18:05

Just took a look at the cleats that came with the bike - they are black SM-SH51 - bound to be really :roll: !!

I guess it is possible to buy the shoe part of the cleats separately??

I spotted some ladies shoes in the style that I wanted on the feet of a friendly female at Afan yesterday - sadly she got them in Canada, Louis Garneau was the make. I checked the web for them, one supplier in deepest darkest Wales, Gwynedd!

I'll keep searching, watch this space, but don't hold your breath!
Viv

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Post by Ian Long » Tue Mar 29, 2005 06:38

Cleats normally come with the pedals but yes, I think you can buy them sepearately for a disproportion number of pieces of silver - but I expect you had already guessed that :cry:.
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Post by Viv Powell » Tue Apr 05, 2005 12:32

Well I am now the proud owner of a pair of Cannondale SPD MTB shoes :D . I Got them half price at John's Bikes in Bath as they will not be stocking Cannondales in the future, so I am well chuffed :D . If anyone's interested there were still 6 or 7 pairs left of ladies shoes, sizes from 5 to 7 1/2, and a couple of gents' around 7 1/2 to 8.

I also got the bike back yesterday :D :D :D and ordered some pedals on eBay, being posted today - ooerr mother :shock: :shock:.

The forks were fixed by Mud Dock in the end, I think they either felt sorry for me or got fed up with me phoning :roll: . Either way I am happy, Trek were taking their time picking them up.

I made the mistake of asking how they were set up - eg any air in them.
Response - I'm sure so and so set them up for your weight
Translation - I don't know, never thought to ask
Reality - set up for someone heavier than Steve (considerably heavier than Steve :shock: )

Bike currently pedalless in the living room - where else :wink: - now where did I put my snowboarding padded trousers and knee pads?
Viv

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