On Sunday I rode to Y’s Road in Shinjuku to buy clipless pedals and bike shoes. I did not want pure racing gear, but shoes I could also walk around in when I go shopping, as I usually take the bike for that. On my first touring bike in high school I used straps, but clipless pedals are supposed to be more efficient. With either you can maintain a higher cadence (pedalling speed), which optimizes power output compared to pedalling harder at slower pedal RPMs.
I chose PD-T780 SPD pedals and a pair of SH-MT42NV which are mountain bike shoes with recessed cleats. These pedals are part of Shimano’s Deore XT range and are meant for trekking. Because of that they have both a cleat side and a flat side, so you can also ride them with ordinary shoes, plus they’re equipped with reflectors. I like being as visible as possible in traffic, especially at night.
I found clipping in and out with SPD fairly straightforward, but there are some caveats. I’ve heard the warning that when you start using clipless pedals, you will crash at least once until you get the hang of it. It happens when you forget to unclip at least one shoe before coming to a complete stop. So far I’ve done 46 km without falling over, but I’ve been careful and started off with the loosest setting for the locking mechanism. If I find myself in a situation where I may have come to a stop (for example approaching a red traffic light or turning into a street where I might have stop to for traffic or if there are a lot of pedestrians about) I twist one foot to unclip but stay on the pedal so I can easily reconnect once it’s safe to do so, but also support myself if I suddenly need to stop. The other foot can always stay locked in.
If you’re more of a racing type of person, Shimano’s SPD-SL system may be a better choice, but for me SPD works just fine.