Clipless pedals for Muni

I’ve hijacked far too many threads with my rantings over how great clipless pedals are. So, I’ve decided to finally start a thread, and compile all of my useful old posts into it. I apologize for how mind-bogglingly long this first post will be.

2007-05-12, 12:12 PM

Nope, never (as I stated before) only time I’ve ever used any clips at all was a couple spin classes. So, I don’t even know if I’d like them at all.

I have trouble with bumpy, steep downhills and log jumps while SingleTrak’n and trying to keep my feet firmly placed on the pedals. I have the gripiest combination that’s possible, and my feet still hop around. I’m sure that A LOT of this is down to technique. And could probably well be solved by just getting better. But until that happens, I really think that clipless, either eggbeater or the speedplay frog or those magnetic ones would work, and once you get the hang of it, I’m pretty sure that you could get your feet out without hurting yourself.

So, I’ve decided, that when my current pedals die, I’m going to replace them with clipless. I buy from REI, so if they don’t work, or I kill myself trying, I (or my next of kin) can return them and get normal pedals again. But I’m going to try, and I’m going to try on technical SingleTrak, and I’m not going to give up until I REALLY hurt myself and decide that they don’t work for me once and for all…but I gotta wait til my current pedals bite the dust.

2007-05-14, 09:51 AM

Well, there was a sale at REI, and I couldn’t help myself, so I’ve already taken the plunge and bought some pedals. They are these Pedals So they have a pretty decent platform on the other side so that I can just casually ride around without needing to be clipped in. I’ve only ridden around the neighborhood so far, but I’ve had a couple light upd’s and my feet just kinda twist out of them no problem. I’ve set the tension to almost the lightest it goes, so, we’ll see if my feet come out when I don’t want them to, but I don’t think that’ll be the case, I think they’re going to work.

I’m going out to my local trail today to see if I kill myself (and no, I still will NOT be wearing a helmet or any protective gear whatsoever).

I’ll letcha all know later on tonight how they work.

2007-05-14, 10:00 AM

I’ve now ridden clipless for about 30 minutes total, in my life. All of them last night on the uni, I never once had a problem unclipping in an upd…so…

2007-05-15, 09:34 AM

So, an update.

I rode my local trail, which is rated at intermediate/advanced. I don’t have much reference with which to rank it, but that’s what others say. Anywho…I had, I think, 3 falls in about 5 miles. One of them was down a farily largish hill, one was going up hill and the other was just a normal fall. I also dismounted twice. The ONLY ONE time that I had ANY trouble getting my feet free at all, was one of the dismounts. My left (second) foot staid stuck for a second as I didn’t get it out in the right angle. Other than that one time, the natural flail of my feet was more than enough to allow the correct angle and thrust to get my feet out of the clips.

It’s not, as others have said, something that needs to be learned and ingrained. It’s, at least for me and my particular pedals, just something that happens. As you fall, your feet flail to stop spinning and come out in front of you to catch yourself, and that flailing action, along with my multi-release cleats and my loose spring tension, just pops the hold no ifs-ands-or buts.

Also, during this time, only twice did one of my feet come out when I didn’t intend it to, upu (un-planned unclip). One of these was so minor, I didn’t even realize it had happened really, just heard the click as it re-engaged. The other time was nothing to worry about, I just clicked my foot back in, and no worries. Both happened to my right foot, and I think it’s cuz the angle of my dangle…err…cleat is slightly off and it doesn’t allow it to float in the right direction. I’d like to do something about that, but don’t want to mess with the cleats anymore now that they’re nice and tight. Anyways, this goes to show that for my quite agressive riding, the spring tension isn’t too light, and yet is quite light enough to allow my feet to come out, no matter what, during a fall.

Also, there were at least 3 times that I MAY have been saved from a fall by being clipLESSED in. I can’t say for sure that I would have fallen, but I felt a pulling motion of my foot against the pedal as it tried to come off, and by being clipped in, it was unable to.

And, though I didn’t expect this at all, my hill climbing ability SEEMS to have been improved with the pedals. I don’t know if it’s in my head, if it’s because the pedals stay put where I want them and allow me to muscle through the hills without a pedal slip, if it has anything to do with the upwards pulling ability of clips, or if it was a combination of any of the above. I assume it was in large part to number two.

And finally, the whole reason I decided to go clipless. I had no troubles at all in the normal areas of log jumps and rutted declines. I made a few jumps that I normally miss and didn’t fall from any ruts. That with the improved ability to climb deeply rutted and big rooted hills (which I didn’t even think about) have made me (barring any accident that kills or renders me unable to ride a unicycle) a convert to clipless.

I’ll post updates if anything major happens, if I make any new cool discoveries in how clipless helps, or if I kill myself using them (in which case my wife will have to make the update), and any of the like.

But for now, ride clipless on.

2007-05-23, 02:38 PM

I’ve gotten in a few 10 mile µニ rides after going clipless.

I can now verify that I have had ZERO problems unclipping when the need arose. No matter how slow or fast or gentle or scary my fall has been, my feet come unclipped without me even realizing that they were ever clipped in to begin with. There is no problem whatsoever.

The help that they offer is slightly difficult to quantify, however, I FAIRLY sure that they have saved me from falling a number of times. And they have saved me countless times having to waste time, effort, and annoyance (I suppose you don’t actually waste annoyance, but you catch what I’m throwin your way) to reposition my feet on the pedals.

When I ride on the platform side of the pedals (which isn’t quite as good as my bear trap pedals, but as good as pinned pedals) I am reminded how annoying it is to position my feet correctly and keep them there. And oddly (because things never work out for me the first time around) the best position I can usually find on the platform side is worse than the position that I have my cleats set to. So, they are actually more comfortable PERMANENTLY than the best I can get for however long until my foot bounces slightly up, and I have to reposition.

Also, I rode an off-road trail to get to the trailhead of the SingleTrak on the platform side, and I discovered something interesting. In the very short time that I’ve been using the clips, I’ve apparently become COMPLTELY one with them. This very easy off-road trail had me bouncing all over the place, with my uni wobbling under me like it was trying to free itself. The difference in control was just mind-boggling. I’m sure that in just a mile or so I would have become re-accustomed to riding unclipped, but it just goes to show how much more control the clips allow.

Oh, and free mounting to either clipped or platform is quite simple. The only difference to how I used to mount, is that I used to always do a walking mount, and now I have to do a standing mount (however with time, that might change back when I get better with pedals spinning). That aside, it’s a simple matter to just clip in my starting foot, mount (usually with my other foot going slightly too far), then move the other foot (usually back) to the correct place, and it just click in (with practice, hopefully I’ll clip in as soon as my foot hits the pedal, it’s just a matter of making contact further back). And using the platform side, I just place my first foot on the pedal, then mount if I miss the platform side of the other pedal, the rounded nature of the clip allows VERY simple pedal spinning to bring the platform around to the right side. So, slightly slower and slightly more of a process, but no problem at all, and with practice, it will probably become as second nature as mounting normally was.

So…again…I’m TOTALLY a convert, and can’t see why I’d go back. However…as an aside, I wanted these for µニ not road riding. When I finally get a 3footer I will most likely not go clipless. For one, the benefit to riding clipped in on the road, is much less than on the SingleTrak. And two, though I haven’t had one single problem unclipping on the trail, I’ve ridden clipped in on the road, and going fast is pretty scary. So…for those saying that they like the idea of clipless, but wouldn’t want to be clipped in for technical SingleTrak, I COMPLETELY disagree.


2009-06-11, 11:50 PM

So, I know that this was a long time ago, but I came back to search if there was anything new on riding clipless, and this was the best thread that I found.

“That guy” that Skilewis was talking about is me. I feel pretty flattered that not only did someone actually read what I wrote, but remembered it, and felt it worthy of recounting. So, thanks for that.

As I said, I came back here to check out if any more people are riding clipless yet. I don’t see much, so I thought I’d add a little more to what I said before to help any that may be on the fence.

For monetary reasons, I ended up getting rid of my clipless pedals and shoes that I had before, and I pretty much stopped riding for almost a year due to various reasons.

I got back out on the trail not too long ago, with pinned pedals, and it felt as if I had to relearn how to ride. I kept falling off, and couldn’t do any of the harder parts of the trails that I used to easily be able to do.

This was killing me, I felt the urge to get back into riding, but I was getting quite frustrated falling all the time. I had a few extra bucks, so I figured I’d try out clipless again and see if I had a fluke the first time around.

I bought both different pedals and different shoes. And I can proudly report that the first setup wasn’t a fluke. I did fall twice, I think, where I actually fell to the ground because my foot stayed in. But I think it was because I was falling so much before, that I was getting lazy, and just getting too used to falling. So I would try to just step off, and that obviously doesn’t work. But when I truly fall, and not just lazily step off, there is never a problem. I believe it is the natural flail of my feet, as I’m falling, that clicks right out without having to think about it.

Let me elaborate on that, I have never ridden clipless on a bike and had absolutely no experience with them when I first tried them. And that time, and now that I’ve gotten less lazy again, I never fall to the ground. I don’t think about it, and I actually think that may be the key thing. I don’t think, I just do. As I fall, my feet naturally twist around while they’re coming to the front to catch myself, and I click out of the pedals. I think that concentrating on making sure that you click out might actually be most of the problem that others face when they take bad falls clipped in.

So, to the updated report with my new setup. On the average stretch of trail where I was falling about 10 times with pinned pedals, I didn’t fall once. I actually got back into the realm of staying in the saddle so long that I started to get numb. I am now climbing the toughest hills on my trails again, and the great thing is that it’s just so much easier. I don’t have to be so conservative, and spend so much energy keeping balance. Being clipped in, I can just huck every stroke whichever direction I happen to be leaning. So, if the most efficient pedal stroke happens to be slightly sideways to a diagonal or whatever, I can do that, and I can push it as hard as I can. Whereas with pinned pedals, you more or less have to stay in the vertical plane, and waste energy keeping an upright motion. I know I’m not conveying my meaning exactly, but hopefully most of you can understand what I’m trying to get across.

And the downhills are really something superb. I don’t remember realizing this the first time around. But not only do I no longer have to worry about keeping my feet on the pedals as I bounce down the hill, I can actually go much faster and moreover REST while going downhill. I used to think downhills were just as hard as uphills, because of how hard you have to push on the pedals (without a brake) and how much energy you waste making sure your feet stay firmly planted. But being clipped in, I found that I just almost totally relax. I let the wheel spin my feet almost as fast as it can, and I don’t really need to do anything but go along for the ride, and just let me legs go. That is really something, now on the downhills, I can finally rest like the bikers can, and get my energy back up for the next climb.

All in all, being clipped in, I feel MUCH safer than not. That really needs to sink in as you read it. It’s not a pro/con list as was posted before. As far as I’m concerned, not only is it much more efficient and beneficial to be clipped in, but it’s also safer and easier. I really think that anybody that has the money to try out clipless should. As I said before, I actually think that it’s better to have little to no knowledge of clipless prior, and then get out there and ride. And most importantly DON’T THINK ABOUT IT. Just ride, of course make sure that when you fall, you really fall, and you don’t just step down. But other than that, there’s nothing much to worry about. Maybe wear some knee pads and wrist guards if you’re really afraid.

I really am surprised that in this exponentially growing sport, hardly anybody is riding clipless. I truly believe that it is going to open up a huge future, but first everyone needs to stop being so scared of them, and realize that they are actually safer in the long run.

2009-06-12, 12:24 PM

I had been riding for less than a year, but I did progress fairly quickly. I would say I was a solid intermediate rider. But, to me, skill has almost nothing to do with it. Actually, the more skilled you are, the worse you may do when starting out. The less skilled person, in my minds eye at least, is going to flail more when they fall, and therefore is going to be more prone to safely unclipping. Really, all I’d say is this, don’t think about it, don’t worry about it, but make sure that you don’t just gracefully attempt a fall. When you fall, you have to really fall, but that’s really all there is to it.

I haven’t ridden on the road yet with this set, but last time I had clipless pedals, I remember that road riding was a tad bit scary. You are going generally quicker, with a much harder landing spot, and if you fall it’s usually going to be a very quick and abrupt down and forward dismount. I find that on the trail, I have never once worried about falling flat on my face, but I do when riding on the road with clipless. I think it has to do with not only the softer ground, but also that most of the falls off road are caused by bumps, and the slight upward thrust that the fall takes gives a sense of having more time to land on your feet. Clipless pedals on the road have there uses, but to me, I’d probably stick to normal pedals.

I realize that that probably sounds like a hypocritical thing for me to say after touting the great benefits of clipless pedals. But I think that road riding and muni are just too different things.

That’s why the first time around, I got the single sided spds with a platform on the other side. This time, I opted for double sided spds, as I rarely ride on the road at all anymore. But on a related note, I did find that riding was fairly serviceable with normal shoes on clipless pedals. Not much different at all from fairly grip less pedals.

But, I just have to say one more time, the almost instantaneous boost of power, perceived-endurance, balance, control, and overall fun is, in my opinion, worth much more than a fear of a fall. And, I believe that in the long run, once people are used to clipless on muni, there will be fewer injuries than there are now.

2009-06-19, 04:54 PM

Well, I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in the clipless movement. And I like how you put it, that’s how I see it. And I’d add that (as I kind of said before) not only do you max pedal “pressure” but also pedal “angle” so you can pump in whichever direction is most efficient without worrying about anything other than getting up.

Clipless has also been a savior many, many times when going over log piles or climbing over big roots, instead of losing a hand to pull up, you can use both hands for balance and power.

I also went for a really short (just about a mile) ride on pavement to and from a trailhead the other day. To the trail, I didn’t even remember that I had said that I was afraid to ride clipped in on the road. On the way back, I was totally drained, and I was going as fast as I could because we were late. I remembered at that point, but not because I felt unsafe in any way, more because it just occurred to me that if I ever I was going to fall on the road, this was going to be the time for it. But, whatever residual fear I had last time, this time was totally gone. I didn’t worry about falling in the least.

Which is kind of funny, because with this orientation of pedals and shoes, I’ve noticed that whether through something I’m doing differently, or equipment differences, I do fall to the ground more than I did before (which was never). But it’s still never bad. I just roll out of it. So, those run ins with the ground would almost never occur in normal pedals, that’s true. But the normal upds would occur much MUCH more frequently (in my case at least).

So, I have learned that perhaps the first go around I was a bit lucky that I never once bit the dust in a fall, but at least I know now that even if I do fall, it’s still not going to be worth the hassle of not riding clipped in.


2009-06-21, 10:13 AM

When I first tried them again this go round, I was slightly scared too. It had been a while since I had ridden, and quite a while since I last used clipless pedals. I was almost thinking what you think, that I’m not sure where the confidence came from before, but I don’t know if I can do this again.

Then about five minutes later, I totally forgot about being scared.

I think that most people that try them, never get past that first couple minutes of being scared, and never realize that they ARE exactly what you envision. They DO release instantly, as soon as you fall, you flail your feet, and they are off as if there were never on. And really, think about it. What is likely to make for a harsher fall, a wheel that you sit completely on top of, or a set of wheels, with all sorts of dangly bits that you sit in the middle of? Yes, we unicyclists “upd” more often than a biker, but when a biker falls there is a lot more potential for injury than when we fall. If the current system works for someone that not only has to unclip, but then also worry about being mangled by any number of sharp objects, then it should work for someone whose 99% worry is just getting their feet on the ground before their head.

I did say that I’ve had a few falls, but it’s always only the left pedal, and the thing is that when I unclip the right shoe, it’s silent. But when I unclip the left, there is an audible click. I think that I just have the tension set a little too high. I’m going to lower it, and go for a ride today or tomorrow, and report back.

But really, for all intents and purposes, and until someone like Kris backs this idea with tons of research and development, today’s clipless systems work very very well for unicyclists. There are also multi-release cleats, which may be more to the liking of many, but it may also allow for too many unplanned unclips.

Again, I propose that anyone with the money to (or an REI close by with no guilt on using their return policy), buys a set, sets the tension to the lowest it will go and then just puts around their backyard until they feel good. Then take a few planned falls, making sure to sufficiently flare their feet (That’s the key that I think I did inherently, but that some might not), and see what happens.

I almost guarantee, that once you stop worrying about it, and just do it, you’ll be a convert.

2009-06-23, 10:07 PM

I said this last time to someone else who said almost the same thing. On the road, they do in fact help, especially down hills you don’t need to work at all, just let gravity take over, as was mentioned. The hills are helped, and all the good stuff. But where clipless really takes the cake and, in my mind, is the holy grail of unicycling is riding rough offroad. Really, it’s not scary, it’s not dangerous (in my opinion), it really does make riding hard singletrack much MUCH easier, for me at least.

2009-06-24, 11:49 AM

Yeah, I’ve never moved my feet, ever since I was a kid, I always rode with the balls of my feet on the pedals. No one I knew did, but it’s what always seemed right to me. So, when I first looked into clipless, it was nice to know that I had been right all along. I don’t know if I have stronger ankles because of how I always rode, or what, but it’s just what I’ve always done, and I’m glad that my feet are forced to stay exactly where I want them at all times.

Like I said somewhere before, I don’t really have much frame of reference other than what a trail guide rates a trail at. The trail that I ride most often is where the muni ride at the 2007 NAUCC was held, at Lakeshore in Novi. It is rated intermediate/advanced. However, I believe that that ride was held on an easier section of the trail. The whole trail has quite a few hills, nothing really big, but some pretty steep, and most are quite rocky or rooty. And a few quite large downhills that are rooty and one that’s super rocky. There are a number of log jump areas and just a couple larger drop offs.

I have ridden a couple times at a trail called Highland, it is rated advanced/expert. The whole trail is basically either climbing or descending and it is quite very rocky and rooty with some very hairy sections. And that brings up a very good point. I don’t have the endurance to ride that trail with any efficiency yet, so I am totally beat the entire time. Yet, I believe it was GizmoDuck said that it’s fine until you get tired, and then you start to fall. Well, I’m tired the whole time, and I have a fall here and there, and still never have I fallen bad. Even when I don’t have the strength to stand upright, I still unclip just fine and don’t have any problems.

I hope that helped to answer your question.


2009-07-19, 03:32 PM

I can’t say for sure, as you pointed out as I’ve never ridden extreme hills, but I’d say that the issue of having to move your foot from the ball is down to not having the strength throughout all of the muscles of the lower leg and foot. As was mentioned a couple posts ago, the Tour de France riders have some tremendous climbs all while staying clipped in. I, again having never ridden extreme hills but having ridden MUCH hillier trails than Lakeshore, have never had any muscle pain in my lower legs at all. My upper legs burn like crazy, but I’ve never had any lower leg pain. Again, probably because I used to ride everywhere all day long on my bike with the same foot placement. Seriously, my calves are almost as big as my quads…sad, but true.

The pedals that I have now, the standard double sided ones, work quite well actually for normal shoes, but the slippery nature of most clipless shoes is very very hard to use unclipped.

Again, and I’m not trying to be argumentative, I promise, having to move your feet to land large drops is only down to improper musculature. You’re right, I don’t land big drops on muni, but I’ve done all sorts of crazy things in the past that relate to this type of activity, and I can say for sure that I could land any size drop on the balls of my feet. But something that needs to be better realized, too, is that the very stiff nature of the clipless shoes help to distribute the load a little better than most shoes and pedals would. So, yeah, I don’t know if I would ever want to land very big drops on muni, or, as you pointed out, if in fact I would want to be clipped in. But if I did, and if I was, I can assure you that there would be no other problem.

It also occurs to me that there is little reason to be writing this long reply about essentially just stuff about me. But I guess I just want to point out that any possible short comings of many things, and certainly in this instance of clipless on uni, is just down to user error or inability.

And, yeah, I think I must be a little like you mentions George Peck was, cuz I use 170s and I spin almost completely fluidly at any speed. There is a bit of long crank wobble, but it is definitely equaled out by my need for the longer cranks due to my aforementionedly sissy quads

I’ve been ridding more, btw, on clipless the past couple weeks, and I just wanted to put out there that I almost never fall anymore. Which maybe nothing new to many of you, but for me is quite big. I am a fairly good munier, and ride pretty hard stuff pretty fast. But many times I would climb or descend a rooted or bumpy trail I would upd, and if I hit a bump that I didn’t notice once in a while I would upd. And then just the odd one here or there for whatever reason. So, in the course of a the full 10 mile trail at lakeshore, i would upd probably 10 times. I now ride the trail with maybe one fall the entire time. Again, maybe many of you are riding flat out on a fairly technical, it not all too difficult trail and never falling. But that’s quite significant in my book, to go from once a mile to once in 10 miles. And then usually that fall is just the one that needs to be gotten out of the way. You know, when you’ve ridden for a few miles, and you start to think. Hmm, maybe this time I won’t fall at all, and then pretty soon that’s all you can think about. And then, of course, you fall.

However, I must say, that these many times that I would have (probably) fallen without clipless are sometimes pulling real hard back from the brink. And once or twice, I wasn’t able to pull all the way back from that, and I had a hard fall. But, if you just bail whenever you normally would without clipless, I still am of the firm mindset that you will almost never have anything worse than an upd from pinned pedals. And I’ll definitely take riding much futher, faster, harder, better, with less falls, more saves, more air, more freedom, more rest (on the downhills), and just in general a feeling of utter “betterness” with the possibility of an injury. Over none of that stuff, with the added benefit of clawed up shins and calves from pins, and STILL the possibility of injury.

So…I’m really sorry this was so long for so little, but I guess I was just in a writing mood. And hopefully it will mean at least a little to someone.

And yeah, I don’t know anything about SoCal trails or the Northshore or any of the really cool stuff, but if those trails are harder than Highland, I don’t think I want to do them. Highland is a for-real mountain bike trail. There aren’t any real long climbs or descents, as I said, but it’s like the entirety of the trail is climbing or descending. And around crazy turns, and huge rocks, and drops and just utter craziness for South-East Michigan. It is definitely a trail to see if you’ve got the stuff, in my book.

Oh, and just in the past few rides, I’ve noticed something that I unconsciously now do that has seemingly helped my riding quite a bit. I no longer hold on to the handle EVER. Going down rutted hills, cranking up big ones, over roots, bumps, and fallen limbs, jumps, and even log mounds. I never use the handle. At first, even with clipless I would go back to the handle because that is what I was used to, and when you do, it means that you lose a balancing hand, flow, and power.

I also feel much more at one, it feels as though the wheel is an extension of my body, instead of something that I am riding on. I didn’t realize this until just my last ride, when I went over a fairly big jump, and then rode a 10 foot loose log mound without hand to handle. And then analyzed my prior riding, and the rest of that ride. And, I must say that even aside from the added balance, power, and speed of not having to go to the handle, the joy of feeling like I’m literally rolling through the forest is akin to the feeling of learning to ride a unicycle in the first place.

It is just awesome.

2009-10-1, 05:22 PM

There isn’t a separate move at all to unclip. It seems that nobody can get past this thought. But on a unicycle, there’s even less thought than on a bike. The action of flailing your feet to bring them in front of you when you fall, is the EXACT action that unclips you. Yes, as I’ve said in other threads, I do tend to fall to my hands more now instead of just to my feet. But that’s ONLY because I now try to muscle through every single fall, never wanted to give up the seat. If I just walked off the uni as you must when you lose control without clipless, you will (in my experience) always land on your feet the exact same as without clipless.

I do seriously envy you guys who live in SoCal and whatnot and have mountains out your doorstep. However, that’s simply because of the variety that would then be present. We don’t have any north shore stuff, or hardcore SoCal downhill. But the three trails that I ride, are much more than XC. One is only about 6.5 miles, but it is quite hilly and technical. The other is 10 miles, and about half of it is advanced/expert stuff. The last is very intense, constant hills, never a flat trail, and 17 miles total. Lots and lots of rocks, roots, ruts, jumps and bumps. Very technical, and very hairy. And I ride these trails prior to clipless, falling off every quarter mile or more. And now, I fall maybe once, the whole trail. I know that you have harder stuff available, but even in the best of the videos I’ve seen, nobody is riding it. I’m not saying I’m great or anything. But going on all the videos I’ve seen, I am right up there with them… BUT only clipped in. I can’t ride even 25% as well without them.

To me, that means that you guys that are as good or better than me without clipless, would be gods clipped in.

I’ve never once used those, and I don’t like to speak on things that I know nothing about. (Too many people already do that) But to my mind, those (which are called “clips”, hence these being called “clipless” even though those don’t have “clips” and clipless do have clips, but hey, whatever) type of pedals seems much, much worse and harder to get out of than clipless. I also am fairly sure that they don’t work as well, which is why most people only use clipless now a days.

And that’s how it goes. At first, you think that something is scary, and never going to work. And then you get used to them, and you realize that you have no idea how you got along without them.

And, really, there is far too much fear surrounding these simple little devices. They’re not scary, people, they work exactly how they should, and when you want them to stop working, they do that just as they should as well.

The absolute only negative impact that they have on my riding is that it takes a few seconds longer to mount with them than without them. That’s it, and the positives too numerous to list.

I don’t know if the guy in RTL had mountain shoes (recessed cleat) or road shoes (non-recessed cleat), but my mountain shoes are more hardcore (roadie like) than most mountain shoes, and I still have never had a problem running out of a fall if that was ever an option.

So, that’s my epic of a post, I hope some of you actually read the whole thing, and we can discuss this on a thread meant for it, instead of my continual pirating.

Thinking back, I think it was probably bungeejoe, who we all know is a great advocate of SPDs on unicycles, so presumably it didn’t put him off. I’m sure he’ll elaborate on his shoes (from the pics I’ve seen of him they look like some Sidi shoes I used to have, which were sort of road-style MTB xc shoes with semi-recessed cleats (ridges either side that touch the floor)).

I must say I’m extremely tempted to throw a pair of SPD pedals on one of my unicycles and give it a try - but the “penalty for failure” is still putting me off at the moment. I’ve had times when I’ve fallen off on a climb because I’ve accidentally lifted the back foot off the pedal (because I’m so used to SPDs or toe clips on bikes), but I’ve also had times where I’ve suddenly found myself running, which is what I can’t get out of my head. I’m sure sometime I’ll try it…


I have glanced over this post and intend to read it all when I am not at work, but from what I see you say that you naturally flare your feet to disengage from the pedals when you UPD. I am interested in trying out clipless pedals, but in a controlled environment. I don’t think I would ever use them as a pedal for my geared 36 for general riding because I have had a high speed UPD once where my feet couldn’t get out of the pedals (shoelaces) and I never want to recreate that!

I’ve been meaning to put on my SPD pedals on the geared 36, so I will report back when I test it out.

It is interesting to note that of the serious injuries at RTL, the worst was Joe’s. He broke his leg over a rail road crossing. He was also the only person with clipless pedals at RTL. Supposedly the pedals were not to blame though, and the fact that he is now riding a geared 36 with the same pedals kind of proves his point that it wasn’t the pedals.

I don’t like the idea of even having a run out on cleats even if I disengage from the pedals, even with the MTB recessed shoes.

I think I have given spd’s a reasonable try and I think I will continue to work with them in hopes that they will become something like mtbing where I, like Rob, almost feel less safe when not clipped in.

That being said, I do not find them to be as safe as AscenXion and do not believe I ever will. While I agree that I have always kicked out in a fall (I should add that I have used clipless pedals on my mtbs since their origins in the late 80s) I have not been able to walk off a upd at anything close to the percentage of times I walk off platforms. Lesson: wrist guards are a must.

To be fair I should probably fully commit as AscenXion has, but I can’t say the benefits are as apparent as they are on a bike and the increase likelyhood of injury from not walking off a upd seems to me to be greater than the benefit.

I was the rider for our team over that RR crossing and it was quite a jolt, not your typical crossing. And it was perpendicular too, no angled nonsense or other variations, just a really big bump. In other words, I understand if he blames the bump and doesn’t fault the pedals.

Also I think mtnjeffe offered some sound advice for everyone who’s going to try clipless, especially in the beginning: “Wrist guards are a must.”

It’s cool to see them working for some people.

That is a great idea. I should probably do the same with all of my rants against the 2.35" Big Apple tyre (whilst praising the 2.0" Big Apple) although it’ll probably look like I just copy & paste the same stuff over and over again :slight_smile:

I was the the Goonies rider that got to experience that hidden delight too. I was surprised at my own ability to clear that crossing, so clipless or not, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it ruined someones race. I think a few riders managed to do well with a couple of cuts and grazes.

Whilst I wouldn’t consider myself brave enough to try clipless muni, I would like to build up to clipless road riding. Toe clips first though, then, maybe, SPDs. But even that will take a bit of courage to start with…


I’ve ridden both types of clips pretty extensively on those two-wheeled things. IMO it’s easier to get out of the SPD/clipless type than the classic toe clips, especially with mountain-bike types that are adjusted to release easily. Counterintuitive, but I believe true. I’d recommend trying both types on a two-wheeler to see what you’re more comfortable (i.e. really, really comfortable) with, before deciding what to put on a uni.

P.S., I just put a 2.0 Big Apple on my new 29, after reading your various rants, and am really enjoying it.

I have only got one two-wheeler thing, and it’s probably not wise to try clipless on that! I’ve recently sold my mountain bike as I’ve not ridden a bike for about 5 years, and would therefore have to go clipless strait on to a uni. I know people say that SPDs are as easy or easier than toe clips, but for me it would be a matter of confidence. Mentally, SPDs would be a huge barrier for me to get over, but toe clips (at least, the plastic half-clip things) would only be a small barrier. We’ll see…

Great! I’m glad someone reads my rants :smiley: Just a pity that you didn’t read about how even better the Marathon Supreme is :smiley:


I think one good way to advance the clipless MUni cause is to post a few videos showing moderate-advanced MUni, including drops etc being ridden clipless. Has anything like that ever been posted?

I use Shimano A520

I am a crazy clipless rider. My favorite pedals for the last several years are the Shimano A520 pedal. Funny that I’m not a good or talented unicycle rider but decided that for some of the events I try to do clipless would make the difference of a finish or not.

I have never ridden anything but unicycles and stationary trainers with clipless pedals. I practiced clipping in and out for a long while holding on to a saw horse and work bench. Then rode my 28 Sun out the long rocky driveway of the friends we had stopped to send a few days with. Made a couple of trips up and down the state hiway with them that day.

About two weeks or so later I received my 36 Big One from UDC. About the third or fourth day I had owned a 36 I went clipless. After owning a 36 for less than 2 weeks (and unable to free mount clipless) I rode the 36 for 100+ miles clipless on the first day of the STP (Seattle to Portland).

As a side note: I had so over exerted my body that I could not stand or walk at the end of the day and was passing blood in my urine (the toilet look like I had poured a couple of cups of black tea in it). I got up to try riding the next morning and decided I was in no shape to ride.

After a couple of weeks clipless riding I started to feel that standard pedals felt dangerous. In the first year after starting to ride clipless I rode more than six thousand miles clipless.

One of the primary reasons for deciding to ride clipless for me was the problems associated with riding in the rain. It rains a lot here in Bellingham, WA. I go for years at a time with out a car commute. My commute route has several hill climbs on it each way. When the pedals and shoes are drenched and I was trying to climb up the steep parts of the hills it was hard to keep my feet on the pedals unless the pedals were shin bitters.

The other primary reason for deciding to ride clipless is the wasted watts (effort) trying to keep my feet on the pedals for mile after mile after mile. When you have finished a century and know what wasted watts feel like at my age and ability you might start to understand.

I don’t think any one should feel pushed to try clipless. If you hurt yourself trying, it should only be because you wanted to go clipless no matter what any one else told you or warned you. Riding unicycles clipless is dangerous.

Do you understand what it is like to have the rest of your life changed by injury. I will probably never walk or stand pain free again for the rest of my life. I am never to run again for the rest of my life. I am not to ride unicycles ever again for the rest of my life.

I have decided to ride clipless. I like to say that clipless did not contribute to my injuries. But the fact remains that I will never be the same again. I think of myself a slow rider prior to injury. Now I am even slower.

I ride unicycles against the orders of my doctors. I have six screws and a plate to help hold me together.

I still ride uncycles clipless.

Unicycling clipless is dangerous.


1 Like

Jeez - I’m so transfixed by the clipless issue that when I logged on a few moments ago I felt sure the log-on window said, ‘Thank you for clipping in Monocyclism’ :astonished:

Bungeejoe I hope I haven’t misunderstood you or misquoted you by posting this.

It’s so tempting to just set up for clipless and then ‘ruin’ the rest of my life in a few seconds! Throughout my adventures with unicycling I promised myself to always be conscious about not doing things that could leave me bitter with a physical injury that scarred me for the rest of my life - whats left of it :roll_eyes: .

This is a great inspiring thread of info on clipless. I keep thinking ‘Go for it!’ then saying, 'Hang on a minute… :thinking:

I think I will let the idea bob around in my head whilst I continue to train for that 100-1-1 ride next Summer.

I guess it needs to be said that I am in quite decent physical shape (though not very good aerobic shape) and my physique is quite a bit more “beefed” up than the average joe’s. This may be the reason that I am not afraid of riding clipless in the slightest, because I know that if I do EVENTUALLY happen to take a bad fall, it won’t matter. I will almost assuredly walk away from it without any injury further than cuts and bruises. And the very slight chance that I might break something, or even worse, is just what goes with the sport in the first place. Its like my preference for not wearing pads or a helmet or any other safety gear. If I felt it necessary to use any of those things, I would just not ride. The inherent possibility of injury is just not a thought for me, but I’m also no longer a daredevil. I don’t intentionally do things that I think may hurt me, and I’m actually quite careful about most things that I do now-a-days…getting old sux, specially when I’m not even old yet. :slight_smile:

Now, with that said, I really don’t think that riding clipless is actually more dangerous than not. I feel much safer and more relaxed riding clipless than I do pinned, and I think that beartrap are probably the most dangerous all said and told. So for me, there is no “penalty for failure”, only penalty for fearfulness. :slight_smile:

And those times that you find yourself suddenly running, I certainly know what you’re speaking of. However, those times NEVER happen to me anymore. The clipless pedals completely solve this problem, and that is one of their primary functions and godsends, in my opinion.

You are probably falling to the issues that I had when I started using clipless the second time around. You are attempting to “walk” off of them, and that’s obviously not going to work. (btw I’m not necessarily speaking directly to you, as you seem to fully understand everything that I’m saying, but to others that may not understand) I don’t consider there to be such a thing as a upd anymore. Upd’s make you land on your face with clipless. When you “fall” you have to FALL. Clipless will save a good 90% of the falls that you would normally have, but those few times that you do fall, you have to make sure that you aren’t just lazily trying to upd, but that you are really falling.

And that’s why I say that clipless are really best for hard muni. If you can’t ride hard muni, then you might not want to try clipless. But if you do ride hard muni, you will ABSOLUTELY see MASSIVE benefits for them, and I posit that the benefits are actually quite a bit more pronounced on a uni than they are on a bike. You really have to realize that you NEVER need to use a handle of any kind anymore (other than to soothe the bum), you never need to waste anymore energy taking the wrong line because you need to for your balance, you never need to worry about keeping your power limited to less than half, and your power vector limited to nearly completely up and down, you never need to worry about your feet bouncing off the pedals as you are traversing bumps and ruts and jumps, and you don’t need to worry about muscling down hills anymore, you can actually rest as the trail was built for.

The benefits are much, much, much more astounding than I think many of you realize.

Yeah, I agree, and I’d like to get out there and try to take some videos, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve never done a video before, and I’m not quite sure the best way to go about showing off that my pedals are actually helping me at all. But, I’ll definitely put some thought into it.

The discussion of clipless pedals on a unicycle reminds me of the discussion of free solo climbing, with the difference that the upside and downside is much greater in free solo climbing.

Free solo climbing allows one to climb quickly and easily with a minimum of hassle and equipment. It is a much purer form of rock climbing than the normal lead climbing. :slight_smile:

The downside of free solo climbing is that if you make one mistake under difficult circumstances, then you die. :astonished:

It sounds like clipless gives one a clear advantage in unicycle riding, but if you have a problematic dismount you can break bones. (Face bones, leg bones, arm bones–all sorts of possibilities come to mind.) Perhaps the technology with clipless pedals is good enough to make that very unlikely. Having never ridden clipless pedals on anything, I am hesitant to try it on a unicycle.

Uhm…yeah…No. :slight_smile:

… risk takers …

“Most of us,” says International Stunt School founder David Boushey, “are calculated risk takers.”

I would like to add that some of us may also suffer as an “Adrenaline junkie” awaiting our next “rush”. Have you heard of any successful reform programs?

1 Like

With respect, I think any comparison between riding clipless and the type of free soloing that John Bachar pioneered is just not possible. Confidently clinging to an overhanging rock face 2000’ off the deck with hand and footholds that could be less than 1/8" deep without a rope is just a different universe entirely. The clipless rider can decide at any time if he/she wants to just stop, walk for awhile, maybe even call for a ride. But I like the idea of making comparisons of clipless uni riding to other activities. Open wheel racecar driving? Ferret legging? Playing golf without a helmet?

One could be conditioned to have certain phobias. It’s rather quick and effective from what I hear.