Everything you need to know about clipless pedals


As soon as you bought a bicycle, you started to upgrade it. Once you’ve changed almost everything that could be changed, you got the pedals. Most probably you’ve given up the usual pedals you can find everywhere and you purchased a pair of clipless pedals. It was an excellent choice, and now I invite you to see why.

First of all, a little bit of history! The first system of attaching the foot to the pedal was represented by toe clips and straps (as shown in the left photo below). It was used from the beginning of the last century until the mid 80s, when two French companies, Look and Time, launched on the market the first pedals with automatic locking systems.

It was rather a complicated story when it came to attaching or detaching the foot from the pedal. First, the small ditch from the shoe plate had to be positioned to the edge of the pedal cyclist and then the cyclist would lean on each foot to tighten the strap. You’ve already realized how uncomfortable this could be, doing the same thing over and over in order to “detach” you feet from the bike, especially if you were tired. And not to mention the helplessness that any rider could feel while falling as he knew that he was “tied” to the bicycle.

In fact it is said that some track cyclists gave up toe clips and straps and seamed their shoes directly to the pedals. They did it as they pedaled so hard especially when they set off in race and that their feet were sometimes coming off the pedals.

Let’s get to our times. Now there are pedals that come together with plates made from a plastic-like material, only harder, or sometimes even metal. The modern system is quite simple: the plate (as pictured right), in the bottom of the shoe is attached to the pedal through a simple push of the foot. To remove your foot, you just have to move it to the right, starting with the heel area. This principle is similar to attaching a ski boot to its binding.

You have probably already purchased a set of clipless pedals or you are tempted to do so. But it’s good to know why it is recommended to use them. Obviously, your foot no longer slides off the pedal when you’re focused on riding, and this saves you from some painful blows into the tibia. But the main reason for using clipless pedals is the “round pedaling” Yes, you’re right when you say that pedaling is round anyway (it just cannot be square, could it?), but things are a bit more complex than that. In this article we present you with the groups of leg muscles working when a cyclist is doing the round pedaling. This concept uniform pedaling refers to pressing one pedal while pulling up the other. As benefits we count the following:

–          First of all you put to work some less used muscles groups of the foot. Moreover, during lifting, contraction of muscles making this effort helps the faster recovery of the muscles pressing the pedals.

–          Some medical conditions such as the knee meniscus injuries are prevented, because a large part of the tension exerted on it goes away.

–          It ensures a more fluent effort as your foot will now work almost entirely on the 360º movement.

Some automatic pedals have another advantage: that of being anti-shock. If you fall, you will find that your feet are already detached from the pedals when you realize what happened and start getting back again.

Another important thing is to properly adjust the plate on shoe, more often called the cleat. It should be placed on the sole of the shoe so that the metatarsal bone is above the pedal axle, as we carefully explain it in this article. Also, the foot must be placed straight on to the pedal, without having the heel on the outside or on the inside.

There are many types of clipless pedals, but the basic principle remains the same, to keep your feet tight to the pedals.