I'm smack-dab in the middle of the different sort of cycling styles. I like to go off-road, but I like to go fast. I appreciate the technological progress that brought us the modern bike, but I also recognize that there are a lot of really stupid ideas out there that manufacturers try to solve instead of solving the real problems.
It boiled down like this... I hate getting my shoelaces caught in my pedals. My current set of pedals are pretty good at catching shoelaces, thus my current pair of sneakers (or, as people outside of America call them... Trainers) have totally tattered shoelace ends. Furthermore, my sneakers are falling apart. And my feet are hurting because I'm using soft soled shoes and pedaling awful hard. And there's really not room in the budget to buy tons of pairs of shoes, because I really need to replace my sneakers, my boots, and maybe get some bike shoes.
The Art of War says that, when faced with multiple adversaries, one should hold fast against all but one and concentrate on that one. So I decided that the best solution is to buy a pair of bike shoes, wear the sneakers on the weekend, and then keep a pair of brown leather shoes in my cube at work.
I looked through the selection at REI. I almost went online, armed with some sample shoe sizes that fit because the shoes I found that fit didn't have a stiff enough sole and the ones that had a stiff sole didn't fit right.
I was about to leave when I saw that they actually had a shoe that would fit me on the clearance rack, so I tried it on and found that it was stiff enough and fit right and awfully cheap.
I decided to get the Shimano PD-M424 pedals to go with it. These are fairly inexpensive pedals that have a plastic cage around the outside, for extra support, especially while half-clipped.
I've been working on becoming more self-sufficient with the bike, so I put the pedals on myself. And then I went out for a nice 40.8 mile ride today to try out my fully upgraded brakes and new pedals would work out.
The rule is that everybody does at least one horizontal track-stand (A track-stand is when you balance on the bike on the pedals such that you are upright, not moving, and with your feet on the pedals instead of the ground. A horizontal track-stand is what happens when you have allowed the bike to tip over while clipless, so you are on your side, with both feet on the pedals, and invariably an audience laughing at you. I managed to avoid a pure horizontal track-stand. Once I manage to leap out of the pedals to free my other foot. And once I did the splits in the middle of traffic.
But it does feel like the clipless pedals actually make a difference. Apparently the dynamics aren't as simple as just pulling up while the other foot is down, but more about that you transfer a little more energy while your feet are parallel. And it also means that I can pedal at an even higher cadence without bouncing.
Compared to platform pedals and toe-clips, I can totally see why everybody went clipless.