Published: September 30th 2023


Clipped-in road cycling pedals are essential for avid cyclists seeking enhanced efficiency, power transfer, and control during their rides. While they can seem intimidating to newcomers, mastering the use of clipped-in pedals can greatly enhance your cycling experience. In this article, we’ll explore some valuable tips to help you get the most out of your clipped-in road cycling pedals and enjoy a smoother and more efficient ride.

  1. Choose the Right Pedals and Cleats

Before diving into using clipped-in pedals, it’s crucial to select the right ones for your needs. Different pedal systems and cleat styles exist, each with its unique features. Some popular options include Look Keo, Shimano SPD-SL, and Speedplay. Consider factors like ease of entry and exit, float (the degree of lateral movement allowed), and pedal weight. Additionally, ensure compatibility between your chosen pedals and cycling shoes.

  1. Practice Unclipping

One of the most intimidating aspects of clipped-in pedals is the fear of getting stuck. To overcome this, practice unclipping your shoes from the pedals while stationary. Start by using a wall or a sturdy object for support, then gradually move to unclipping on the go. Begin by practising away from traffic on a quiet car park or similar paved area, the flatter the better. This skill will become second nature with practice, reducing the anxiety of being unable to release your foot from the pedal when needed.

  1. Set the Proper Release Tension

Most clipped-in pedals allow you to adjust the release tension to your preference. Beginners often benefit from setting the tension on the loose side, making it easier to unclip. As you gain confidence and experience, gradually increase the tension to find the perfect balance between secure attachment and ease of release.

  1. Learn to Clip In Quickly

Efficiency is key in road cycling, and clipping in quickly after a stop or start can save valuable time and energy. Practice smoothly engaging your cleats into the pedals while on the move. Focus on aligning the cleats with the pedal, and with practice, you’ll master the art of swift clipping in.

  1. Pedal Technique

Proper pedal technique is essential for utilising the benefits of clipped-in pedals. Maintain a smooth and circular pedalling motion to distribute power evenly throughout your pedal stroke. Avoid “mashing” the pedals, which can lead to discomfort and decreased efficiency. Concentrate on pulling up as well as pushing down, making the most of the full revolution.

  1. Start with Short Rides

If you’re new to clipped-in pedals, it’s a good idea to start with shorter rides to build your confidence and adapt to the new setup. Gradually increase the ride duration as you become more comfortable. Remember that there is a learning curve, and it’s normal to have a few awkward moments initially.

  1. Use Float to Your Advantage

Float refers to the amount of lateral movement allowed by the cleats in the pedals. Having a little float can reduce the risk of knee strain and make your pedal stroke feel more natural. Experiment with different float settings to find what works best for your riding style and comfort.

  1. Regular Maintenance

To ensure your clipped-in pedals continue to function optimally, perform regular maintenance. Keep the pedal and cleat contact points clean, and lubricate them as recommended by the manufacturer. Inspect cleats for wear and replace them when necessary to maintain a secure connection.


Clipped-in road cycling pedals offer numerous advantages for cyclists, but they require some practice to master. By choosing the right pedals and cleats, practising unclipping, setting the proper release tension, and focusing on pedal technique, you can unlock the full potential of these pedals. With patience and persistence, you’ll enjoy a smoother, more efficient, and ultimately more enjoyable cycling experience. So, clip in and pedal your way to cycling greatness!