Practise the technique, and you’ll soon conquer your fear!
Does the thought of using clipless pedals and attaching yourself to your bike scare you? It’s totally normal to be sceptical and a little anxious — but you’ll find that once you’ve got the hang of clipping in and out, there are plenty of benefits on offer, such as:
- Improved bike handling
- You can increase power to the pedals
- It’s safer (especially when cycling downhill and in wet conditions)
- Improved comfort
Overcoming your fear of being clipped in is a matter of practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get. And before you know it, clipping in and out will become second nature, even if you’re not there yet.
The remainder of this blog post will provide you with actionable tips to help you overcome your fear of clipping in and out on the bike!
Set your cleats up correctly
You need confidence in your kit to overcome your fear of clipping in. And that begins with setting up your cleats correctly!
Set them up wrong, and you’ll increase your risk of injury and discomfort on the bike. It may also result in pedalling inefficiencies. But set them up correctly, and you’ll improve your comfort and confidence in the saddle.
As a general guide, the cleat should be positioned inboard of the ball of your big toe. For the best results, we recommend watching a tutorial on how to set up your cleats.
Once you’ve got them set up, you can move on to the next step: practising clipping in and out!
Practice before riding on the roads
If you have an indoor trainer, great. Practice clipping in and out while stationary! If not, you can hold yourself up against a wall and clip one foot in and out. You’ll want to practise unclipping and clipping in your weaker foot.
This is because you can push off much easier using your stronger or more dominant foot when you come to a stop. Although, it’s a good idea to practise clipping in and out both feet. But let’s stick with your weaker side first!
The technique is pretty basic but requires a little practice to get it right — rotate your ankle at the bottom of the pedal stroke and push down on your foot to unclip.
Practise until you can confidently unclip and clip back in without struggling, i.e. you can do it every time. If you were practising on an indoor trainer, now practise outside against a wall (it’s a little more difficult as you have to balance yourself).
Once you’ve got the technique down, it’s time to take it a step further!
Top tip: There should be a tension screw you can adjust on your pedals with an allen key to make it easier to unclip.
Practice on quiet roads to start
It’s now time to start practising on quiet roads.
Practice riding up and down the street, and unclipping at quiet junctions. Unclip your preferred side much earlier than expected — it may take longer than you think to unclip because you’re still getting used to the technique, and, naturally, you may be a little anxious. And that’s okay!
Although a little unorthodox, you may choose to wear one normal trainer and one cycling cleat when practising. That way, you have a little extra confidence that you can safely stop, even when attached to your bike. But when doing this exercise, pretend your non-clipped foot is clipped in, and only put your foot down if you think you’re going to crash.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can start wearing your cleats on the roads. You may choose to practise clipping in and unclipping before each ride to further practise the movement. It’s a good exercise to reinforce muscle memory!
Anticipate your stop
One of the best pieces of advice we can give you is to anticipate your stop. Always unclip before you think you’ll need to, just in case, for whatever reason, you can’t unclip from your bike and put your foot down.
When using clipless pedals for the first few times, you’ll have to remind yourself to unclip, as strange as it sounds! But before too long, it will become second nature, and you’ll do it without thinking.
So, before you reach a junction, or when you see a hazard, ask yourself: do I need to unclip? If the answer is yes, do so before needed.
If you were to fall, it would only bruise your ego!
Ask any cyclist, and they’ll tell you they’ve fallen off at close to 0 mph, usually at a set of traffic lights or when coming to a slow stop. But the only thing that will hurt, most of the time, is your ego!
Think of it like this: using clipless pedals is a lot safer than riding without them. Why? Because you’ll improve your bike handling, your feet won’t slip off the pedals when riding over bumps, uneven surfaces, or in wet conditions (this can be very dangerous), and you can put your weight through the bike to further improve control.
It’s a win, win!
Oh, and if you do fall, your feet naturally unclip. This means you won’t be attached to your bike and can get back up safely.
Overcoming your fear of clipless pedals: To summarise
The best way to overcome your fear of using clipless pedals is to practice. Practice on a stationary bike, against a wall, on quiet roads, and then on your normal rides.
Make sure your cleats are set up correctly, and always anticipate your stop. Before long, it will become second nature, and you won’t need to think about it!
Why do cyclists clip in?
Cyclists use clipless pedals to improve bike handling, and safety, and to improve power transfer to the pedals.
How do you not fall with clipless pedals?
Practise the technique before riding on the roads. The more practice you have, the more confident you will be, and the less likely you are to fall.
How do you get in and out of clip ins bike?
You clip your cleats into the pedals by pushing down, and you clip out by rotating your ankle at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Practise the technique while stationary before riding on the roads.