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I saw one Force model that looked like a separated part that might release, twisting your leg upwards or sideways or something. Reminded me of the toe realease on ski bindings.

Basically as many directions as possible that is adjustable all the way, with tension and float.

What I'm after in the end is getting my brain reflex to release once I know I will fall; I've falling hard on my hip a couple of times.

There is too much float on my current bike, so no way I can twist my foot out and release; as I would break my foot or something.

At least, that is what I think that my brain thinks.

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    I have the bottom/cheapest level of Look Keo pedals. They have no tension adjust at all, and the cleat will come out with any motion that is not a plain up or down peddling motion. The one time I fell from my MTB the cleat came undone in the vertical. So try lowering your tension until the cleat is almost not held, and practice a lot. – Criggie Jan 21 '16 at 21:30
  • One thing to note is the angle of the cleat on your shoe. If it's set so that "neutral" is with the heel slightly inward then that leaves very little rotation to extract the foot by twisting your heel toward the bike, the most "natural" motion. This is particularly a problem if you're a hair "duck footed". The solution is to artificially set the angle of the shoe cleats in a way that would be "correct" if you were a bit more pigeon-toed. – Daniel R Hicks Jan 21 '16 at 23:12
  • @Criggie: Thanks, I am on the outmost thread as it is now and why I consider changing. – user24253 Jan 22 '16 at 13:00
  • @DanielRHicks: Really good suggestion that, thanks - adjusting to room to release inwards instead. – user24253 Jan 22 '16 at 13:01
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You can put road pedals on a mountain bike and mountain bike pedals on a road bike. They're just pedals -- all that needs to match are the diameter+threads on the pedal. Of course, you may not look cool using pedal X on a road bike but you will look cool using it on a mountain bike and vice versa (but this is peripheral).

The main thing with any clipless system is to practice -- its pretty unnatural feeling to be clipped into a bike when you start. You will fall and thats part of learning. (Practicing cliping and unclipping on some grass while riding or just in a doorway or trainer clipping in and out repeatedly while stationary may help) But after riding for a while, it will be like second nature. Ski bindings release either by twisting (like bicycle clipless systems do, though for reasonable sized feet you can only twist one way -- twist your heel outward rather than inward) or by some forward force (which doesn't really make sense as a regular release mechanism due to the pedaling action on a bicycle).

That being said, there are a few adjustments you can make with a system:

  • Cleat position: You can move cleats back and forward a bit to make it more comfortable. You can also change the angle of the cleat to some extent depending on shoes and cleats.
  • Float: You can adjust the float (which allows your foot to move a bit, measured by angle) on pedals by either using different cleats or adjusting the cleat depending on the systems.
  • Tension: You can adjust the tension (how hard the pedals hold the cleat) normally by some small screw on some pedals. Setting it at its lightest setting will normally allow most people to take their foot out without much work even forcing it.

I'd start by setting the tension to as low as possible when learning and using a float setting to something not too high and not too low (the low end is normally fixed (0 deg) and high is normally 15 deg ish, but how well this feels depends on the pedal). For Look cleats, I'd suggest the grey or red (4.5 and 9 deg resp.) rather than the black (0 deg) to start with, but you'd have to try different float to see whats good for you.

There are many clipless systems on the market (Shimano SPD, SPD-SL, Crank Bros Eggbeaters, Look, Speedplay, etc.)-- some are harder than others. For example, many Shimano SPD pedals can be clipped from both sides and can have recessed cleat (so you can walk in the shoes easily), but SPD-SL can only be clipped from one side and portruding cleats (hard to walk). "Mountain biking" systems tend to be a bit easier than "road" systems (and many road bikers run the "mountain" SPD system). You may find one system works better for you than another, but you have to try them. Working with your local bike shop is best for this, because trying many at home is expensive. A bike fit may also help get you in the right position with clipless.

In the comments, Kibbee has pointed out two products which may be relevant: Shimano makes "multirelease" cleats for their SPD system, which are easier to release by rolling or twisting your foot in any direction. Shimano's Click'r system also is designed for getting in and out of easy.

Finally, clipless is not for everybody -- if you're perfectly happy with platform pedals or for some reason clipping in via toe clips, feel free to continue using it.

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    It's also worth mentioning that Shimano makes a multi-release cleat for their SPD system that will release both when pulling up as well as twisting. They also have the Click'r pedal system which is specifically designed to make it easier to clip in and clip out for recreational cyclists. – Kibbee Jan 21 '16 at 20:09
  • While typical road-bike cleats and pedals make little sense on a MTB because you make want to walk and this will destroy the cleats quite rapidly. Especially on hard surfaces. While mud will prevent the cleats from clipping-in. – Carel Jan 21 '16 at 20:22
  • I reckon I know more people on road bikes with SPDs than all road pedals combined. This may have something to do with the fact that they're mostly commuting and/or ride MTBs as well. – Chris H Jan 22 '16 at 7:56
  • As per Rule #34 / /Mountain bike shoes and pedals have their place. On a mountain bike. The only exception I could think of is when you undertake a tour of several days on a road bike and do not want to carry the weight of an extra pair of shoes. But still... ;-) – Carel Jan 22 '16 at 8:48
  • @Kibbee Click'r sounds interesting, and combined with new multirelease cleats. What I miss is setting release angle. – user24253 Jan 22 '16 at 13:24
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But a pedal is way different than a ski. Since the pedal pivots there is no going out the back or front from torque. Like you can step out of a ski. You cannot step out of a pedal.

Twist is the common release from a bicycle pedal. If you currently have way too much float then that is a major problem. If you cannot twist out then how do you get out?

If you pull hard enough then you come out also.

Practice twisting out a LOT so that it becomes second nature. In the middle of a ruff section twist out. I know it sounds silly but if you see a red VW (or a pink house or mother with stroller ... pick something random) then twist out.

I ride mountain pedals on a the road. I know serious road riders go with road but I like the convenience of walking around.

Another factor is maintenance. Clean and lubricate. Set the tension to only be what you need. Pick a tough hill (or a sprint) and go all out. Go with less and less tension until you cleat out. Then add some tension back in. Over time the springs will wear down a bit and you will need to add tension.

Clean your cleats. Replace worn cleats. What will happen is you need to use a extra tension on worn cleats.

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  • +1 for practice. I just changed my cleats because one corner snapped off completely, and the new cleats feel quite a lot different. Not only is the clip out harder, the clipping in is easier. So practice somewhere safe, when anything gets changed. – Criggie Jan 22 '16 at 20:18

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