Clipless pedals: what are they, how to use them and their advantages?

28 November 2023

If you are a cycling or touring enthusiast but have not tried clipless pedals, you may be hesitant.

For many, they are essential on the road or mountain bike.

But… is there really that much difference between these and conventional ones?

In this itinerary we explain why they are necessary for this type of routes.

Let’s roll!

What are clipless pedals?

Clipless pedals are those that allow the foot to be connected in a fixed manner when pedaling. On the contrary, in the conventional ones, the cyclist simply rests his foot on this part of the bicycle.

This system prevents the foot from moving.

Therefore, it is much safer when you are on the road or in the mountains (especially if there is rain, humidity or mud).

It also provides greater power, comfort and pedaling efficiency.

Its operation is very simple, let’s take a look at it.

How exactly do clipless pedals work?

To use clipless pedals, you must wear compatible cycling shoes. These have metal or plastic parts called cleats that are used to connect your feet to the pedals.

To start riding, align your feet and press them down (until the cleat is well engaged with the pedal).

This allows you to pedal in a rounded motion, so you can safely exert more force without your foot slipping off.

To release your feet, turn your heel outward to free yourself.

And that’s it!

Cyclist pedaling in the countryside on a clipless bicycle

What types of clipless pedals are there?

We have different recommendations for road and mountain biking.

We tell you about it below.

1. Clipless pedals for road bikes

They should be larger and stiffer pedals.

The reason?

To have a larger contact and support surface for more comfortable pedaling.

The cleats are also usually large and made of plastic.

We recommend Look, Shimano and Speedplay pedals.

2. Clipless pedals for mountain bikes

Mountain bike pedals should be smaller and have metal cleats (usually anchored with 2 screws instead of 3, like road pedals).

Shimano and Crankbrothers are our favorite brands.

Write them down.

7 reasons why to use clipless pedals

If you’ve made it this far, you’ll have noticed that we’re crazy about clipless pedals.

But in case you still have any doubts, here are 7 reasons why you should use them for road and mountain biking or cyclotourism:

  1. You get a more rounded and efficient pedaling, so you get less tired.
  2. You pedal with more power, so your foot stays steady.
  3. You hold your foot better and don’t lose strength on uneven terrain.
  4. You have greater control and security.
  5. You pedal in the right position, which is beneficial for your joints.
  6. You gain in power, as you can also pull better upwards (not just downwards).
  7. You are more comfortable because you don’t have to keep an eye on your foot to readjust it.

And all this with the same freedom (even if your feet are attached to the pedal, you have a wide range of movement so you don’t feel trapped).

Man on mountain bike with clipless pedals in the field

Key elements to choose your clipless pedals wisely

Have we convinced you?

Now comes the task: finding good clipless pedals.

There is no single answer, as it depends on many factors, but here are the most important ones to keep in mind:

  • Pedal weight: choose a weight that allows you to pedal hard and fits your bike.
  • Road cycling or mountain biking: note the considerations explained above.
  • Experience level: if you are just starting out, it is advisable to choose pedals that are easy to engage and disengage.
  • Budget: there is a wide range and you should choose the one that best fits your budget.

Tips for using your clipless pedals

The last step is to get to grips with your clipless pedals.

Most cyclists get used to it in less than a week (although it all depends on how often you ride).

In any case, here are some tips to make this transition as smooth as possible.

  • Adjust the cleats on your shoes and, if you can, have a professional do a biomechanical study to determine your ideal posture.
  • The cleats have an adjustable screw to free your foot from the pedal: put it loose the first few times to ride more comfortably.
  • Do not look at the pedal to put the cleat in, as this can cause accidents: practice before leaving home if you feel insecure.

Finally, learn from other cyclists who have been riding clipless pedals for some time.

On our website there are organized cycling routes. Surely you will find a cyclo-colleague with whom you can have a laugh and tell you about his experience with the pedals.

Sign up and enjoy the cycling life.

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