Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The perfect clip-in ... every time !

Recently I had a cycling epiphany: I figured out the secret of the perfect clip-in.

It's possible this is the most obvious thing in the world and everybody knows it but me. (That happens a lot.) But it felt like a huge revelation. So I must share. The other thing is, this may only be true of Shimano 105 pedals (or Shimano pedals generally). But here's the deal:

a) The pedals are weighted to hang in a particular way as the crank-arm moves around.
b) There is an optimum position for the pedal such that when you drop your foot, the cleat and pedal mate perfectly.
c) That position is with the uncleated pedal's crank arm at the 12 o'clock position. At every other position the pedal flips around in a way that makes it practically impossible to position your foot so that it docks properly.

So let's say your left shoe is in the pedal and your right is unclipped on the pavement.

1. Cock your left shoe up to 9 or 10 o'clock to give yourself a good push-off.
2. Glide, and as your left foot goes down to 6 o'clock, leave it there.
3. With the right pedal at 12 o'clock, drop your right foot onto the pedal and it will click just like magic. (Don't look down. For some reason it works better if you don't watch.) And if you should happen to miss it, just re-position your clipped-in foot at 6 o'clock, and step on again.

Once you know this trick there's almost no delay at the glide stage and you can practically clip in and simultaneously stomp on the right foot for a fast take-off if you want. Which is really helpful for race starts. And looks and feels very pro.

And it elimates the embarrassment of riding in a big group, unclipping at a red light, and missing the clip-in as the group rolls forward, then fumbling and clattering your foot around trying to mate cleat and pedal while simultaneously swearing and apologizing to the suddenly accordioning pack behind you.

This has been driving me nuts because about half the time I would clip in seamlessly, without even looking. Usually when I was riding alone. It's mostly in groups that I'd screw this up. Now I just don't worry anymore.

One more tip: try to alternate between right and left feet when clipping out at stops. That way your cleats wear evenly. And you also end up equally confident clipping in on either side.

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