We’re always getting asked here at PBK about clipless pedals. Are they worth the outlay, will I be faster and regularly, how hard are they to use (i.e. how often will I fall over)? We aren’t going to lie to you, you WILL fall over at some point in your life due to still being clipped in. It’s a scientific fact, so we’ve collected our stories from around the office and would like to hear yours. There are also the obligatory videos which should provide some more chortles along the way.
So first off, me (Chris):
It took me quite a while to have my first fall. After managing to ride the life out of a pair of Look Delta cleats I moved up to a nice new set of Keo pedals and forgot that the tension was set fairly high and with new notchy new cleats it was almost unavoidable!
Returning home after a ride I came across cars blocking the whole drive which meant I was going to have to dismount to get round. Slowing nicely and just a few feet off the back of the last car I’d just about stopped. Cue a millisecond of ‘oh dear, no where to go’ and then ‘we’re going down – prepare yourself’ in front of our house and in full view of the neighbours.
All of this at pretty much standstill and in my best race kit! One foot had come out while falling whilst the other took a few angry twists to get out. I of course jumped up like it was normal and that this was a regular occurrence, but once in I had a cut knee and elbow plus scuffed shoes!
Touch wood I haven’t done it since, albeit with some close calls!
My first “SPD moment” was in true comedy style…after 10 seconds or so of practice getting in and out of my shiny, new, fangled, ‘these’ll make me faster pedals’. I roared off up the road on my lurid purple mountain bike (it was the early nineties), the first hundred metres or so I spent weaving all over the place as I was looking down to try to figure out how to get my feet in the right place resulting in blaring horns and unfriendly hand gestures from passing motorists. Finally clipped in, I mashed up and down on the pedals and revelled in my new found speed before cruising to a halt at a cross roads and four way traffic lights, basking in the glory of being so “cool.”
All thoughts of coolness disappeared as I realised I’d forgotten all about being clipped in and as I realised it was too late, I began the slow motion panicky fall, arms flailing, straight into the road. Ouch, elbow first from six feet up in the air is uncomfortable! To add insult to injury, because I fell in front of the queue of traffic (drivers all now wetting themselves) the waiting cars missed a whole cycle of the traffic lights while I picked myself up and cleared the road before making a hasty and embarrassed retreat. At least they hadn’t seen my first attempts at wheelies, and endos, now that was uncomfortable…
John W clip in fail:
Back when I was still battling with the illusion of cool, I had a prominent clipped in fail. Imagine, if you will, a bright 90’s mountain bike (there may have been some orange and green), toe clips, a pub stop and a group of girls outside.
I’m sure you can put most of it together, there was an unexpected skid, a near save and then an epic fail. I skipped the post ride pint and went home to instead apply Savlon (other soothing anti-bacterial creams are available, but this is awesome) to my war wounds.
Anthony’s First Clipped in Fail:
My first clipped in fail took place on a wintry spring mountain bike ride from Semerwater (Yorkshire Dales) with a group of people who I’d only just met, but are now very good friends. I was riding my brand new mountain bike (first ride if you ignore the obligatory pootle down the street) and being slightly foolish/brave (delete as you think appropriate!) I thought it would be a great time to install my Shimano SPD pedals too and get to grips with them. How wrong I was.
As the ride progressed I had several close calls; the usual wobbles while you try to twist your heel having left it nearly too late to get out, plus I was getting used to riding clipped in. But while regrouping at the bottom of a road climb (Park Rash if any of you know it?!) I completely and epically failed. I forgot, absolutely, that I was clipped in and as I rolled to a stop (at the back of the group it shames me to say) I had the briefest (but forever ingrained on my memory) moment of complete bewilderment as I pondered why I couldn’t put my feet down. Then I fell in to a puddle large enough for me and the bike and a good 6-8 inches deep, still clipped in.
Needless to say my friends never forgot it, I have never forgotten it and now you all know about it! Luckily there are no pictures! Don’t let me suffer in silence let’s hear your stories…
Don’t let this put you off getting a set though. They do increase your efficiency, do improve the feel and control you have over your bike and most importantly they’re simply something you have to use if you want to race or ride seriously. Plus you have a great excuse to buy a smart pair of Vernice white Sidi’s or discreet Suplest’s!