How To Use Clipless Pedals: The Ultimate Tutorial For Road Cyclists

Clipless pedals provide a secure connection between the rider and the bike, enabling a more efficient transfer of power between the two. However, for those unfamiliar with this type of pedal, the transition can be intimidating. But fear not, for in this blog post, we will guide you through the process of using clipless pedals on a road bike.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the basics of clipless pedals to the proper technique for clipping in and out. We’ll also walk you through how to adjust your cleats and pedals to ensure optimal performance and comfort while riding.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking to make the switch or a beginner who’s curious about clipless pedals, this guide is for you. By the end of this post, you’ll feel confident in your ability to drive a road bicycle using clipless pedals.

What Are Clipless Pedals? When Did People Start Cycling With Cleats?

Clipless pedals are a type of bicycle pedal system that allows for an efficient transfer of power from the rider’s foot to the bicycle.

Unlike traditional pedals, clipless pedals require special cycling shoes with cleats that attach to the pedal mechanism. This system enables the rider to pedal more effectively, particularly during high-intensity or endurance rides.

The concept of cycling with cleats dates back to the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that clipless pedals became widely available and popular among cyclists.

Today, they are a common component on high-end road bikes and mountain bikes, providing riders with increased control, power, and efficiency.

What Are The Types Of Clipless Pedals?

Clipless pedals are a popular choice for cyclists as they offer a secure and efficient way to connect the rider’s shoes to the bike.

There are two main types of clipless pedals:

  • Road Bike Pedals Or Three-Bolt Cleat, and
  • Mountain Bike Pedals or Two-Bolt Cleat.

Road pedals are designed for use with road cycling shoes that have a three-bolt cleat, while mountain bike pedals are designed for use with mountain bike shoes that have a two-bolt cleat.

Road Bike Pedals Or Three-Bolt Cleat

The three-bolt cleat or road pedals offer a larger contact area, which can provide better power transfer and efficiency on the road. They also tend to be lighter and more aerodynamic than mountain bike pedals.

However, they can be difficult to walk in due to the protruding cleat and may not be suitable for off-road use.

Mountain Bike Pedals or Two-Bolt Cleat

Mountain bike pedals, on the other hand, offer more float, which can provide better comfort and reduce the risk of a knee injury. They also have a smaller contact area, which can be beneficial for technical off-road riding.

However, they may not provide the same level of power transfer as road pedals and can be heavier and less aerodynamic.

Ultimately, the choice between road and mountain bike pedals depends on the type of cycling the rider intends to do and their personal preferences.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Clipless Pedals?

Using clipless pedals can be a great way to enhance your cycling experience, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are the pros and cons of using clipless pedals:


  • Increased power transfer
  • Improved efficiency
  • Better control and stability
  • Reduced chance of slipping off pedals


  • The learning curve for proper clipping and unclipping
  • Potential for falls if unable to unclip quickly enough
  • Need for specific shoes and pedals
  • The price can be higher than traditional pedals

Overall, the benefits of clipless pedals often outweigh the drawbacks, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and consider your individual needs and preferences before making the switch.

How To Use Clipless Pedals: A Step-by-Step Guide

To use clipless pedals on a road bike, begin by clipping the cleats onto your cycling shoes. Ensure that they are securely attached and should protrude no more than one-eighth of an inch from the sole of your shoe.

Next, sit on the bicycle seat with both feet parallel to each other and clip one foot into the pedal at a time using your heel to do so.

Keep pushing down until you feel a click that signals it is secure in place. When ready to dismount, simply unclip using your toes or heel depending on which side you have chosen for entry/exit, and stand up off the saddle.

Before attempting any rides with clipless pedals, practice clipping and unclipping on flat ground so as not to be surprised when needed during riding.

Find below the step-by-step guide on how to use a clipless pedal road bike safely and efficiently.

1. Attach the cleats to your cycling shoes:

Before you can use clipless pedals, you will need to attach the cleats that come with them to your cycling shoes.

Depending on the type of pedal, this may be a fairly straightforward process or it could require some specialized tools.

  • The first step involves identifying the type of cleats that fit your pedal system and shoes.
  • Once you have the right cleats, align them with the sole of your cycling shoes and mark the positions where they should be screwed onto the shoes.
  • Then, using a drill or screwdriver, secure the cleats onto the shoes using the screws provided in the cleat package.
  • It is essential to ensure that the cleats are tightly fastened to avoid any wobbling or misalignment during cycling.

Finally, test the shoe-cleat-pedal connection before riding to confirm that they are properly attached and functioning correctly.

2. Adjust the tension on your pedals:

Clipless pedals usually have adjustable tension settings, so that riders can increase or decrease how much pressure is required for their feet to clip in and out of them.

This setting should be adjusted before using clipless pedals for the first time so as not to cause any unexpected surprises when clipping in and out during rides.

To adjust the tension, first, locate the tension screw on the pedal body. Using a hex key, turn the screw clockwise to increase tension, or counterclockwise to decrease tension.

It is important to make small adjustments and test the tension while cycling to find the perfect level for your riding style.

If the tension is too high, getting in and out of the pedals may be difficult, while too low of tension can result in accidental disengagement.

Regularly checking and adjusting pedal tension can help improve your overall cycling performance and prevent unnecessary injuries.

3. Clip into your left pedal and push off:

When mounting up onto your bike, start by clipping into only one side of the bicycle’s clipless pedals. Typically, this would be done with either foot depending on preference or convenience at each given moment. While keeping both feet steady over top of their respective clips until they are firmly engaged.

Once clipped in securely, simply push off from the stationary position as if you were using regular flat platformed peddles instead (the exact procedure here may vary slightly between different types of clipless systems).

Mounting a bike with clipless pedals may seem daunting for those who are new to cycling or have never used them before. Go through the process below will make it simple though.

The first step is to ensure that the cleats on your cycling shoes are properly aligned with the pedals.

Once this has been done, position the bike so that it is stable and at a comfortable height.

Next, place one foot on the ground and lift the other foot up, angling the toe towards the pedal.

With a swift motion, push the foot down onto the pedal until you hear a click.

Repeat this process with the other foot and you are now ready to start cycling.

Remember to practice this process in a safe and controlled environment before taking on more challenging rides.

4. Get used to unclipping after every stop:

It is important to remember that whenever coming to a complete stop while riding with clipless pedaling systems – such as when stopping at intersections along roads/trails – it is necessary always make sure one’s feet are solidly planted back onto regular flat platformed peddles prior to dismounting from bike completely.

Otherwise, there may be an increased risk of falls due to being caught mid-clip when trying to get off the bicycle suddenly without planning ahead properly beforehand.

5. Practice Placing And Removing Your Shoes

Practicing placing and removing shoes when using clipless pedals is critical to achieving maximum efficiency and safety when cycling.

The first technique is to ensure that the cleats are properly aligned and adjusted to match the pedals.

To place the shoe on the pedal, firmly press the cleat into the pedal until it clicks into place.

When removing the shoe, twist the heel outward to disengage from the pedal. It is important to practice this technique before riding to prevent falls or accidents on the road.

Additionally, it is recommended to start with a lower tension setting on the pedals and gradually increase as comfort and confidence improve.

Tips For Riding With Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals are a popular choice for many cyclists as they offer a greater level of control and efficiency on the bike. However, using clipless pedals can be intimidating for those who are new to them.

To make riding with clipless pedals easier and safer, there are several tips that cyclists should keep in mind. These are –

A. Wear Proper Shoes

Firstly, wearing proper shoes is crucial when using clipless pedals. The shoes used with clipless pedals should have a stiff sole, as this provides a better transfer of power from the leg to the pedal.

It’s also important to ensure that the shoes have a compatible cleat that can be attached to the pedal. This will help to prevent any accidental disengagement from the pedal while riding.

Additionally, cyclists should make sure their shoes fit well, as any discomfort or loose-fitting shoes can lead to a loss of control and instability on the bike.

B. Don’t Force the Movement

Secondly, when using clipless pedals, it’s important not to force the movement. Cyclists should aim to make smooth, controlled movements when clipping in and out of the pedals. This means using a deliberate and controlled motion to engage and disengage from the pedal, rather than jerking or forcing the movement.

Forcing your foot to move in the wrong direction can cause injury or damage to your bike.

Take the time to practice the proper motion and don’t rush the process.

C. Make Smooth Movements

Another tip for riding with clipless pedals is to make smooth movements. Jerky or sudden movements can cause you to lose balance or even crash. This is especially important when starting or stopping, as these are the moments when you are most likely to make sudden movements.

Focus on keeping your movements fluid and controlled to maintain balance and avoid accidents.

With practice and patience, riding with clipless pedals can greatly improve your cycling experience.

Clipless Pedals for Beginners

Clipless pedals are a great way for beginner cyclists to gain more control over their bikes and increase their pedaling efficiency.

These pedals have a cleat system attached to the bottom of the rider’s cycling shoe which clips into a mechanism on the pedal, allowing for increased power transfer when riding.

Clipless pedals can take some time to get used to, so it is important for beginners to practice in an area with no traffic before taking them out on the road.

How to Use MTB Clipless Pedals

Mountain biking with clipless pedals is a great way to improve your speed and power. Clipless pedals allow your feet to be locked into the pedal, which provides extra stability and control when riding off-road trails.

To use them, you’ll need special shoes with metal cleats that attach to the pedals.

Make sure you practice in an open area first so that you can become comfortable with unclipping quickly if necessary, then you should be ready for any mountain bike ride!

How to Use Cleats for the First Time

Cleats are an important piece of equipment for many sports and can help provide athletes with increased stability and traction while playing. If you’re new to wearing cleats, it is important to take the time to understand how they work and choose the right size so that you can maximize your safety and performance on the field.

When wearing cleats for the first time, be sure to break them in slowly by gradually increasing your activity level over a few days.

Additionally, wear socks designed specifically for use with cleats which will wick away moisture and reduce friction between your feet and shoes.

Finally, inspect your cleats regularly for signs of wear or damage as this could compromise their ability to keep you safe during play.

How to Clip into SPD Pedals Spin Bike

Clipping into SPIN bike pedals can be a daunting task for first-time users, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

To clip in, all that is needed is the right pedal and cleat combination. Begin by positioning your foot on top of the pedal.

Then press down firmly with your heel until you feel the cleats hook into place on either side of the pedal. Once securely clipped in, you’re ready to start spinning!

Different Popular Clipless Pedal Systems

Clipless pedals are a popular choice for cyclists who are looking for an efficient and secure connection between their feet and the bike.

There are several different types of clipless pedals available on the market, but the following are the most popular options for clipless pedals.

  1. Shimano SPD
  2. Crankbrothers
  3. Shimano SPD-SL
  4. Look Keo
  5. Wahoo Speedplay

1. Shimano SPD Clipless Pedals

Shimano SPD pedals are designed for mountain biking and are known for their durability and reliability. The SPD system features a small cleat that attaches to the sole of the cycling shoe and clicks into the pedal, providing a secure connection.

The pedals are easy to clip in and out of, making them a great option for riders who need to quickly dismount their bike during technical sections of a trail.

Additionally, Shimano offers a range of pedal options to accommodate different types of riders and riding styles, including pedals with larger platforms for added stability and power transfer.

2. Crankbrothers Pedals

Crankbrothers pedals are also popular among mountain bikers and are known for their lightweight design and customizable float.

The Crankbrothers system uses a larger cleat that attaches to the shoe, providing a wider platform for the foot and allowing for greater adjustability. The pedals offer a significant amount of float, which allows the foot to pivot slightly while clipped in, reducing stress on the knees and providing comfort to your ankles.

They are popular among cross-country and trail riders who value speed and agility. Crankbrothers offers a range of pedals to suit different riding styles and performances.

3. Shimano SPD-SL Pedal System

The Shimano SPD-SL pedal system is known for its wide pedal platform and low-profile design. This allows for a stable and comfortable ride, even on long rides.

The SPD-SL system also has a three-bolt cleat design, which provides a strong connection between the shoe and pedal. This system is popular among road cyclists and triathletes, as it offers a good balance between power transfer and comfort.

Additionally, the SPD-SL system is compatible with a range of Shimano shoes, allowing riders to choose the shoe that best fits their needs.

4. Look Keo Pedal System

The Look Keo pedal system is another popular option among cyclists. This system features a large surface area for the foot to rest on, allowing for a more stable and secure connection between the rider and the bike.

The Look Keo also offers adjustable tension settings, allowing riders to customize the amount of force required to clip in and out of the pedal.

Additionally, Look Keo pedals are known for their durability and reliability, making them a favorite among professional cyclists.

5. Wahoo Speedplay

Another popular clipless pedal system is the Wahoo Speedplay. This system features a unique design that allows for a greater range of motion in the foot, reducing the risk of knee and ankle injuries.

The Wahoo Speedplay also offers a low profile, which helps to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics. Furthermore, the system’s dual-sided entry allows for easy and quick engagement and disengagement, making it a great option for competitive cycling.

However, the Wahoo Speedplay is a bit more expensive than other clipless pedal systems.

How to Use Clipless Pedals Road Bike


FAQs On How to Use Clipless Pedals

Q-1: How Do You Ride a Road Bike With Clipless Pedals?

Riding a road bike with clipless pedals can be intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Clipless pedals are designed to keep your feet in place while you ride, which makes them safer and more efficient than traditional platform pedals.

Before you get started, make sure that your cleats (the metal plates on the bottom of your shoes that clip into the pedal) are properly adjusted so they’re not too tight or loose.

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to hop onto your bike and start pedaling. Start by placing one foot over the pedal and pushing down until the cleat engages with the pedal and locks into place. Then swing your other leg over the top tube of the bike frame and repeat on that side.

From here, simply begin pedaling as normal – making sure always to unclip both feet before stopping completely! With a bit of practice and patience, soon enough riding a road bike with clipless pedals will become second nature!

Q-2: How Do You Use Clipless Pedals for the First Time?

For those who are new to cycling, the idea of clipless pedals can seem daunting and intimidating. But don’t worry – with a little bit of practice, you’ll be clipping in and out like a pro in no time!

To get started using clipless pedals for the first time, start by familiarizing yourself with your bike setup and the cleats that attach to your shoes.

Then adjust the tension on your pedals so they easily clip into place without too much effort. Once you’re ready to go, find a flat area where you can safely practice getting used to clipping in and out.

Start by standing next to your bike as if you were about to ride it but instead of sitting down onto the seat just yet, focus on clipping one foot into its pedal first before repeating for the other side.

As soon as both feet are clipped in, take some time to get comfortable with this position before attempting any riding motions at all.

When it’s time for an unclip maneuver (whether intentional or not), remember that releasing pressure from both feet at once is key – doing so will ensure that you come away unscathed from what could have been an embarrassing fall!

With enough practice sessions under your belt, however, these moments will become fewer and far between as you master clipless pedaling techniques over time!

Q-3: How Do You Pedal Efficiently With Clipless Pedals?

To pedal efficiently with clipless pedals, it is important to understand the basics.

Firstly, you need to make sure that your cleats are securely and properly attached to your shoes so that they don’t come loose while riding.

Secondly, when clipping in for the first time, practice pushing down on the pedals before actually riding; this will get you used to the sensation of being clipped in and help prevent accidental unclipping during rides.

Thirdly, once clipped in start pedaling slowly and gradually increase your speed until you feel comfortable with how firmly your feet are connected to the pedals.

Lastly, keep yourself centered over the bike as much as possible by keeping your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and engaging core muscles while pedalling; this will help reduce fatigue and provide more power throughout each pedal stroke.

With these tips in mind, clipless pedals can be an efficient way of getting around on any ride!

Q-4: How Do You Push Off With Clipless Pedals?

Clipless pedals are a great way to maximize your cycling power and efficiency by allowing you to push off more powerfully than with traditional flat or toe-clip pedals. To get the most out of clipless pedals, it’s important to learn proper technique. The first step is getting into the pedal correctly.

Without rotating your foot inwards, position your cleat so that it lines up with the middle of the pedal spindle, then press down firmly on both sides until you feel an audible click as the mechanism locks into place.

Once clipped in, make sure your feet are positioned at a slight angle outward – this will ensure optimal leverage when pushing off from each stroke. When ready to start pedaling, use a smooth motion while engaging both legs evenly and applying force through each turn of the crankset for maximum power output during acceleration.

As you become comfortable using clipless pedals, experiment with different angles and techniques for increased efficiency on longer rides or tougher terrain.

With practice and experience, you can master clipping in and out quickly without sacrificing any power or control on climbs or descents!

Clipless Pedals Explained | How To Use Clipless Pedals


In conclusion, learning how to use clipless pedals on a road bike can seem daunting at first. However, with some practice and familiarization of the system and its components, you’ll soon be clipping in and out like a pro! Clipless pedals provide riders with improved control over their bikes as well as increased pedaling efficiency.

With these advantages, it’s no wonder that many cyclists have opted for this type of pedal system.

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