Clipless Pedal Advantages and Disadvantages

We recently talked about the different types of pedals, and left the conversation with the question “Do I Need Clipless Pedals?”

Advantages of Clipless Pedals

There are three main advantages that I tell every customer thinking of getting a pair of shoes and clipless pedals.

  • You will be more efficient and faster on the bike. You are able to use the whole pedal stroke, not only the down stroke.  Pulling up and making round circles with your pedaling technique will allow you to keep a higher cruising speed or get up those hills faster with less effort.
  • The sole of a cycling shoe is stiffer and does not flex as much to cause arch or foot pain.
  • You are in a locked position in the pedals for a more dynamic fitting on your bike.

Disadvantages of Clipless Pedals

In my mind the advantages out way the disadvantages, clipless pedals will make you a stronger cyclist.

  • You are locked in and need to be educated how to “un-clip” your pedals
  • There is a learning curve, try to learn on a trainer or in a quite community
  • Your bike fit is now more important and you could injure yourself if you aren’t properly adjusted from toes up to your shoulders.  It all links together in the human body chain.
  • The cost for pedals/shoes starts about $150 – 250 for the common types of shoes and pedals.

Types, Styles and What to Look For

This is a follow up article to help aid you in finding your perfect system.  We will discuss different types of shoes, pedals and why each is useful.

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  • Luc
    May 12, 2010 at 1:58 pm


    The given price is a litle bit high.
    A pair of m520 from shimano cost less than 30$ and MT41 shimano shoes are easy to find around 50$


  • Sabinna
    May 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Yes its a learning curve…for me just getting into the habit of remembering to unclip at the lights…nothing like slowly toppling over to turn you instantly from cool to..well very uncool!

  • Bike Shop Girl
    May 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Luc – You must be an online deal shopper. I’m quoting MSRP and supporting your local bike shop.

    • Marsahala
      October 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

      Hey, well it’s ironic cireodsning the theme of this site, but I am really weighing things up at the moment as regards SPDs. Don’t know if you saw my comment about the injury I suffered this summer basically a broken hip (a pretty serious injury really) which could well be blamed on being clipped in to pedals, not being able to unclip in time and falling flat on my side. It now turns out that is not such an uncommon injury, indeed I have fallen several times like that before, as have biking friends of mine. It’s kind of a worry I expect to be as good as new eventually, but the question is, do I go back to riding and wearing SPD? To be honest, I can’t see myself riding any other way really. Maybe I will wear them a lot looser, I don’t know if that is really a deciding factor. I guess I will just hope it doesn’t happen again! (as will my wife!)

  • Julio
    May 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Very informative and helpful. A little nitpicking, however, from a generation still concerned with spelling:

    advantages OUTWEIGH disadvantages, and you should try them on a QUIET street.

    Keep up the good work, but spellcheckers are a double-edge sord, I mean sword!

  • Joost Lobe
    April 7, 2011 at 10:24 am

    @bikeshop girl,
    I actually did spend just under 100 pounds for my shimano clipless shoes and pedals combined and I bought them from my local bike shop. Maybe your shop is just expensive or doesnt stock budget items?

    Either way, this article pushed me over the edge in buying them so thank you for writing it 🙂

    • Bike Shop Girl
      April 7, 2011 at 11:43 am


      100 pounds… is that euro’s? I’m sure you can find them cheaper especially on discount!

      Glad you got moving on going clipless, you’ll never turn back!

  • Karla K
    May 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I’ve been spinning with clipless pedals for 3+ years. Brand new to road biking this season and thought it was great that I already had the shoes and ‘knew how to use them.’ So much for that thought! Over the course of the last three weeks I have taken about 10 longer rides and have had a fall due to clips 6 of those rides.

    I had my bike shop lower the tension on the pedals to ease my release a bit. Then ended up lowering it yet again on my own since then. Still fell. If I unclip both feet I am fine. But I always find myself thinking “Oh I’m okay with this now, I can just unclip the right/left at this stop…” and sure enough down I go. For whatever reason my brain just does not get the message on which way to lean. Will it get better? Should it have worked out by now? I have Shimano SPD clips/pedals. One of my friends was outfitted with shoes and clips that look like circles. ? She said she was told they were for the “less coordinated.” lol. Should I consider a change? Hate to make that investment all over again. Any tips from the experienced riders out there would be greatly appreciated, thanks. =)

    • Bike Shop Girl
      June 1, 2011 at 6:25 am


      Different pedals work differently is very true… it sounds like you are on the road bike or mtb ? For easy release I normally goto crank brothers candy’s or on the road what your friend has is the Speedplays. They are much easier to get out of, a bit different to get into. I would recommend practicing more on your spin bike and stepping off the bike as you come to a stop. If you are trying to stop from your saddle you’ll fall all the time.

  • Shibuya
    October 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    TJ thanks for this ieritestnng take on this true, I never thought about which way I am turning the wheel. Actually, you are going to have trouble believing this, but I read your comments when you posted them yesterday IN HOSPITAL where I was lying after an operation to put 3 screws in my femur after I wiped out in a race last Sunday. I had time to think about why I did myself such an injury, and I have to say it was in good part due to being clipped in. I washed out, and there was no way I could get my foot out quick enough, and there was no impact to dislodge my shoe from the pedal, with the result I fell hard on my side, foot still clipped in, bang, straight on my hip. I may have to revise my basic SPD is safe premise after this. I plan to write the whole thing up on the blog asap, but just thought I’d run that by you!

  • Deanna
    January 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I love spinning at the gym and just purchased my own spin bike for home. But it is not fitted with clipless pedals (pedals with clips. I get confused by the name.) Could I change out the pedals? I already have the shoes. Thanks

    • Bike Shop Girl
      January 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Deanna, totally! You’ll need new shimano pedals and a 15mm open end wrench.

      Sending you an email!

  • st murray
    August 5, 2015 at 9:26 am

    I got clip in shoes about 3 months ago and don’t see ANY difference in my speed or performance. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Bike Shop Girl
      August 5, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Thanks for the question.

      Have you practiced pushing down and pulling up with your shoes? A great way to test this is to try and propel your bike forward by using only one leg. This really forces you to try and pedal in a complete circle and feel your leg engaging while pushing down, then across the bottom of the pedal stroke and pulling up with your leg.

      I hope that helps!

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