How to Clip in and Out of SPD Pedals (2022 Guide)
Being able to clip into and out of clipless bike pedals such as SPDs is a learned skill. Furthermore, it is a crucial skill. Knowing how to clip in and out of SPD pedals is very helpful in many riding situations.
The decision to abandon your bike in order to avoid a collision is a good illustration. Or when you’re riding a berm at speed and need to stick out a leg to regain your balance. Or when coming to a stop for any reason, whether at a stop sign or otherwise.
You’ll find instructions for using clipless bike pedals in this article. Whether you ride a spin bike, a road bike, or a mountain bike, the procedure is the same.
Table of Contents
What Are SPD Bike Pedals?
By the way, using SPD pedals is very similar to using other types of clipless pedals. 2-bolt cleat systems are compatible with SPD pedals. The pedals and 2-bolt/hole cleats made by Shimano, Crank Brothers, and Time ATAC are all compatible with these cleat systems.
You need special cycling shoes with at least two parallel-sitting holes in order to use SPD pedals. A pair of parallel holes are typically present in such shoes, allowing you to precisely position your cleat. In order to set up the cleats, you must screw a bolt into the front of the bike shoe.
Mountain bikers primarily use SPD pedals. This is primarily due to the fact that these pedals are frequently inexpensive and are made to work with cycling shoes that are comfortable to walk in.
The cleat in these shoes stays in the outsole rather than on it, and the lugs on them increase traction. Because the cleats don’t protrude, these shoes are incredibly comfortable for walking and even hiking.
Reasons for Being Clipped in on the Bike
Getting the full benefit of your pedal stroke is one of the main reasons you’ll want to clip in when riding a bike. You will undoubtedly move more quickly if you are a road cyclist. And here are six more reasons to use clipless pedals.
1. Riding Clipless Helps Maintain Cadence
Cycling enthusiasts of all riding levels primarily use clipless pedals because they improve pedaling efficiency. You can pedal more efficiently and more steadily when you’re clipped in.
However, you won’t experience stronger pedal strokes than you would with flat pedals. You will, however, make smooth pedal strokes with each one. Additionally, since you won’t fall off the pedals, you won’t lose energy or momentum.
Use clipless pedals if you want to have pedals that will help you keep a steady cadence throughout your rides. I love the I-and-my-bike-are-one kind of feeling I experience this when I’m JRA or just riding around in cycling lingo.
2. Riding Clipped in Feels Safer and Secure
Using clipless pedals also makes every ride a little bit safer, which is a significant benefit. You’re probably mumbling, “I couldn’t quickly unclip the last time I attempted to get off my bike at a red light, so I tripped and fell to the ground. So how can you claim that riding while tethered is safer?”
But when you’re hammering downhills, riding clipless makes you feel safer. Your foot firmly rests in the same location—on the pedals. My observation is that whenever a cyclist’s foot leaves the pedal’s platform, they experience a slight loss of balance. Additionally, having less balance while riding a bike can’t be good and isn’t always safe.
Have you ever ridden a bike in the mud and rain? You have, I’ll wager, and you were lucky to avoid falling when your feet accidentally let go of the pedals.
When winter comes, I enjoy cruising on my fattie over snowy terrain. And the reason for this is that with clipless pedals, my feet stay on the pedals the entire time where I want them to.
Flat Pedal Users Have Horror Stories to Tell and Shin Scars
It’s uncommon for a cyclist who only uses flat pedals not to have a few terrifying tales. they suffered permanent shin scars after their feet slipped off, crashed, and lost control.
Inadequate bike setup, however, has been linked to injuries in some sports-related research. According to one study, wearing cleats while cycling can seriously injure your musculoskeletal system. The study is published in the Journal of Sports and Exercise Medicine International.
You’ll probably find cyclists who claim that clipless pedals cause knee pain if you read through the internet. Most likely, that individual’s saddle height and cleat placement are set up improperly. But their clipless pedals generally don’t have any issues. They simply need to ask a bike fitting specialist to modify their current setup.
3. Cycling Clipless Delivers a Better Workout Than Platform Pedals
There is one more significant advantage to riding clipless. Cycling on flat pedals is less effective than using clipless pedals.
Why? Because efficient pedaling works your hamstrings, calves, and quads more effectively than flat pedaling does. Because of this, almost all competitive cyclists prefer clipless pedals to platform pedals.
4. Clipless Pedals Make It Easy to Perform Certain Cycling Tricks
Your ability to pull off mountain bike tricks depends more on technique than it does on equipment. Despite this, using clipless pedals does make some tricks and maneuvers feel a little bit simpler.
When riding clipless, it is easier to perform any trick that calls for scooping the back wheel. When using flat pedals, rear-wheel slides, rear-wheel lifts, and cutties are less comfortable.
5. Being Clipped in Helps a Lot When Riding Rough Terrain
You want to be clipped in when navigating tricky terrain, such as baby heads.
6. You’ll Look Like a Pro Cyclist
Want to ride on the road or trail for the first time looking like a serious cyclist? Master the use of clipless pedals. Do I really need to elaborate at this point?
How to Use SPD Pedals: Summary
Slide the front of your cycling shoe with cleats into the SPD pedals. Move your weight toward the heel once you feel the cleat catching in the pedal and continue to do so until the back of the cleat catches. The cleat should then click firmly into position at that point.
Twist your heel outward and away from your bike to unclip.
Start Practicing on a Stationary Bike
It takes some getting used to riding a bike with clipless pedals, to be honest. Somewhere at the back of your mind, there’s always the knowledge that you’ll fall if and when unclipping fails. I’ll be upfront with you and tell you that you’ll stumble. Anyone who claims they mastered riding clipless after the first trial and have never consumed garbage afterward is lying, as I just said.
In order to practice, mount your bike on a trainer. Or carry out the action in a room with walls, such as your garage. It should also work in your kitchen close to the counter. You could even exercise next to your pickup truck or a tree. As you learn to clip in and out of your SPD pedals, you’ll need something stable to lean against.
How to Clip into Your SPD Pedals
In order to keep your bike steady while you practice, set it up in a trainer, if you have one. I believe that this is the best way to learn, but if you don’t have a trainer, don’t be concerned. Alternately, work on your skills next to a wall so you can lean against it as you learn.
There are 3 steps involved when learning how to clip in and unclip:
1. Place your bike on a trainer or stand next to a wall or other sturdy object.
2. Move your toe forward until the cleat on the front of your cycling shoe catches on the pedal.
3. The back of the cleat will catch if you shift your weight toward the heel and press down.
Get on Your Bike
Now mount your bike and lean against the wall or whatever you’re using for stability. After that, slide your toe toward the front of the pedal to get ready to clip in.
The cleat will catch if you continue to slide your foot toward the front lip of your SPD pedal. There is no need to explain how you will know when the cleat catches.
Note: start with your dominant foot, the one you use for kicking a ball. Why? Because using your stronger leg first gives you the momentum and stability you need as you clip in with the weaker foot.
Transfer Your Weight Toward the Heel
Moving some of your weight to the heel is the next action. Press the pedal down while shifting your weight until you hear a distinct clicking sound. You’re finished when the back of the cleat catches in the pedal. Honestly, it’s that easy.
If your foot keeps moving too far forward, however, don’t worry. When it comes to learning how to clip into SPD clipless pedals, the adage “practice makes perfect” is accurate. I initially had a lot of difficulties before I finally understood where my cleat got caught in the pedal and fully engaged.
You should clip in the other foot after you’ve successfully done so with the first.
Clip-in With the Non-dominant Foot
Congratulations, you made a strong clip-in. It’s time to clip out at this point.
At this point, your dominant leg is pushing off the ground. And as that pedal completes its clockwise rotation, the other pedal begins to rise again.
As the unclipped pedal reaches the 12 o’clock position, step on it with the other foot. In comparison to how you would do it with the stronger foot, clipping in requires a slightly different technique.
So, move your toe forward until the cleat on the front of your shoe engages with the pedal. Put your foot firmly on the gas once that happens. That’s pretty much it; the downward motion should automatically engage your cleat.
How to Clip Out of SPD Pedals
It’s possible that you won’t know how to escape the clips once you’re ready to get off your bike. To clip out and easily exit your bike, follow these simple instructions.
To clip out, follow these simple steps:
- Make sure the pedal you’re stepping off of is in its lowest position after a full rotation of the pedals.
- With your heel, extend outward while applying downward pressure.
- To be fully unattached from your cleat, finish by lifting your foot off the pedal and away from it.
How to Adjust the Tightness of the Clips
The pedals that come with some Sunny bikes and other SPD-compatible pedals both have tension controls. If at all possible, reduce the clip tension on your pedals so that you can learn to clip and unclip with ease. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can always tighten it.
- Using a 3mm Allen wrench, turn the adjustment bolt on the back of the Sunny SPD-compatible pedals counterclockwise to loosen your clips (or reduce tension).
- By turning the adjustment bolt on the back of the Sunny SPD-compatible pedals clockwise with a 3 mm Allen wrench, you can tighten your clips on them (or increase the tension).
Different Types of Clipless Pedal Systems
There are several different kinds of systems, but typically the decision comes down to whether you prefer a road bike-style system or a mountain bike-style system.
The mountain bike systems, like the Shimano SPD systems, have two bolts and recessed cleats, so you can tell the difference between them.
Road bike systems, like the Shimano SPD-SL, have three bolts, and the cleats protrude from the shoes.
You may believe that this is a simple decision, but I assure you it’s not! When riding a mountain bike, you wear mountain bike pedals and shoes. If you ride a road bike, your focus should be on your pedals and footwear.
Road riders have a choice, even though this is typically true of mountain bikes (using road systems on a mountain bike really has no purpose or benefit).
I ride a road bike, but for two reasons, my friends urged me to start out with mountain bike shoes and pedals. 1) 2) They are simpler to clip in and out of and more comfortable to walk in.
In the end, I decided that making it easier would be a great idea while I got used to clipping in and out given how clumsy I am both on and off the bike. Before deciding to switch to road bike pedals and shoes, I used these shoes and pedals for a happy year.
Though I adore my road bike setup, there are times when I wish I had never made the switch! The choice is entirely up to you. Since mountain bike pedals don’t care which side you’re on, I find that having to be on one side of the pedal irritates me. I also notice that my cleats wear out fairly quickly because I probably walk in them more than I should.
Final Words: Clipless Pedals Are Difficult to Use But Safer
For novice riders, clipless pedals are difficult to use. However, switching from flat to clipless pedals is a good idea for at least six reasons.
Get on your bike and ride it while keeping it close to a wall, counter, tree, or trainer. Next, get familiar with clipping in and out of your pedals.
There will be some initial difficulty. But after a couple of rides, you’ll love how compact and power-packed your pedal strokes feel.
And remember to wear a certified bike helmet because…crashes.