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Going clipless
CREATED: 02/04/14 by marlyn REPLIES: 13
marlyn    JOINED: 1/12/14    POSTS: 30
Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 10:57 AM

I'm doing NTP and want to take the step to clipless pedals. Shimano A530 looks to be a good entry point - flat pedal on one side/SPD clip on the other, 383 grams, $50.

Does anyone have experience with these? Or have another suggestion for a "starter" pedal?
Is there any way to tell whether this pedal is weighted to keep the clip side facing up?

Nashbar -


dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 11:18 AM

I don't think that there is such a thing as a "starter" clipless pedal. You don't progress from a "starter" to an "advanced" clipless pedal system. If you walk through the transition area of an Ironman, you'll see that there isn't one clipless pedal type that they all ride.

Clipless are like running shoes or bike saddles. Different strokes for different folks. The best thing that you can probably do for yourself is to go into a bike shop and ask to try out different pedals to see which you prefer more. They all have their own little quirks.


rojojade's ravatar rojojade    JOINED: 1/19/11    POSTS: 458
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 11:34 AM

My old NTP mentee got those. And he liked it for the first year or so. And then he switched to another one.

I think those are the most common that new people get because you aren't committed to being clipped in all the time. You have the option of riding with your sneakers for the days that you forget your bike shoes.

For those pedals, I think you know when you are on the wrong side when you try to clip in and you don't hear or feel metal on metal. I don't think it's weighted to be on one side over the other.

And Tuan is right. There are all manner of pedals out there. But if you are looking for another option - Look Keo pedals are also another popular clip in system that people start with. But there is no flat pedal option with them.

kev7's ravatar kev7    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 470
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 12:39 PM

My general recommendation: if you are not used to clipless pedals, get a set that you are comfortable clipping in and out of.

When I was new triathlete, I used SpeedPlay pedals. I found them to be the “easiest” to use (i.e., clip and unclip out of). Then after a couple years, I then switched over to Shimano 105 and Ultegra pedals. Shimano 105s are fairly cheap ($60-70) and only a few grams heavier than Ultegra.

TDPrange's ravatar TDPrange    JOINED: 1/14/13    POSTS: 89
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 12:53 PM

For me I went with an SPD style pedal (Shimano brand) mostly because I wanted to only have one pair of shoes and use them on both of my bikes. When I started I only had my commuter/hybrid road bike. On that bike I installed and campus/hybrid pedals that you described. That seemed to be a good fit for that kind of bike. When I added my road bike which I use for triathlons and most if not all my training rides these days I added an spd only style pedal to that bike. That way my single pair of shoes (Shimano mountain bike shoes) worked on both bikes and could be used when I raced or commuted to work. As always purpose built equipment for specific functions will always be better but if you you are trying to keep your costs down what I did may work for you. Also keep in mind that if you want to do spin classes on a spin bike you will probably need an spd style shoe.

That all being said if your concern is clipping in and out of the pedals I the hybrid pedals are not any harder or easier to get in and out of. If anything they might be a little harder since you can only clip into one side of the pedal.

I will tell you that you should not fear the clipless pedals... no matter what type you get they will take a little practice and in pretty short order they will be come second nature. As I am sure your NTP folk will tell you, when it comes to clipless pedals there are only 2 kinds of cyclist those who have fallen over while still clipped in and those who will.

jxjia's ravatar jxjia    JOINED: 8/13/12    POSTS: 112
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 1:20 PM

One thing also to keep in mind is the shoes you plan on using. Most triathlon shoes don't work with SPD (Shimano's line of mountain bike pedals) unless you use an adaptor but do work with Keo/SPD-SL. With that said, Shimano A530 is a solid choice for starters. It is very versatile. Just my two cents.

bronxking's ravatar bronxking    JOINED: 1/13/13    POSTS: 390
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 1:30 PM

I used the cheaper version, the Forté Boulevard Pedals from Performance Bike on my road bike as I use it for commuting and for training. I like the versatility and have done all my races in them. However, they can take two or three seconds more to clip into if you get the wrong side since they are not weighted. It's a trade-off that I can live with for versatility and for not having to own a second bike just for commuting.

However, if the only reason you're getting hybrid pedals is because you want to transition to clipless, I agree with all the discussion above. It's not any easier to clip-in with a hybrid pedal. If I were to do it again, I'd probably learn how to clip-in while riding on grass or wearing some padding the first ride or two. I got scrapes and bruises on my knees and elbows when I fell over trying to unclip at a stop light. You can also adjust the tension in the pedals to make it easier to clip in and clip out.

tgalbert's ravatar tgalbert    JOINED: 9/30/10    POSTS: 405
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 1:33 PM


First, congrats on making the choice to go clipless - you'll love it.

I have the A530 on my fixie so I can use it as a commuter (with my mountain bike shoes) or pedal around the neighbourhood in my flippy floppies. I like them, but I bought them specifically for their versatility of commute or casual pedal. HOWEVER - I don't recommend it as a pedal that you want to do your training or racing in. It will work, yes, but they can be a pain to clip into and don't always hold. I've got countless miles on my A530s, trust me.

Plainly: they are RECREATIONAL pedals.

Will they work? Of course.

Now, as a new triathlete, the last thing you need to worry about is how many grams your pedals weigh. Save that for the weight weenies who invest in carbon fiber kick stands. Don't make your choices based on how many grams your pedals weigh.

The decision to go clipless for training/racing means you will probably forgo the option of a platform pedal. What if you forget your shoes? Well, just don't do that. Just like you need to remember to bring your badge ID to work to get in/login, you need to remember your cycling shoes. If you forget them, hope it isn't a long drive home. Or sleep in your cycling shoes.

All that being said, let me echo Tuan and Kevin by saying that you may start with something now but want to graduate to another pedal within a season or so. I encourage you to look at getting "road" specific pedals now (which will require road-specific shoes) - or be willing to accept that if you use the pedals you are asking about (Shimano SPD-style/MTB[mountain bike]), you'll have to have mountain bike shoe (4 hole design) in order to hold the cleat that goes into the pedal. If you upgrade later to road pedals (Shimano SPD-SL/Speedplay/Look/etc) you'll have to buy another pair of shoes that will take road pedal cleats (Three hold design). [Note, there are some shoes that will accept both road and MTB-style cleats].

To put it more plainly, you can get a set of Shimano road pedals for about $40 (PD R-540) on Amazon or your local bike shop (LBS), and shoes for less than $100. Or, you can buy some MTB style pedals (Shimano SPD, for example) and mountain bike shoes for about the same. The choice is yours. It's my opinion that you'll be happier with road specific pedals, however, mountain bike pedals will still give you a better ride than clips/platforms. Road pedals will give you the most stability, power, and a more secure lock into the pedal, but definitely go with what you feel comfortable riding.

Where do you go from here? To your LBS. Have someone at a shop guide you through the differences in road vs. MTB pedals and shoes. I recommend considering an affordable, road-specific pedal (keeping in mind that each brand has several levels of the same model) such as Shimano SPD or Look Keo. Speedplay is another great pedal, as Kevin indicates, but the cleats require far more maintenance and are much more expensive. Shimano and Look are easy to install/maintain and inexpensive to replace cleats.

Sorry if this was verbose, but there's a lot to consider when making the jump.

Like Captain Planet says, "the power is yours."

tgalbert's ravatar tgalbert    JOINED: 9/30/10    POSTS: 405
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 1:38 PM

and pedals pop up for sale on the forum all the time:

marlyn    JOINED: 1/12/14    POSTS: 30
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 2:04 PM

Thanks, all, so much for the comments!

My draw to the hybrid design with a platform on one side is having a buffer of sorts to use for the in between times when I'm not sure yet if I'm coming to a full stop or just slowing down. In my head, I'm thinking that I can unclip and ride on the platforms if I start feeling uneasy. I have no idea if I would actually do this in practice.

TDPrange's ravatar TDPrange    JOINED: 1/14/13    POSTS: 89
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 2:29 PM

Personally, I think that the biggest to the hybrid pedals if if you want the benefit of clipless pedals but foresee the possibility of using your bike with normal shoes.

The slowing down and stopping thing really is not that big of deal once you get used to any clipless pedal that you decide to get. The trick to stopping is anticipating the stop. Eventually clipping in and clipping out of the pedal will eventually become second nature. The trick to not falling it anticipating the slow down/stop and unclipping the correct foot prior to coming to a stop.

Now if you unclip but don't actually stop, you can still pedal while you try to get you shoe clipped back in. On my road bike I have the mountain bike spd pedals. They are pretty much just just small block of metal at the end of the crank. They are not much to push on, but are there is enough there to push against to get moving on the bike until you can get fully clipped in.

SBsteph's ravatar SBsteph    JOINED: 1/24/11    POSTS: 110
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 3:41 PM

I started the same way, with the campus pedals, and got frustrated with them very quickly because I had to think about flipping them over in a race and I wanted to clip in right away.

Actually, the biggest confidence booster in transitioning to clipless was the year+ experience with using the shoes beforehand in a spin class. By the time I got into biking/tri and was ready to use them on the road, I didn't even have to think about it, it just came naturally.

Smiley actually sold me on the SPD-SLs. I still have to think about flipping the pedal over, but the pedals are weighted slightly better than the campus pedals, plus the weight distribution over a larger surface area on the shoe both for pedaling and walking around before/after really convinced me.

Lots to think about! :)

mjraugust's ravatar mjraugust    JOINED: 12/15/11    POSTS: 218
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 5:10 PM

If you are only going to have one bike and use it for everything, I would go with the Shimano PD-M324. They are heavier than the A-530, but you get more grip on the platform side of the pedal. A lot of folks I knew with the A-530 complained about their running shoes sliping off the pedal especially in the wet. Something to consider with the hybrid pedals is properly marking your seat post position for both sides of the pedal. With the SPD pedal and shoes your leg stroke is almost an inch longer and won't be comfortable when you switch back to your other shoes. If you have more than one bike or don't mind carrying bike shoes every where you go the Shimano PD-5700 pedal (SPD-SL) are awesome and usually cheap. I found mine online for $47, but I can't find a price that good right now.

PotomacTriathlete2009's ravatar PotomacTriathlete2009    JOINED: 9/19/09    POSTS: 532
RE: Going clipless
POSTED: 2/04/14 7:42 PM

Spend some time practicing clipping and unclipping out of the pedals, no matter which ones you get. Treat it as a separate skill to be learned. It's not that difficult, but it does take most people at least a few days or a week. You might tip over, but only when standing still. You might get a minor bump from the tipover, but I've never heard of anyone getting seriously injured from a tipover at a stop sign.

A common suggestion is to set up the bike in a hallway indoors. Then practice clipping/unclipping. If you tip over, you have the wall there for support. You can also practice outdoors in an empty parking lot. (The spin bike suggestion is a good one. I hadn't thought of that.)

I found that a key element to unclipping is leaning in the correct direction. Eventually this becomes second nature.

As for the pedals, I actually thought about getting the A530s or something similar, but for different reasons. I find it difficult to keep my toes warm on cold rides. (Cleated bike shoes let in a lot of cold through the cleats, even with neoprene shoe covers.) I thought about doing some outdoor rides in regular winter boots and platform pedals, while still having the option to use clipless on moderate days. But this was for my mountain bike, not my tri bike.

(I didn't get the pedals. I'm sticking to indoor rides for much of the winter. I can also use the platform pedals/warmer shoes on Capital Bikeshare bikes when I want to ride around outside, but not as training rides.)

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