Going clip-less with Shimano PD-EH500 SPD pedals – updated, and it’s not good

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It’s funny it’s clip-less when actually you clip in, but it comes about because in the olden days you had pedals with pedal-clips.  They were horrible things, you’d stick your foot into the cage and then tighten the strap up around your foot.  You had to have one loose or you’d fall at every traffic light.  So having pedals that you didn’t need pedal-clips for were known as clip-less, although you actually clip into them.  They have clips just not ‘those’ clips…

Pedals that you don’t clip into, and that don’t have pedal-clips, or hold your foot to them are known as ‘flats’.  Then there are ‘flat cages’ which if you’ve ever caught your shin on one, you’ll know why they sometimes get called ‘bear traps’ as well.  They’ve pretty much disappeared, they probably aren’t meeting some safety standard or another.

Striking your shin on the ‘cage’ was a right of passage when I was a kid, and evidently, falling over whilst completely stationary because you’ve forgotten to unclip your foot from your clip-less pedal is a right of passage now.

I am hoping to avoid this by starting out with the multi-release cleat; where your foot can be freed from the pedal by flicking it at more than one angle.  To make it even easier, I will start with having the retaining tensioner setting as loose as possible.  You can see that in the photo as the Allen key point with movements from – to + in the photo.

If you want some tips for going clip-less, and from someone who knows a lot more than me, then I recommend this article on road.cc

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The pedals I am trying are the Shimano PD-EH500 single sided pedals I bought from Wiggle.  They are called single sided because the SPD bit is only on one side.  The other side is a flat pedal, which means they can be used with normal shoes as well as ones fitted with cleats.

The kits comes with the cleats, in this case the multi-release ones, which should make it easier for a beginner like me to get used to using them, and to do so safely.

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My first task was to screw in the pins so that I could use them with my flat pedal 5:10 shoes which I use with my Brompton, and will use for short trips on my road bike.  These will also allow me to pedal away from the lights without worrying about clipping in at that stage even with the cleated shoes, as my cleats are recessed.

I can then spin the pedal over and use the SPD side at my own pace.

I picked recessed cleat shoes so that I wasn’t walking on the metal bits, which can be slippery and also so that I could easily use the flat side of the pedal.  They also don’t wear down as quick as they aren’t in contact with the pavement.

Fitting pedals requires a special pedal tool, but they aren’t expensive and well worth having in your tool kit.  I got one from Halfords for around £6.

I won’t bore you with how to fit the pedals, or align the cleats, as there are countless videos on YouTube by people who know a lot more than me and will explain it better.

Changing the pedals did mean changing the saddle height and fore/aft position, and I had held off making these adjustments because I knew this would be the case and I didn’t want to go through it twice.  My ride home from the shop had shown me I needed to raise the saddle height, and my test ride this morning confirmed that I also needed to adjust the tilt of the saddle and get some weight off my arms if possible.

As well as changing the pedals and fitting the cleats, I have repositioned the saddle, flipped the stem to increase the handlebar height, angled the handlebars to increase my connection with the brake levers.

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Before adjustments, and with flat pedals

 

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After adjustments, and with the SPD pedals

I suppose you could say that what I did was a DIY ‘bike fit’.  Something that you seem to get encouraged to have done by all and sundry on the internet, as if it will correct everything.  It does for some, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear, and if the bike isn’t right for you, it isn’t right for you.  I also believe that you need to settle into the riding style of the bike as well, so you will still make adjustments some weeks later. Any tweaks will only refine something that is fundamentally right for you in the first place, in my opinion.

I expect to keep tweaking for several days, if not weeks to come, as yet as I settle into my the new riding style, and also as I get to know my bike.  If in a couple of months I’m still struggling with it, then I might ask for a professional bike fit.  That would have my Dad rolling in the aisles.

Tomorrow I get to test ride with the new pedals, and to try clipping in and out.  Hopefully I won’t be doing any ‘Fools and Horses’ impressions at traffic lights!

But, I’ll let you know…

Update 24/06/20:

First clipless ride today, just under 13 miles and no issues at all. No falling over or failure to unclip, even in a hurry. Impressed, although I do have a little left hip soreness I’ll need to keep an eye on.

Update 14/07/20:

As you can see from the images above the bearings have sprung a greasy leak on both pedals, one side much worse than the other.  This was after very little use at all, as you’ll glean from the rest of the wear on the pedals, which is minimal.

I have to say I was really disappointed, however the retailers I purchased these from were very good and were happy to credit my account with them based on the images I’ve shown above.

In light of this I have moved from Shimano to Look and there will be a review of the new X-track pedals shortly.

2 thoughts on “Going clip-less with Shimano PD-EH500 SPD pedals – updated, and it’s not good

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