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hey all,

I've been experimenting with clipless on my cross bike that I put my long rides in on. I've always been a flat rider on all my bikes, regardless of discipline.

I usually ride 5-6 days a week, anything from lift-served, a couple enduro races, and lots of gravel grinds on the cross bike. Depending on season and work, figure 80-120 a week when its not a snowy mess.

My fitter told me that using clipless pedals and adjusting the cleats could make 3+ hour rides on the gravel bike more comfortable, because she can use cleat position to help compensate for a small difference in leg length I have.

I rode with time pedals and giro chamber dh shoes this weekend. I didn't like how the times released, nothing about it felt natural to me, and I had to twist super far to get out.

I'm going to try shimanos with a multi-release cleat. After years of flat riding, I take my feet of the pedals alot, and I want the most natural transition between bikes, and something that will break free in a panic situation. I'm still going to run flats on the MTB's, so I'm not out to change everything about my riding.

Ok. I'm running giro chamber dh style shoes. They have a full nylon shank and are pretty stiff. I have a credit at a shop, and can get the PD-M-424 (the one with the resin cage) or the M-530 (the SLX level pedal that looks like the XT trail) for the same price.

I like feeling a pedal under my shoe, because that's what I'm used to. I still pedal like I'm on flat pedals, so I don't really care about super duper retention and favor easy release.

Which pedal would you go for given where I'm coming from, and why?

Thanks all,
H/
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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Most importantly, you have to practice the movement of unclipping and develop the muscles/muscle memory. You do this as much as possible before hitting trails, and especially before hitting serious trails.

The 434s use a nice design that is easy to clip into. With most clipless pedals, the trick is clipping in during rough terrain or at the top of the pedal stroke. It doesn't take much, especially with a newer-to-clipless rider, to make clipping in difficult. And then you ride through a section unclipped, which is the worst of all, as you'll lack the control to make the bike go where you want and stay on the bike. The pedal mechanism of the 434 sits up at a 30 degree angle and is allowed to rotate into place (flat), which makes it easy to clip into, you just put your weight in the middle of the pedal and push down, it usually clips in very easy from a variety of angles/approaches. The negatives of the 434 include the plastic cage which is not very durable during impacts, although it can be rebuilt, but you're going to end up paying the shop to rebuild the pedals most likely (if you tend to contact rocks and things during rides). The other negative is that the 434s use shimano's "older" mechanism as the basis for the pedal. Functionally in terms of clipping in and out, it's exactly the same as the "newer" one, the difference is mud clearance and that shimano opened up the design on the newer pedals so that mud and snow will "push out". In nasty conditions it may take a few "pushes" to clip back in, but it's far better than before with the newer style mechanism, if that's a concern.

The 530s use a fixed mechanism that is not canted at 30 degrees and allowed to rotate. It's flat in the pedal. I find this makes clipping into the 530s a bit more difficult. They are not as forgiving and require you to be more exact with your foot placement and to push harder/correctly. The platform is also smaller and most users that have clipped their shoe into the pedal and then taken off the shoe (with it still attached) reported that the platform really doesn't make contact with the shoe. Possibly if you lean hard it makes contact, but it's not as solid as the 434. The 530s are more durable and do use shimano's newer mechanism. I think a lot of people can't resist the 530 design due to how much lighter it is than the other "platform" shimano pedals, but I see them as "no man's land", without many benefits and most of the negatives.

Shimano also makes the 545, which is a metal version of the 434. It solves the durability issue.

The 647 on the other hand is one of THE BEST clipless pedals for people that are learning and have never used clipless. Although they are large, they are lighter than the 545s and similer in weight to the 434s. They have the positives of the 434 design, like ease of clipping in, while solving the durability issue with a much stronger composite cage and shimano's newer mechanism. It's really the best of all those things, and lots of new-to-clipless riders have started out on these pedals. Before it was the shimano 636s (out of production) and you'll find lots of mountain riders that use the bigger platform clipless pedals.

Edit: And on the subject of those time pedals and the twisting to get out, Time and Crank Brothers operate similar in that it takes a certain amount of angular deflection (twisting) to release. If you don't twist this far, it won't release, no matter how hard you yank. Shimano pedals are more like ski bindings, where it's not just the twisting, but also the force, so if you yank hard, you can often get them to release without so much twisting (especially with multi-release cleats). The functional mechanism here is slightly different between these families of pedals, so the shimano ones will most definitely be different than the times you tried before.
 
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