I’d been toying with the idea of changing to clipless pedals on my NS for some time, but like most riders, I was not very keen on the idea of being so firmly attached to the bike. However, everyone who’d made the move said it was worthwhile, in terms of more effective pedalling. In a recent issue of ‘Cycling Plus’ there was a review of clipless pedals, including Crank Brothers’ ‘egg beaters’. These are named after what they look like (see pic), and are popular with off-road riders as they are much less prone to clogging with mud. There is only one external moving part on the pedal, and the cleats (the bits which fit onto the shoe) have no moving parts (see pic). The other advantage is that you can clip into any of the four ‘sides’ of the pedal.
There are several models, from the entry level, through a stainless steel version, and n degrees of titanium, ranging from about £80 to £300. I found the cheapest model available from www.cyclexpress.co.uk for just £50, though they seem to have risen to £55 now, including postage. Even these weigh less than 300 grammes each, less than most clipless pedals.
I wanted to buy shoes personally rather than by mail order, so went to Evans in London, and bought a pair of Specialized Sonoma shoes. These are a compromise shoe, neither rugged off-road mud pluggers, nor superlight roadies, but quite suitable for normal walking. Although the cleats which came with the pedals were the ‘off-road’ version, they sit recessed in the sole of this shoe so they don’t contact the ground when walking. There are some road cleats available, with rubber pads either side, for shoes with less recess. I bought slightly oversized shoes, so I can wear thick socks in winter, or rainproof Porelle Dry socks; the latter have already proved themselves by keeping my feet perfectly dry when the shoes got absolutely soaked through.
As advised, I practised clipping in and out before actually riding, and to get the cleats in the right position. Unclipping is achieved by rotating the heel outwards; you can select a small or large angle, and most people go for the smaller angle, at least to start with.
Pedalling certainly does seem more effective, and it is less tiring on the foot muscles for some reason. It is the accepted wisdom that everyone falls off at least once after changing to clipless, due to forgetting to unclip when stopping unexpectedly, but so far I have avoided this indignity……
All in all, well worth making the change in my opinion. Now I suppose I’ll have to equip my ATB too! Not sure yet about the Bike Friday Tandem though….