About riding clipless: it’s so great I can’t ride flat pedals any more. When I try, I regularly get my feet off the pedals. I’m too used to pull the pedals instead of just pushing them
Note: I use them on road - 36er and G36 - and on rough muni path - 27"5er and 29er.
So, it’s now been 3 years since I first tried to ride clipless. I had never tried on a bicycle before then. My first cleats were SH-51 (single release cleats) and that went bad. I had a face plant while performing my first dismount. Ugh.
But then I switched to SH-56 (multi-release cleats) and that was really great. Loosening them the more I could do was a great choice to get started. After having trained on a grass field, I went for my first tour and the performance gain was already present for my first - little - on-road climb.
Since then, I have rode for thousands of kilometres, dozens of hours of downhill and uphill. As stated before, I can’t ride and don’t want to ride flat pedals any more!
Depending on what you use clipless for, they have different benefits:
- Muni: they help you to ride on rocks without your feet fly away from your pedals. This way, you can ride way faster that with flat pedals. When it comes to uphill, you can pull with one foot while the other one is still pushing. I think that’s why they have been firstly invented for bikes and that’s where they are really great!
- If you ride ungeared, they help you to ride with shorter cranks. Typically, before switching to a geared 36er, I was riding my 36er with 89mm cranks. While some people do the same with flat pedals, it is really hard to start moving the wheel with so short cranks. Having clipless gives you much more power. That’s really great when you ride in town and you have to regularly stop at traffic lights. That’s the same for uphills: it would probably not be doable to climb really sloping roads - >10% - with little cranks. But here come the clipless pedals
- If you ride geared, they force your feet to always be in the same place so your shiftting move is still the same. Besides, when you ride fast - >25kmph -, your feet are well held to your pedals. Roots and little holes can’t make them fly away, whereas it could be the case with flat pedals (my knees and elbows remember the little period when I was riding flat pedals on my G36 ). Have I mentioned the easiness they give you to climb slopes, even while still being on second gear?
Whatever your practice is, I would say the two main benefits of clipless are their ability to hold your feet while riding on roots, rocks and holes, preventing them to fly away - so, preventing a lot of UPDs - and the easiness to climb slopes they enable.
However, here is a huge warning: do not try to ride clipless if you’re still unsure of your falls. If you can’t manage to fall on your feet in 99.99% of your UPDs, do not try them or you’ll probably fall hard. Always wear at least gloves and helmet - it may be a full-face helmet if you ride hard paths and/or fast.
Regarding magnetic pedals, I have never tried them myself. However, a friend of mine has ridden a pair of them for the season on really hard trails. He really likes them for the “holding power” they give him. However, he still finds them to be too heavy and he would like to have more power… Well, he has ordered a pair of Shimano PD-M530 clipless pedals and SH-56 cleats
PS : if you’d like to order clipless pedals, try to find some with platforms. Thus, you can put your feat on the pedals before clicking in. Avoid platform-less pedals such as the Shimano PD-M520.
Note: if you want to daily use clipless, remember to sometimes switch to flat pedals so you don’t forget how to ride without clipless