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Does age matter when going clipless

1005 Views 15 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  jakekenney
Hey everyone,

Quick question about when to let kids use clipless. My son who is 9, found an interest in MTB'ing last year. Just to test his interest I made him ride a Wal-Mart special for about 7 months or so. Seeing that he really enjoys the sport, Santa brought him a 2010 Specialized Hotrock.

Anyway, the point. He has really been wanting to try clipless pedals. Looking for advice or experience of other parents with kids and clipless pedals. Seems to me he could get used to them just as well as any big kid....I mean "adult":thumbsup:

Thanks for any input/experiences
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I see youngins at races all the time riding clipless pedals. We all have to learn sometime. If he wants to try it then I would say let him.
I would have to say that the young ones adapt to clipless easier than the older riders .
give him clipless now and in like a few years he will be a pro fo sho...

might have to go to women's shoes to get the right size though
agreed, the youngsters learn quickly
i would highly recommend getting a brand that has tension adjustment (meaning; NOT crank brothers) so he/she can start off with very little tension and increase tension as comfort level increases.
Yes, tension adjustability becomes of more prime importance. As long as the youngster has leg strength, agility enough to rotate the ankle,leg, foot properly, let em go for it.
I'm going to disagree with the consensus here
while I agree physically there shouldn't be any issues, I would first let them learn the basics (wheelie, bunny hop , etc.) with flat pedals. In the long run their technique will be better and they wont be afraid to try things if they can bail easily. But , in 6 mos or so they should be ready and probably better riders

heres a decent bunnyhop how to

Styles of riding

Everyone I know within the High School Racing League over the last 8 years rides clipless. That is about 800 teens and 200 volunteers.My wife took up cycling last year and got herself into clipless in her first 2 months. My son was into clipless pedals at about 11. Every mountain biker I know rides clipless except my newest student riders and they will get into them in the next 90 days. They always do. I know no one who has given up on clipless pedals. That is a huge sample, much larger than most people have.

Having said that few of the people I know jump, do tricks or DH. Jumps and drops, wheelies and fooling around, and fast challenging downhills are a part of XC riding but not its focus. I have heard people, mostly on this forum, say that riding flats lets you learn some basic skills and al,lows you to bail in tough situations. All I can say is that t I have no direct experience to that effect. I have also heard, in a similar vein, that learning on a HT offers benefit over learning on a Dually as far as basic techniques or "picking a line.". I learned on a HT in the 80's and I'm not sure I believe it.

So....vital skills on flats? I don't know. A litlle kid on spds? Out of concern for growth and soft tissue trauma I'd keep them loose. Focusing him on XC by this action so early in his cycling is a parents decision but as much as possible let it be his.
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Similar situation here, my son just turned 10 and got a GF PreCaliber this fall. He wants clipless bad, and next summer he will get them. He will have to demonstrate proficiency on log rollers, small hops and drops, etc, first on flats. My reasoning is safety, I will require him to demonstrate moderate bike handling and riding skills before he tries it with both feet attached. The low speed technical stuff is where the crashes will happen early on with clipless, at least it did for me, and some of those low speed crashes are the worst I have ever had.
I'd say it's more about agility and ability, than age.
I started using clipless when I was 9 or 10, SPD's with tension pretty low. I recently switched to Speedplay frogs, and they are very easy in and out, but you also stay clipped in great. I think those may be a good first pedal.
You might try a well worn in pair of clipless pedals. I gave my wife a pair of Richey pedals that I had used for six years. The tension could be set very low and the cleat and pedal clicked together quite well. She learned without a single clipped-in crash.
My daughter wanted to try clipless at age 8; I hooked her up with a set of 515's adjusted full loose, and herded her out. She fell almost daily before she decided she didn't like them.

Two years later, she wanted to try again; rode 'em like a pro. Never a fall. But she tired of them and wanted her platforms back.

When she wants to try again, they're waiting for her. If she turns up her nose at the SPDs after seeing me roll 3 years on ATACs, I may have to pop for another set of Aliums.
My son started riding clipless at 10, and adapted very nicely. I'm a lifelong Speedplay user, so that's what he's using.
Thanks everyone

Thanks for all the great responses. He is already riding well, can cat walk and bunny pretty good, does 3'-4' drops, and smaller tree stacks.

Somebody mentioned using a pair of used pedals...thats funny because I was thinking of giving him the set of Ritchey's I'm using now after I build my new bike in the Summer.

Thanks again
I always see kids probably around 10 years old at races riding clipless.

I started when I was 15.
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