I have a confession to make, I went clipless today for the first time. I had been thinking about it for some time (about three years), but today I took the plunge and tried it and found that it was good. If you are not a cyclist, you may be wondering what on earth I am on about. Well I have finally bought myself a pair of cleated cycling shoes and clicked into the clipless pedals (well they are actually asymmetric clipless on one side, platform on the other) that came with my bike. When I was a young lad, if you wanted to attach your foot more securely to the pedal to go faster and improve your hill climbing, you used toe-clips on your pedals, but these days it is far more common to use clipless SPD (Shimano Pedalling Dynamics) pedals and cleated shoes. These ‘click in and out’ of a shoe-to-pedal binding, which is often described as being similar to a ski binding, but like no ski binding I have ever used. Releasing (clicking out) of the binding is achieved by turning the heal out (try using a ski binding that releases like that).
The shoes which I have gone for are Specialized Sonoma, which are good general purpose shoes stiff enough for serious pedalling, but not as extreme as some racing shoes. The cleats are recessed into the sole of the shoe, which makes them easy to walk in and they look like a smart training shoe (if there is such a thing), so are fine for wearing at work (then again working with academics and scientists this is really not an issue). These shoes also use the Body Geometry approach. I was lucky enough to pick them up in a sale at the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op at a very reasonable price.
So far I haven’t had a ‘clipless moment’, that is where the rider comes to a stop and forgets to click out before stopping. This can be embarrassing as well as painful for the cyclist, but highly amusing for anyone watching. I did have one wee bit of a wobble at the first stop but clicked out just in time. Will these shoes improve my cycling? Only time will tell.