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Pros and cons of clipping in for cycling

August 25th, 2022 | 5 min. read

Pros and cons of clipping in for cycling

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If you have ever read about bikes, you know there is a lot of information available about the best bikes, bike clothing, bike shoes, water bottles for your bike, and pedals on your bike. Phew! 


Unless you have been an avid cyclist for many years, it can be overwhelming learning about all of the styles and options.


Paseo Club has mentored athletes of all ages and skill sets for almost 20 years. We take fitness seriously, and our instructors stay up-to-date on all the technical know-how relating to bike gears and systems.


In this article, we will address the benefits and drawbacks of clipping in for riding. We will also discuss what clipping in means, when you want to clip in, and how it affects your riding.


What does it mean to clip in when you are bike riding? 

Clipping in refers to the connection between your foot and the pedal on your bike. The cleats engage with the pedals to create a secure attachment as you ride.


There are three key parts to this system:


  • The cycling shoes 
  • A cleat bolted to the bottom of each shoe
  • The bike's pedals



Why are they called clipless pedals?

For many years the most common pedal system for expert riders was the toe clip or foot cage model. The newer term, clipless, refers to the toe of the shoe overhanging the pedal, which lacks the toe clips of an earlier design. 


The new clipless pedal system is much safer and more efficient than the clip and strap system because you can get into and out of the pedals easily and without making manual adjustments.

Pros of clipping in?

When you clip in, it means your foot, in its shoe, is securely attached to the pedal. This system boosts efficiency and efficacy. Riders also experience:


  • Increased pedaling fluidity
  • Less chance of foot slipping, enhancing safety
  • Reduced leg fatigue 
  • Increased maximum power
  • A wider range of muscle groups in the lower body are activated


If you’re an intermediate or advanced rider and can clip in without safety issues, then clipping in is the best approach. 

Cons to clipping in for cycling

To clip in or not is based on the rider's skill level. 


The primary drawback for more inexperienced riders is safety hazards. It takes two movements to get your foot from the pedal to the ground when you are clipped in, which can create delays.  


Cyclists must be able to manage a variety of terrains, whether you are on a road bike, mountain bike, or cross bike. Slick surfaces, gravel, tree roots, and poor visibility conditions create obstacles to safe riding.


If you cannot easily and quickly remove your foot from its clipped position, you risk an increased chance of falling and injuring yourself.


With flat pedals, you can get your foot from the pedal and onto the ground quicker, which is a necessary technique for slowing, stopping, or balancing yourself.


People with weak ankles who can’t kick their heels to get their shoes out of the pedal also run the risk of hurting themselves. This makes clipping in not a good choice for them as well.

Does the type of pedals dictate the shoes the rider needs to wear?  



Outdoor and indoor bikes either have regular flat pedals or pedals for clipping in, called clipless pedals.


If you want to ride clipped in, you must buy a cycle shoe and cleats that are compatible with the pedal on your bike.    


If your bike has flat pedals, you can wear almost any type of shoe — except maybe flip-flops or high heels (and even that is debatable).


Costs of clipping in

Prices are dependent on the brand and the overall quality of the product. Clipping in is a system that involves the pedal, the shoe, and the cleat that goes on the shoe. There are three costs to budget for. 


  • Cycling shoes for clipping in cost between $30 to $100
  • Pedals are from $45 to $500
  • Cleats cost as little as $13 and as much as $40


Flat pedals on bikes can be pretty basic and cost as little as $12. Middle and upper-level pricing are between $60 to $150.

Final thoughts about the pros and cons of clipping in


Whether you clip in or not when you ride depends on what type of rider you are. If you ride for fun, on family rides, or for leisure, clipping in is an extra expense and not a necessity.


People who ride as their primary sport, for competitions, or long distances for commuting do benefit from clipped-in pedals. Clipped-in pedals give the advantage of speed and efficiency, which matters for those situations.


At Paseo Club, we offer cycle classes every day of the week. It is a great low-impact but moderate to high-intensity class that gives you a real workout. Also, you have the option of clipping in or not — you get to choose. 


Want to learn more about why cycling is such a great sport? Read about the top reasons to cycle for fitness


Did you know that Paseo just updated all of their indoor bikes? Check out the specs on the Stages SC3s


Are you a beginner and want to learn about fitness? A competitive athlete looking for a premium training facility? Somewhere in between? 


If you are in the Santa Clarita Valley, come to the Paseo Club for a tour and see our fitness centers, tennis and pickleball courts, and junior-Olympic pool.