Cleated or not?
Cycled with someone whose told you you need to get some cleats? They improve performance, you'll be able to ride faster?
I do sell cleated footwear (as many of you who have purchased shoes from me will know). Cleats are with us, and are an important part of many rider's setup. However for the leisure rider, I would argue they certainly aren't necessary, and that riding with toe clips and straps, or even with flat pedals and a good grippy shoe can be equally as effective. The important thing to remember it is YOUR choice, so don't let anyone talk you into against your better judgement. I've heard the phrase "You only fall off once" many times, that is if your sense of balance is good. If it isn't however, you might expect to fall off several times, if the cleats aren't adjusted correctly.
There may even be hints that you need to use them to
1) Achieve better performance. I'd suggest more and harder riding would be better, so you might build up more strength.
2) Fit in with a group you ride with. Perhaps you'd be better finding a different group, or even start your own.
Here's some counter arguments if you find yourself under pressure, particularly those whose husbands/wives/partners use them.
They'll cost you more money, particularly if you are a tight cyclist.
They restrict the footwear available to use with your bike -no longer will you be able to hop on at short notice wearing a pair of trainers.
Urban riding is more unpleasant, as the roundabouts and traffic lights can be unpredictable in terms of a need to stop suddenly
HOWEVER, many cyclists swear by them, and enjoy the benefits of a confident secure method of pedalling. So if you are tempted, and want to practise, maybe head down to your local gym, and attend a spinning class, as the bikes installed usually have a cleated pedal.
Coming soon, a what where, and how guide to Cleats.