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9 tips for riding clipped-in

After making a post on GMBN's youtube channel commenting on one of their excellent
videos I thought I would post a more expanded version for the blog.

Considering adopting clipped pedals, is something worth doing, especially for folk who may have had many years doing downhill or other trailpark activities, and now want to get into longer distance, enduros or "epic" races.

Perhaps you want to see just how much power you can put through the cranks for XC?
You will find quickly the distance you can do in the same time increase quickly.  Perhaps
25% 40% efficiency is what I would expect to see just going on feel, there will also be improvements in the smoothness of your cranking ­ which is good for climbing and difficult terrain will also be improved.

1. Shoe selection.

Be aware that hard cleated shoes will cause you problems if you ever have to hike­a­bike any distance on endurance trips/events. Slightly softer "touring" shoes like from shimano with cleats will help you. Be aware there are two diff types of shimano cleats ­ all aspect foot removal and horizontal (twist) removal ones. Start off with the horizontal clip­out ones.

2. Cleat position.

Aim for neutral, some folk such as IMB youtube channel recommend that you put them as far towards the back of the shoe as possible to encourage you to keep your heels down, as it stops the toe­pointing so commonly seen.

3. Choosing pedals.

Start off with a clip pedal with a cage of some sort, and ensure both mechanisms are adjusted identically.  Choosing a double sided clipped pedal will also get you used to things. Ask around in your local bike store, for someone working there who uses clipped in pedals, if you don't regularly ride with someone who does.

4. Practice.

Practice on some grass or other easy surface clipping in, and twisting your food sideways to release,clipping in and out repeatedly, but remember to pedal naturally.  If it doesn't feel natural as it did before you installed clipped pedals consider a small tweak to cleat alignment.

5. Mental preparation.

Get used to not stopping on climbs or really when you are up against it, and train yourself not to put your foot down at every opportunity before you get clips, otherwise you will have to prepare in advance when you want to remove your feet from the pedals.  Consider mental preparation needed to just battle through without finding excuses to stop.  Your potential for training will help you achieve this.

6. Technique.

Expect to go down and fall now and again, try not to fall off anything life­threatning.  Padded thigh shorts, or your typical trail knee­guards might give you the confidence to not let this to bother you. Either way, suck it up and get back on.

7. Persistence.

Stick with it, and remember to pedal naturally don't artifically pull your foot around the crank stroke, stay relaxed.  As time passes, tweak your pedal­release tension. I quite like a "difficult to release" tension now, or get your riding setup analysed by a professional.  Train the strength in your lower calves and ankles if they aren't already strong.

8. Maintenance.

Look after your cleats and pedals. Clean them well and oil the cleats to prevent surface rust (2 in one oil will help a smoother clip­in) ­ give your shoes a good clean to avoid muck buildup after every ride, including removing the cleats once you know their position.

9. Day­-to­-day use.

Clipped pedals don't always shed mud easily, some are better than other.  If your bike goes over, you have to hike­a­bike over muddy gates or you go over in a mudhole, remember to bring something to clean them out with or improvise something from nature.

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