Off roading with shoes attached to pedals

Steve H

Large Member
I've recently got into cycling and although I have a cheapish mountain bike, I've been mainly cycling roads, tow paths and SusTran greenways. As I got more into it I bought some cycling shoes with SPD cleats and new pedals.

All was fun and I have been enjoying being attached to the bike - it seems to give a smoother, more powerful pedal stroke.

However just been off roading today on a much more technically demanding trail. Plenty of deep grooves in the trail and lots of rocks and boulders to navigate. Being attached to the pedals was just too much for me. I took quite a few tumbles and in the end just tried to keep my feet balanced on the pedal but not clipped in.

Am I stupid trying to mountain bike properly with these kind of pedals, or is it simply that I'm such a beginner and that actually with a bit more fitness and riding experience its perfectly fine to mountain bike whilst attached to the pedals.

I'd appreciate the advice. Thanks.

Steve
 

numbnuts

Legendary Member
Location
North Baddesley
I MTB with clipless pedals and I’m an old fart :blush: if you come to a difficult bit just unclip one foot, you can still pedal with the middle part of the shoe, it works for me
 

gaz

Cycle Camera TV
Location
South Croydon
I went down some technical sections on my hard tail with SPD-SL's that was freaking awesome.. especially when the table tops came, so much control over the rear of the bike.
 

lukesdad

Guest
Its about confidence. Gaz is right. Not only is it about power in your pedal stroke,its about being attatched to the bike to give you the control. When your off road forget about being snapped in, If you do come a cropper your feet will soon snap out. Your much more likely to have a big one if you try to unclip before you come off.If your doing it properly you shouldn t have time to think about it anyway:biggrin:

When its wet you need those cleats. Dont ride on top of them unless you want very bruised shins and smashed ankles.

What spds are you using?
 

spence

Über Member
Location
Northants
Keep at it, build confidence and you'll wonder what you were worrying about. When you crash and you will you'll unclip without even noticing.
Got to the point now where I have to be clipped in, can't ride "properly" otherwise.
 
OP
Steve H

Steve H

Large Member
Thanks guys. Sounds like the consensus is clearly that using the clipless pedals is ultimately the best place to be.

I think I just need to get myself a lot more off-road riding experience first. Taking so many tumbles on one trip (even though at low speed) is simply going to kill my confidence.

Think I will need to switch back to regular pedals for a month or so, and ride a lot more off road. Then when I've got the basics in better shape, I can put the clipless pedals back on again.

What spds are you using?
I have Shimano M424 SPD Pedals and dhb M1 MTB Shoes from Wiggle.co.uk.

Thanks

Steve
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
SPD's take practise to get used to, persevere with them, back the tension on the springs off, and practise clipping in and out. It soon becomes second nature.

When mountain biking, if you ain't fallin' off you ain't tryin' hard enough. Not actually true but you get the drift, learn to love, and laugh at, 'offs' as they are a fact of life off road.
 

lukesdad

Guest
Steve dont switch back, youd be better off slowly building up the level of terrain your riding. Have you got a local ride thats fairly easy but you can do a few little detours where you can practice you tech skills. Stick with SPDs you wont regret it.
 
It does depend on the type of SPDs you have. The really cheap 15 quid a pair ones will jam up at the slightest hint of mud and dust. If you pay a bit more for the more stripped down SPDs then they don't tend to jam in the mud.

For British mtbing I much prefer eggbeaters. They take more looking after than SPDs because you need to inject grease into them once in a while, but they shed mud much better than SPDs and you can get into them 4 ways rather than the 2 of SPDs. They are far more reliable in terms of performance as long as you look after them.

The biggest mtb I have ridden (freeride with northshore, airs, drops and jumps and alpine style riding) I did on flats and pins with skate shoes. I wouldn't dare ride anything like that on SPDs because of the need to bail at short notice.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
iirc Shimano have two basic mtb style spd mechanisms. One derives from old style xtr's and the other from the DX BMX style spd+platform pedals. The DX variants are much more open and thus less prone to jamming with mud. CRC were selling one of variants recently for £18.ymmv.
 

stewlewis

Well-Known Member
The 424 pedals are by far my faves.
As mentioned, loosen the cleat tension screws, infront of the cleat clip on the pedals, don't take em all the way out.

The 424 are great you can use them unclipped and the clip pedal will flatten under foot.

Stick with them though, there's no going back from SPDs for me. Just the thought of childhood BMX bear trap in shins scares me enough.

The 424s are the same as Shimano 520s with a lightweight resin cage.

http://www.cyclingcloseouts.com/images/products/large/PD6465.jpg
 
OP
Steve H

Steve H

Large Member
Wow - such strength of opinion! I don't think I dare take the clip-less pedals off now!

Not sure the type of pedals is going to make any difference to me whatsoever though. What I lack is balance. And as a 6'5, 18 stone bloke, I have a high centre of gravity.

I think the key to success is going to be getting plenty of miles in so I get a lot more strength in the legs and lose a few pounds.

I also like the advice of building up the technicality of the terrain gradually. Think I bit off a bit too hard a course yesterday. I need to build it up steadily.
 

GilesM

Guru
Location
East Lothian
Steve, as everyone else has mentioned, stick with the SPDs, they really are the business, you can try reducing the spring tension a wee bit, make sure you can't pull the cleat off the pedal when riding normally, but make it easy to bail out if needed, after a while you will release your feet from the pedals instinctively, I had an over the bars moment about a year ago, some how my feet realeased and I managed to jump off the bike as I was going over and land on my feet, no idea how, pure instinct and a good bit of luck. Just stick with it, you'll soon get used to the pedals and your off road skills will improve. I ride Shimano XTRs, they are expensive, but bullet proof, and clipping in and out is so easy and smooth, however much mud there is. If you are having a few too many falls, you could always consider a bit of body armour, it could help build you confidence.

I agree with Kirsty about some riding, I wouldn't ride highish and narrow north shore with SPDs, that could end in tears.
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
M647, M424, M545 are all a combination of a traditional mtb spd mechanism and a platform, perfect for free ride, unlike old style platformless spuds, Unclip and keep pedaling, not always easy with xtr and similar.

These spud+platforms are darned handy as well for those gnarly bits of real life, on the street, in the mountains, outside the trail park, when you want/need to ride unclipped for a bit (or aren't wearing spd shoes)

best of both worlds imo. unless you want to all tourist/commuter and use M324's

Steve, 'high centre of gravity' LOL fwiw I'm 3 inches shorter and a bit lighter than you - and as clumsy as a drunk when sober. I use 647's off road. Stick with it.
 
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