Last Updated on April 29, 2023
No, I don’t get why it’s clipless, either, when clipping-in seems to be exactly the thing you do … Anyway…
It took me a while to come around to being clipped in in the city. In any city, it’s pretty much vitally important to have two good quality things on your bike before anything else: brakes, and durable wheels/tyres. These places do not lend themselves to a fluid cycling style, but rather to a stop-start-big-thighed style, and the potholes will take a lot out of your wheels. Trying to make your journey as smooth as possible is a worthwhile pursuit (and probably much safer than trying to smash it), but you’ll have to stop, probably, at least 10 times in 3 miles. Being able to stop is vital to ones ability to get through it alive. Being able to clip into the pedals for more efficient pedalling … not so much.
Clipless pedals also inevitably lead to the clipless ‘moment’ – forgetting your feet are clipped in at a stop and falling over while attached. For the fullest and most authentic experience, this is best practiced in front of a group of intimidating teenage girls who are waiting to get the bus home. The humiliation one will feel is second to none in authenticity stakes. You are a true clipless cyclist now.
However, and despite some clipless moments thus far, since shifting over to clipless pedals, I’m sold – you just feel much, much more in control of the bike, you naturally go a bit faster, and the ability to pull up on the pedals makes life a lot easier for the legs. There are several hundred shoes you can go for, but as a commuter there’s a constant problem: bike shoes look shit.
Second problem, cycling in normal shoes on clipless pedals is dangerous, and best avoided.
There solutions out there, if just to add to the paraphinalia one already doesn’t need to invest in. Anyway:
You can take ‘street’ shoes with you in your bag. Sometimes (all the time?) you don’t want to take a bag at all.
Not all MTB SPD shoes look terrible, however, – one company has even taken to putting the cleats onto proper walking books – hefty things that you can actually go for a proper walk with.
Another company, has put cleats in the bottom on skate-looking shoes.
A new company is offering a universal clipless-to-flat pedal platform as a kickstarter. So after doing a long jaunt in your lycra, you can meet your smug looking mate down the bar, not lock your bike up, and wear some preppy shoes, without changing pedal (it’s a good idea, but it’s a fucking annoying video).
Or, if your everyday existence depends on your bike, you can also get some pedals that have a grip-frame to the MTB SPD. Essentially, it’s the same thing as the Fly Pedals, but permanent, can’t be knicked, and more hassle-free than having to grapple with some metal platforms and remembering them all the time.
Or, you could do something really cool, and convert your nice shoes into MTB SPD shoes. Although, perhaps not that useful with Dr Marten’s Bouncing Souls …