Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Pedals for Cleats

Shimano M324 SPD Pedal clip side
 In the previous installment I wrote about cycling wearing riding shoes with cleats. Well, those cleats are no good if you do not have pedals to accept them. As I noted last time,  I purchased a pair  of Bontrager SSR Multisport riding shoes, but Since riding shoes do not come with cleats installed nor work without pedals designed for cleats, I also purchased and had installed Shimano SPD Pedals and cleats. The Trek dealer where I bought the shoes and cleats (and where the bike was purchased a year earlier) installed the cleats on the shoes and the pedals on the bike, returning to me the standard pedals that came with the bike.
Shimano M324 SPD Pedal platform side

I chose the Shimano M324 SPD Pedal and cleats because it is a multi-purpose pedal. In other words I can use it wearing riding shoes with cleats and clipping in, or I can wear my riding shoes with cleats and not clip in, or I can wear street shoes and ride using the platform side of the pedal. According to Shimano, this is a “versatile pedal for entry-level SPD users” that “combines the efficiency of the SPD system and the convenience of a platform pedal.” When I purchased them I was certainly an entry-level SPD user.

When riding on city streets where I may have to stop for stop signs and red lights I often unclip so than I can stand at intersections, waiting to cross. When I finally do cross I usually do not clip in because if I did I might have to unclip at the next intersection. The Shimano M324 SPD Pedal allows me to decide whether to clip in or not.

While I usually ride with riding shoes and clipped in to the pedals, I really like the versatility these pedals offer. For instance, I recently completed a multi-day ride of most of the C & O Canal Tow Path, riding from DC to Hancock, MD. During the first day I rode in constant rain and the resulting mud. The second day I rode through more mud and had to dismount from my bike three times and walk through flood waters from the Potomac about six to eight inches deep on the trail. Later that evening and the next morning, as my riding shoes dried, I took a couple short side trips and was able to ride while wearing Teva sandals.

During the first three days of that wet and muddy C & O ride the mechanical mechanisms of the Shimano M324 SPD Pedal became caked with mud, sand and small pieces of rock and gravel and I occasionally had difficulty clipping in, but never unclipping. After I was finally able to rinse the pedals with a garden hose, remove lodged pebbles and gravel, and lubricate the locking mechanisms, they again worked flawlessly.

Here are links to previous installments in the series:

Riding Shoes with Cleats (Fifth Installment)
Be Kind to Your Behind (Fourth Installment)
Combating Hand and Arm Numbness (Third Installment) 
Reading and Riding (Second Installment)
Starting Over (First Installment) 

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