Putting Your Best Foot Forward, part 2 (the left foot)

Ok, we've talked about road pedals and the benefits to clipless in general here, so let's head on to the other half of the clipless pedal spectrum, mountain clipless!

When you're mountain biking, sometimes you have to hoof it up a technical section you weren't quite prepared for. We've never tried walking up a muddy trail in road cleats but would advise against it. The problem is, back when mountain biking was starting, rider's options were pretty much limited to road pedals with toe straps, or big hiking boots and so-called "bear trap" pedals, designed to bite into the sole of the shoe. Or your shin.

any mountain biker from the 90s has scars from these

any mountain biker from the 90s has scars from these

Mountain bikers were looking for similar advantages that road cyclists had gained from clipless pedals becoming the standard. So in 1990, Shimano found a way to get the benefits of clipless on a mountain bike while still making them practical for riding off road. The SPD pedal and cleat system was born.

cue the confetti, the Shimano M737 was the first mountain specific pedal, and it came with a partner shoe (the M100) to complete the system.

cue the confetti, the Shimano M737 was the first mountain specific pedal, and it came with a partner shoe (the M100) to complete the system.

The biggest part of this, and the reason they're still so popular today, was the fact that they designed a shoe specifically for the cleat. Rather than the smooth sole of a road shoe, the mountain shoes have a lugged surface and the cleat sits in a recessed area roughly under the ball of your foot. So, since the cleat itself was recessed into the shoe, you could pretty easily walk around in them, whether you were off road or not. And that's the key: mountain bike shoes and pedals are truly walkable, which makes them fantastic for a really wide range of cyclists.

The engagement system is very similar to road shoes, though scaled down to a much smaller scale. The small metal cleat still catches the front of the pedal and forces a retaining spring back to latch into the pedal, and you rotate your heel outward to unclip.

You can choose either way!

You can choose either way!

The small size of the pedal and cleat is another major advantage to the mountain style system. A popular pedal design is one with a clipless pedal on one side and a regular platform on the other, giving the rider the freedom to choose whether they need their cycling shoes for that particular ride or not.

These types of pedals are often seen at spin classes so students without their own shoes can ride the platform side. Buying the clipless shoes can help take spin to the next level.

Just like with road pedals, there is a wide range of price points and styles available. In addition to the standard SPD pedal from Shimano, other companies have designed more minimalist pedals as well as some higher tech varieties. We've got three major brands available and are glad to chat about the differences between them and their benefits.

As for the shoes, there are tons of styles available: lightweight racing shoes with carbon soles under the lugs or casual shoes that look like regular tennis shoes, and everything in between. Some even look like hiking shoes because maybe you've got to hike a bike for a little while in order to ride the downhill. We've got styles that will work for you, whether you're riding the Monon, Town Run Trail Park (or Brown County), or your weekly spin class. Come check them out!

Putting Your Best Foot Forward, part 1 (the right foot)

Photo does not reflect reality, it's actually quite nice out for November

Photo does not reflect reality, it's actually quite nice out for November

Indiana does have a "winter" so while we aren't riding, we're going to be lobbing more bike related knowledge bombs into the ether to help share things we feel are important and useful for people looking to get more out of riding. This series will help explain a few key things you can do to your bike to make riding more efficient and enjoyable.

To start, we're going to talk about pedals and shoes since they're how you as a rider move the bike forward.

Most bikes come with a flat plastic pedal, enough for you to test ride it and start casually riding. Specialized even calls them 'test ride pedals' because for many, that's the first thing they change.

standard plastic pedals $9.99 a pair

standard plastic pedals $9.99 a pair

And there's really nothing all that wrong with them. You push and they turn the crank, which pulls the chain and drives the rear wheel. Yes, entry level pedals like the ones that come on most bikes aren't that durable, but for the casual rider, they work.

But what if you're looking for something more?

You're looking to ride more for fitness maybe, or interested in longer rides and want more efficiency. One of the shortcomings of the platform pedal is the inability to pull up on the back half of the pedal stroke, meaning that there are moments where you're not putting energy into the pedals to drive you forward. And on top of that, your running or other athletic shoes (which are designed to be flexible and comfortable) are not great options for riding because they'll compress and flex under your foot, robbing you of some energy that should go into the pedal. That's lost energy. How can you fix that?

super-fast

super-fast

The best solution is what are called "clipless" pedals, a system where a cleat on the bottom of your shoe locks into place on the pedal itself, maximizing power transfer while still letting you un-clip fairly easily when necessary. This has multiple other benefits too; you have more control over the bike since you're fully attached to the pedal, and it simplifies riding (no moving your foot around or struggling to slide it back into a toe cage).

There is an ever growing variety of clipless pedals now on the market, and you have to wear cycling specific shoes in order to use them. Where to begin? And which one is right for you? Do you know? And why am I asking so many questions?

There are two main types of clipless pedal: mountain pedals (which we'll get to later this week) and road pedals. The key difference between them is how you attach the "cleat" to the shoe: mountain pedals use a smaller cleat with 2 bolts that attach it to the bottom of your shoe, while road pedals use a larger cleat with 3 bolts to secure it to the shoe.

Road clipless pedals came into the world in the late 70s but weren't widely adopted until the mid 80s.
A French bicycle manufacture, Look, developed their pedal which cemented the 3-bolt pattern as a standard still in use today. Up until then, riders were wearing smooth soled athletic shoes with a reinforced bottom to increase some of the energy transfer. The new clipless pedals required new shoes, since most shoes don't really allow you to screw something into the sole, and these new shoes had stiffer bottoms, allowing increased transfer of power into the drive train, helping make riders more efficient and a little faster. The clipless pedals also allowed riders to get out of the pedal more easily if need be since you just had to rotate your heal outward instead of loosening a strap. As time progressed the shoes became lighter and more high tech, incorporating carbon fiber into the soles to be as stiff as possible while maintaining a light weight body.

The old standard, a pedal with a toe cage and leather strap

The old standard, a pedal with a toe cage and leather strap

The new standard, a plastic cleat and "clipless" pedal

The new standard, a plastic cleat and "clipless" pedal

The downside to road pedals is that they're not very easy to walk around in. Combining a smooth, super stiff sole with a protruding plastic cleat tends to force people to duck walk, and they can be slippery on tile or hardwoods. Many manufacturers are trying to counter that by developing "walkable" versions, where softer rubber spots on the cleat will give you traction without sacrificing the ability to clip in and out.

Road pedals today use the same general systems: a cleat attaches to the bottom of your shoe and locks into place on the pedal, and you can unclip by rotating your heal outward. As with everything else bike related, there are a few different price points: the basic Shimano SPD-SL pedal comes in around $60 while the high end Speedplay pedal with a titanium spindle is over $300.

We carry a few different models and a few different price points to make sure you can find what you need. Come in and check out what we have on display and chat with us about what type of riding you're doing and we'll match you with a shoe and pedal system that makes sense for you. We'll talk about mountain bike pedals in the next post, because this post was already too long...

November Specials

All November we're going to be doing specials on Service here at the shop. We wanted to do a little of everything, but knew that some may have just had work done so a tune up special by itself wasn't going to be enough. So, without further ado..

$75 Tune Up now only $50!

Pretty straightforward, save $25 on regular tune ups! 

1/2 Price Labor on Install

So with this one, we're stretching things a bit further. Need new tires? Half price install. Get a flat? Half price tube replacement. Want new bar tape? Half price wraps! Computer, chain, new racks or baskets, replacement forks and bottom brackets? All half price installs.

Winter can be pretty hard on brake pads, so if you haven't replaced yours and you plan on riding through the winter months, this may be a good opportunity!

The bottom pads need to be replaced, they're worn well beyond the wear markers. The top ones are new pads. 

The bottom pads need to be replaced, they're worn well beyond the wear markers. The top ones are new pads. 

Have you been commuting on your road bike all summer and fall but are worried that the narrow tire may not be as safe on slick roads in the winter? We've got a few tread patterns that should give you the confidence you need to ride on!

The improved tread pattern and bead to bead protection make it a great all season tire, ready for everything.

The improved tread pattern and bead to bead protection make it a great all season tire, ready for everything.

New handlebar tape has a double effect on bikes, it makes bikes look brand new and it is usually more comfortable since it hasn't been compressed as much. Stylish and Comfortable...

Might be about time to replace that...

Might be about time to replace that...

This can usually be saved, but a refresh can give your bike a pop

This can usually be saved, but a refresh can give your bike a pop

NEW TAPE IS USUALLY MORE COMFROTABLE

NEW TAPE IS USUALLY MORE COMFROTABLE

ITS ONE PLACE YOU CAN TOTALLY CUSTOMIZE YOUR BIKE

ITS ONE PLACE YOU CAN TOTALLY CUSTOMIZE YOUR BIKE

If your chain has been skipping or slipping, maybe it's 'stretched' and not sitting on the teeth of the cassette properly. Bring it by and we can measure it for you.

IF it doesn't sit on the teeth correctly, it may be stretched out. skipping chains can be dangerous if you're trying to ride uphill

IF it doesn't sit on the teeth correctly, it may be stretched out. skipping chains can be dangerous if you're trying to ride uphill

Use this month as an opportunity to prep your bike for next season, so that when you pull the bike out on that first beautiful weekend in, well it's Indiana so we don't know what month really so, spring, you can pump up your tires and everything should work just like new.

The following specials are applicable for service on bikes brought in between November 1st and 30th only.