Well, I suffered for the last couple weeks saddened by the close of another ski season. I got my powder days in, but not quite as many as I had hoped for. However, the cold nights and cooler days than usual for Tahoe, through most of the season,Â kept the snow fresh, and the corduroy was just incredible for laying some primo arcs down at mach schnell.
Reluctantly,Â I turned my attention to the riding season, both mountain and road, for the next six or seven months. Sad to say it, but I will not be heading down under to Chile, Argentina or New Zealand for some summer skiing. However, I’ve since moved on and am now “all in”Â on some wheeled fun until the powder begins to fall again. Let’s ride!
Moving on,Â not only was it just me whoÂ was ready for some nice upgrades to my mountain bike, but so was myÂ 10 year old son. The little guy was getting tired of baskets being on his bike pedals. He is good enough for some decent trails and is not afraid when it gets a little tight, steep or rocky whileÂ out on the mountain bike trails.
I mentioned to him that there will be a learning curve and that he will probably fall a few times by forgetting to un-clip or not un-clipping correctly. He said he was okay with it and was not worried about falling and that he really wanted to try them out. In previous conversations, I had explained all of the virtues of using clipless pedals and why they help so much.
However, the pedals are only half ofÂ the purchaseÂ as he also needed some junior sized biking shoes that accepted the clips that attach to the pedal. One segment of the market that is not overwhelmed with choices as I soon found out was the kids and junior rider sizes for equipment and apparel. Apparently, there just is not enough demand, as I found the options available in the shoe departmentÂ are fairly limited and take a little luck in finding the right gear at the right price.
I found a great deal on some Shimano MT32 SPDÂ shoes and a so-so dealÂ Shimano PD-M324Â pedals. I chose these pedalsÂ as they have the clipless on one side and standard pedal on the others. I figured he would be riding with friends and around the neighborhood and would mot always want to have his biking shoes on and be clipped into the pedals. In this case, he can just use the platform side of the pedals and use his regular sneakers while riding.
As it turned out, the shoes are great and a little big, so he will be able to use them for awhile before he outgrows them. They do have a stiff sole, so they are not very good for running around and playing once the ride is over.
The MT32’s look like a cross-training type of shoe and don’t give out that they are a bike shoe until you read the brand or see the sole of the shoe with their metal cleats. They have laces, as opposed to Velcro or ratcheting system.
As for the soles, they have adequate lugs for traction in moderate mud and for climbing moderate steepness, but not the deep lugs you will find on the higher end mountain biking shoes. The build quality is typical Shimano, which is excellent, so I am not worried about how long these shoes will last. My son will outgrow them prior to wearing them out.
The pedals were super simple to install as they have the standard 15mm threaded end that screws into the crank. And the only concern I had about the pedals were whether they would work properly for someone @ 60lbs.
After screwing the pedals onto the crank, I pulled out my Allen wrench and loosened the tension. After showing him how to clip in, sort of like a ski binding, in with the toe and down with the heal. He had some trouble depressing the cleat into the pedal, so I backed off the tension a little more. He clipped in and I showed him how to lead with his heal in order to get out. Now the tension was just right for him.
He had it down and then began riding around practicing the clipping in and then un-clipping to getÂ out. He did end up falling hard onto the streetÂ the first day, but then again, haven’t all of usÂ who’ve gone clipless? Â However, all in all, so far so good.
The pedals really enable him to climb much better than he was able to previously. He can now use 360 degrees of power to spin his way up steeper terrain and areas where it is moderately steep with loose soil and rocks.
Both the pedals and shoes have more than met my expectations and my son is comfortable, happy and riding better.