Clipless road cycling shoes: why choose them for my bike

One of the ways in which I have become a better cyclist is to consider the ways in which I am using my own equipment.  After choosing your road bike the next consideration is moving over from flat peddled crank ends over to clipless pedals. Here’s why.

One of the keys to fast and efficient cycling is getting your cadence rate up as high as possible. Take Lance Armstrong for example. He can pedal at around 108 rpm! And once you reach that kind of speed your feet start to slip around a bit.

Shimano SPD pedal system
Shimano SPD pedal system

The second trick is to make sure that your pedal stroke is effective all the way round the rotation. That means on the UP-stroke as well as the down stroke. For this you use your hip flexors and hamstrings. Obviously that’s only possible if you are actually attached to the pedals in the first place. And the most effect method is to be using road cycling shoes.These little marvels are solid on the sole, which means with less flex you have a great deal more power transmission through your pedals and into forward motion.

The way that you are attached to the pedals, are by small mechanical clips rather than pedals – its almost better to think of it as a pedal in two halves, the end of the crank and the removable bit better known as the shoe! Then on the bottom of the shoe there is a small removable clip called a cleat. This screws to the bottom of the shoe and then that in turn clips onto the pedal mechanics.

Other considerations

Some shoes can be used on stationary bikes which is always worth a thought if you are planning on staying inside, warm and dry in the winter.  You certainly should be able to change the pedals for clipless models.  If you are in the market for a stationary bike as well, make sure that you read my hub on the difference between and exercise bike and a spinning bike.

There are two basic types of shoe base. There are the ones that are recessed which you usually find on mountain bike shoes and touring shoes, and there are those that stand pretty proud from the sole and you find on dedicated road bike cycling shoes. Be aware that if you are intending doing more than wandering from the toilet break to your bike you should consider the MTB or touring shoe because walking on the cleat will wear it down quickly.

The next important thing to do is get it all lined up properly. Surprisingly, don’t set the cleat so that your shoe and the pedal are running in straight lines. Your body isn’t built like, and every body is different. Sit on the edge of a table or something else tall, and relax your legs. Note where your feet naturally fall, and set your cleats to match up your natural leg/foot angle and the pedals. That will give you greater comfort for longer rides AND more power.

The last tip I can offer is to make sure that you don’t have too much slack in your cleats (known as the float.) It may be tempting to do so, but the slacker it is, the less efficiency you have in the power transmission.

I have personally been looking at Diadora cycling shoes because there prices are good, and the materials still are pretty top spec.

How to use clipless pedals

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Comments 2 comments

clipless pedals 6 years ago

These are the same steps I used when dialing my clipless pedals. The video was very informative, I had no idea my form was off. I use Diadora shoes and they are very good for the money - recommended

Cycle Lawyer 5 years ago

Nice find Andrew - I might not ever reach the Lance Armstrong level of performance but have never been comfortable strapped in to my pedals

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