Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to Clipless Town

While at the Bike Expo a few weeks ago, scored Ian a pair of Specialized SPD compatible shoes for 40% off, courtesy of the Bicycles West booth. I already had a pair of Shimano 505 pedals in the garage - presto - Ian goes clipless. He's been riding for years and doing just fine with platform pedals, however as most of you already know - once you go clipless - there ain't no going back.

Plan was to let Ian test 'em out for a few rides. If he felt they improved his riding, awesome. If not, no pressure - back to the platform pedal and sneaker combo. Of course, kids being sponges at learning new things, going clipless appears to be no problem. A few weeks ago, late one afternoon, I bolted up the SPD cleats to the new shoes, popped the 505 pedals onto his mountain bike, strapped spiffy new shoes to his feet - and instant issues clipping into the pedals. Closer inspection reveled a few millimeters of sole needed to be shaved off, Dremel tool to the rescue.

After buzzing off some plastic sole, attempt number two goes a little smoother, even with a few awkward clip in/out practice moves in the yard. Then after 15 minutes or so, he's rolling around like a pro. "Can we go in the woods?" Ah, it's getting dark, but sure let's give it a quick spin. We roll down to the local woods in street clothes and hit the singletrack for 20 minutes. Besides one slow speed tip over from stalling on a climb, he's riding just fine on clipless pedals. We still elect to go with platform pedals for the race last weekend however. Go with what you know for now.

One night last week, Ian and I hit the local woods for a ride - clipless setup now reinstalled. We did our usual hour plus loop at a decent pace. He did just fine on the new set up. Plus, placebo effect or not, he's seems a bit faster on 'em. He likes 'em and says they feel "faster". With the platform pedals, his feet were all over place, often pedaling on the arch of his foot. Now with the ball of his foot attached to where it should be, I even had to raise his saddle a bit, he's getting a little more power. Yeah, we all know this, but news to an 11 year old.

Yesterday, more buzzing around the yard to speed up the SPD route into Clipless Town...

"These feel faster" as quoted by Ian. The blurring of the camera as proof.

Spiffy, complete with mud from previous ride. The colors even match his bike combo. Pretty pro, eh?

Small log in yard provides bunny hop practice. Houston, we have lift off.

I'll get him out for a few rides this week to bump the confidence factor up a tad higher; then we'll go clipless for the next race. Should be interesting, as kids always are. Ride on.


  1. Ian may be the first person I've heard of who didn't fall over clipped in in their first time out, you know what I'm saying.

  2. Sweet. Ian is learning the 'ride' well. Go job dad. Super neat father and son times you two have.

  3. I debated slightly over going clipless with Ian. What pushed it over the edge was the 'cross bike I recently picked up for him. With some road training rides coming up and 'cross season in the fall - thought clipless would be an improvement. Almost all the kids his age racing 'cross are running clipless set ups.

    For mountain biking, I didn't really care if he stayed on platform pedals. There's plenty of new school (which is really copying ancient school) mountain bike riders running platform pedals - a spill over from the freeride, downhill scene. I ride with people (alleged adults, like me) who ride clipless, along with folks running platform pedals. Who cares, whatever works for your style.

    Being more of a XC rider, clipless works for me. Ian in a sense, by following me, is also a XC rider. I though the clipless might improve his riding. If they inhibit him in any way, or make riding less fun - off they go. From what I've seen so far, I predict he keeps using 'em.