Tag Archives: bike riding

A Clipless Pedal is a quick and easy upgrade to make your next ride better

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

There is a simple equation that always holds true with clipless pedals: control = comfort. By securing your feet in place with a clipless pedal you can use muscles more efficiently, relieve excessive strain on your feet, and be connected to your bicycle more directly. Read on to see how easy it is to learn to ride “clipless”.

Before the clipless pedal, riders would install baskets and straps (toe clips) on their pedals.

Before the clipless pedal, bicycle riders would install baskets and straps (toe clips) on their pedals.

Why would you call a pedal that you clip into “clipless”? Before the clipless pedal, riders would install baskets and straps (toe clips) on their pedals. Then, in the 1970s, a company called Look used ski binding technology to create a pedal that would retain a rider’s foot and allowing them to free themselves easily. This invention was called the “clip-less” pedal because it did away with the need for toe clips. Today, there are many clipless pedal designs. Each one is suited for a different riding style, but function similarly.

Float

While your leg cycles through a pedal stroke it is common for your foot to rotate slightly. That foot rotation is because most people’s joints aren’t perfectly aligned. Therefore, to compensate for a foot’s normal rotation, clipless pedals allow your foot to rotate within the pedal without releasing the pedal. That designed rotation is called float, and measured in degrees

Spring Tension

Clipless pedals use a retention mechanism to hold the cleat in place. This retention mechanism needs to have enough spring tension to hold the cleat under effort, while still allowing the rider to easily disengage. Some pedals have adjustable spring tension while others are fixed.

Cleat Material

The cleats is the item attached to your shoe that clips into your pedal. So, the cleat material has a large influence on how easily they clip in, float, and clip out. The most common cleat materials are brass, steel, and plastic. Brass is a great wearing material, that corrodes at a very slow rate and clips in and out incredibly smoothly. Steel on the other hand, has an even greater wear life, but corrodes more quickly. Finally, Plastic cleats wear very quickly, but can be designed to clip in and out smoother than any other material.

Offroad pedals

The requirements of an offroad pedal are that they need to work in all conditions, use a small cleat, and be durable enough for the occasional rock strike. Because of these requirements most offroad pedals and cleats are made of metal to be very durable. They also have bodies that are designed to clear mud and debris easily. Of all the clipless pedals on the market the most popular pedal is the SPD. SPD pedals have an engagement mechanism on both sides, with adjustable tension and use a steel cleat. Another very popular brand is the Crank Brothers Egg Beater series. These pedals engage on 4 sides, use a brass cleat, but have no adjustment for tension.

Another great option for offroad riders is a platform pedal with a clipless mechanism built in (see image). That platform gives the rider foot stability and the ability to pedal while they work to clip in. Many riders who are new to clipless pedals love this option because of the stability it offers if you are clipped in or not.

Path

The benefits of clipless are something all riders can enjoy. Therefore, even if you are riding bike paths or rail trails, clipless could be good for you. With that in mind, the most popular type of clipless for recreational riders is the ½ and ½ pedal. The ½ and ½ have a clipless mechanism on one side, and a flat pedal on the other. This makes them versatile enough to clip in on longer rides, or just pedal around in sneakers for short spins. Like Offroad riders, some recreational riders like a clipless platform pedals for their versatility and stability.

Competitive road

For competitive road cyclists, the requirements of pedals are very specific. They need their pedals to direct all their effort into the bike without compromise. Therefore, road pedals have a larger platform and cleat than other pedals. Because of the very large cleat, road shoes have almost no tread on them. Additionally, most road cleats are made of plastic so they can hold tight under effort, but release easily. For road pedals the most popular brands are Shimano and Look which operate similarly. They both use plastic cleats, and have adjustable tension. The unique Speedplay pedal is another very popular pedal for road bikes. Speedplay is unique because they incorporate the retention mechanism into the cleat rather than the pedal and offer the largest amount of float of any brand.

Shoes

While on the subject of pedals, we should also talk about cycling shoes. Cycling shoes have a stiff sole to disperse pedaling pressures along the entire length of your foot. For competitive riders, the key to a good shoe is the stiffness of that sole. For more recreational riders, it is important to consider comfort over efficiency. Determining comfort on cycling shoes is different than that of normal shoes. First off, in cycling shoes, your feet are trying to pull out of the shoe throughout the pedal stroke. This means that you want the shoes to fit as snug as possible. It is OK for your toe to feather the front of the shoe if you try. Second, most cycling shoes are made of synthetic materials, which stretch over time. This means that they will only get bigger as you use them.

Good pedals and shoes can make a big difference in how comfortable your ride is. Be sure to find the right product for you, and practice how to use them.

Bike commuting is an easy way to increase fitness, jump start your energy level, and enjoy nature. Read and learn about what you need to commute in comfort.

New Year’s Resolution: make 2018 your best bike riding year ever!

By John Brown, HaveFunBiking

After all the presents are opened and the last of the cookies disappear many of us turn our attention to the year ahead. More specifically, many of us begin the annual task of developing new year’s resolutions for ourselves. This year, why not resolve to make this year your best year of bike riding ever!

Get ready for the bike season

For most of us, the season doesn’t begin in earnest until April 1st. Coincidentally, April 1st is also the first day of the 30 days of biking pledge. Therefore, why not take the next three months to get ready for April’s goal of 30 days of riding!

best year of riding

A happy rider having completed his 30 days of biking!

It’s been proven countless times in history – the mind drives the body! I find a great way to get my mind ready for a goal is to share that goal with others. For me, once I tell others about my goal, I am making a deal with myself that it is a real thing. Once your goal is real, begin clearing your schedule for it.

Get your body ready for the bike

Make a training plan now. Your plan can be as simple as committing to ride two times a week or as detailed as planning the mileage, date, and time. Just be sure that plan matches with your goal (example: riding for only one hour a week wouldn’t give you the fitness you need to ride two hours a day through April).

Minnesota is currently locked in a winter freeze, so conditions may not coincide with your availability to ride outdoors. But keeping yourself physically active is paramount for this time of year and it’s especially crucial for your training. You can go snowshoeing, running, swimming, cross country skiing, indoor riding (on a trainer), take spin classes, or anything that raises your heartbeat.

best year of riding

Indoor rides can be fun with the right group.

To ensure you have on-bike fitness there is no better indoor exercise than riding a bike trainer. There are spin gyms, training centers and bike shops that run classes a few times a week. Look into what programs are available and you will stick to in your community.

How to fit riding into your daily routine

Most people don’t have time to do the things they need to do (like that home project you swore you would finish last summer). So how do you fit in time to train? To start, try not to add too much separate riding time to your schedule. Instead, commute to work by bike. Drive part of the way and ride the rest. A normal 30 minute drive could turn into a 15 minute drive and the rest on your bike with a little planning. That way, you only add a 15 to 20 minutes to your schedule and still get a ride in. Do it in the morning and the evening and you bought an hour of riding while only adding up to 40 minutes to your daily schedule.

I find that I make a trips to the grocery store for a handful of items a few times a week. Try to ride your bike to the grocery store, rather than drive once a week.

Also, try adding a ride to your normal downtime. If you have an indoor trainer, ride for one hour a night while watching TV rather than sitting on the couch. It may seem counter-intuitive, but being active is a great way to wind down from a busy day. You will find you sleep better and generally feel more relaxed.

Get your bike equipment ready

Bring your bike out of hibernation and put air in the tires. Take it for a spin around the block and check to see if it’s functioning properly. April 1st is smack dab in the middle of when many people begin to think about riding their bike. If you wait until the last minute to drop your bike off for service, chances are, you will be waiting longer than you like for you bicycle. Click the  (link) here to read about some of the benefits of servicing your bike in the winter.

best year of riding

This rider is looking for speed, but a good bike fit can benefit any rider!

If you bring your bike in for service, think about making sure your bike fits you properly. A professional bike fit will lower the chance of repetitive motion injuries and make you more comfortable and efficient. While you’re having your bike serviced and fit you can also find the right clothing and accessories for the year ahead. The weather in April can be a mixed bag, so make sure your clothing options include something to keep you comfortable in the sun,rain, snow, wind, or cold.

The First step

The longest journey begins with a single step and that step should be taken on January 1st. Making the time to ride or exercise on new year’s is easy considering most of us are off of work. Getting started right away is a huge moral booster, for the goal of having your best year of bike riding ever!