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Is it possible to use regular trainers/shoes (i.e., withou cleats) with clipless pedals?

A friend of mine mentioned he does this all the time. However, I cannot imagine how this would work. Surely the area of grip would be far too small to get any kind of purchase on the pedals.

We both have Shimano PD-R540 SPD pedals.

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    You can get pedals that are flat on one side (so you can use normal shoes) but are clipless on the other (so you can use cleats). However as far as I am aware, they are made for SPD system rather than the SPD SL system you've linked to. – PeteH May 19 '15 at 9:02
  • I added some grip tape meant for the edge of metal steps to the underside of my Keos last month. Makes riding in flip flops a bit nicer. – alex May 19 '15 at 10:47
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    I asked a related question recently, and some of the answers there might be of interest, although they don't answer your actual question. – Chris H May 20 '15 at 12:58
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Yes, you can use them with normal shoes, but as you predict, it isn't very comfortable, especially if your shoes have thin, flexible soles. Also, there's a risk of your foot slipping off, particularly in the wet.

There are various options to temporarily convert clip pedals into ordinary flat ones.

  • Are both of the pedals you have linked to compatible with my pedals? Certainly looks like a viable option – kaybee99 May 19 '15 at 13:26
  • It looks like the BBB ones are SPD (2-bolt) only. The question remains whether fitting them is easier/cheaper than swapping to some flat pedals when you need them. – James Bradbury May 19 '15 at 13:52
  • I have SPD pedals on my bike. They have cleats both sides and no platform. I use them with normal shoes when it is more convenient - the shoes I wear vary from leather soled formal shoes, Converse with thin flexible soles or walking shoes with chunky soles. As James says, sometimes my feet slip off but that is down to practice. Usually I only go short distances, but the furthest I've been is about 25 miles with thin soles. – DanS May 20 '15 at 15:04
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UPDATE: I use Fly Pedals now when I want to convert my clipless pedals into regular pedals. They are made of machined aluminum, light weight, and lock together so you can put them in your pocket. They cost $50 plus cleats.

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This company (started on Kickstarter) makes flat platforms with straps on top and cleats on the bottom. They convert clipless pedals into toe clips. A pair runs $55 without the actual cleats.

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    Clipless to platform I could understand (and would consider buying), but clipless to hard-to-release toe clips looks like just a step backwards and a recipe for falling over when you go to unclip and can't. – Chris H May 20 '15 at 12:56
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    @Chris I think the idea is you use the white plastic piece as a cleat. You still have to clip in and out but you do so using something strapped to your foot, as opposed to something screwed in. – kaybee99 May 20 '15 at 13:04
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    I have a set of these. They let you wear any shoe and you can use them in 2 different ways. 1:They turn your normal shoes into cleated shoes. (Tighten the straps so the hug your shoes.) 2 They function exactly the same way toe clips do. (Losen the straps a bit like toe clips.) – Gary E May 20 '15 at 15:38
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    Wow, that's a rusty chain – BSO rider Apr 25 '16 at 23:22
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    It's not rust, it's bronze! :) – Daniel Mošmondor Aug 3 '17 at 19:37
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There is nothing to stop you from getting on your bike in regular trainers instead of shoes with cleats. you won't damage your pedals in any way as long as you don't have a rock lodged in the sole of your shoe. The problem, as far as I can see it, is that it is just not very comfortable due to the small surface area and flexible sole of the shoe. Your feet will feel the pressure localized into a very small area. The other issue is grip. There isn't a lot of traction since the body of the pedal wasn't designed with that in mind. I do my own mechanics out if my garage and will occasionally hop on the bike I'm working on to make sure my repair or adjustment is working properly. I have bikes with Ritchey Logic, Speedplay frogs, SpeedPlay Zeros, Shimano SPD and non-clipless pedals. I don't go and put on the proper shoes just to ride down the street and back while I test an adjustment. So, yes, you can ride without shoes with cleats but really only in a very limited way.

  • Look dissuade you from using their pedals without proper cleats for safety reasons. At least that's what my user's booklet points out! – Carel May 20 '15 at 14:48
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Yes you can. No it's not going to be comfortable. You're more likely to slip off the pedals.

One alternative is to get double sided pedals where one side of the pedal has an SPD mount and the other side is a flat pedal.

I've been running Shimano M324 pedals on my commuter so I can hop on with casual shoes or use my cycling shoes for more power on longer rides. It's the worst of both worlds, so you'll find yourself trying to flip the pedal from time to time, but it's a doable option that gives you flexibility without having to swap pedals all the time.

enter image description here

Unfortunately, I don't know of any other type of shoe / cleat combination that works with dual sided pedals. It seems that only shimano mountain SPD seems to offer this option. If you're already sold on road pedals, then it's probably not going to work like this. You might just want to invest in a set of flat pedals and swap your pedals when you want to ride without clipless shoes.

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I have used normal office shoes on look road pedals (albeit shoes with relatively thick soles) This works fine for to/from work or lunchtime errands.

However I found that pedalling on the "underside" of the pedal was more comfortable in some thin-soled shoes. Not ideal but workable.

Another option, try clipping a plastic cleat in the pedal, an older and worn-out one would be perfect. Plus you can remove it when you want to ride with proper shoes.

I have look clipless on my road bike, but I put platforms back on my MTB for trips around town, mostly because our roads are still terrible, and the MTB has better brakes and more load-carrying capacity.

Cleats may not be best for you.

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