Click, Click, AAAAH - Riding Clipless

It is rare for me to unicycle without wearing a backpack. If hopping on the spot doesn’t work for you wearing a backpack it might be you don’t want to enough to find a way to do it. Just like most other skills on a unicycle if we want to master something bad enough we find the time to learn how. Clippless on 36 with a backpack hopping on the spot waiting for traffic signals to turn green was important to me. So I figured it out.

I have watched my friend Roy do the same uni camping with 40 or more pounds in his backpack.


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Click, AAAH

So in attempting to ride clipless yesterday and today I discovered that I only had one pedal that matched the cleats I had available from my dad’s old mountain biking stuff (SPD 505 pedals). I proceeded anyway with one platform pedal on the left side and one clipless pedal on the right side.

It turns out that this is actually a pretty good idea! When I fell (do NOT try to ride backwards with 102mm cranks on a 36er with either one or two feet clipped in) I was able to catch myself with the left foot. I could pull up with my right foot and I still felt more attached to the unicycle. I mount and ride one footed with my right foot.

If anyone tries this, refer to the first post on this thread ;), then put the clipless pedal on the side that you would ride one footed with, regardless of the foot you mount with. For me it would probably be optimal if I mounted with the ‘platform pedal foot’ so I could run up and mount on the less slippery pedal, then clip in with more control.

Hello boys, I’m back!

So for the past few weeks I’ve been commuting to work on SPD pedals on my G29, and it’s weird how much better this is on that uni than it was on my ungeared 36. That confidence issue I had previously is gone, and I don’t even think about those horrible potential UPD’s where my foot stays in. I just ride and enjoy it.

For now I’m using multi-release cleats, I’m considering getting rid of them. I dislike how I can tilt my foot sideways on them, and sometimes when powering round a fast corner I can feel my foot starting to reach the end of that movement. I absolutely do not want to unclip halfway through a fast corner! So I might but the single release cleats on.

I even did a longer (not REALLY long, just longer than my commute) ride in a fairly crowded area, and had to do some emergency off-the-front dismounts due to kids/dogs running in front of me, which went just fine. Contrary to the above, I believe this is thanks to the multi-release cleats, because I’m fairly sure I just yanked upwards and sideways, rather than the ‘correct’ ankle twist, so eh, that makes me think I should probably leave the multi’s on and just tighten the pedal mechanism a bit.

Definitely looking forward to weather improvements and trying this setup on some longer, hillier rides where I might actually get to see some real benefits to being clipped in, or maybe where I’ll see what my limits are in terms of being able to unclip while too tired to think about it.

Usual disclaimers apply, YMMV, I’m mostly an on-road/gravel mix rider, I don’t really do ‘MUni’ aside from the occasional overly dirty/rocky track that makes up the NCN, but I do dismount often due to all the barriers, and to stop at traffic lights, which is 99% of the time a controlled dismount that I am prepared for at least 5 seconds beforehand.

clipped in

This morning I had a first. The cleat came unclipped when I up shifted my 29er.
This is probably the only thread where someone would be able to relate.

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Check your cleat float

I adjust my cleats so the heel of each shoe will fully engage the shift buttons while being within the free floating zone of the pedal. If you mount the shoes in the pedal without your feet in them you can easily test the adjustment.

The greater problem for me was hopping and rolling hops without accidentally hitting the shift buttons.

Twisting out of your normal riding position may also create issues to your surprise.

On one morning commute riding uphill juggling in front of thirty college students waiting at a bus stop I threw one ball slightly astray while watching the crowd. While lunging to making a quick reach and grab for the stray ball I accidentally hit a shift button and immediately proceeded to upd. In the crash I had managed to unclip, drop all my balls, and slide to a stop just past the crowd. The balls rolled back down the street eventually stopping scattered in front of everyone. I don’t think anyone said a word as I checked my wounds, remounted, and proceeded on my way.

I assume they must’ve decided I had sufficiently humiliated myself and needed no further assistance.

Usually I can manage unintentional shift if my speed is within range of the gear change.



Yeah it took me a few tries on the cleat adjustment. I naturally pedal with my right heel poking out to the side a bit, so it was a juggling act (hurr hurr) giving my foot enough room to pedal naturally without unclipping, and yet enough on the other side to shift without unclipping. I don’t heel shift anyway, just sort of smush it with the side of my foot, so this actually turned out not to be a big issue in practice :smiley:

I’ve unfortunately done that once or twice as well. Cleat adjustment is still a bit iffy for me, the inwards float to hit my shifters is probably still a little bit… under? where it needs to be because I don’t want to mess with my foot’s outward-poking natural position too much. So once I hit the shift button and unclipped on the in-swing. Quite scary but I landed on my feet, up-shifting tends to mean I’m going a bit slow anyway.

The other, far more insidious one (And not really a fault of SPD’s, but I’ve only ever done it while using them) is where I don’t commit fully to the shift and don’t push the lever all the way in, causing a slight freewheel. I’ve done this twice now and managed to unclip both times, but it was a close one and caused me to fall sideways awkwardly.

Also, the single-release cleat comment I made above - I’m committed to it now. Multi’s are just too easy to undo when you don’t want them to, singles unclip when you want them to and no other time. They also feel a lot more solid while pedalling as they hold your feet flat, rather than letting them flop all over the place.

I’m really curious about other pedal systems as well now. I could really do with more float, but the only others I’ve used are TIME ATAC’s which have oodles of float but the tension is seriously hard to unclip (and the ones I have aren’t adjustable). I think Time do some ATAC pedals that let you loosen the springs off a bit like SPD’s but I’ve no idea how that affects their float!

I guess this revived conversation is ripe for a further discussion of magnetic clip less. I have seen similar threads on the forum but nothing recently. I suspect that if you thought that multi release SPD’s were no good then magnetic would not be for you, but I have seriously (like almost clicked the cart) considered at least two of the magnetic systems. I come from a solid cycling background so I already know the benefits of the clipless systems (and the pros basically invented them for the same reasons). But I only started unicycling about six months ago and wondered why more people didn’t ride clipless for the pedaling efficiency benefit alone. I sort of long for the smoothness of the stroke on a Uni that I have on a road bike.
But Mag-Clipless seems to be something worth considering, taking into consideration the expense of a set up (well above SPD) and some of the other pull off functions.

I’ve got a pair of double-sided MagPeds with the strongest 200Nm magnets installed. They do hold you really well, and they’re a doddle to use (I’ve bailed off them plenty with no ill effect), so they’re definitely an option. But they’re very slippery when wet, which is a seriously weird feeling especially as you still stay ‘clipped in’ despite your feet slopping all over the place, and not just about a set point you like you do in SPD’s. That and the questionable build quality made me stop using them, not to mention that they’re a good 4x heavier than even the chunkiest SPD or metal flat pedal!

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 :smiley:

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. :frowning_face:
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!
  • Road:
    • 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 :wink:
    • 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 :cry:). Have I mentioned the easiness they give you to climb slopes, even while still being on second gear? :smirk:

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 :wink:

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 :slight_smile:

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That’s really great when you ride in town and you have to regularly stop at traffic lights.
I presume that by this you’re stopping at traffic lights while holding onto something rather than stopping at traffic lights and having to get off.

I sometimes have to stop at lights and stand behind my unicycle ready to get going again because there’s nothing to hold onto.
I can’t imagine doing my quick running freemount to get going again with cleats, or indeed starting off faster in any way with any kind of clipless setup.
Ideally I’m judging the lights and riding slowly, holding onto something, or occasionally doing a standstill, but that’s not always possible.

Which pedals do you use? I found no issue doing a running freemount with my SP-M530, whatever the size of my unicycle and of my cranks. The platforms helps a lot in this!

I currently use a wide flat pedal, similar to the Nukeproof Electrons

That’s probably the issue, then :upside_down_face:
I mean, without having tried clipless for a few hours, it could looked like something crazy and impossible to mount while running. But it isn’t :wink:

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I’d be interested to see a video of this :slight_smile:

Well, looks like I forgot about this. I’ll try to get some footage and update this post once I’ve did that.

Hi! Here’s a footage of me getting on my G36 with my clipless pedals. You can hear the two clacks when I clip in.
I don’t know if it’s faster than your freemount but it’s fast enough for me :slight_smile: