Clipless pedals are a type of bicycle pedal
. They require the rider to wear a special shoe
with a metal cleat
mounted to the sole
. The rider "clicks" this cleat into the pedal, where it remains locked
in place, firmly attaching the rider to the bike
. This allows the rider to apply force to the pedal both on the up and downstroke, making for a much more efficient cranking
action. Releasing the pedal from the cleat is accomplished by a twisting
motion of the ankle; the pedal's mechanism allows the cleat to pop out in this way.
Clipless pedals are often compared to toeclips and straps, which are another method of fixing the foot to the bicycle pedal. Clipless pedals are generally considered superior, though, as they have a much lower chance of trapping the cyclist's foot when adjusted properly.
Properly adjusting clipless pedals can be intimidating for a novice, but is really not very tricky. Most of the adjustments are made by changing the positioning of the cleat on the shoe. A properly positioned cleat will be roughly underneath the ball of the foot, and centered left-to-right. It should be rotated so that when the rider is sitting on the bike normally, they have adequate rotation both to the inside and outside. This part is crucial as some types of clipless pedals have a very limted amount of float (the number of degrees of rotation before the pedal unclips). In many people, insufficient float combined with poor pedal adjustment can lead to serious and permanent knee problems. A final adjustment that needs to be done is the tension of the pedal. This controls how much force is required to clip in and out, and is usually done by turning small bolts at the ends of the pedal
Clipless pedals are generally found on mid-range and high-end road bikes and mountain bikes. There are several manufacturers of pedals and shoes, but Shimano, with their SPD system, is arguably one of the most common.