Cleats are a general term we use for cycling shoes and the attachments to the pedals.
Don’t think that you need to go and rush out and get them with your first road bike right away as they take a bit of getting used to. It’s good to consider that it’s something you might want to do once you have gained confidence in riding your bike. .
The benefits of cleats are that you should feel more at one with your bike. Your feet will not slip about around the pedals, you can move more fluidly as you pedal. Also the sole of the shoe is designed to be hard so all the power is pushed down into the pedal and not lost in a spongey shoe.
When starting with cleats there are a few things to consider.
If you ride a road bike, get road bike shoes and cleats.
I wouldn’t advise getting mountain bike shoes to get started. They are just as difficult, once you get used to them you will have to learn all over again on road shoes. Not to mention the added expense.
You will need road shoes, cleats (the part that attaches the pedal and shoe) and pedals. So factor in all the costs. There are many different brands of shoes to suit your fit. Make sure you try them on in a shop before purchasing and get some advice on fitting. If you try them on at home ensure you do so on carpet, as once you have worn them you can’t return them. The most popular brand of pedals and cleats is Shimano.
You should get the cleats aligned properly to ensure they are not only comfortable, but to help you produce the most power into your bike . It’s best to get a biker to do it, or ask in your local bike shop.
You learn through practice
You probably will fall off at some point. Good news is I have never heard of anyone who has had a bad injury from starting to wear road shoes. No more than a few bruises, but more for embarrassment of toppling over. What you want to practice is clipping in and out. You will find that one side is more natural and always clip in and out of that side first. If you have an indoor trainer it’s a great place to start to practice as you have no fear of cars. If you practice outdoors find a quiet road or a place free from people or cars. Practice every ride with clipping in and out 10 times. Every time you have to stop at the traffic light or junction think ahead and remember you have to follow the process to unclip. It’s usually at junctions people tend to fall off.
Remember, don’t feel rushed to go out and get road shoes until you have mastered a degree of confidence on your bike. But every cyclist I know who now rides with them is glad they went through the learning process to feel the benefits.
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