When you’re taking up mountain biking or road biking, you’ll need to consider whether you’re looking for speed or maneuverability. That comes down to the types of pedal you want to use with your bike. The shoes you choose work in conjunction with choosing the right pedal too.
Bike Pedal Types
Pedal Toe Clips with Straps
This type of pedal is called a toe cage. They attach to regular pedals and the toe slips into the cage. The straps can be attached to surround the ball of the foot for added retention. It allows for the foot to push down and pull up while riding.
These types of pedals are what you’re likely familiar with as a casual bike rider. They’re flat pedals that are common with most bikes. It’s still the preferred type of pedal for downhill bike riders who want to get off the bike easily due to a crash.
The pedal’s face will have spring-loaded clips that attach to the metal cleat on the shoe. You’ll basically clip your shoe into the attachments so it melds your shoe directly to the pedal. Your feet will stay firmly attached to the pedal without bouncing.
Mountain Bike Pedals
Cleats for this type of pedal have 2 holes to allow the cleat to slide. This allows for slight movements for adjustments. It’s often called the SPD system, which is the Shimano Pedaling Dynamics. They were the company to develop the system.
Road Bike Pedals
These are called Look cleats and have 3 holes. The cleats are larger, which applies the force over more of the pedal area. It reduces pressure on the points of connection.
Practicing with Clipless Pedals
When your shoes are clipped to the pedals, you can fall to the ground without practicing your release. To remove your shoe from the pedal, you’ll need to twist your foot. Press the heel outward in a direction away from the bike. This should release the clip system.
It can take some time to develop the muscle memory to remove yourself from the bike when in an emergency situation. It’s important to practice the motion continuously until you have the motion developed. Your legs should do this automatically without having to think about it. To develop your muscle memory, you’ll have to perform the action at least 50 times.
You can practice by having a friend hold your handlebars while you remove your feet from the clips. You could also do it alone in a field where you won’t get injured in a fall. A bike trainer could be a good substitute if you pretend to see obstacles during a ride, or just remove yourself from the bike repeatedly.
When you’re new to riding a bike as a form of serious exercise, there’s a lot to learn and practice as well as research can help you learn it. You’ll need to decide what kind of bike riding you’ll do. That will determine the bicycle pedals you’ll use.