Kicking In--Part Six of Fixed Gear 101
by Greg Goode
You may have experience kicking in to your pedals on a freewheel bike, but it's a bit different on a fixed. Clipping in is usually done while the pedals are in motion. First pedal, then clip in.
Some riders do the reverse. That is, they clip into one of the pedals while standing over the bike, and clip in to the other pedal as soon as their butt hits the saddle. This is the preferred style for track racers. Sometimes they even clip into both pedals before getting started - if they go from a standing start with a helper to hold them up. But while in learning mode, if you clip in before moving, you'll generate some comical, zero-MPH tip-overs. Even you will laugh!
It's best to kick in once you're in motion. Getting the wheels in motion before you kick in gives you scope for lots more moves.
If you're using clips and straps, stand your bike up and look at the pedals as the clips hang towards the ground. If your pedal was made for toeclips, then it may have a small flange or nib extending up and towards the front of the bike. This is to assist your kick into the pedals. You'll still be able to kick in even if your pedals don't have flanges, but it will be a bit harder to gain purchase.
To kick in:
1. Mount the bike and begin riding slowly on the undersides of the pedals.
2. Wait till the R pedal has passed the top of its stroke.
3. When the pedal is at about 1o'clock, hover your R foot above the pedal, gliding above it and with it.
4. As the pedal reaches 4o'clock, lightly brush backwards on the flange or edge of the pedal. This will kick the pedal up and around.
5. When the pedal is properly oriented, quickly thrust your foot forward and into the clip. At first, you'll probably miss it. No problem--just wait for the next rotation. This is why a safe parking lot is advisable for practice!
6. When you've clipped in your R foot, go for the L.
I would advise you to leave the straps quite loose while you're learning. You need to make it easy to get in and get out of the toeclips. Personally, I crank hard on the straps only when I'm riding in very light traffic, like on an early Sunday morning. The other times, like on city streets during the day, I keep the straps tight enough to be able to pull upwards, but loose enough to unclip on a dime at a chaotic traffic light.