Tri Tip Tuesday – Clipless Pedals

I wish there was a way for me to have some sort of jingle or theme song for Tri Tip Tuesday. Thankfully for all of you, there is not. 


Today we’re talking about something that causes a lot of people some big stress- clipless pedals. 


In a sprint triathlon you’ll see people on bikes ranging from painfully expensive time trial bikes to road bikes to hybrids to mountain bikes to whatever you found in your parent’s garage. 

Those latter bikes will most likely have regular, old, black plastic pedals on them. It’s fine, it’ll get you through a sprint. I mean, you used those growing up as a kid and fared just fine, yes?

The next option for pedals is toe clips, or cages.


Toes slide right into the cage that hooks onto the regular pedals. These are commonly found on spin class bikes as well.

These types of pedals are often used and will be more efficient than the basic pedals that come on your bike. Some may say that these save time in transition too since you don’t spend time changing from bike shoes to running shoes. However, any time saved is lost due to energy loss expended due to a less efficient pedal stroke. 

The best pedal option out there is the clipless pedal. There are a few different types and personal preference plays a big role in which kind you choose. 

Various clipless pedal options and their corresponding cleats. Bike shoes will have a place to install a cleat that corresponds with the pedal’s clip in system.

The benefits of using a clip and pedal system (clipless) is pretty clear across the board in most articles you read. There is greater efficiency noted in the power you generate and less energy expended. When using this system you are better able to maintain your power through the upward stroke as efficiently as you push through the downward cycle of the pedal stroke. So, when you look at the entire 360 degrees of rotation in your pedal stroke, you are able create a more constant application of force throughout.”  -Coach Amy Kuitse, beginnertriathlete.com


Clipless pedals provide the most efficient pedal stroke which will save your legs from fatigue and help you carry strong through the run that comes after the bike. 

So why the stress?

Clipping in and out of clipless pedals is a skill that comes with a pretty serious learning curve. And one that if you don’t master it ends with you one the ground, tangled in your bike. The most common issue is not being able to unclip when coming to a stop and having a 0mph tip over because you don’t have a free foot to set on the ground. This happens to everyone. EVERYONE. Even some of the most experienced riders will continue to fall if they can’t unclip. Unclipping one foot early and riding a few pedal strokes not clipped in is the easiest way to avoid this. 

When learning to use clipless pedals, start stationary. If you have a bike trainer go ahead and put your bike on that and practice clipping in and out. Also, most spinning class bikes have double sided pedals with the toe clip on one side and a Shimano SPD clipless system on the other side. Spinning is a great place to work on clipping and unclipping in a controlled environment. 

And when you do eventually start working on it on your moving bike outside, start off in the grass. This will offer you a softer landing for the inevitable falls that will occur the first few times you try it while moving. Like I said, there is a learning curve, but eventually the process of clipping and unclipping will become second nature and you’ll wonder how you ever biked without clipless pedals! 

This post is also linked up with The Skinny On Health’s Fit Tip Tuesday link up, so head on over and check out some other awesome tips from lots of other fabulous bloggers!

Ever used clipless pedals before? If so, share some insight!
Bike for fun and leisure, or racing?
What do you want to know on next weeks Tri Tip Tuesday? Comment or email me any question you might have =)


5 Thoughts on “Tri Tip Tuesday – Clipless Pedals

  1. I always wondered why they were called “clipless” when we clip into the pedals. Thanks for clearing that up! And yes, I’ve had a few 0 mph tip overs myself – always in front of a large crowd.

  2. I need to get over my bike issues and get back out there and give it another try. The most I’ve done so far is hit a spin class.

  3. This is so timely as I am JUST starting off on clipless pedals! Great post!

  4. Great write-up on clipless pedals. I was so nervous when I first started using them, but now they are a MUST. I feel as though I can use my legs and different muscle groups to their full advantage. One of my worst experiences when I was first learning was going up a hill, needing to stop, and plopping right over. It was on a busy street and very embarrassing, but I haven’t fallen since! My husband put clipless pedals on my mountain bike and that only lasted a few days!

  5. Great post! I saw these in the store the other day and was so confused!

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