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Old 2014-09-26, 11:43 PM   #1
davejh
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Click, Click, AAAAH - Riding Clipless

To preface this. Clipless unicycling is dangerous, stupid and anyone doing it is resposible for every broken bone they get... If you are stupid enough to try it, wear a helmet and every piece of padding you have.




Given this topic seems to not be around at the moment I've decided to share what I have learned from the first 2 months of my foray into clipless unicycling.

1) Pedals and Cleats.

My experience so far is only with Shimano SPD pedals and cleats and given that I know they work, I will deal with them exclusively. From what I understand speedplay would be suicidal and I am unsure whether crank brothers can release upwards.

The biggest, most important thing for safer clipless unicycling is using the right cleats. SH56 multi release cleats are a must as they can unclip with a sharp upward tug (such as in a UPD). The single release SH51 are less likely to disengage locking you to the pedal while you go flat on your face. Positioning the cleat and shoe choice is your decision and there is a lot of relevant information available.

Pedal wise, you want a double sided pedal with a cage such as an M530 or M785 (if you want to commit) which makes clipping in far easier. There are also dual purpose pedals with flat sides and single sided pedals but they do not hang consistently meaning more messing about, usually with one foot already attached. The cage is very useful during mounting. The tension screw on each side should be set to minimum to start off with.

2) Mounting.

Is almost the same as any other freemount with a couple of minor differences. To clip in, I aim my foot behind where it needs to be and slide it forwards. The cage helps push the cleat retainer into the right position. As my foot slides forwards, the front of the cleat catches the lip, a natural downward push and a satisfying click tells me that I am in. It you don't get your top foot first time, you can use the pedal cage as a pedal until you get a chance to try again.

The first time you mount, use a wall for support, then practice clipping in and unclipping each foot repeatedly until you are comfortable (having a brake helps here).

3) Dismounting.

Getting off is terrifying until you have done it. I dismount to the rear, only twisting my feet to the side when I come off the pedals. This might start with some rather silly sideways kicking but will get more controlled with practice.

4) Riding.

The first ride will be underwhelming. I felt like nothing had changed apart from the fact that the pedals felt wrong and my wallet was £100 lighter. This is because I was still treating the pedal like a flat. Lighten up on the downward pressure and power your feet through the entire stroke and you will start to notice a difference. Unfortunately this is that your calves and thighs hurt more. Naturally, it is a good sign that you are starting to use the upstroke. With time you will find that you are going faster, more in control, using less energy and flats feel weird.

5) Float

It is disconcerting when your feet suddenly gain the ability to rotate quite extensively. It helps find a comfortable position during rides but, compared to the locked in feeling of flats, it takes some getting used to.

6) Idling

The lack of pins and the addition of float makes idling harder. Throw in multi release cleats to top it off. When you idle with clipless pedals, your top foot will float about making it harder to apply force where you want to. Too much force to drag a misbehaving wheel back in line will result in an unclip and thus a UPD. The solution of course is more practice and to make smaller, more controlled motions and adjustments. I find this more of a problem as I am often boxed in while idling by cars and cyclists on uneven road surfaces.

7) Falling

So far I have not had a single UPD where I have remained clipped in. That is not to say that there haven't been several UPDs where the pedals have made the UPD worse. To even it out, the clipless pedals help reduce UPDs by allowing you to deliver more power when needed to prevent falls.


Is anyone else riding clipless at the moment and do they have any tips?

Last edited by davejh; 2014-09-26 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 2014-09-27, 07:36 PM   #2
munirocks
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Scott Wilton, marathon world champion, rides clipless too. And I wonder if I should try it myself...
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Last edited by munirocks; 2014-09-27 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 2014-10-01, 12:47 PM   #3
evil-nick
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Someone on Ryan Leech's podcast was railing about how clipless pedals are a scam and don't do anything for you. Have you found it helped in any of your riding?

Not that I'm going to try... I have enough problems with my feet not coming off my mtb pinned flats when I want them too
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Old 2014-10-01, 06:51 PM   #4
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I suppose in the context of bike trials or really technical mountain biking it could be considered less useful but to go and say its all a scam smells more like sour grapes. It offers a huge advantage to a road cyclist.

Personally i've found once my legs have strengthened to take it, the unicycle seems much more responsive and pedalling is lighter and more comfortable (no pins to push down on). The improvement of control could be defined as going from 125s to 150s without losing the ease and speed of pedalling and this is still early days. I am also finding that I accelerate faster and wobble less at top speeds.
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Old 2014-10-03, 05:11 PM   #5
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Interesting... the guy in the podcast (really wish I could remember which one it was) was talking about clipless vs flats in a mountain bike setting.

Though I think I'm even more scared about clipless on a road uni :|
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Old 2014-10-05, 06:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davejh View Post
From what I understand Speedplay would be suicidal …
Why's that?
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Old 2014-10-05, 07:21 PM   #7
davejh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alice Arctan View Post
Why's that?
From what I understand, once the pedal has engaged, a specific sideways movement is needed to disengage the pedal, yes it can be dialled in but it is a learned action to unclip.

Even with single release SPDs, foot rotation in a UPD should eventually unclip the pedal. This seems unlikely to happen with speedplays (either normal or frog). Its not that its a bad pedal design, for cycling in fact its a very good one.

If you have ever seen a rider go down after one of their shoe laces gets caught in the crank you have idea of the ensuing UPD, only with both feet trapped.
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Old 2014-11-12, 10:20 PM   #8
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I guess its time for an update.

Idling - becomes a lot easier again once you have got used to float and a lack of pins. I think my idling now uses slower, smaller 'rocks' with minimal dry steering. My right (lower leg) knee almost glues itself to the frame and most of the idle comes from the ankle (with both 100 and 125mm cranks).

Mounting - I'm currently working on mounting while toe flipping an inverted single sided pedal. It is doable but hard work with fine precise motions needed. When I started the bearings on my pedals were stiff enough to hold a position in order to mount. Now that they are silky smooth, the pedal is constantly inverted. If I wasn't being a weight weenie with this uni, I would have gone for double sided.

UPDs - Clipless definitely makes for worse UPDs. I still have not had anything catastrophic but a UPD is more likely to leave me sprawled out on the ground. This may also be to do with the so called 'tread' of my shimano shoes vs 5.10 rubber.

Shoe ratchets - while nice and easy will get scraped and scuffed with each fall. I think laced shoes/boots would be a wiser investment.

Last edited by davejh; 2014-11-12 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 2014-11-13, 05:19 AM   #9
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You might find this of interest...

Unicycle - Clipless SPD Mounting a Coker

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Old 2016-07-10, 05:07 PM   #10
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Curious

Quote:
Originally Posted by davejh View Post
I guess its time for an update.
Are you still riding clipless?

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Old 2016-07-16, 03:14 PM   #11
davejh
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Oh yes i am still riding clipless...

I am now using cleats on all three of my large unicycles.

Touch wood, I have not come off a unicycle at speed for over a year (approx 2000 miles). I have had a couple of situations where the cleats have in fact saved me from coming off when trying to accelerate a G29 too hard. Sadly I have not had time for decent muni and my riding is mostly commuting which definitely factors into my lack of UPDs.

After a while, riding clipped in requires very little thought Clipping in and unclipping become muscle memory and the sideways play becomes normal. I have found the sideways play is actually useful when changing gear on a schlumpf.

While flat and pinned pedals are great for smaller unicycles, i do not think I will be going back to them any time soon on large ones.

So tips for new clipless riders:

* Don't buy the expensive shoes and pedals until you are absolutely sure you want to keep riding clipless. You can buy the whole setup needed for less than some pedals cost.

* Don't be a weight weenie and buy single sided or centre only pedals like this. Personally I would recommend these to start with.

* To start with, use laced touring SPD shoes and SH56 cleats. You will not want to move away from this type of cleat. The laced shoes will prevent you damaging your shiny new ratcheting shoes while you are still making lots of mistakes.

* Wear gloves and a helmet.

* Turn the release tension to the minimum possible if using Shimano pedals, otherwise to the minimum that will safely hold your foot.

* Read the cyclist reviews. If people are complaining about something being loose or fragile, it will definitely be unsuitable for a unicyclist.

Last edited by davejh; 2016-07-16 at 03:17 PM. Reason: messed up the hyperlinks :(
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