Eight programs receive grants for equitable bike share and related research

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — The Better Bike Share Partnership has awarded more than $410,000 in grants to help increase access to bike share in communities of color, and to fund research related to bike share and equity

Shimano announces its second electronic shifting mountain bike group, plus new wireless features and redesigned SLX parts

The new Deore XT Di2 group will be available in September. SAN JOSE, Calif. (BRAIN) — On Thursday, the opening day of this year’s Sea Otter Classic, Shimano went public with news of its second electronic shifting mountain bike group, Deore XT Di2 M8050.

Pinkbike and NICA announce ‘media partnership’

BERKELEY, Calif. (BRAIN) —??The National Interscholastic Cycling Association and Pinkbike have announced their media partnership for the 2015 and 2016 season. Pinkbike will provide NICA with advertising and promotional space, fundraising support, content and race coverage, and more

Shimano updates Deore XT group, offering its version of Boost and 1×11


Interbike adds new retail education courses

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (BRAIN) — Interbike has expanded its retail education schedule for this year’s show

How to choose clipless road pedals

Clipless pedals are a much more efficient way of riding a road bike that using platform pedals. Here we explore the different basic types so you can select what’s best for you.

Why are they called ‘clipless’, you ask? Because in between the flat pedal and this modern pedal, there was the toe-strap or toe-clip pedal, where riders would tighten a strap over the top of their shoe to attach it to the pedal. A primary downside to this design was that you had to reach down and loosen the strap before removing your foot, which wasn’t exactly ideal. Now, clipless pedals allow you to ‘clip in’ by pressing down and ‘clip out’ simply by pivoting your foot. ??

Each type of road pedals must be used with a compatible cleat – a piece of plastic that is bolted onto the bottom of a cycling shoe, usually with three Allen bolts. If you’re a beginner, you may want to consider using mountain bike shoes and pedals; the benefits there are a shoe that’s easier to walk in and a double-sided pedal that can be easy to get in and out of.

  • Related: How to use clipless pedals
  • Related: Best cheap road cycling shoes

Road pedal cleat design

Cleats vary in design depending on the pedal, but the majority fasten to the sole of the shoe in the same way. Look’s original three-point fastening system is the most common fixing pattern for road pedals. Shimano, Look, Time, Mavic and many others use this three-bolt pattern, and most shoes have three holes for this reason. Speedplay is a notable difference, with a four-bolt pattern. To use these, you’ll need four-bolt shoes or an adapter.

If you choose mountain bike SPD-style pedals, you will need mountain-bike or commuter-style shoes that have a two-bolt fastening pattern.

Whatever pedal you choose, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for compatible cleats. Cleats wear out over time, but are easily replaceable.

Most road pedals use cleats with a three-bolt pattern:

As contradictory as it sounds, clipless pedals ‘clip in’ to pedals with a stepping down motion, then unclip with an ankle-out twist of the foot. Most systems use a three-bolt pattern to affix the cleat to the shoe


Most pedals and cleats have a degree of float to allow your feet to pivot slightly as you pedal. Float is measured in degrees and is the amount by which the foot can move before releasing from the pedal. Some cleats are zero-float, or fixed, which, as you can imagine, keeps your feet ‘locked in’ to the pedal. Other cleats are in the six-degree range. Most riders prefer a little bit of float, and many bike fitters insist that this wiggle room can help keep knees healthy.

Exactly how the cleat floats is something you want to consider too. Speedplay is well known for its ice-like feel, with virtually no friction in the float. Some riders like this feeling; others do not. Most pedals have a small amount of friction built into the system, and some pedals can be adjusted for a tighter or looser feel.?

If you are unsure about what float is right for you, the good news is that your pedal choice won’t lock you into one particular setting: you experiment with the settings on the pedal, and with different cleats.

Road pedals have varying degrees of 'float' or built-in pivoting. speedplay pedals are well known for their ice-like slippery feel, which some riders love but others do not. most pedals have more subdued float:

Speedplay pedals are unique in that the engagement mechanism is on the cleat, which bolts to the shoe. Speedplay pedals have very free, ice-like float

Release tension

Most pedals enable you to adjust the release tension of the mechanism. If you’re a beginner, start off with a low tension for easier release. This will also make it easier to engage the pedal.

Mountain bike cleat

A double-sided mountain bike pedal can be an ideal starting point for beginners. The mechanism can be adjusted for easy entry and release, and the double-sided design makes clipping in simple. Shimano’s original SPD design is still widely used and the mountain bike design has proved popular among commuters and tourers. Another advantage of SPDs is that the cleat can be recessed into the shoe’s sole, enabling you to safely walk without damaging or slipping on the cleat.

You may want to consider starting with mountain bike pedals, which have a two-bolt pattern but can be used with mountain bike or commuter shoes, which are much easier to walk in than stiff road shoes:

Mountain bike pedals are a good choice for many beginners – plus you can use them on your mountain bike too!

Pedal material

As with most everything else on a bike, the more you pay, the lighter the pedals will be. All-carbon w?nder models can get down into the 250g weight range, and well up into the US$350 / ?220 range. But there are plenty of long-lasting, good-performing alloy/composite models like Shimano’s new R550 that weigh a respectable 309g without breaking the bank at US$99 / ?59.

Stack height

This is measured from the middle of the pedal axle to the sole of the shoe. The lower the stack height the better, because it places your foot closest to the axle’s centre for the best possible efficiency. You may need to adjust your saddle height if swapping between pedals with different stack heights.

Buyers guide to mountain bike pedals

Mountain bikers are faced with a broad array of pedal options from downhill-focused platforms with razor-sharp teeth to ultralight clipless models aimed at cross-country racers.

Here are some tips on how to determine the pedals that are best for you and your riding style.

Platforms vs clipless

At their essence, platform – or flat – pedals are barely different from what we all learned on as kids. They have big, broad shelves to place your feet along with some means of providing some grip for the bottom of your shoes.

As it pertains to mountain biking, though, platforms are generally preferred more by downhillers and gravity riders who prefer a larger surface area to help protect their feet from impact, and the freedom to instantly pull them off at will to help with balance when the trail gets dicey (which can also be handy for beginners). Sharpened cage plates and/or traction pins lend a little more security to keep you from getting bounced off, too, and while they can be used with virtually any type of conventional footwear, it’s best to go with skate-type shoes with particularly sticky soles.

Platforms tend to be quite heavy, though, and some riders want an even more connected feeling than even the most aggressive pins and stickiest shoes can provide. In these cases, only clipless pedals will do and the range of options is tremendously broad.

So-called ‘clipless’ mountain bike pedals use cycling-specific shoes and metal cleats that bolt on underneath (instead of the old plastic cages, or ‘toe clips’, that wrapped around your feet and from which these pedals derive their name). Those cleats are then mechanically attached to the pedals like a lock-and-key, usually with spring-loaded devices that release your foot with a simple twist as needed – or if you crash.

What to look for in platform (flat) pedals

Platform, or flat, pedals differ most by the level of traction provided. Sharper and/or more numerous pins or teeth will give a better grip but they can also be dangerous if you slip. Alternatively, pedals with larger platforms give your shoes more room to bite as do concave surfaces that effectively ‘cradle’ your feet.

A selection of platform (flat) pedals from dmr, nukeproof and burgtec:

A selection of flat pedals from DMR, Nukeproof and Burgtec

Another factor to consider is the thickness of the pedal body itself. Fatter pedals can sometimes feel clunky underfoot so generally speaking, thinner is better. That thinness can sometimes come at the consequence of bearing durability, so stick to models with multiple seals or ones that are at least easily disassembled for servicing.

If you live in rocky areas, also think about how often the pedals will hit the ground. In those situations, it’s important that the traction pins are replaceable (preferably from the back so that they can be removed even when ground down). Certain models also have replaceable body sections, too.

What to look for in clipless pedals

Mountain bike clipless pedals are generally offered with one of three different platform sizes: the traditional (and most compact) option with a small body to house the retention mechanism and little more; a mid-sized ‘trail’ option that adds a small cage; and full-sized models that provide a large and stable foundation for your feet.

While the traditional size is the lightest, it’s best to choose based on what type of shoes you’ll use – and how much walking you expect to do. Race-type cross country shoes with very stiff midsoles should typically be paired with traditionally sized pedals; softer and more flexible skate-type shoes are best able to make use of full-sized pedals’ bigger platforms; and the new crop of semi-flexible trail shoes are usually best paired with medium-sized pedals.

A selection of clipless (spd-style) pedals from crankbrothers, shimano and look :

A selection of clipless pedals from Shimano, Crank Bothers and Look

Shimano launched the clipless boom in the early 1990s yet despite its age, SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) is still the predominant format. It’s not the best at shedding mud and snow nor are they usually the lightest around but the cleats are tough, the engagement is very secure, and the metal bodies are generally extremely durable. SPD is often the only option to offer an adjustable release tension, too, meaning you can start with a light hold on the cleat and gradually dial things up as your skills improve.

Crankbrothers is another major option with a feel that’s at the opposite end of the spectrum. The attachment is less mechanical feeling but the upside is more freedom of movement on the pedal before the cleat disengages from the pedal. Mud clearance is generally outstanding, too, and they’re among the lightest options out there.

Time and Look round out the major players with an overall feel, mud shedding, and durability that falls somewhere in between Shimano and Crankbrothers.

For any choice, be sure to consider the pedals’ serviceability. While most pedals have some sort of seals, their quality and effectiveness vary tremendously and they’ll all eventually need maintenance. Look for options that don’t require special tools (or if they do, make sure they’re inexpensive and easy to obtain) and won’t require an entire afternoon to relube.

Lastly, don’t be overly tempted by low weight. Mountain bike clipless pedals live a tough life with lots of abuse so function and durability should be your primary concerns. Besides, any lightweight product can feel awfully heavy when you have to carry it home.

How to use clipless pedals

Clipless – or, more accurately, clip-in – pedal systems have been used by most serious cyclists since Look applied step-in ski-binding technology to bikes in 1984. Then Bernard Hinault rode it to Tour de France victory in ’85 and there was no going back.

Once you too have experienced the efficiency of having your foot fixed on the pedal throughout its cycle, you’ll be hooked. But switching can be intimidating, so we sought out British Cycling qualified coaches Andy Cook and his wife Jacqui, of www.andycookcycling.com, for help.??

Different types of pedal/shoe

Most shoes and pedals fall into two categories: road (such as Shimano SPD-SL, Time and LOOK), which use a three bolt system, and off-road (such as Shimano SPD, crankbrothers and Time A-Tac), which use a two-bolt system. Both systems use a plastic or metal cleat fixed to the bottom of the shoe. However there’s nothing to stop you using a two-bolt system on a road bike if you prefer the stability of mountain bike shoes for walking around.

Cleat setup – road

A good bike shop can help you affix the cleats to your shoes. If you do it yourself, start by positioning the cleat underneath the ball of your foot, and make sure it’s on straight. After you have both cleats on, hop on your bike and lean against a wall or a doorway where you can’t fall over, and pedal backwards for a few minutes. At this point you can adjust the fore/aft of the cleats and even your saddle height to get comfortable.

If you need to change the angle – if your feet naturally point inwards or outwards and you can feel some discomfort – sit on the edge of a table with your legs dangling off the side, your shoes resting on a rectangular piece of paper, with the edge perpendicular to the table. Draw around your shoes, then place the cleats on the outlines so they’re still square to the table edge. The angle between the centre line of your shoes and the edge of the paper (centre line of cleat) is your cleat angle.

Cleat setup:

Cleat setup – mountain bike

With mountain bike cleats, line up your markers so you can position the cleat in both directions, both fore and aft in relation to the axle and its angle in relation to your shoe. Tighten down the bolts just enough to keep them firmly in place. Try not to let them dig into the sole of the shoe, because the indentations left will make fine-tuning harder – carbon soles are more resistant. Don’t use any grease just yet.

With your shoes back on, balance yourself against a wall and clip in. Your legs should hang naturally down, without any noticeable stress on your joints. Check how much float there is to either side – the amount of lateral movement before the cleat disengages – to ensure it’s even. If there’s any discomfort, adjust the cleat until everything feels good.

If you’re fitting cleats to a new set of shoes, you’ll need to spend some time finding the optimal place in which to position them. With your riding shoes on, but without any cleats fitted, sit on your bike and hang your right foot down in a natural pedalling position. Mark a spot on the outside of the shoe to show where the cleat sits in the fore and aft relation to the axle. Roughly speaking, the cleat should sit under the ball of the foot.

Mountain bike cleat systems use just two bolts: mountain bike cleat systems use just two bolts

How to use the clipless pedals

You clip yourself into the pedals by sliding the front of the cleat under the catch on the pedal and pressing down hard with your heel. When you clip in you should both hear and feel the engagement. To release your foot, twist your heel out to the side. With some practise you’ll be able to do this consistently.

The best way to practice is to start by leaning against a wall, clipping in and out of the pedals until you get the hang out it. Then progress to a quiet road or better yet, a smooth, grassy area. Beware of sudden stops if in an urban area, such as junctions, narrow streets (where traffic is reduced to a single lane) and traffic lights. You’ll find that it’s best to unclip your feet before you reach junctions and traffic lights.

And don’t worry if you do fall off as you get used to using them. It’s happened to the best of us.

Clip-in tips

1 If you’re nervous of full-on roadie pedals and you’re primarily a commuter, we’d recommend pedals that you can clip into from either side – double-sided pedals. Pedals that you clip into on one side but have a flat platform on the other are also handy if you would like to also sometimes ride in ‘normal’ shoes.

2 “Before you jump on your bike,” says Andy, “don’t forget to first slacken off each pedal’s spring tension as far as it will go, so it’s as easy as it can be to clip out when you need to.”

3 “Don’t try unclipping both feet at the same time,” says Jacqui. “And if you’re at all unsure, practise unclipping while holding onto a fence, or in a doorway or narrow hallway. Try to use a quick, clean, positive outwards swivel of your heel rather than a gradual, slow movement.”

4 Your shoe choice will be dictated by the type of pedal you go for. “A touring or mountain bike shoe with a knobbly sole makes a great commuting choice,” says Andy, “because you can apply pressure on the pedal without fear of your foot slipping off, no matter how the pedal happens to be aligned.” This is particularly handy if your ride means you need to keep clipping in and out at traffic lights.

5 If you intend to do much walking in your cycling shoes, a mountain bike/tourer-style shoe almost always has a recess along the middle of the sole for the cleat, so it won’t skid noisily on the floor. The recess also helps guide your cleat into place.

6 If you’re using Look-style pedals, keep an eye on cleat wear in your shoes. “You’ll wear it so thin that a big effort such as a climb will snap it,” says Andy. “Most cleats have wear markers, and you can get cleat covers for easier walking too.”

7 Don’t forget to look after your clipless system – a lack of maintenance could stop you clipping in or out smoothly and cause a fall. Beware of getting your pedals clogged with dirt too.??

8 If you’re having trouble engaging the pedal, check the lugs on your shoes aren’t getting in the way. You may need to cut back some of the rubber around the cleat with a Stanley knife for added clearance.

New speakers, new videos, new venue for IBD Summit


Cole Aries 920 wheelset review

Currently an unknown quantity in most riders’ eyes, Cole may become better recognised thanks to a recent distribution deal with Evans Cycles.?

The Aries 920 are Cole’s mid-range cross-country wheels. At 1,910g a pair they aren’t the lightest, but you do get rim tape, skewers, six-bolt disc adapters and 9mm/15mm axle adaptors.?

The 21mm anodised aluminium rims are laced with 28 double-butted spokes, and each spoke is treaded at both ends – the hub end threads into a replaceable brass barrel. The aim is increased strength, but it does mean spoke replacement is very specific.?

Both hubs are Centrelock and run silky smooth thanks to well-sealed cartridge bearings. Once rolling, the nice noisy ticking of the freehub is reminiscent of a Pro 2 – even if the engagement isn’t.?

The nearest comparisons to?the Aries 920 are the Mavic Crossride?wheels, which are two-thirds of the price and slightly lighter, although they’re blessed with bladed spokes. The Aries are versatile and attractive, but otherwise unremarkable.?

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.