Confession: I leaned how to clip in in Spin class. I remember buying my first pair of cycling shoes with SPD cleats and showing up to class like thinking I was so cool. The dude working at the bike shop offered to install them, but I was intimidated by that place at the time, so I was like “No thanks. I’m good. This is just for Spin class. BYE!“. Little did I realize the bolts actually needed to be tightened with a proper torque key. As a result, my cleats became loose over the course of the class and by the end I couldn’t unclip! I had to remove my feet from the shoes to get free. It was mortifying as the gym manager was called to pry the cleats out of the pedals with a flathead screwdriver. Ugh. Lesson learned. 😦
As I progressed into riding outside, I continued using the same clipless pedals and shoes. I didn’t have any cycling friends at the time so one was around to show me how to unclip at stoplights. I fell over a lot at first, but eventually got the hang of starting and stopping. I’d ride ~20 miles a day solo and I was okay with that. I realized I loved riding my bike–it was the only time I felt like everything was right in the world. I even rode with SPD’s for a few solid years after.
Since that time, I’ve graduated to road-specific pedals, however, I also MTB and race CX. SPD’s are still in my life, just not everyday. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try iSSi Flash pedals. These guys are compatible with SPD cleats and two-bolt shoes and come in a twelve different color options. Also, each pair comes with a set of black chrome cleats. I’m currently riding the Flash III: Triple Bearing, however, there are three spindle options at different price points:
- Flash I: Double Bushing MSRP $60
- Flash II: Bushing and Bearing MSRP $80
- Flash III: Triple Bearing MSRP $100
- Chromoly spindle
- ED-coated 8mm hex broach
- 52.5mm spindle length (+6mm and +12mm options)
- Adjustable spring tension
- 4º cleat float
The iSSi Flash III replaced a set of Shimano XTR race pedals on my MTB and were only recently installed on my new gravel bike. So far, they are just as durable and functional as the Shimano pedals. The spring tension is easy to adjust and installation is exactly the same, although I had to rely on my LBS mechanic to get hang of it. Admittedly the real draw for me was all the color options. I’m all about adding style to my bike in as many ways as possible. The paint has held up pretty well considering how clumsy I am off-road (with the exception of some scratches on the edges).
I’d recommend these pedals to anyone from a beginner road cyclists to a MTB/CX racer. If you are a beginner on the road, I encourage you to buy a solid pair of shoes with good grip and maybe practice clipping in and out on a stationary trainer or in a Spin class–just make sure your cleats are bolted down tight enough! Once you venture outside, try stopping and starting on grass, then graduate to the road. Even if you fall over at a stoplight at least you’re falling with style if you have iSSi Pedals. IMO style is just as important as skill so you are basically halfway there, right? 😉