Thursday, 7 August 2014

TO CLEAT OR NOT TO CLEAT.....That's the question by Jimmy Bee

These are Wikipedia images

Whether to use or not to use cleats is very much a personal issue and I thought about it for quite awhile before being seduced by them. Why? I don't believe it can make that much of a difference, unless you are wanting to improve your performance. If you are a commuter for instance, riding short distances to work, particularly in the city or darting down to the nearest shop when you run out of milk or in the third stage of life when doing a PB (personal best) is not on your agenda, then cleats are more of a hindrance and can be downright dangerous in some situations.
Dangerous? I believe they are in some instances and it's because your feet are fastened to the pedals and if you forget to unclip, it's highly likely that you will fall off your bike. Even younger riders experience this dilemma when in the early stages of using cleats so you can imagine what it is like for more mature riders.
I can remember the first time I rode with cleats. I was riding with a bunch and all of a sudden they stopped, unfortunately I couldn't release from the cleat due to them not being properly adjusted. It's hard to describe the feeling of desperation, knowing that I was going to stop but unable to release my feet from the pedals. Somehow, I managed to ride around the bunch and head for a tree to gain support, otherwise I was going down with both feet firmly attached to the pedals and that would not have been good. Even though grabbing hold of the tree saved me, I still needed help to assist me to release.
On another occasion whilst trying to clip in whilst riding, I took my eyes off the road whilst clipping in and hit a gutter with disastrous affects in that I parted two ribs and had to endure sleeping on one side and a considerable amount of pain for around six weeks.
As I ride a hybrid and do a fair amount of riding on rough tracks and roads, I was persuaded to buy a set of Shimano SPD pedals because (a) they are easier to walk in and (b) they are only cleated on one side as opposed to a road bike which clip in on both sides and therefore in my situation when riding on rough tracks, I don't want to clip in at all, a considerable advantage.
The acronym SPD means Shimano Pedaling Dynamic.
Now are they good or are they not? it took me a reasonable amount of time to get used to them but I put that down to my age. If you are into touring, they give an enormous advantage because you are able to get the full push/pull affect in your pedal cycle. I find that this is particlarly helpful when climbing hills and as another plus, once your muscles adjust to the movement, it tends to assist in having a smoother ride in keeping a  constant cadence and this in turn makes it less tireing.
Very few riders if any using cleats would revert to not using them, me being one of them but having said that I like my SPDs because it gives me a choice when I think I need it. 
To cleat or not to cleat is up to the individual.

Thanks to Wikipedia Commons for the public domain images. Photographer:  Hotshot 997

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee