Now you see it happened like this…
…my first clipless shoes were unisex (possibly mens) and I bought them from Decathlon to go with my first clipless pedals. I bought a size 41 because I was told your cycling shoes should be at least one size larger than your normal everyday shoes (39), and having a 41 gave me the usual walking estimate of size where you have a fingers width of extra length for expansion and downhill. Of course, you aren’t going to be walking very much in cycling shoes, and this was my error. They turned out to be little a bit big, although more so in volume, and I really could have done with a unisex 40.
But they did the job, got me into clipless pedals, and did a fine over a good few miles. Then I started to wonder if a woman’s specific fit would be a better fit, with the lower volume and better cupping of the heel, as well as nicer looks on the road. Yes, I’m being girly and appearance does matter a little bit. It doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as functionality and comfort though.
As I was otherwise happy with my Giro shoes, I ordered some new road style shoes direct from Giro, in a women’s size 41, and was very impressed when they arrived the very next day. They were however still a bit too big, so I sent them back and ordered some in a 40. They didn’t have the same model as I had ordered in the 41 so I was forced to choose a slightly different design, and as it happens a better one that was half price in the sale (bonus!). When they arrived, again next day, they fitted like a glove. No other retailers had Giro ones, in ladies, let alone in my size, which is why I went direct.
Wow, I thought, just WOW. Then I turned them over and found they were 3-bolt not 2-bolt. I checked the website and it definitely said they would have 2-bolt and 3-bolt fittings, just as the ones I had returned had, but it lied. They are definitely 3-bolt only.
There was then a dilemma – having just replaced my pedals with Look X-track ones after the leaking issue with the Shimano’s, I really didn’t want to have to go through that again. But, and it was a big but, having tried no less than five pairs of shoes I had finally found what felt like the perfect shoe. Shoes are more of a difficult fit than pedals of course, because feet are different and individual. Pedals just attach to the bike.
Faced with this problem; fantastic shoes + wrong pedals, or nice pedals + not quite right shoes, I figured as I’ve save nearly £50 on the shoes, I could spent £42 on new pedals…
Women’s logic, I am sure men are screaming at this review! Well, this is a women’s cycling site, I’m the Editor and a women, so there.
I decided to stick with Look, after the issues with Shimano, and finding the X-Tracks so be really nice, so I fitted some Look Keo Classic 3 pedals. I opened the retaining screw to its loosest setting and then deliberated for three days that I was going to have to relearn to clip in and out, probably fall over a few times, and make an arse of myself. Yes, nerves got the better of me, and I bottled out of two rides.
Eventually you just have to bite the bullet and as it happened, I didn’t fall over. Clipping out, the worrying bit, was actually fine. It was a little more aggressive than the SPDs and I discovered that road shoes really do not grip the road like a mountain bike shoe does. You have to watch where you’re putting your foot down, such as avoiding manhole covers and things like that, but it was alright. I managed my ten mile test run, including some junctions and hill starts without too much incident.
Clipping in though, well let’s just say I will have to get used to shall we? I must have looked a right fanny. I pulled away from the lights, on a hill, couldn’t find my clip in point, couldn’t get purchase on the pedal with any other part of the road shoe, wobbled a bit, then “one leg pedalled” onto the flat where I could recompose myself and finally clip in. I must have looked a right newbie.
Anyway, I persevered eventually coming to the conclusion that I was trying to get my foot in where the pedal would have lined up if I had had the SPDs, so my cleat must be in the wrong place. The more I pedalled the more I felt I was pushing with my toes a bit.
The cleat on my right foot, the one I put down by choice, was too far forward. This would possibly also explain why I couldn’t line it up!
My left foot is 5mm longer than my right foot. My pedal dots on my right shoes (the ones you make to line up the cleats) are 5mm further back towards the heal than the dots on my left ones. But I had put both cleats in the same position. Dummy.
I’ve now moved it backwards roughly 5mm, which is a fair bit, and will have to see if that helps. I am sure it will certainly feel better peddling as the foot will be more correctly positioned. A lot of confidence in cycling is about getting the fit right to feel right.
My initial impressions of using road shoes and road pedals are as follows:
- there is definitely a greater surface area in which you are in contact with the pedal, and this means that you feel better connected to the bike,
- I am sure this translated into greater power and I was faster, with a higher cadence, than I had been before, as also attested by my Strava, although my overall average speed was compromised by the fannying about trying to clip in and the stopping to walk across scary junctions (during the initial couple of miles) so I wouldn’t topple and look an idiot,
- road shoes are stiffer, and cooler (temperature wise) than MTB shoes,
- up hill was great before in the SPDs, it’s even easier now – could be that they fit better but suspect it’s power transfer,
- I can walk like a duck.
Am I a convert? Well, maybe, if I can get the hang of clipping in to a one sided pedal when I was swearing at the one sided SPDs I had.
What about the Look Keo Classic’s themselves?
They are remarkably light compared to SPD pedals, the shoes are lighter also, and combined I am saving around 100g per leg. I know carbon ones would be lighter still but I’m not that bothered, it’s just interesting and it might make a tiny difference.
They look good on the road bike and the positive in click is reassuring. There is more float than I had with the SPDs, although this can be altered by having different cleats – they come in three float options evidently. Cleat covers are pretty essential for walking around, realistically though they still aren’t going to be near as comfortable as MTB shoes for walking.
The pedals are simple, relatively cheap, and not unattractive. They have a positive feel to them, and a positive clip in with both a reassuring sound and notable feel. They are relatively light, lighter than SPD options in the same price band. They are fairly easy to get out of, but harder to clip back into than a double sided SPD. The larger surface area should make power transfer more effective and I would swear I could notice the difference immediately. It should also make longer rides more comfortable and provides an increased connectivity with the bike which means you get a better feedback.
I will update this review after more miles have been completed using the pedals – at the moment one trip around the cities cycle paths for an hour is not a fair review, which is why I entitled this ‘initial thoughts’.