clipless cleats; which system?

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Brucey
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clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 11:12am

-from the SPD compendium thread;
Jezrant wrote:Lots of interesting points, Brucey. Maybe a new thread should be started about how to set up cleats properly since it's a tricky operation and usually entails a certain amount of trial and error to find the optimal position with either SPDs or Look. However, there is a slightly contradictory argument in what you are saying about SPDs. On the one hand, you imply it's easy to set them up wrongly and impossible to correct later because of the teeth, but then you also imply they are better than other systems, if they are set up correctly. How can they be better if so many people set them up incorrectly and then they are almost impossible to fix afterwards? I also have the impression, contrary to your experience, that Look red cleats float more easily than SPDs, and that that float becomes even easier over time as the cleats wear, while SPDs seem to get stickier over time. Interestingly, the physio I know how claims SPDs are bad for the knees advises greasing the cleats each time before going out for a ride to make them float better. Your second point about the less supportive shoes often used with SPDs seems more significant, or at least unquestionably easier to correct, if your theory about the teeth making it almost impossible to reset SPD cleats is right. Anyway, I apologise for this diversion of your very helpful thread. :)


my view on the SPD system is a simple one; 'if they are set up right, most people find the SPD system works well enough'. Bearing in mind the availability and cost of good quality pedals, shoes, cleats etc. (together with other things like walking) this makes the system a logical choice for very many riders. If they were difficult to get hold of, or double the cost, I do not necessarily think they would be the best choice for so many people. I guess the argument is, in part, the same as that which suggests that using 26" (559) or 700C (622) wheels and tyres is a good idea.

As I have said before: 'Perfect' ? -no. 'Good enough' ? - Yes, for very many people.

As it is, I would nearly always recommend to a leisure rider that they should try SPD pedals as a 'first clipless pedal'. They can be set to release very easily, and in multiple ways. If they don't work out, migrating to another system isn't too difficult, and the extra cost will be minimal. I note with interest that Speedplay pedals (and others which use a large angle twist release) are probably not suitable for first time clipless users, because -although some folk don't realise this and will deny it- the twisting movement required for release is not 'natural' it is 'learned'. You generally learn it on SPDs or Looks, too.

I rode Looks for a couple of years on my race bike and I went back to clips and straps. The cleats (at the time) didn't have enough float for me which gave me severe knee pain. The coating on the pedal body soon wore through; the cleats didn't move freely, and furthermore were wont to make the most annoying squeaking sound with every pedal stroke. A friend of mine fell and broke their ankle (compound fracture, very nasty) because the stupid cleats are no good for walking in. Water got in past the 'seals' on the pedal body; this destroyed the bearings, and the tension adjuster also stripped on the pedals. Very disappointing all round.

I've tried a few different clipless systems for long enough to have a good working understanding of many of their strengths and weaknesses; very many systems are simply unsatisfactory in use, or simply have badly engineered bearings. Very many others are likely to wear out or fail unexpectedly. When this happens very often the pedal binding stops working altogether if it is a single-sided one. In any event the costs or repairing or replacing the parts is often very great, if you can get them at all, that is.

By contrast SPD pedals (and I exclude most SPD clones here) very rarely fail catastrophically. I have never seen a failed (broken) pedal spindle myself, and have only seen a very few instances reported on t'interweb. In relation to the number of the things out there, this is remarkable. If an SPD spring fails (which I have seen once) even on a single-sided pedal there is normally still some function rather than none simply because there are two springs.

For many uses I see little point in anything more elaborate than say PD-M515 or PD-M520 pedals; these pedals function/wear very well, and can be maintained. However in the event of any significant problem, £20 always fixes it; for that you get new pedals and cleats. That is the SPD system's trump card.

cheers
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Mike Sales
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Mike Sales » 8 Dec 2012, 11:19am

Brucey wrote:


I've tried a few different clipless systems for long enough to have a good working understanding of many of their strengths and weaknesses; very many systems are simply unsatisfactory in use, or simply have badly engineered bearings. Very many others are likely to wear out or fail unexpectedly. When this happens very often the pedal binding stops working altogether if it is a single-sided one. In any event the costs or repairing or replacing the parts is often very great, if you can get them at all, that is.



What is your assessment of Atacs? I have never used any other system and I get on well with them.

mattsccm
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby mattsccm » 8 Dec 2012, 11:24am

The teeth thing isn't an issue. I have fiddled endlesly to sort knee issues etc. A quick scrape with a chisel or knife removes any burrs etc on the sole and often fills any holes as well. A near smoth sole can be achieved in less time thatn it takes to read this post.

Brucey
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 11:49am

Mike Sales wrote: What is your assessment of Atacs? I have never used any other system and I get on well with them.


I think they work well in use, have a lot of float. However the cleats don't always wear well, and if the springs wear/break -which does happen- it is a problem (not too expensive though). The single biggest disappointment is that they appear to have designed recent pedals so that instead of good quality bearings with rolling elements, there are now plain bushings at the inboard end. These things are little energy parasites, having between x10 and x100 more drag than good quality ball bearings.

Overall I would say that they are one of the better systems, provided you either don't mind (or avoid) some of the recent pedal designs. They are a pretty good choice for users wanting a lot of float.

cheers
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tatanab
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby tatanab » 8 Dec 2012, 11:51am

Mike Sales wrote:What is your assessment of Atacs? I have never used any other system and I get on well with them.

I have used ATAC exclusively for the last 10 years. Before that I used SPD for a couple of years 1994-1996, then the LOOK MOAB SPDish system from 1997-2000 (not the more recent LOOK offering).

I stuck with ATAC for the simplicity of use, early ones offering absolutely no adjustment features, and for the wide float which I appreciate having damaged a knee many years ago. My usage is 99% on road for commuting, club riding and touring.

The pedals themselves are somewhat variable. The modern ones all seem to use the axle as a big plain bearing with a small bearing supporting the outboard end. This system goes right back to their first generation Alium in about 1996 which suffered badly with poor seals which were addressed within a couple of years. The modern ones fit a plastic sleeve between the axle and body of the pedal which I have found wears and allows a slight angular movement to the pedal and maybe an audible click. I have only had one pair of the modern style, introduced in about 2003, which I stopped using when this happened. There is no adjustment possible to anything inside the pedal. I believe that the plastic sleeves may be available as spares although I've not looked very hard. All my pedals in regular use are now the old style (pre 2000 ish) non Alium pedals. These came with various types of platic body, some reinforced with carbon and the top of the range had a titanium axle. Above all they had proper sealed bearings like modern bottom brackets and some hubs.

I will stick to my old ATACs thank you.

editted -- the old ones with real bearings that I like are of the style pictured in this link and their immediate predeccesors which did not have the screw on aluminium cap but retained the inboard bearing with a circlip. http://www.mtbr.com/cat/drivetrain/peda ... 35crx.aspx They come up on ebay from time to time.

Brucey
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 1:10pm

IIRC the bushings in some Time (also some Eggbeater, Wellgo, DMR, etc) pedals are standard IGUS bushings. If you can obtain the correct ones from an IGUS stockist, they are somewhat less than about £2 each I think. They are also not that difficult to fit, either.

BTW I am heartened that my assessment of ATACs (based on a far more brief usage) does not differ significantly from that reported above.

cheers
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Mick F
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Mick F » 8 Dec 2012, 1:22pm

I use Campag ProFit.
You can only get them in Record now at £200odd which is prohibitive I reckon.
http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/sp/road-t ... 0000000000

When I first went clipless, I bought Centaur at £66, and when one was damaged in an accident I bought Chorus. Can't remember the cost - perhaps £100.

Excellent system. Bags of positional adjustment, bags of release tension adjustment too. They are solid and strong with bags of support. The Centaur version had only two bearings, but the Chorus and Record versions have uprated triple bearings. Totally maintenance free - just wash them down to clean out grit from the mechanism.

I used SPDs when I was riding my Chopper. I bought some trainer-like shoes and fitted the plates. First problem was the screws coming undone, then the second problem was the screws being so worn you couldn't undo them! They didn't have as much float or adjustment as my beloved ProFits and weren't as comfortable or supportive either - but that may be something to do with the shoes. Overall, I wasn't impressed, but the ability to walk "properly" was an obvious advantage.

Given the out-and-out choice of the two systems I've used, I'd go for Campag ProFit.

If I wanted the ability to walk "properly", I'd go back to clips and straps like I used to have - and not SPDs.
Mick F. Cornwall

Brucey
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 1:41pm

I'm not sure that Ribble have had any stock of Pro-Fit pedals showing on their website for nine months or more.

My view (crudely, and approximately, since it is not based on extensive experience) is that the pro-fit system, in use anyway, shares many similarities with with Look and several other three-bolt cleat systems.

I'm sure that the engineering involved differs in detail (or more; I do not think that Campag have ever sold quality pedals with under-engineered bearings, even if some have not been well enough sealed in the past...) but I would be interested to hear what the practical differences in use between these systems are.

BTW I share Mick's view in that if I were to migrate away from my current clipless setup, it would be back to clips and straps most likely. When migrating to a new clipless system, at best there are unexpected features (which is in good part why I've bothered to write about SPDs at all) and at worst there are real show stoppers for some people with some systems.

I don't think that anyone has ever said that clips and straps are fundamentally hopeless; they wouldn't have been used for about a hundred years if they were. The best that you can hope to gain by going clipless is an improvement in some aspects. In some cases, for some people, the advantages may be compelling (e.g. float torque for some people) but certainly not for all.

cheers
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Mick F
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Mick F » 8 Dec 2012, 1:51pm

Brucey wrote:I'm not sure that Ribble have had any stock of Pro-Fit pedals showing on their website for nine months or more.
Wiggle don't have them in either.
http://www.ctcshop.org.uk/campagnolo-re ... #tabBuyNow
Neither has Chain Reaction.
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Mode ... elID=25968
But these people have them.
http://www.cycle-craft.co.uk/campagnolo ... -817-p.asp

I had to Goggle to find them.
Not very popular I suspect. I wonder why Campag don't do a full range any more. Maybe they were so good, people only bought them once! :wink:
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Trigger » 8 Dec 2012, 2:53pm

mattsccm wrote:The teeth thing isn't an issue. I have fiddled endlesly to sort knee issues etc. A quick scrape with a chisel or knife removes any burrs etc on the sole and often fills any holes as well. A near smoth sole can be achieved in less time thatn it takes to read this post.


Same here, adjusted mine loads of times without any issue around re-tightening.

One of the best upgrades I've ever made, switching to SPDs. I had to use my other bike a while back in an emergency, it wasn't fitted with pedals and the only thing I had kicking around was a pair of DMR V8 copies, what a thoroughly horrible experience riding flat pedals was.

Nice to see the Campag bias still in full effect, Mick. I'm sure you'd have you're own replacements machined out of a solid billet for many hundreds of pounds rather than buy a £20 new pair of SPDs :lol:

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Mick F
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Mick F » 8 Dec 2012, 3:07pm

You jest :lol:

I bought my original Centaur ones as part of the whole modernisation thing for my Mercian. I'd never ridden clipless before and had no advice or experience.

I took to them immediately. Fantastic!
As I said before, I have tried SPDs and although they were fine, they weren't a patch on my ProFit system.

Whether there's a better system out there, I don't know, but like I said, if I wanted to walk off the bike, I'd use normal pedals with clips and straps rather than SPDs.

Perhaps people who love SPDs haven't tried decent road pedals and cleats?
Mick F. Cornwall

Jezrant
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Jezrant » 8 Dec 2012, 3:32pm

FWIW, I went from old-fashioned traditional nailed on cleats and toeclips to Look over twenty years ago while living in France. I originally used the fixed version but quickly switched to the ones with float. They were a massive improvement in my opinion, and still are a massive improvement over toeclips in my opinion. I have never had any problems with them, although I have heard that the newer Keo pedals have had problems with the bearings.

Like many others, as I started to get more into touring and MTBs, I began experimenting with SPDs. For several years now I have been regularly alternating between a bike with Look and another with SPDs. The main advantage of SPDs is you can walk in them. They're also easier to clip in than Look, but I don't think there's any difference between the two when it comes to release if the tension is the same. Either one can be easy or hard to release. The only other significant advantage of SPDs that I can see is the cleats last longer. The disadvantages are the small contact area and problems with stickiness. I'm not sure if one system is easier to set up than the other or if one system is inherently better designed from a physio point of view, but as I mentioned in the other thread, I know a physio who is a keen triathlete who claims SPDs are particularly problematic. This could be because a lot of people have them set up incorrectly as Brucey says or because the physio is simply treating more SPD users, however I do find it interesting that she recommends Speedplays over any other clipless system.

It would be interesting to hear from people who are using Speedplays, especially those who went over to Speedplays after using other clipless systems. They're obviously impractical for touring and ludicrously expensive, but I'm always a little wary of arguments focused on cost as these sometimes turn into false economies. There have been complaints about SPDs causing knee problems. Is that because they are set up wrong or is there something fundamentally wrong about them that only becomes evident over the long term?

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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 3:39pm

Mick F wrote: ...Whether there's a better system out there, I don't know, but like I said, if I wanted to walk off the bike...


When I read that, I had sudden visions of Mick being lowered into the saddle by crane, much like a medieval knight in armour....-no walking required.... :wink: :mrgreen:

BTW it is difficult sometimes to discrimintate between the shoe and the pedal if they go together; many 'starter/trainer' SPD shoes are compromised in sole stiffness to facilitate walking, to the extent that they are less good as bike shoes. Bad bike shoes are bad bike shoes, regardless of the type of cleat they have on the bottom, but they are even worse if the pedal/cleat system uses a small area interface.

I am not entirely against the sale of such shoes, since I am sure that without these, quite a few people would never get started using clipless pedals or clips/straps at all.

cheers
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tatanab
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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby tatanab » 8 Dec 2012, 4:06pm

Knee problems - the only time I had problems was in about 1995 when I got my first SPD which I used with no float type cleats. A long weekend of riding was followed by a week of recuperation. However, I do have a slightly twisted leg as a reult of being whacked by a motor car. I do not recall having problems with toeclips, straps and shoe plates; perhaps there was just enough width in the slot of the shoeplate to allow my shoe to float enough.

Speedplay - I was living in the USA at the time they were introduced and spoke to a company bigwig at some exhibition. He said that the system offered almost no resistance to float so if you rode fixed wheel it could feel odd, almost as if your foot was on ice. The whole mechanism seemed too vulnerable to me, particularly since the early mechanism was in the cleat not the pedal. I can see why a physio might recommend them but what they are like to ride I do not know.

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Re: clipless cleats; which system?

Postby Brucey » 8 Dec 2012, 4:09pm

re speedplays;

a chum of mine lived for some years overseas and converted to speedplay pedals on his road bike, complaining that his Looks had worn out, and didn't have enough float anyway. Conventional SPDs were (he thought) not an option for him partly because it would have required an adaptor, but mainly because no other roadies locally were using them and he had been having problems on the MTB with his SPDs. Shimano had stopped PD-6500 and PD-7410 by this time and were busy wavering between Look original, SPD-R and SPD-SL for the road, which didn't inspire confidence either.

He really liked the Speedplays on his road bike, and was content to swap pedals every time he swapped between four bikes (which drives me nuts even though it is a five-minute job). I went to visit him around this time and (even though they are no good at all in heavy mud) he was thinking about going to speedplays on his MTB as well, because of the problems with the SPDs. The problems were difficulty in clipping in, and difficulty in releasing. In addition with one set of shoes there was nowhere near enough float. At this time I'd been using SPDs for three or four years or something, and even though I didn't understand how they worked exactly, I said I'd take a look at his. I found that he had been using non-SPD cleats, which were worn anyway, and on the other shoes, a set of worn SPD cleats. The non-SPD cleats had very little float by design, and furthermore had damaged the pedals, by squashing one set of 'kicker ramps' (near the rear claw) which normally help an unworn cleat to release, but are essential once the cleat is worn. I managed to swap the kicker plates left for right and restored the outward release, and suggested that he got decent cleats to replace the non-SPD ones. This cost him about $10 vs a lot more for a new pedal system; to this day I think he uses Speedplays on the road and SPDs on the MTB.

Note that very many SPD clone pedals don't have kicker ramps at all, and can hang on grimly to even slightly worn cleats.

A lot of riders have (unfairly) criticised various clipless systems because of problems they have had, even if these problems are unrelated to the design of the system, and are more to do with the use of incompatible parts or bad maintenance. This is really quite likely with SPDs in particular because they are a much-imitated system. Very many SPD clones lack some of the features that are important for good release action in the long run; I am planning to do a post on the ins and outs of SPD clones in the near future which should explain more about what to look out for.

cheers
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