Cycling is an amazing sport, and a big part of cycling is the equipment we use. When many of us start riding our different bikes, we start to upgrade them to make it more fun to ride and easier.
One thing many cyclists do is change out to clipless pedals. Clipless pedals are excellent and come with a huge amount of benefits compared to standard flat pedals, and also some disadvantages.
When you go to clipless pedals, you get much better pedaling efficiency, and this is because your foot is fixed in place, and providing you are set up properly, you have a much more efficient pedal stroke giving you basically free power.
Typically a pair of cycling shoes and clip-in pedals weigh much less than normal trainers and standard flat pedals. It’s not much, but it does make a difference.
Having your feet fixed in place goes a long way to improve the bike’s handling. It provides excellent structure and helps you lean in much safer than you can with your feet not fixed.
We see it all the time on the road people forget to unclip and fall straight over. It’s doesn’t hurt too much, but it isn’t very pleasant.
Difficult to use without the right shoes
If you use your bike for multiple purposes, then clip-in pedals are not always ideal as you have to carry an extra pair of shoes alongside them. This is what we are going to be speaking about today and a solution on how to get around it.
Just One Bike
Changing your shoes while shopping or even changing your pedal beforehand is not ideal. Many people ask whether you can use normal shoes with clip-in pedals.
Can you use clip-in pedals without the correct shoes?
Yes, you can, but they offer very little grip, and you have the risk of your foot slipping off easier. Depending on what type of clip-in shoes, this could be better or worse.
There is a solution, though, and before we speak about that, we need to tell you about the different types of cycling pedals.
These are the standard pedals you get with most bikes and are made of either metal or plastic. They are made to grip a general trainer. These are also heavily used in mountain biking. These are favored by many because your foot can move around freely.
SPD pedals are a mountain bike style clip-in pedals. They are very small and have an attachment for the pedal cleat on either side. They are easy to use, and you can still move your foot slightly while clipped in.
This is used on a road bike and will be seen in races like the Tour de France. They are bigger than SPD and clip in on one single side. They come with different cleats, which offer more or less movement.
There are many other types, such as Speedplay, Look, Keo, and even some they refer to as Eggbeaters. These are all very similar to the SPD and SPD-SL.
Which clip-in pedals will work best for normal riding?
Although there’s no ideal clip-in shoe for flat riding, the SPD-SL is the better of the two. They are flatter and have a larger surface area. We can’t recommend using these as flat pedals as they are just not grippy enough. We do have a few solutions, and we can fix this issue easily.
You can change your pedals out for double-sided pedals, such as the Shimano PD-EH500. These have the ability to be a flat pedal on one side, and a clip in SPD on the other and are a great solution.
Clip-in Pedal Adapters
You can also get adapters for clip-in pedals. These have a cleat attachment like on the bottom of a cycling shoe and are able to clip in like a shoe but instead offer a proper flat pedal surface.
Clip-in pedals are an excellent tool and have so many advantages, but they do make your bike harder to use for other purposes. You can use clip-in pedals without cycling shoes, but they don’t work very well.
We highly recommend using double-sided pedals or clip-in adapters as they are just more comfortable and safer for riding clip-in pedals with trainers.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.