Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New Pedals

A520 SPD Road PedalI finally decided on what pedals to buy. Last night I purchased some Shimano PD-A520 SPD pedals. I have always disliked the clips on my bike, but never road the bike enough to justify the purchase of bike shoes. Since challenging myself to do a triathlon, I decided to take the plunge. I had not, however, realized how many different options were available. There are Looks and SPDs, of course, but there are also Time, SpeedPlay, Eggbeaters, SPD-R, SPD-SL, and even more variants within each type. They all work in a similar fashion. The front of the cleat is pushed into the pedal and the back snaps into place. The shoe is then locked to the pedal. When you want to disengage the cleat, you slide your heal out to the side.

Road bike people tend to go for Look pedals or SPD-SLs which have a wide cleat which is supposed to provide more transfer of power and a more solid feel. They also offer lighter weight pedals and tend to cause less “hot spots” on the sole of the foot. These road style pedals are always single sided, which means that the pedal has to be flipped in the right position for you to engage the cleat, but they are also weighted so that the rear of the pedal hangs down, helping to ensure they are in the right position. Most, if not all road and or triathlon shoes will accommodate Look or Look style cleats, so that is a definite plus. I like look pedals, and they can be very reasonably priced.

SpeedPlays are totally different, and in many ways superior to traditional road pedals. They have a ton of “float,” which is important for some people. “Float” is the ability of the foot to rotate left or right without disengaging the cleat. It can be good to have float if your knees or legs naturally tend to rotate during your pedal spin, but it also forces you to move you heal farther out when you want to disengage from the pedals. Speedplays are also dual-sided which means that the pedal is more likely to be in a position to properly engage the cleat without having to move it into position. They are also very light weight. The problem with SpeedPlays in my opinion is the high price. They are very expensive at around twice the cost of Look or SPD pedals.

SPDs are not usually found on road bikes, but are more common on mountain bikes. They have a very small cleat, which is why some people think they tend to cause more “hot spots” than Look style cleats. This problem can be ameliorated by having a strong, stiff sole on your shoe to distribute the pressure. SPDs are very common on spin bikes, which is one of the reasons I went with SPDs. The bikes at my gym use SPDs and it is always a good option to have, when it is raining or cold, and you just cannot get out on the road with your regular bike. For example, it is difficult for me to get home from work at a reasonable hour because of LA traffic, so riding my bike during the week is a difficult proposition. So instead, I go to a gym near my work and use the spin bikes. I don’t want to buy two different sets of shoes, so I went with the SPDs. The model that I purchased is not dual sided, which is one of the possible advantages of SPDs. I decided to go with the one sided version because they were weighted like a traditional road pedal. It makes sense to me that this would actually make them more predictable than a dual sided pedal and easier to engage once I got used to them. Of course this is all theory, since I have not even tried them out yet. I am getting my shoes later this week, and will practice engaging the cleats on the spin bike first, where it is safer. After I have a little more practice I will be in a better position to know if I made the best decision.

I did have a good spin session last night. I was totally wiped out. I almost quit at 45 minutes, but somehow I convinced my self to give it one more minute and then another. Next thing you know I made my goal of 60 minutes. Whew! This morning I ran intervals for 60 minutes. I oscillated between walking at around 3.5 mph and jogging at 6.2 mph. That is very fast for me, but I felt comfortable. Total distance was 4.17 miles. I have been sticking to my schedule pretty much but I lost out on a swim, because I had to pick up my car from the shop on Tuesday morning.
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