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It’s decided: I’m finally going clipless.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

July
28
2011
The Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Mountain Bike Pedal

The Shimano PD-M647 Clipless Mountain Bike Pedal

So yesterday my local bike shop called with a bit of unexpected news: the Crank Brothers 5050 XX platform pedals they ordered for me have been discontinued! My first thought was, “Bummer! Oh well, I’ve got some alternate choices…” Then it dawned on me: this was kismet. Many JSF members who are bikers (both road and mtb) have been urging me to go clipless for quite some time now. Also, a couple of days ago I was talking to my brother (who is also an avid mountain biker) on the phone, and was surprised to learn that he recently made the leap to clipless. My bro raved about how much more power he had while climbing, how much more connected he felt to the bike and how much less fatiguing riding was in general–but especially when hauling the mail. While we were talking I though, “Oh well, I’ve already ordered my new platform pedals, maybe in a year or so I’ll consider it again.”

So yesterday’s call from the bike shop seems like fate. I’ve been researching clipless pedals, and I’m 99% settled on the Shimano PD-M647. These pedals are a little heavier (about 170 grams) than some of the more lightweight mtb clipless pedals out there, but that’s not a big concern of mine. I really like that cleat tension is adjustable on these pedals and also that they have cages. With these pedals I’ll be able to disconnect and ride unclipped in technical areas while I’m getting comfortable with this new system. I’ll also be able to hop onto the bike for quick rides without needing to change into my biking shoes, which is a huge plus.

Everyone (and I do mean everyone) that rides clipless told me that once I make the switch I’ll never go back to platform, and that once I get used to clipping in and out it will become second nature. I look forward to that day, but in the meantime I’m also told that I (along with the attached bike, of course) will fall when I’m learning. So that should entertaining to those lucky enough to witness it. 🙂

As for the shoes, I’ve really enjoyed my Five Ten Impact mids (best platform mtb shoe available, IMO), but obviously they will need to be replaced (I’ll still wear them out all the time, they are really comfortable). I have never regretted getting the mid/high version of this shoe; I really like the extra ankle protection. This Shimano all-mountain shoe looks like a pretty sweet replacement.

Any suggestions, comments or thoughts from all you clipless riders out there are more than welcome!

John Stone Fitness Comments

18 Responses to “It’s decided: I’m finally going clipless.”
  1. I have never been a rider but I enjoy reading about your exploits. For the uneducated, please could you talk a little about the differences between clipless and whatever the opposite is? How does each work, what are the advantages/disadvantages, etc?
    e.g. those ones in the picture look as though they attach to the bottom of special shoes – is that right?

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    • Hey Gaz, you pretty much got it. “Clipless” (which is a bit of a misleading term) allows the rider to physically attach him or herself to the bike. This is accomplished with special shoes and pedals. The rider, with a bit of practice, can quickly unclip from the bike by turning his or her foot at an angle. Some clipless pedals (like the one mentioned above) can be adjusted so that the rider is barely clipped in all the way up to a death grip grab.

      The advantages to clipping in are many, some of which I mentioned above. One of the biggest advantages is power. Think about peddling on regular platform pedals: power is only generated on the downstroke. With clipless pedals the rider is generating power through the complete range of motion, and the hamstrings are used instead of just the quads. This results in far greater power and efficiency for climbing and speed. Another advantage to clipless is that you can use your legs to pull the bike around because it’s attached to your feet! So stuff like bunny hopping high into the air becomes much easier.

      The disadvantages to clipless mainly involve the fact that you are physically attached to the bike. While I’m told that with practice clipping in and out becomes as natural as breathing, that doesn’t happen right away. I’m sure you can use your imagination there. 🙂

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      • Ah yes, thanks for the description, I also was also very confused as to why they were called “clipless” when you obviously clip yourself in. But I guess here the clipless is used to distinguish from the very visible over the toe clip that they used to have in biking. Which I think everyone agrees is a bad idea for safety.

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    • Funny, I’ve narrowed my choices to two shoes, one of which is the 161. I’m going to make the purchase this weekend at my LBS so I can try them out and get the size right (plus I have a credit there since I’d already paid for the CB 5050s that were discontinued).

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      • Congrats John. Being a regular on the site in the past (check some of my old posts). I have recently become a lurker of your site again and I was wondering when you would make the switch. I can’t believe you were putting the miles in on platform pedals. That is a huge accomplishment. But now that you have gone to the dark side, you will not believe that you put in the miles that you did and you will never go back. I have been thinking alot how our lives have been lived complete polar opposites. You with the pond making, mountain biking, becoming healthy in 2003. For twenty something years I was an avid mountain biker (raced a couple 24 hour races and many other regular races), put in two ponds in my life and now a third, made body transformations a regular part of my life, body fat percentages, owned and operated a personal training business for 6 years. But unfortunately the last 5-6 years have gone in the opposite direction. Starting to get the itch to make the switch back to the old but healthy me. Good Luck John

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        • Welcome back, tank. It’s never too late to get it back. Putting in the miles on the trails makes cardio fun, so dust off one of your old mountain bikes and get back out there! Also, I am planning to expand my pond by adding a second pond (attached to the original by a stream), so feel free to burn some calories helping me with that! 🙂

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  2. Now that that’s settled, here’s a question about the other end of the bike. Am I correct from your photos that you don’t use bar ends?

    I haven’t been a mountain biker for several years; more of a roadie since moving to NYC a long while ago. Maybe the common wisdom has changed. But back when I lived in Colorado and rode trails all the time, it’s hard for me to imagine doing climbs without bar ends.

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  3. I’ve been riding Crank Brothers Candy clipless pedals for years, would never go back to platform pedals again. Clipping in & out is just second nature, I never think about the actual process. Just step on the pedal and I’m in, just think about putting my foot down & I’m out.

    Bar ends went out of fashion years ago, you don’t ever see anyone using them unless they’re really retro. I don’t understand the trend, properly mounted bar ends really make climbing easier because it gives you more flexiblity in placing your weight to maximize grip on slippery climbs.

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  4. I have been debating a set for… oh… ever? I’m scared witless of being attached to the bike semi-permanently. But for the bridge runs (up ‘n over ‘n back again until I’m ready to hork) I like to do by my house they’d be awesome. I’ll be watching for your full review, senor.

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