Clipless Pedal Maintenance
As with anything else on your bike, clipless pedals also require regular maintenance – to maximize their performance and extend their life.
When you first buy your pedals and shoes, they have to be correctly fitted to you and the bike. The amount of float (which is the sideways movement of your foot when clipped into the pedal) varies with different manufacturers’ pedals and should be adjusted to suit you. Also, the angle of your foot relative to the pedal has to be correctly adjusted – if not it could damage your knees or at least be very uncomfortable.
The biggest hindrance to proper pedal performance is the buildup of mud and grit. You have to keep your pedals clean and lubricated to ensure they work smoothly and effectively.
If you plan to ride in muddy conditions, spray your pedals and cleats with a Teflon-based lubricant before going out – this will help keep the mud from sticking to them. After a muddy ride use water and a soft wire brush (copper or brass works well) to get rid of the grime. After washing, use an aerosol can with WD-40 (or equivalent) to get into all of the pivot points and displace the water. Once that’s done, lubricate the springs and moving parts with a Teflon based grease.
Your cleats should also be cleaned and inspected on a regular basis and new cleats installed if they’re damaged or worn out.
For the trail, you should make sure your tool kit includes any Allen keys or tools you may need to make adjustments – a little tube of grease might prove useful on those particularly muddy rides.
Lastly, a few words of wisdom when starting out with clipless pedals:
- adjust them to one of the easier settings to allow you to clip in and out easily and quickly until you feel more natural at it
- go riding on easy, flat (and soft!) terrain at first, so you can practice clipping in and out with minimal damage to your body if you stop (and fall over) before clipping out.